Part 2: You Know You’re An Ultra Runner When…
This article is a continuation of “Part 1: You Know You’re An Ultra Runner When…“
Well, you’ll definitely know you’re an ultra runner when you’ve read part 1 and were looking forward to part 2. When you read each point and couldn’t help but smile from your own experience. And when you’ve ran through those miles or when those miles ran through you.
We’ve all been there and we’ve all had our ups and downs, but I think it’s healthy to sometimes just sit back and laugh about some of it. What happens on the trails stays on the trails and a lot happens when pushing through a 100 mile race. At times, we learn to push through the resistance and other times to be resourceful and adaptive. Either way, you know you’re an ultra runner when…
Morning runs start before 4:00am
I look back at the days where I walked out my door at 3:00am to run 30 miles in time to get home to feed my son breakfast. Or when I went to bed at 8pm to wake up at 12:00am and run a 62 mile training run. Those frigid cold mornings where the only light provided is from the traffic signals ahead and the moon in the sky. A time of day where the foxes roam the streets and the eyes in the shadows of the trails are a mystery at best. It’s those mornings where the world is still fast asleep as you run in solitude, sacrificing any chance of sleep over the weekend. The morning doesn’t start when the sunrises, it starts when we say it starts. As ultra runners we run our day – the day doesn’t run us.
Plan vacation around race schedule
Have you ever caught yourself planning a vacation around your race schedule or mapping out your run prior to departure? At any given time, an ultra runner typically has a race under consideration or already registered. So when vacation planning comes along, we strategically schedule those days in accordance with our training schedule. It could be a nice relaxing weekend after a 100 miler or a trip that’s a few weeks prior to your race so one day can be used for a long run. While training for my last ultra over 100 miles, I used a vacation day dedicated to my long run. Running for over 10 hours in incredible weather alongside a beach is not a bad way to spend a vacation as an ultra runner. The best part is the delicious dinner to follow and you even get to sleep in!
Need to go to the bathroom and your first instinct is to look for a bush
This is an oddly humorous realization when it occurs. Literally after a long training month followed by an even longer race, I’ve found myself almost accustomed to using a bush for a bathroom. After spending an everlasting time on the trail when I’m outside on a regular day, I’ve caught my self looking ahead for a bush instead of thinking where the closest bathroom was. The sudden awareness is a comical moment. On the trails, there are no luxuries, which ultimately provides a fresh perspective on the things we take for granted in our lives. But at least the bushes never have any long waiting lines!
On race day you’re lapped by the sun
There are some pretty lengthy ultra marathons out there. When you start pushing into the 100 mile range, for most runners, you can plan to run into the following day. I’ve run an ultra marathon over 24 hours as I watched the sun pass me for the second time. The irony is subliminal but try to appreciate the fact that it’s not every day we are defeated by something 4.6 billon years old.
When you say “never again” and no one believes you
Out of the 70 ultra distances I’ve run thus far I said “never again” somewhere in the neighborhood of 71 times. All jokes aside, I’ve said it a few times and seriously meant it once. During my 3rd 100 mile ultra marathon I looked at my crew half way through and said “I’m retiring after this one”. But just as you think the lows couldn’t become any lower, you hit the floor and from there the only direction to go is up. And ultra running can take us up, up, and away! Think about it. There’s no limits in the sport. The only limits are the ones you create. What a marvelous concept.
When one attempts to rationalize running 100 miles, they mostly focus on the actual running itself, but little do they know of the small yet frequent irritations we face. My point is when running such prolonged distances, the uncommon is guaranteed. Yet as an ultra runner, we embrace the uniqueness. Different situations will always take place but what’s important is to keep moving forward despite the adversities. We move forward at the start and move forward to the end. Period.