As someone who has conquered nearly every ultra distance under the sun…I’ve pretty much done every type of training program. Speed work, cross training, strength & flexibility, track work, high mileage, hill work, oh my. To me there is a method to ultra madness and really all of those things go in the recipe for a stellar meal. But one thing underrated and often overlooked is the power of the MIND.
When folks ask me about back to back long runs and what it really takes to do these races all the time for so many years without injury I simply tell them, ‘your mind is a powerful tool’.
So, let’s unpack that a bit more and discuss some ways you can gain the confidence to take that leap…into the limitless.
-Visualize your success. One thing remains true with me is that I have this insatiable grit in knowing if I really want to do something, I’m going to do it. I do think training plays a part in this and as a veteran ultra runner I know what my body can handle and you become pretty sensitive to that. However if you are completely new to ultras, IE marathoners have this limit in their mind that 26.2 is it for them. I say this because I was once that runner. But…I still remember a cold day in February during training where I first ran PAST 26.2 for the very first time. I was alone, running in circles around my neighborhood. When I tell you that feeling was absolutely so exhilarating to the point where I STILL DRAW FROM THAT MEMORY to this very day.
You have to have those visual cues to draw from especially at mile 35 or 40 of a 50 mile race. It makes all the difference in the world.
-Know your WHY. Are you uber competitive and want to see how fast you can tackle a 50k? Or do you run for a deeper more spiritual reason? It doesn’t matter…but if you know your why and you stick to that and do not lose sight of that, it will take you very far.
-“Pain, it only hurts”. Scott Jurek is the ultra rock star and master of that knowledge. But I do think most seasoned ultra folks are kind of hardened to the pain. Or, used to it so much that we look forward to it? In a rather sadistic way. Just know that anything beyond a marathon usually is going to hurt like hell and you will be limping for days. I like to call it the limp of glory. Embrace the suck. You’ll learn to love it too.
–Scare yourself. I’m a fan of doing things that are not normal. And not really for shock value, bragging points, or posts on IG. Scare your damn self. Do things that people think are ‘crazy’ and ‘unreal’. Why? For you.
For your strength. For days where you can draw from that strength and say to yourself. Wow, I did the damn thing.
Any more ultra fanatics out there? Feel free to share your words of wisdom.