Are you sequencing your ultra marathon racing goals something like this:
1. Break X time for the ultra
2. X + one hour as a backup goal
3. Salvage the race with X + two hours
If not you, it certainly was me and 90% of the runners I’ve run with and coached. And, I did a lot to promote this type of goal setting over the years.
In hindsight, I put so much pressure on myself to hit certain times that I ignored my own body and pushed myself to poor performances. My worst moment came when I DNF’d the 2011 Copper Canyon Ultra. I mentally flogged myself while I spewed out loads of excuses to everyone else. But in my lowest point of DNF Hell I found my freedom. It came from a simple message the popped into my head and instantly I agreed to follow this message. The message was, “What if I vow to never DNF another race?”. It was my savior; it flipped my entire perspective on training, racing and the sport of ultra marathons.
This simple agreement instantly taught me to stay ahead issues by paying very close attention to my body, how it worked (or didn’t) while carefully watching for the initial warning signs. My mantra in ultra races is FIX IT ! My training partner has adopted the Fix It mantra and just recently dropped that on me at the Speedgoat 50k. It worked!
Not only has the agreement put racing ultras into perspective (I HATE DNF’s) but it’s actually given me the opportunity to race as hard as I can. I’m racing my best times possible given the course, the conditions, in conjunction with what my body has to offer.
My priorities for ultra marathons now look like this:
1. Finish – No DNF’s !!!
2. On a good day – wait for the chance to pounce on the course. I use a series of constant reminders to hold myself back. I remind myself of the distance, the course and the condition of my body.
3. On a great day – I’ll play with the pace and try to determine if I have the ability to sustain a faster pace through the entire race.
No where did I mention a time. I had it all wrong. I’ve learned that Ultras are not where I can be bull headed. The distance, the land and mother nature own me and not the other way around.
LISTEN… LEARN…. and FIX IT !!!