This is a sport of extremes. Nothing about running 50 or 100 miles at one stretch is “normal” or “balanced.” I’m aware of that fact. Actually, it’s the inspiration for this blog.
Running ultra-distance requires long hours of training, sometimes in extreme conditions and mostly out in the wilderness. On top of that, you have the logistical juggling act of fine-tuning fueling, gearing and strategizing to successfully meet your desired goal — whether this is a particular time, distance or personal achievement. It’s probably the most demanding and time-consuming sport I can think of.
However, that doesn’t mean that we, as ultrarunners, are automatons. Except for the elitest of the elites, we aren’t these guys and girls who do nothing but run all day, every day. We have jobs and families and responsibilities — not to mention very real health and wellness issues that we have to deal with.
Every time I hit the trail, I’m happy to be there. Each time I’m 75 miles into a 100-mile race and suffering, I remind myself how grateful I am to be strong enough to move that far forward on my own two feet. Statistics show that only about 70,000 people worldwide complete an ultra marathon each year. That’s a miniscule percentage who are able to do what we do.
But let’s also be unreservedly honest: The sport of ultrarunning is a selfish ambition. I’ve come to accept this. It takes considerable amounts of time, money and concentration — all of which can negatively impact of our families, friends and careers.
In this sport of extremes, where drive and commitment are so vital, we also require perspective. So, as we struggle to maintain a balance of all things life and ultrarunning, here are few things to keep in mind:
Author: Shalini Kovach is the lead organizer of Terrain Trail Runners. She is a competitive ultrarunner, directs two annual ultra-distance races and organizes other community events, and is a wife and the mother of three girls. Oh, and the dog, don't forget the dog.