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Pam Reed. Addicted to running or just wired that way?

Here’s a great story about Pam Reed from the book “The Sports Gene” by David Epstein.  This is a great book if you haven’t read it!

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance

“Pam Reed was up on top of the parking garage at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, again. Her flight out of New York City was delayed, and she was never one for sitting still. While disgruntled travelers jostled for electrical outlets and cushioned seats, their bags trundling behind them, the fifty-one-year-old Reed popped in her earbuds and headed for the top deck of the parking garage.

She breathed in the thick summer air. Reed stashed her luggage in a corner and started running. Immediately, a placid calm dripped through her body. For a good hour, she ran around and around in tight circles, each lap no more than 200 meters. It certainly wasn’t because she needed the fitness.

Just the previous day, Reed had finished the U.S. championship Ironman triathlon in New York City in 11 hours, 20 minutes, and 49 seconds, good enough to qualify for the world championship in Hawaii. A week before that, she participated in a relay race in which her leg consisted of eight continuous hours of circling a track. Two weeks before that, she spent 31 hours running en route to becoming the second female finisher at the 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile race that starts in Death Valley, and that Reed has won, twice.

Reed’s flight out of LaGuardia eventually left, and the next weekend she completed the Mont-Tremblant Ironman in Québec in 12 hours, 16 minutes, and 42 seconds. The weekend after that, she had “only a marathon,” she says, never mind that it was through the Tetons, in her home of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

This isn’t some masochistic running binge, it’s life for a woman who once ran three hundred miles without sleeping, and in 2009 spent six days running 491 laps around a drab one-mile loop in a park in Queens.

“Running for three hours every day might put some people in the hospital,” Reed writes in her book, while noting that she finds peace of mind in extreme activity. “I am certain that not running for three hours every day would very quickly make me ill. . . . While nobody’s forcing me to do this, it’s not really a choice, either. There’s something in my nature that makes it really hard for me to sit still . . . being temperamentally attuned to perpetual motion makes me pretty uncomfortable on long car trips or in sedate social settings.” (Reed’s son Tim contrasts himself to his mother: “I only like to run for maybe two or three hours max.”) One of Reed’s current goals is to set the women’s world record for running across America, which she plans to do at a pace of two marathons a day.

“When I don’t do this,” Reed says—and by “this” she means running three to five times a day—“I feel horrible. I had C-sections, and three days after them I was running. . . . It’s who I am. I totally love it. As I get older, I have to say, I can sit still a bit longer,but it’s still not comfortable.”


Excerpt From: Epstein, David. “The Sports Gene.” Penguin Group, USA, 2013-07-05. iBooks.


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