Why ultramarathons?

I realized after my last post that most sane people have no idea why people would want to run (or walk) even farther than a marathon.

My first marathon was hard. I thought I would be able to run the whole thing, but after about 18 miles it got hard, and I couldn’t convince myself to run much at all after 22 miles. A couple days later I bought two books, both on ultramarathons and the people who run them (Ultramarathon Man by the controversial Dean Karnazes, and Running Through the Wall). But why?

First, I figured that if “The Wall” was a problem, going further than that more often would train my body to deal with it better.

Next, I noticed that before I started training for a marathon, a half marathon seemed like a really long distance that you had to plan for carefully before attempting. But once you do training runs that are noticeably longer than that, you start to get the impression that on most days, with no planning, you could go out and complete a half marathon. My theory was that ultrarunning could make the same thing true for full marathons.

Most ultramarathons are on trails rather than on roads, and I like trails much better, so that’s another reason to break out of the marathon tradition. They also generally have a lot more elevation change than road events, which makes them more interesting and more challenging, that last part being both a drawback and a benefit. As an old boss told me over 20 years ago, “if it was easy anyone could do it.”

And finally, I concluded that I’m not very fast, so I might as well go far.

Does that make any sense?

The 50K I just did is actually the first of three events that build on each other. In July I’m signed up for another 50K, only in that case I am expecting to have done a very long (28 mile) training run just a week prior, and the plan also calls for a shorter run the day immediately after the 50K, to experience running on tired legs. All of that leads to the current ultimate goal: 50 miles on August 9th.

Earlier in the year I figured I wouldn’t try 50 miles until 2009, but I got ambitious. Or stupid. We’ll find out which one it is soon enough.


2 Responses to “Why ultramarathons?”

  1. pinkcowgirl Says:

    Congrats on the 50K and GOOD LUCK on the 50M. That’s awesome. I’m still at the half marathon level. I’d love to do a ultra. Awesomeness.

  2. Scott T. next door Says:

    Great to hear you are taking advantage of the surrounding trails. Just a little heads up if you are running the trails arround here. Wear a hat with eyeballs on the back. There be Mountain Lions in these here hills. We have seen one over near horseshoe lake and I have seen several up the road at windy hill. Forwarned if forearmed and happy running

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