Someone once told me that nothing is impossible if you find a good reason to fight, and if once you are in the battle you keep pushing yourself, even if you’re tired, or even if there are many reasons to quit. You only have to be focused on the objective, and do whatever is needed in order to get it done…it’s not going to be easy, but is going to be worth it.
For a lot of people it’s hard to understand why a person can be so passionate about the idea of running to become an ultrarunner; even if you are in that circle, the person who had run 50 miles cannot conceive the idea of 100 miles or more. Do you eat? How often? Do you go to the bathroom? Do you sleep?.
Maybe the hardest thing is not to complete a 100 miles (or more) non stop race. Maybe the hardest thing is to open the mind to the romantic idea that a man can achieve great and almost impossible tasks if he really want them, and to believe that someone get out of the box and convince his/her self that he/she can do it.
Standing in front of the start line with all your fear, your guts and that nervous smile is a huge step, but before of that you need to have “consistency”. I mean, we can have a lot of passion or love so much the mountains that we think that is not going to be so damn hard, we can be so adventurous or fearless but an ultramarathon is not a joke, you put your life in risk even more if you want the big ones, the ones that are not in a park just running in circles, or the ones that will demand more oxygen because the altitude, etc. Our passion, our guts, our pride has to be aligned with your actions; don´t expect to cross the finish line with your flag if you didn´t work hard for that; one of my favorite quotes is the one that says “running does not build character; it reveals character”.
In my personal point of view you, first you have to prioritize… you do this for fun, you have a family, friends, a job, and the most important thing… you don´t want to fail. So, you have to give yourself the tools not to survive a race, you need the tools to enjoy it…and believe me is not comfortable running before 90 miles knowing that is a long way to go, but when you know that you follow the right steps, and you know that you are completely physically trained, the rest is a test of how mulish you are to get that job done.
So here are a few advises for a 100 miles non stop run.
• First of all yes…You need a coach, any ultramarathon is hard because of the distance, weather, condition, injuries, etc. so the best you can do is have someone who anticipate for you that conditions and guide you not to avoid them, to prevent or overcome them. A coach will plan you accumulated distance and the rest days; a huge mistake is to add distance just by feeling, you really need a plan, and someone who guide you on your work outs, if you keep adding distance just by hunch, your legs will just get tired and you will have more injuries and no progress; in the future your joints will hate you, so… just ask yourself a question, for how long you want to be a runner?.
A coach will also tell you when is the right time to perform a given distance race as he see you mature as a runner.
• Do not just run!, lately a lot of people become fanatic of their discipline (ultramarathon, ironman, obstacle races, ets) they call it the “hardest one” , most of them criticize other sports, and also most of them don´t have any idea of what there are talking about. Try the triathlon, the obstacle races, yoga, pilates, cycling, even if you want to be more focus on ultramarathon, this are great tools to become stronger, faster and you will have a faster recovery.
• If you have aid stations along the way use them, leave drop bags with your special needs and clothes, maybe you will not use them, but if something happens you will feel more secure, and you will not have any excuses.
• Eat and drink small quantities during the race, don´t wait until you´re empty
• Do your own race, don´t follow any one, look for your happy stride and stay there.
• Be patience, nothing last forever; accept that moments of angry, craziness, and feeling miserable as part of the adventure you will find yourself singing, crying, or laughing alone, believe me is part of the beauty.
• The last advise… you can have a great coach, the best ever, and may be you did all the job, but at the end of the history, the one that will be alone at the mountain is you, and if you don’t have the guts, and the courage to shut up the mind and keep going, no one is going to do it for you… that minutes of torture, that insane madness is the greatest thing on the word. You grow up and find happiness in the more primitive things, you overcome the pain, and that odious and infernal inner voice that want you to give up, you find that reason to fight and you never lose it, because it was most the desire and that hunger of pride, and suddenly you become your own hero.
I have done ultramarathons for about 7 years, the big last one was Bear 100 miles in Utah - Idaho, and on my way I have large list of desire races. I don’t do this for anyone else, just for me to continuously learning and have that surprised capacity alive, and to test myself, and use that learning on the real life.
I don’t care if I´m the best, the worst or what is my position on the rank list, or the opinion of anyone that has never done something comparable; I don´t do this to impress anyone… what I really care is that every time that I have been alone on the mountains it reminds me to my childhood, I sometimes believe that is my way to talk to God and to get in order a few things on my head… and I want to do it forever.
At the end an ultramarathon is a win win situation you receive the same that you put on it. So, as the title of this article “Decide who has the helm, works only when there is a storm”, I think that if we really want to achieve great things, impossible things, rewarding things, you have to stop defining who is the best player, which is the best sport, for what reasons the people is doing whatever they are doing, and focus on yourself, hold your own helm.
If you want to have a 100 miles buckle, you will have to pass through heaven and hell at the same time… such as life.