That's what keeps former NMU graduate Stephanie Howe going. But this time, it was different.
She had comtemplated it for a while, but attempting to run 31 miles was just too good to pass up. The Minnesota native decided to sign up for the Flagline 50k in Bend, OR the day before the big race. It was her first-ever attempt at running an ultramarathon.
Stephanie finished first.
That was in 2010, and since then, Howe has competed in seven to eight other races. She has never finished lower than third place. Her rise as an ultrarunner had people talking, and even Running Times Magazine noticed.
Howe was chosen to be the featured runner pictured on the January/February 2014 magazine cover.
"It's my first cover," said Howe. "I was really excited. It's cool to see people from my past and just acquaintances...send me a message. It's been really fun."
Inside the magazine, Howe talks about her strenuous journey getting back to race in this year's Ultra Race of Champions 100k and her training regimen.
Howe came to NMU in 2002 for Nordic skiing. She discovered she also had a passion for running and decided to participate in cross country as well.
Through her time as a Wildcat, she was a two-time All-American, garnering several other honors. But it wasn't until she relocated to Bend in 2010 that she fully commited to the sport of running.
"It was there that I discovered what I really enjoyed doing, and that was running," Howe said.
She credits her success in the sport to her former NMU cross country and Nordic ski coaches, Sten Fjeldheim and Jenny Ryan.
"Stephanie, you could tell, was in it for the long haul," said Fjeldheim. "We've had quite a few athletes who keep competing through their college careers. Stephanie has great work ethic and went after it and kept training...she's doing great."
"She just seemed to have a spark when it was running," said Ryan. "With skiing, she did win a lot of races and she always worked hard, but the running, you could just tell it was just like something she was just born to do."
In the past year, Howe has competed in various races, from the Gorge Waterfalls 50k where she placed first, to the Speedgoat 50k where she also earned a top finish.
But she isn't quite done. Howe is currently training for the Western States Endurance Run this June in California, where she will be running 100 miles.
Her mission?"Just finish," Howe said. "I just want to finish."
She is also in the process of completing her PhD in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.
If you'd like to learn more about Howe and her journey as an ultrarunner, visit her blog: Adventures in Running.