Runner constantly seeks out ways to challenge himself: ‘I want to see how far I can push my body’
By Jenna Schifferle
Thomas Alguire, 40, of Angola, has been running for seven years.
His job installing heating systems for restaurants means he’s always on his feet and occasionally has to work obscure hours. But that doesn’t dissuade him from running. He fits runs in wherever he can, even when that means hitting the pavement at midnight or 1 a.m.
Alguire’s running journey started seven years ago with a 5K race for which he didn’t train. The sun beat down hot that day. Being new to the sport, he didn’t carry hydration with him. By the end of the race, he was depleted.
“I didn’t consider myself a runner back then,” he said. “I was like a fish out of water.”
Despite being unprepared, he pushed forward and reached the end. His body was exhausted, but his mind was buzzing.
“It was the finish line. The crowds of people. Everyone cheering you on.
Everyone’s so nice out there,” he said.
That day set into motion Alguire’s lifelong passion for competing. He soon did additional 5K races, including the Texas Roadhouse 5K. The sole competitor in his age group, he took first place.
Following a taekwondo injury, Alguire decided to mix up his fitness routine and take his running to the next level. He registered for a half marathon (13.1 miles) in Ellicottville and soon began to wonder what he had gotten himself into. On race day, the miles became a struggle, and his body felt under-prepared. He finished, but the soreness stayed with him for well over a week.
So did the feeling of accomplishment.
“As much as I hurt afterward, I had this feeling like, ‘I just ran a half. What else am I capable of?’” he said.
This feeling catalyzed his fitness journey, leading him to sign up for the Spartan Sprint in Pittsburgh. Unlike a standard 5K, Spartan races are held on off-road terrain and incorporate obstacles for competitors to work through over the length of the journey. The Spartan Sprint is often considered the “gateway” to longer Spartan races and includes 20 obstacles in mud and water that athletes climb, crawl and cross. Obstacles range from monkey bars and walls to sandbags, dunk tanks and more.
For Alguire, that first sprint turned into a years-long obsession with competing in Spartan races. His goal is always to see how far he can push himself physically and mentally. He has competed in 18 Spartan races up and down the East Coast and in Chicago, completing the coveted Spartan Trifecta six times. A Spartan Trifecta consists of three parts completed over a single racing season:
1) Spartan Sprint or Spartan Stadion: a 5K (~3.1 miles) with 20 obstacles
2) Spartan Super: a 10K (~6.2 miles) race with 25 obstacles
3) Spartan Beast: 21K (~13 miles) with 30 obstacles / or Spartan Ultra: 50k (~31.1 miles) with 60 obstacles
“I want to see how far I can push my body,” Alguire said. “How far can I go? What else can I do? What am I capable of?”
Alguire constantly seeks out ways to challenge himself, whether that’s with a new course and different obstacles or by adding more mileage to his docket.
He completed a 30-mile obstacle course in Scotland in 30-degree, foggy weather. Among the obstacles for that event was a swim across the pond that was enough to give some competitors hypothermia. Alguire finished in 13 hours.
He has also completed several 100-mile races, including the Beast of Burden, Florida Keys 100, and a virtual 100-mile run around his hometown.
For these events, he runs for 26 or more hours at a time.
“You get to a spot during 100-mile races, where you just want to stop and lay down,” he said.
It’s during those moments when mental preparation comes into play.
Alguire typically runs every day, sometimes twice a day, as part of his training. But it’s self-reflection and mental resilience that make the difference when he needs to push through. Though it’s rare, there have been a couple occasions when he’s had to throw in the towel.
“You tell yourself all these reasons you should quit and sometimes your mind just wins,” he said. “It is one of the most defeating things to know your mind quit before your body did.”
At the same time, he lives for the moments when he finishes a race. It is those successes that propel him forward.
In 2022, he’ll continue that forward momentum, despite injuries and life’s obstacles. His advice to others?
“Be open-minded and listen to your body. Know when to push through and when to quit,” he said.
Jenna Schifferle is a writer from Tonawanda. She runs to stay healthy, challenge herself, and collect new stories to write about.