As you contemplate running your first ultra marathon, you may be struck with an assortment of mixed emotions. It can certainly be a huge commitment. Choosing and attempting to break such an inconceivable barrier both physically and mentally can sure be a whole lot to swallow. But what if you took your training one run at a time? That is, what if you only focused on the mileage of your next run? Suddenly, this enormous goal seems much more obtainable. If you can’t imagine running 50 or 100 miles, then break it up. First image running a 5k then a 10k then a marathon, and so on. Soon enough, each small achievement becomes one giant success. If you can make it through your training and ultimately reach the starting line, you will then have a realistic opportunity to enter into the world of the unknown and achieve something you once considered impossible. Can you imagine what that could do to a person? To achieve the impossible? So, this year, as you determine your various resolutions, you may want to consider taking on the challenge of an ultra marathon. There’s a chance it will change your life momentarily, but there’s also a chance that it will change your life forever. So, in this new year, maybe it’s worth taking a new chance, maybe it’s worth taking a chance on yourself. Here you will find 7 Reasons To Make Running An Ultra Marathon Your Resolution For The New Year. This year believe in the unknown, believe in your training, and believe in the outcome, the outcome of finishing an ultra marathon and the outcome of a brand new you.
Become Extremely Fit
Miles and miles on your feet will take your body to unbelievable levels of fitness. Ultra runners of all ages are out on the trails built like well-oiled machines. Most elite runners are in their 30’s, runners in there 40’s are shattering course records, and you might even be fortunate enough to share the trails with someone in their 70’s. If you train smart and take your health seriously, there’s a potential for longevity in the sport. Ultra runners are built in all different shapes and sizes. The lifestyle changes it takes to reach this level of endurance is nothing short of amazing. An amazingly new and extremely fit body for the new year and possibly for a new life.
During one race, I was fortunate enough to share the coarse with a man who was in his 70’s. During the pre-race meeting they dedicated the race to him along with announcing his completion of 500 marathons and ultra marathons combined. When you think about it, most individuals who conclude running is unhealthy are those who do not run or those who tried running but gave up through the struggle before reaching their true potential. After my first ultra marathon, my body felt like it was pummeled by a truck, I was completely out of commission for a week. Now when I run a 50-mile race on Sunday, I’m back to work on Monday, and in the gym Monday night. The body doesn’t know miles, it only knows stress. I’m in the greatest shape of my life and it’s only becoming better. Ultra running will do that to a person.
When you think of a bone, most people picture a static structure, but actually, bones are dynamic in nature. They are living tissue and they are continuously being broken down and rebuilt. As we put more stress on our bodies, our bones grow back stronger to meet their new demands for sustainability. Ultra marathons put runners on their feet for exceedingly longer than average, thus promoting a stronger skeletal system–that is, if healthy decisions are made as well. We expand by demand and ultra running is one of the most demanding sports there is.
A few weeks ago, I ran a 58-mile training run. Approaching 50 miles I thought to myself, “wow I feel incredible”. Sure, it was a challenging run both physically and mentally but I was able to keep on moving nonstop for hours. Furthermore, I woke up the following morning and ran 22 miles totaling 80 miles for the weekend. The strength we develop from ultra running does not come from drinking milk and it sure does not develop on its own overnight. Increasing the strength of our bodies is available to each and every one of us. When we choose resistance in replace of relaxation of any form, we become stronger, one way or another we will experience growth.
The amount of running an Ultra Marathon requires will send your energy reserves to brand new heights. Running longer distances naturally increases blood circulation and oxygen levels, creating more awareness and energy. Not to mention, the reduction of stress and anxiety which will ultimately put you in a better mood. Your family, colleagues, and friends will thank you but most importantly, you will thank yourself.
The majority of my day is voluntarily spent on my feet. Momentum is a powerful force as we move throughout our day. If we can move frequently and eat naturally then we can gain an increased level of vitality within our bodies. Once an individual gets a taste of a real healthy lifestyle, it’s seldom they will ever go back.
Learn To Take Action
When you go through such a rigorous training program and run a distance of such magnitude, it provides a fresh perspective on excuses and what you’re actually capable of. We naturally develop excuses during training to stop us from even getting to the starting line. Discussing your excuses with someone else will only provide more comfort to quit before you even start. Your friends and loved ones mean well but unfortunately, it’s difficult to rationalize or make logical sense out of running an ultra marathon. You will learn to recognize excuses for what they are–-excuses–-and keep moving forward to race day and to any other goal in your life. As you gain this type of clarification, it will automatically reduce procrastination, allowing for more action in everything you do.
