3 Unpopular Truths About Ultrarunning
I haven’t been a runner all my life – only a little more than four years to be precise – but in that time I have come to a certain set of conclusions about this amazing sport we participate in. I’ve known these for some time, as do many of you, but I’ve come to realize that I’ve repressed them, not wanting to admit the reality of these truths. Ascertain for yourself after careful mediation whether you agree with me or not, but I ask you to be honest with yourself before you jump to conclusions.
- You can’t eat whatever you want just because you run super far. I’ve used the excuse of “I run ultras so I can eat whatever I want” and had it used on me more times than I can count. In fact, I’ve heard it so many times that I’ve even bought into it. And yes, while my extremely high level of activity does allow for a few indulgences, this statement is generally an outright lie. The truth is, while running certainly helps your overall health and those benefits will reduce the risks of certain health-related illnesses, it will never outweigh a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. If you fill your stomach with fast food cheeseburgers and milkshakes, while it may not go to your hips, a considerable amount will still find its way into your heart and arteries. If you want to perform at your best, try and eat at your best. Or in my case, at least a little better.
- Ultrarunning is inherently selfish. I can say for certainty that my accomplishments in ultrarunning have inspired more than a few people to change their life and start living a healthier lifestyle. I have participated in charitable events and given money to others. All of that aside though, I’ve come to realize that what I do is actually quite selfish. It takes considerable amounts of money, dedication, and time – all of which take away from our families, our jobs, and social responsibilities. While we may inspire many and raise money for those less fortunate, the actual act of ultrarunning is a selfish ambition and likely someone besides ourselves is seeing the negative impacts of that.
- It’s cool, but is it really that cool? When people find out how far I run they regularly respond with the same three comments – “I don’t like to drive that far”, “You’re going to ruin your knees” and “All in the same day? That’s just stupid”. I’ve convinced myself that they are just jealous and are projecting their personal frustrations and disappointment with their own lives onto me because the coolest thing they do on a regular basis is record 4 different shows at the same time on their DVR. But the reality is this…YES, it is that cool. It’s really f&$@ing cool and every time I hit the trails I’m happier for making the decision to be out there. Each time I’m 80 miles into a 100 and suffering beyond belief I remind myself just how cool it is that I can do that; be healthy enough to move under my own power that far, and that less than .01% of the people on the planet can do what I’m doing.
So don’t ever forget just how cool it is that you can run ultra distances, inspire others, and eat whatever you want. Wait. What?
The author running along trails above Salt Lake City, UT