The pain of running a 62-mile race over 22 hours can feel unbearable — but ultramarathoner Verna Volker said she’s had ample training: She birthed four kids without medication.

Volker, 48, tries to keep pain in perspective as she trains for her next ultra, defined as any race longer than a 26.2-mile marathon.

She drinks coffee in the dark and starts running on the river bluffs at 4:30 a.m. Stopping for TikTok dance breaks, she runs at what she calls a “turtle” pace, sticking to soft trails to manage inflammatory arthritis in her knee.

When the pain is sharp, Volker remembers why she’s running, and it’s not for speed. She runs to greet the morning in prayer. She runs to uplift and encourage Indigenous women. And she runs to heal. Read more…