From a personal level of running I say that taking action is extremely important, especially when something goes wrong, and on race day something will always go wrong. For example, let’s say you cramp up uncontrollably on race day, then, you could A- lay down and feel sorry for yourself and quit or B- quickly develop a plan and immediately take action by implementing it into your race. The choice is yours because every single action we take both on and off the trail starts with a decision, a decision to try. Your race is YOUR race, and if your action fails, try a new one. We must stay in control of our actions which in turn gives us control of our outcomes, and in an ultra marathon we all want the same basic outcome, to cross the finish line.
After finishing an ultra marathon, you become part of an elite club of athletes. Completing the 100-mile distance puts you close to one in a million, literally. If marathon running puts you in a CLASS of its own, ultra running puts you in a WORLD of its own. Quite possibly, you may find yourself setting the largest goal of your life and achieving it. That’s persistence, that’s determination, and yes, that’s confidence.
After I finished my recent 58-mile training run I’ve never felt better in my life, that is, better after completing a distance of such magnitude. I looked at my wife as I returned with no arrogance or attitude, no, far from it. Humbly and gratefully I said, ” I’m A Machine!” Look, I’m far from an elite athlete but my goal has never been about becoming the fastest on the course, my goal has always been to finish each race feeling better both physically and mentally then the last one. After this run I felt like I’ve made incredible progress and I say THIS with confidence.
Running ultra marathons places you right smack in the middle of a community with some of the most passionately driven and uniquely focused individuals to have ever put on a pair of running shoes. No matter what level you reach, there’s an incredible amount of support from your fellow runners. We acknowledge each other because we understand from a deeper meaning what it takes. The courage it takes to make the decision, the sacrifices it takes to complete the training, and the determination it takes to cross the finish line. Fellow ultra runners are happy to help, family and friends on the course are delightful, and the volunteers are absolutely amazing.
The ultra running community is incredibly supportive and anyone willing to attempt surpassing their own limitations is welcomed. Personally, I’m incredibly grateful to share a course with such amazing individuals. Runners of all shapes, sizes, and abilities find themselves out on the coarse going after their own personal goals to better themselves. The trails do not discriminate. Anyone is welcomed. I think there’s a hidden beauty in this.
Faith In The Unknown
When standing at the starting line, about to tackle a distance of such proportions, you may find your self developing a feeling of uncertainty. However, entering into the unknown teaches us to have faith. Faith is not something we develop. Faith is something that we all have; it’s something we are born with. Faith gives us that amount of certainty to combat hesitation. Sure, we do not know where it comes from, but just like all of the most significant figures throughout time, you must decide to have it anyway. Ultra marathons will teach you to not just have faith in the unknown but to also have faith in yourself.
The view over the horizon is beautiful and it’s attainable and the map to arrive there is simple, just keep moving forward. Trusting the unknown may be the most beneficial lesson learned from ultra running and from life in general. When we have faith in the unknown we can go after any goal of any magnitude. To believe in the unknown is nothing but a choice and the choice is ours. You can let the unknown scare you or you can let it excite it. You can let the unknown stress you or you can let it intrigue you. You can let the unknown create anxiety or you can let it create curiosity. As I take the starting line of any new distance I have trust in myself and faith in the unknown as I move forward with excitement to see what I’m made of, but the choice is always ours… so choice wisely.
Running an ultra marathon does not happen overnight. It’s about the actions we take each day towards its obtainment that makes our vision turn into a reality. Generally, running an ultra marathon, especially for the first time, will not provide you with direct optimum health. In fact, it can be devastating to the body. But for those searching for something more, for those who understand the hidden benefits of suffering, how adversity of any kind is what shapes us and gives us character, for those who can see an obstacle not as an omen but as a challenge to grow, then running an ultra marathon may be for you. It’s the human experience in its most natural form physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you clicked on this link, chances are you are one of these individuals. If you declare running an ultra marathon as one of your resolutions for the new year, make it a concrete goal in your mind and give it the focus it needs. With this intense degree of certainty, you will find a way. So, on that day, in that race, you do it for one person and one person only. You do it for yourself. You cross that finish line and you change your life forever.
Thank you so very much for reading this week’s post. I wish you the best of luck in any goal you make this year. Remember it’s not so much about the goals as a whole but about the small steps we take each day towards their obtainment. Every day each small action we take molds us into that person we want to be, that person we have to be, or maybe that person we were meant to be. Stay healthy, be strong, and most importantly above all …. KEEP IT MOVING