A Thank You Letter To Ultra Running
It’s sure been one enduring and adventurous ride. Although it’s been a relatively short time thus far, my gratitude has been extended tenfold through those leg pounding, quad crushing, mind breaking, immeasurable, never-ending miles. Ultra running teaches us many lessons about ourselves that seem to only surface from the adversity we face while running 100 miles through the highs and the lows. Down the valleys of our lowest struggles up to the mountains of our highest achievements. My appreciation goes beyond belief as I tie up my running shoes before each new race, looking back on my journey to another starting line with gratitude for the health in my body, the determination in my mind, and the faith in my soul. Gratitude opens the door for a much higher quality of running and a much higher quality of life. In a world where tomorrow is never promised, I thank ultra running for teaching me to appreciate the now, and to run in the moment because that moment is forever and forever we run.
Thank you for the certainty you provide for each and every new run. When the day goes haywire and the nights become hectic, I can always count on a long run to clear my mind and to organize my thoughts. It provides an opportunity to gain precise mental clarity through the stresses of life like a bright, illuminated headlamp piercing through the mist of a fog-covered trail. When you allow significant time for yourself, you can then give much more to others. In turn, I’ve become a better dad, husband, writer, manager, and a better individual. We are all creatures of habit and ultra running brings a habitual sense of accomplishment and health as we run towards our new goals. It’s ironic how an extremely uncomfortable sport can provide so much comfort. I always know where my running shoes are located (my many, many running shoes) along with the trails and roads I take if commonality is what I seek. Deep down inside, I know as I approach the starting line that, one way or another, I will move my feet forward to that finish. I thank you for that.
Thank you for the adventure and the surprise you bring into my life as it becomes increasingly vibrant, remarkably vivid, and exceptionally illuminated. Variety is what makes us feel alive and the unique experiences during these exceptionally long training runs and races bring interesting situations to say the least. For the people I’ve ran into (and I mean literally ran into) and the wild animals I’ve ran from, to the mouthfuls of mud and the toenails I’ve lost, along the wrong trails I’ve taken, I thank you for the challenges perceived as opportunities to strengthen my abilities. The morning sun has never shimmered so bright as while running up the side of a cliff after running 24 hours continuously. In ultra marathons you can expect the unexpected. Can you feel the adventure? I thank you for that.
Most of my life has been on the move. Always on my feet, naturally attracted to endured tasks and action where growth and results are available. I never knew why this was. I still don’t. But I’m thankful for discovering a platform where my strengths can be brought to light, a place they can be shared, a place I can call home. I thank you for that.
Growth is the way of life. Everything around us is growing, from the trees in the forest to the bacteria in our body. Since progress is occurring all around us, if we are not moving forward, then the direction we are headed is backwards. Ultra runners of all shapes and sizes are pushing past their own limits, which encourages others to challenge the impossible, inspiring each other to go harder and to move farther than ever before. In ultra running I believe our growth provides us with a sense of fulfillment as human beings. I thank you for that.
Although we live and take care of ourselves, life is ultimately about each other. Ultra running allows us to share our unique experiences and to learn from one another. We learn what works well for ourselves and what does not. It places you in a community with some of the most intensely focused and uniquely passionate individuals. A community where anyone is welcomed if you are up for the challenge. I thank you for all the great athletes I’ve learned from along the way and for all the knowledge I’ve been able to pass on to contribute to the success of others. Although I’m nowhere close to my final running destination, I’m thankful for the journey I’m on, and for the next challenge ahead. We can see adversity as stressful, or we can see adversity as a chance to improve, to grow, and to progress, eventually becoming better with each new obstacle we face. I thank you for that.
With the extended periods upon our feet our bodies become stronger as we expand by demand. I thank you for the health and vitality I’ve achieved both directly and indirectly from ultra running. The amount of energy and momentum gained for the day from persistently running has become considerably abundant. Although this amount of stress on the body is not always the healthiest form of exercise, the dietary and lifestyle changes I’ve made to continue progressing forward through these long and taxing distances has been nothing short of amazing. I thank you for that.
Deep down into the dirt of the trails, while my legs swing forward like a robust perpetual locomotive forcefully powering ahead, I focus on what I’m grateful for. When we are feeling grateful it’s almost impossible to feel bad and in a sport where intense detrimental physical and mental pain is guaranteed, gratitude can help us along the way. The way may be long and it may be challenging, but nonetheless we are running, doing what we love, and in that moment we are free, replacing expectations with gratification, I think we can all be thankful for that.