Inside the Mind and Miles of Ultra Runner Andrew Glaze 

The Ultra runner has run over 100 miles for the past 206 weeks (and counting). He shares what he’s discovered while hitting the pavement. 

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
 min read
April 17, 2024

“I’m doing 31 [miles] in the morning, and I’ll probably do another 12 in the evening,” Andrew Glaze exhales as he joins our call mid-run. What else would you expect from a guy who’s run 100-plus miles a week for the past 206 weeks? Of course he’s going to conduct an interview while running.

The 45-year-old fire captain from Southern California has become a prominent figure in the world of distance running over the past few years, thanks in part to social media and to his streak of running over 100 miles each week – for the past (almost) four years. “I’ve run a lot of miles. I think I was just doing the math, and over the last four years, I’ve run, I think, around 31,000 miles.” 

With that many miles under his belt, one might wonder: what the hell is driving this guy to run so much? 

“I just love running,” Glaze says. “I think that if you’re going to run as much as me, there has to be a level of just, absolute love of the motion of running, and that’s definitely part of it. I love being in the outdoors. I love trails and mountains and flowers and trees, and just being in nature,” he continues. 

While the scenery that Glaze paints is beautiful, there’s another not-as-pretty side to why he runs that’s probably pretty relatable for most of us. 

“From a mental health perspective, I have pretty significant PTSD from my job as a fire captain, and before captain, firefighter,” Glaze explains. “I find that running long distances helps quiet the PTSD a little bit, so I think it helps me feel normal.”

A common reason for finding a passion for fitness, Glaze says that “there’s a portion of an ultra marathon where you’ve been going for so long and so hard that your brain kind of clicks off. And all you can really focus on is survival, feeding yourself, and giving yourself water. You don’t really think about anything else, and it’s really soothing. I’m always trying to find that space.” 

The distance runner continues, explaining that “even when you sleep, a lot of times you still have nightmares and things like that. So there’s no real quiet time,” he says of using exercise to balance his mental health. “I don’t do drugs or alcohol, so I don’t have any other way to numb it, and so I basically just numb it with hardcore endurance exercise.” 

Glaze’s realness about using exercise to help find that mental stillness hits home for many of us, and is an important message, especially throughout Mental Health Awareness Month in May. 

Balancing it all 

While Glaze has become a bit of a celebrity both on and offline, his running and content creation is purely a passion project. “I don’t make any money off my social media. I don’t make any money off any companies, I’m not sponsored by anybody – I try to be as authentic as possible because I think that resonates with people more than ‘Hey, buy this cool product because Andy Glaze uses it.’”

Image credit: Andrew Glaze

Not making any money off of sponsorships keeps Glaze from dealing with external pressure, but it also means that, like most of us, Glaze works a full-time job. 

So how does one balance both a physically demanding job and a physically demanding training schedule? “It’s a delicate balance,” the fire captain says. 

“Doing really hard things makes you tired. It also gives you a lot more energy. And so by being physically fit, I tend to feel like I excel at the firehouse because I’ve done a lot of these Ultras and they take extremely long periods of time – two, three, five days sometimes. And so I know that I always have more. I might not feel like I have more, but mentally I know I do. The mental training that goes into completing races gives me the mental fortitude to know, no matter what they throw at me in the firehouse, even if it’s a fire or training or whatever, I always know I have more,” Glaze explains. 

“People always ask, ‘Aren’t you super sore and broke up when you go to work?’ And it’s like, maybe I am, but I can still do the job because I’m super sore and broke up at mile 80, but I still have to run another 20 miles. It’s kind of just the knowledge of knowing your own capabilities and then also just being in incredible physical shape,” he says, highlighting how fitness and daily responsibilities intertwine. 

“You always have more,” Glaze continues, describing Ultras as a “roller coaster of ‘I feel terrible. I feel terrible. I feel good again.’ And you ride that a little bit and it’s like, ‘I feel terrible. I want to quit,’ and then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘I feel good again.’ And just like for anything, you’ve got to ride those highs and lows and know how to battle them.” 

Riding the highs and lows 

Now an expert at ticking off 100-mile-plus distances, Glaze acknowledges that this hasn’t always been the case. 

