Why Ultra Trail Running?

The still waters of a lake reflect the beauty around it.
B.K.S. Iyengar

Many people outside of ultra distance running (anything over 26.2) are a bit perplexed about why people want to run that many miles and for that amount of time. For many, including myself, ultra distance trail running is a training ground for life. It can be hard and messy and miserable at times but my response to those situations and stimuli determines my happiness and success. Ultimately, what we practice regularly becomes stronger. Here are some of the highlights of this sport for me (beyond my love for the outdoors and frolicking in the woods!).

Mindfulness

Living and acting with intention are brought to the forefront with ultra distance trail running. When I demand so much from my mind, body and spirit extra focus must be paid to everything else: nutrition, sleeping, relationships, mental health, work. During training, I often ask myself the questions, “What is important? What do I value?” and making decisions based on that. Sometimes that means missing a fun event or sometimes I miss a run because a friend or family member is the priority. The difference is I naturally find myself more aware of what I am doing and giving voice to why I am doing it. That is being present to my life.

Choosing Courage

The idea of running 100 miles over the course of 24+ hours through the night in the woods gives me a moment’s pause. Setting a challenging goal and making it public can feel scary. Wondering if I have what it takes to complete the distance is uncomfortable. Guess what…so much in life makes me feel uncomfortable or scared. Ultra running directly flexes my courage muscle! As the wise Brene Brown says, “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both.” I regularly think, “If I can run 62 miles (my longest distance to date) I can do this.” In fact, this lead me to starting this blog, taking steps toward a large community project I’ve been dreaming of doing and even joining our local TEDx Steering and Curation committees.

For the People

Attending ultra or endurance events allows you to see some of the best of humanity: personal exploration and growth, resiliency, kindness, pushing beyond perceived limits, courage, discipline, integrity. Trail running events can be fiercely competitive at times but there is an understanding that we all look out for one another. A friend recently started a 100 mile race on a looped course without realizing she had pneumonia. She found herself wheezing loudly but trying to push through thinking she just needed to settle in a bit. A speedy runner (already a loop ahead) stopped and checked on my friend even offering to run back to an aid station to get help. She insisted she was fine to finish the loop so he continued on his journey which eventually lead him to top male winner of the race. This sort of thing happens often at these events. Luckily, fruitful friendships have been created through this sport and I am better for knowing these types of people.

To Be a Better Person

Running or running accomplishments are not important. What is important is that the more at peace I am within myself the more available I am to be authentically kind, loving and open to others. I’ve learned over and over again that I can’t give to others what I don’t have within myself without leading to burnout or resentment. As long as ultra distance trail running brings me closer to reflecting the beauty all around me then I’ll keep moving forward step by step, mile by mile.


Training Recap for Week 1 of 24:
Monday- 4 miles, slow
Tuesday- 7 miles
Wednesday- Body weight workout
Thursday- 7 miles
Friday- Basic yoga
Saturday- 12 miles with 3 towers and Bendel loop
Sunday- 6 miles, slow

One thought on “Why Ultra Trail Running?

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