Ultra Marathon Runners Must Be Mad – Right?

As a runner, especially one in the honeymoon period, the first year or so. One of the things that keeps you going is your friends & family telling you that you’re mad. I guess you either listen to them and stop, or take pride and continue, often doing an even crazier route or in more treacherous weather. I certainly adhered to the latter, I’d run in the snow, -5, -8 – Do your worst God because nothing is going to beat me! I was a crazy runner, but I loved it.

Yesterday I ran 10k with the Nike team. I fooled myself into thinking that I was the runner I once was, joining the 5min/km’ers. Needless to say, I limped round the course in a performance that would make my old self die of embarrassment. During my lonely run, spent listening to the faster members of the group chatting away at 4:30min/km pace, I began to ponder how anyone could ever run an Ultra Marathon.

An Ultra is basically anything over 26.2 miles, though it often constitutes a figure far in excess of this. A few of the guys from my old running club have run Ultra’s in the past and a couple are set to complete one in the near future. How could these people attempt this feat? I asked myself as my legs began to tire around 7km. Ok, I’m a long way off of fitness, but anything over 26.2 miles seemed so far away.

Any how, I digress. Running at times can be a solitary experience, even when running as a group. I know that sounds crazy, but anyone who is a runner will know what I mean. There’s lots of time to think and that’s the beauty of it.

I continued to ponder my thoughts about Ultra runners and came to the conclusion that they must be mad. And that’s when it hit me. I have run a marathon before and people thought I was mad – but it was all part of the training & my body was up to the challenge. I figure Ultra runners are simply a different breed of runner, I’ve no doubt a few have a screw loose, but we all run for different reasons. Whether it’s charity, fitness or simply to challenge one’s self, we shouldn’t be asking why, but rather congratulating eachother on our desire to reach our goals and fulfil ourselves.

Have you ran an Ultra before? What was your motivation – or are you simply mad? 🙂


7 thoughts on “Ultra Marathon Runners Must Be Mad – Right?

  1. My buddy English Pete just retired from Ultras after about 4 or 5 years. He’s been up to 60 miles, and he is absolutely not nuts. He has a better control of his mind than most people for sure, but that’s not “nuts”. He’s leaving the land of Ultras because he’s done as much as he wants to and he doesn’t want to take the time it takes to train away from his family any longer. Ultra marathons, at least for a while, were his thing. Cycling and triathlons are my thing, my buddy Tim is a mountain biker… We all cross sports, but we get into the Ultra zone when we find our thing – that one thing we just love to do. For Pete, a marathon just wasn’t long enough to feel the energy that comes with the effort, he wanted to see if he could make it last longer.

    • Hey man,

      Firstly – Kudos to your pal Pete. 4-5 years running ultras is no mean feat & completing a 60 mile course deserves recognition! I can only imagine how much of his spare time ultra training must have taken up, I almost became a recluse to my friends during marathon training & that’s not even half way…

      Once I get back into the groove, I’ll begin cross training again & hopefully enjoy riding through the city into the suburbs.

      I completely agree with your closing sentence, for some a marathon isn’t enough. I think for me 20 miles is the cap.

      Keep up the good work buddy, I look forward to reading your posts & hopefully taking a few tips when I begin cross training again.

  2. Pete is indubitably cut from a different cloth. Your cap is quite a bit over my half marathon cap – I just never got that into running that I’d want to go any further than that – I just ran to “not get fat”.

    Beyond that, I look forward to following your blog and adventures as well. Great Blog name, by the way.

  3. I’m training for one in September. Not satisfied with my marathon performance, I’ve decided to try and break myself even more! It’s all about challenging yourself to do something mental!

      • Thanks! Ultra is 35 miles… starting out “easy”!
        My 10k is coming along nicely thanks, averaging out at about 35minutes now which I’m pretty chuffed with! Hows your reentry into running coming along?

      • 35 minutes is FANTASTIC mate. My PB is 38:47 which I set almost 4 years ago now.

        My re-entry is a no entry at the moment. Had my stitches taken out of my foot today but the doctor reckons it’ll be another month before I’ll be able to run. Bummer eh.

        Good luck with the ultra, we’ll have to catch up over a run when I’m back in the swing.

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