“It wasn’t always like that when I first started out. I quit a bunch because I was uncomfortable or something happened and it took me out of my comfort zone, and I didn’t know how to manage that. There’s a learning curve about yourself that you have to figure out and get to. It’s not always about pushing through and enduring. Sometimes you quit, and then you’ve got to go back and figure out why did I quit? Could I have done better? What do I need to learn from this experience? And that teaches you a lot, too. So as much as I succeeded, I’ve also failed many times,” he says about turning failures into learning opportunities. 

Image courtesy of Andrew Glaze

Digging deeper into how he’d take these lows and turn them into highs, Glaze says that “when I would fail, I would spend a great deal of time thinking about them [the failures] and if it was something I could control. Sometimes it was a diet issue and my stomach would go bad and I would throw up. Some things like that, you’re just like, I’m not going to do that again, but a lot of it was just doing it over and over again, and just learning more and more about my body.”

With experience as his teacher, Glaze also learned that “the best thing you can do if you really feel like you’re going to quit is just take a nap because your brain lies to you. Sometimes it lies to you because it’s so tired and you just start thinking weird stuff. Just like a computer, you just have to turn it off and turn it back on, and you’ll wake up 10 minutes later and you’ll feel like let’s keep going.” 

While Glaze’s advice here was given in the context of running hundreds of miles, it can be applied pretty much anywhere in life. We all have lows, even athletes like Glaze who, on the surface, look like they could get through just about anything without breaking a sweat. 

“I’ve experienced a lot of lows,” Glaze says of how he learned to handle the dips, both out on the trails and in life. “I think also because I’ve experienced so many lows, when I’m experiencing lows now, I’m like, okay, this is normal. I know that this is how my body reacts. I know this is what my brain wants to think, and I can kind of push through it. But the only way I got there was tons and tons of races. It’s all a process of self-discovery.” 

Wait for the sun

Running 100-plus miles a week doesn’t just happen overnight, and Glaze acknowledges that getting to the point he’s at now has been a long road. 

"The best thing you can do if you really feel like you’re going to quit is just take a nap because your brain lies to you. Sometimes it lies to you because it’s so tired and you just start thinking weird stuff. Just like a computer, you just have to turn it off and turn it back on, and you’ll wake up 10 minutes later and you’ll feel like let’s keep going.” 

“For one hundred and ninety-nine weeks [at the time of our call, currently 206 at the time of publishing] I have run over a hundred miles every week,” Glaze says, pointing out that 100-plus miles more times than not means 140 to 150 miles. 

“I run twice a day. I never miss a day. I never feel super fresh and ready to go, but I mean, that’s how I want to be – that’s the goal. I haven’t missed a date and running in so long I don’t think my body would even know what to do if I didn’t run, so it’s not a negotiable thing in my brain,” Glaze says when I asked him what he does on days when he doesn’t feel like going for a run. 

“There’s no negotiation,” he continues. “It’s just going to happen. There might be weather outside that’s going to make it suck. This morning, I started and it was 36 degrees – which, I’m from Southern California and that’s freaking freezing for us – and I had gloves and I put little heating packs in my gloves and I wore all these jackets and a beanie, and all this stuff and I hated it. I like to basically run naked,” Glaze laughs. 

“But I mean, I did it. The first couple miles, you’re out there in the darkness,” says Glaze, who gets up to run around 2:30 to 3:30 every morning. “It’s just freezing cold. But now I have my little shorts on. No gloves, sunny, it’s blue skies, and it’s amazing,” he says while talking about battling through the dark and cold to get to that warm mid-run sunshine. 

“The sun has to come up. It’s going to get warm, and just know that’s coming. Those nights get real shitty,” Glaze says, talking about running Ultras through the night. “But as soon as that sun comes up, everything’s gonna get better and it does. So you’ve just got to hold on for that sun. Because once you watch it come out, you wake up, and you start feeling so much better.”

Kind of a nice metaphor for life, huh? 

So whether you’re looking for a little motivation on your next run, want to push yourself to a new PR at the gym, or simply need someone to tell you to keep going, take a page out of Andy Glaze’s book and remember that the sun always has to come up. 

Want more from Andrew Glaze? Follow him @amglaze or track his miles on Strava

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