WHY? It's a question that non-distance runners blurt with true amazement when considering that anyone would want to run 50+K up and down mountains for the better part of a day. It's a question that I needed to answer to my husband and to my kids to get them on board. It's a question that I needed to ask and answer of myself before I started on this journey, even if not consciously. I heard an ultrarunner once say (maybe it was Scott Jurek?) that it's good to write those reasons down so that when you are dead tired and you feel like you want to quit, you can pull from it for motivation. So here's my attempt to synthesize the many reasons why I've chosen the ultramarathon goal. This was not an easy post to write.
TOP 10 Reasons Why I'm Training for an Ultra
1) I get to be alone for several hours at a time. As a physiotherapist I interact with dozens of people every day. As a wife and mom, someone is always asking me for something and I get so tired of talking and listening all day long. When I run it's the only part of the day I can be alone and I need that to stay sane.
2) Weight management. I don't need to run 50K to control my weight, but I'd be lying if staying slim wasn't part of my motivation for running. At 37 I cannot eat what I did at 27 and get away with it, but having healthy exercise habits sure makes it easier to enjoy food without guilt! Well, most foods.
3) Healthy habits. One simply cannot run for hours regularly while eating crap and sleeping little. We did a cleanse for the month of January, and I am using my ultra training as motivation to continue eating whole unprocessed foods, ideally gluten-free. I am also committed to getting more sleep. What you fuel your body with really does play a large role and I'm embracing the need to run clean!
4) Achievement. I have a fierce need to achieve and push myself. I know the source of this goes back to my childhood when achievement was highly valued in my family. I don't really care where it comes from, I just need to fill that need!
5) Curiosity. I want to see what it feels like. I want to see if I really can. I want to see what all the fuss is about. In a twisted way I want to feel the pain and run through it.
|Running with ELM 2005|
6) Professional development. As a physio, I want to see what happens to the human body first hand when training at such a high volume. I am paid for my advice, and I often work with athletes. Some of the best lessons I've learned have not come from a book. Making mistakes and feeling pain myself, and conversely doing things right and feeling great, offers me valuable knowledge that I can pass onto my patients. When someone pays me for my expertise I want them to be confident that they are getting their money's worth!
7) Less pressure. I am a very driven person and even when you tell me to just run easy, I tend to always look at my GPS and check my pace. A friend who ran the Squamish 50 this summer said something to me that resonated: "When you run a road marathon, the first thing people ask you is what 'what time did you finish?' When you run a mountain ultra, the first question is, 'DID you finish?'" No one cares about your pace or even your time, at least in my league of running. I need a break from checking my pace.
8) You get to walk! "Trek" is not a 4 letter word in ultra running. You are allowed to walk, and even the pros do it sometimes. Even though I have yet to run my first ultra, I already am loving the culture. It's so much more relaxed and laid back - really it's all about pacing for the long haul.
9) Set an example. I know I don't have to run 50K to set a good example for my kids, but a large part of my running is motivated by the desire to show my kids that fitness values are important, and can/should be maintain throughout life.
|My brother and I|
10) I CAN. And the top reason why I want to run an ultramarathon is because I can. Simply because it is a choice that I have. My only sibling, my younger brother, was in an accident at age 13 that left him with a spinal cord injury paralyzed from the chest down. He does not have that choice. Although he never talks about it, I know he would give ANYTHING to be able to wiggle his big toe, more less walk or run. I can run. I can use my body the way God created it to be used and I feel not only a responsibility to my brother, but to my Creator to move my body and use it as it was meant to be used. Humans were not meant to sit at desks or in cars all day long. We were meant to walk, run, hike, dance. My brother has accomplished so much with his disabilities. He truly is my inspiration and my hero. His strength inspires me to be the best I can be. Should I ever become inactive and spend my days sitting on the couch (due to choice rather than injury), I would hope that he would look me square in the eyes and tell me, "How DARE you."