Sunday, January 11, 2009

How hard is an Ultra?

A good friend, Michael Forrester, just finished running a really good race at the Disney Marathon. Near the end of our conversation, Michael said something like "Yeah . . . but this was just a marathon. It pales next to running your 50k." I said something like "But a 50k really isn't much harder than a 50k" which he dismissed quickly.

Interesting . . . must people think an ultra is WAY harder than whatever it is they are doing. They know how tired they feel when they finish a marathon and they can't imagine going further. I, too, have fallen in this logical trap! It seems to make sense. But it's simply not true!

Even today, when I run a marathon, I'm spent at the end! In my mind I couldn't go any further. But I do go further when I run a 50k! Do I run slower at a 50k? Maybe a little slower, not not so much. Do I walk more? Not really.

I think the answer is all in your head! We mentally prepare for something and when we get to the end . . . that's it! I think a marathoner would easily be able to finish a 50k by JUST preparing for a marathon! No more training miles needed! The difference will be when you go to the race you know you're going to run 31 miles, not 26.2 miles.

I actually believe the same thing is true for running a marathon. All the "experts" tell us we need to run at least one 18-20 miler in training. And maybe to run a fast marathon, this is true! Certainly, it does help with your personal confidence. But if you just want to finish 26.2 miles, you can easily get by with less.

Most folks running their first marathon have as their primary goal "to finish." I believe if one enters a 50k with the same goal, they will find the same thing I have found. A 50k is harder than a marathon, but not THAT much harder! Maybe you don't run quite so fast . . . but you can do it. It's just making your mind up to try!

I hope this holds true for running 50 miles! I'm told by many folks who have run 50 that it is! Guess I'll find out for sure pretty soon!

In the mean time, you marathoners consider trying a 50k . . . I think you'll be surprised!

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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.