Being an ultrarunner definitely comes with it’s fair share of challenges, but a common one is dealing with people’s responses to the sport. Be it my family members, co-workers, or even strangers, when someone finds out that I run ultras, I get a handful of questions that I’ve learned to expect.
- You run for that long? I don’t even like driving that long! Yes, this has to be one of the most common things I hear. While I appreciate the humor in their response, I don’t think they are much alike; I don’t like sitting in a car for long periods of time, either! Ask anyone who has to be in a car with me for more than an hour and they’ll tell you I need to get out of the car frequently and complain a lot. A similar comment that I get is, “Why did you drive there? You could have just run!” One action requires sitting still for long periods of time and dealing with traffic. The other requires one foot to go in front of the other, mind you, for long periods of time.
- Won’t you hurt yourself? End up in a wheelchair? What about your knees?! I appreciate the concern people have for my health and general well-being, but running isn’t the only thing that causes pain in the world. Heck, I just got a paper cut earlier today and boy, that hurt like the dickens. While most runners will experience an injury in their running career, I have promised myself that in order to keep running, I have to listen to my body at all times and the cues I get from it. Just a few weeks ago, I decided to skip a long run due to a chest cold. It wasn’t easy, but I knew that was best. While I can’t guarantee that I won’t end up with bad knees in the future, I also could end up with an unhealthy body by playing any other sport or even worse, not exercising at all.
- How do you eat during an ultra? What about going to the bathroom? Do you sleep? For someone not familiar with running hours upon hours, these are good questions. There are some necessary functions that don’t just shut down when running an ultra, but they definitely make the day trickier. I’ve learned how to eat on the go or I just take walk breaks to eat. I find a restroom when I need it and if I don’t, well, there’s Mother Nature. I have been lucky that I haven’t needed to sleep during any of my ultras, but I know plenty of people who nap right along a course to catch some Zzzs.
- WHY do you do it? This has to be the hardest question to answer and give a satisfying answer. I have been running for more than half of my life and have primarily focused on distance races. Ultras give me the opportunity to challenge my body, my mind, and general convention of “normal.” Running ultras has allowed me to push myself to places I never thought I’d go, to meet amazing other runners, and to apply the lessons from my races to my general life.
What common questions do you get about running ultras?
What is your favorite way to respond?