I took a 4 hour solo run this weekend, which gave me plenty of time to think about plenty of topics.
Around hour 3, I started to wonder why I like ultrarunning. What does it say about me as a person? Why do I run so far? Why do I run so often? This is what I came up with.
The obvious …
- I have a very private, surprisingly introverted side to myself, which I realize is an ironic claim for a blogger. I enjoy being alone and I enjoy not talking. Hours of running allows me to recharge that very important part of my personality.
- I am competitive, but so are a lot of athletes. So why ultras? I like saying I do something that only 19,000 other people in the United States did last year (according to UltraRunning Magazine).
- I never get tired of what I discover on a trail. With ultrarunning, you have time to notice the world around you. Sometimes you can even take a photo.
- I need breaks from the world, as we all do, and I can’t think of a better respite.
What else I learned about myself, that maybe isn’t so obvious …
- I need meaningful friendships with a small group of people. I don’t need to surround myself with many people, but I need to surround myself with a tight group who’s ideas I respect, who’s company I enjoy, and who together we can solve our own and the world’s problems. Endurance running naturally brings people like that into your life. Hours of running together builds and feeds a relationship.
- I don’t thrive on speed. I thrive on strength and longevity.
- I am disciplined. Life is unpredictable and chaotic and crazy and wonderful. But Ultrarunning provides a measure of control, stability, and predictability.
- I prefer things simple. Shoes, check. Sunscreen, check. Shirts and shorts, check. Water and Gu, check. Map, check. That’s it.
- I need dedicated time for peace of mind. I believe that 99% of us try our best to do our best most of the time, but it isn’t easy. We think about how we could have done this or that better. We worry. We wonder. We question our decisions. But when I run, I just run. I don’t worry or wonder or question. I just run. We all have times that make us pause. A best friend dies. Your job changes. Someone close to you moves. But when I run for hours on end, I come up with solutions and clarity, or I don’t come up with anything at all. I just run. And when I am done, I am calm and happy and ready to try and be the best that I can be for another day.
So maybe that’s it; ultrarunning, with all it’s defining characteristics, propels me to try a little harder to do a little better in my non-running life.