Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Ultra Running

10. Best of All Worlds - It combines my three favorite things: Running, being in "The Woods", and Eating!

9. Nutrition, Hydration, Electrolytes - It's more than just running. You ultimately have to manage these things well in order to do your best.  But, if you can have this element "dialed in", on any given day you have the ability to beat The Best, when they don't.  I hate NASCAR, but I love that element. 

8. "Youth"! - In a sport where the average competitor is 40+, It's fun to be "the young guy" again!  :D

7. Resiliency (& Forgiveness) - The ability to run a hard 50M race, then be able to come back the next day and run an "easy 14" without consequence.

6. Race Reports - In what other sport does the individual competitor provide their blow-by-blow account?  It's a fascinating perspective into their race; even more so if you were right next to them for it!

5. Sustainability - of pace, of training, of The Body.  Success - both short and long-term - in ultra running depends on sustainability.  Of the stride, of fueling, of training.  To learn sustainability is to learn to love the feel of effortless running; sometime relearning, for some, learning for the first time. 

4. Race Dynamics - the marathon comes close, but only in ultra running can you be at death's door and be Resurrected.  The ability of both body and spirit to "turn the tide" makes the battle - of the competition, and of Self - so rewarding.  And it's a microcosm of life.

3. It's a "Pure Sport" - challenging oneself, and challenging your competitor by giving them your best.  Your best is achieved only through your competitor giving their best.

2. Mentorship & Stewardship - having guys like LB and AJW - who are not only mentors to us "young road guys", but models for stewardship - of the competition, and of the arena - and of the competitive spirit.  Seeing and hearing them battle at AR50 last week, then the bantor and camraderie afterwards, was one of the highlights of last weekend.  And lest we forget The Queen - who teaches all of us that you don't have to be 20 years old and a guy to be a fiery competitor!

1. The Camaraderie & Community - pre-race, post-race and in-between.  Top guys hanging at the finish to ask us middlers how it went; and the post-race festivities.  The true spirit of running, as a sport, is through community - of communal sacrifice, support, and celebration.


  1. Gotta admit, you somehow came up with 10 things that are good about ultrarunning. I can't say I've ever done one. My longest run was a 26 at the end of Ironman, although that probably got me a little bit of what you're talking about in some of these. I still think you guys are crazy. :) Here's 10 reasons you guys are nuts:

    10: It's NOT the best of all worlds. It's EXTREMELY limited and limiting from a fitness and athleticism standpoint.

    9: It requires you to eat and hydrate in such a way that it's beyond what's really good for you.

    8: It puts you in a position where the old guys in your sport are better athletes than you, and EVERYONE ELSE that trains in other sports is too.

    7: It makes you have a terribly limited and disfunctional body. Couch potatoes can trump most ultra-runners in several key aspects of fitness.

    6: It makes you have a terrible looking body.

    5: It makes you weigh less than many girls--even hot ones! Hot girls generally find it to be a turnoff if a dude weighs less than them.

    4: Can't pick up heavy shit.

    3: It makes you bad at sports.

    2: It's time-consuming.

    1: It's boring.

    I'm just goofing with you Tran, although I am curious as to how you'd respond to the criticism about it making you un-fit.

  2. HA! Thanks, Danny! Good points, though I'm glad that they're mostly "tongue-in-cheek".

    Before going too deeply into it, two points:

    1. Having had the opportunity to meet/interact with many of the best ultra runners in the US, they're QUITE strong -- in fact, few of them are particulary "skinny" (photo evidence of LB and AJW forthcoming!). Moreover, some of the best "ultra-Ultra runners" have significant muscular development. For the punishers -- like WS and Hardrock -- it may be a necessity.

    2. In my prep for WS, I've: A) Never been stronger in the legs. I'm 2 plates shy of MAXING OUT the leg extension machine at Anytime Fitness, and my squat is the best it's been. Same with pull-ups, repping sets of x10 at the end of my intense, "CrossFit-like" weight routine: -- where I'm RUNNING between exercises, without rest. :)

  3. Correction: AREN'T particular skinny... :)

  4. Ya know, I have actually noticed that some of the better ultra-runners are a bit bigger than their lesser long-distance equivalents, but not by much. And that might just be anecdotal. My criticisms are actually with distance running in general, rather than specifically ultra-running. Ultra running is just easy to categorize as the most obsessive brand of distance running, although that might not be fair. Generally, I criticize the idea that the fittest guy on earth is the guy that can run the farthest. Personally, I think that guy is a pussy. :)

    I'm opposed to isolation exercises like leg extension, but I'm interested in what your back squat is when you're in 50-mile shape? Have you done a 1-rep max or a 5-rep max or anything like that?

    I am glad to hear you're doing pull-ups and lifting in a CrossFit-like manner though!

  5. Nice to meet you too this weekend Joe..