Why we run ? : a conversation with Bernd Heinrich

Forty years old : the start of the long wait or an age of possibilities ? For Bernd Heinrich it was definitely the latter, as 40 was the age when he discovered ultrarunning and began setting records. Now in his 80s, Heinrich has just written Racing The Clock : Running Across A Lifetime, a follow up to Why We Run : A Natural History*, his classic account of his twin lives : ultra-thinker and racing naturalist. Encounter with 80 years of wisdom…

Racing the clock : running across a lifetime will be published on 6 July. Book and audio book available.


The word that came to mind when reading your autobiography was “hard”. You’re a survivor : you survived History, you survived Germany’s collective past and you survived your childhood. Is that how you feel ? Did it make you or did it scar you ?

Bernd Heinrich : No, I feel no bitterness, resentment or need for revenge. Even though my history, my experiences, my past, are perfectly intact in my mind. In fact, I realise that everything I feel is quite amazing : there’s no getting over or surmounting my past, which I in no way think of as a “dog’s life”. Just happiness and gratitude towards how events unrolled. That’s very alive, present. So many things are due to chance, totally unexpected. So many major events in my life started as insignificant seeds. It still amazes me.

Was running instinctive for you or was