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„If You Run a Hundred Kilometers by Yourself, You Will Reach New Dimensions”

7th January 2022

“I may be an extreme guy,” says Björn Sturm. “But actually I don’t feel like that at all.“ The PR manager from Franconia loves running. For him, the sport is like an island where he can be very close to himself. He laces up his running shoes at least five times a week. Usually, he trains for half marathons and marathons. But it’s not quite that easy. Sometimes, Björn says, he also needs extra motivation, “overall goals” he calls them. “For me, that means 100-km runs,“ he says. What Björn Sturm is preparing for in 2022.

Content:

  1. “100-km runs are not a walk in the park“

  2. Surface and running shoes – what’s important for a 100-km run

  3. A Nutella toast before the start

  4. A 100-km run as a goal

Björn Sturm is just stepping off his treadmill when we talk to him. “This is brand new,“ he says. “But I’m not really convinced yet.“ Björn laughs. His lunch break has just ended.

Just a few weeks ago, Björn and his wife moved into their new house with their three children. “Sports and especially running are the perfect balance for me to the family madness,“ Björn says. The ambitious hobby runner gave himself a moving-in present: a treadmill. “I still have to get used to it – but for a little unit in between, it’s quite okay.“

When Björn runs, he enjoys nature and the fresh air that blows in his face and cools his sweating body. “The treadmill will probably never become the thing for me,“ he believes. There’s just something missing, he says. It’s quite different from running out of doors.

Björn has been publishing a running blog for several years. There, he writes about his experiences and the latest running shoes – or talks to other runners about their shared hobby. “Running is my island,“ he says. When not on the treadmill for a few minutes, Björn spends most of the day sitting in front of his PC. As a PR manager, he oversees campaigns for a computer game in Germany. “My main job, though, is being a dad – at least that’s how it feels.“

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That’s why Björn consciously makes time for running. “After all, I have these moments all to myself,“ he says. The PR manager goes running at least five times a week. During the week, shorter units are on the agenda, and on the weekend, he runs longer distances. “Even though I don’t have any fixed times scheduled in my calendar, I usually run in the early afternoon.“ It’s still light then.

“100-km runs are not a walk in the park“

Usually Björn trains for 10-km runs, half marathons, or marathons. In recent years, however, he has discovered ultra runs. “Preparing for a marathon is extremely strenuous,“ Björn tells us. “When I run a marathon, I want to achieve personal best times. To do that, you have to stick strictly to your training plan – even if you don’t feel like it at some point.“ It’s different with ultra running, he finds.

“With the onset of the corona pandemic, a lot of races were canceled. To train for a marathon that doesn’t happen or that happens only virtually is hard,“ Björn says. “So I needed a different kind of challenge.“ Having already run shorter ultra runs, he now wanted more: a hundred kilometers at one stretch.

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“100-km runs are not a walk in the park,“ he says. “Those who run alone for hours reach mental spheres that we don’t even know from everyday life.“ That’s bound to happen, he says – no matter what distance you choose. And yet, one of his 100-km runs remains particularly memorable for him.

In 2020, Björn set off with his wife, from home in the direction of Bamberg. Björn’s wife rode her e-bike while he covered the hundred kilometers in his running shoes. Together they went along the Main River through Franconian villages – all the way to Oberhaid. There, in a village of about four and a half thousand people, the PR manager had grown up. “My dad died a few years ago. On the route, we passed by his former house,“ Björn recalls. “This run was a journey back in time – and really beautiful.“

Surface and running shoes – what’s important for a 100-km run

These are exactly the kinds of moment Björn means when he talks about reaching other spheres during ultra runs. It’s mentally challenging and encouraging – and sometimes exhausting. During this 100-km run in 2020, the latter was also true for Björn’s body. The longer the run lasted, the harder he found it to move. “My thighs hurt so much that I couldn’t run properly at all,“ the PR manager recounts. Things were different last April.

That was when Björn ran his last 100-km race to date. In Schweinfurt, he ran in the U-TECH Aion for hours, lap after lap around a quarry pond. What sounds monotonous at first was a complete success. “Of course, a circuit is always the same in principle,“ he admits. But it feels different. “During the ten hours, you constantly encounter new people coming your way. So you’re exposed to new influences on every lap.“

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The thighs did not cause any problems either – quite the opposite. Björn had no pain. “In a 100-km run, the running shoes and the surface determine how you feel at the end,“ he says. “The running shoes have to be comfortable, not too heavy and a little cushioned. Most importantly, they must not wear out too quickly.“ Those who know this, he adds, do push themselves to the limit during 100-km runs. “But if we’ve chosen the right equipment and the right surface, the 100-km run happens much more in our heads than in our bodies.“

After dozens of 2.3-kilometer laps around the quarry pond, Björn still felt fit. Just a few days after the 100-km run, the first fast running sessions were already on the agenda again. “I was in such good shape,“ the PR manager recounts, “that I immediately ran my fastest training time at a marathon distance.“

In a competition, Björn’s personal best marathon time is 2:47:32 hours. He would have liked to run big marathons this year, the Berlin Marathon, for example. However, an injury stopped him in the summer. He switched to the bike.

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A Nutella toast before the start

“Even though I learned to back off at that time,“ Björn looks back, “I’m still someone who needs to move.“ He also quickly fell in love with cycling over the past few months. Instead of ultra runs, there were now bike tours. After just a few days, he did 100-kilometer round trips.

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The perfect training for the next 10-km run

In the meantime, Björn has recovered. A few weeks ago, he ran his first race again at the Zeiler Waldmarathon – at an altitude of 840 meters. “After a longer break and with a little cold, that was really quite something,“ Björn admits. Kind of like his first competition in 2012.

At that time, he ran the 10-km course at the Nikolauslauf in Munich. As a student, he had previously discovered running for himself. Now that his studies were over and there was no time left for soccer, he intensified what had initially been an alternative sport. “When I ran in Munich, I was untrained, a smoker, and a party animal,“ Björn says today. “Still, the time was good and I was really into it.“

Björn kept going. Six months later came his first half marathon, followed by his first marathon in Regensburg in 2013. Shortly after, he lit his last cigarette. “Running has made me live healthier and eat healthier.“ He allows himself a sweet treat only before a marathon. “A toast with Nutella,“ Björn says. The sugar helps him tremendously, he admits.

A 100-km run as a goal

This year, the Nutella toast will be on the plate less frequently. Before ultra runs, in fact, he forgoes his extra energy kick. And in 2022, Björn will focus specifically on ultra distances. “100-km runs are my overall goal this year,“ he says. So far, he’s only run them in training. Now the first competition is finally to follow: the Taubertal 100, an ultra marathon in the Main-Tauber district.

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But before that, the next 100-km training run is on the agenda. The PR manager does not yet know the exact route. And even if the route itself is not crucial, Björn reveals: “It’s probably not going to be a round-the-lake run like last time.”

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