Why do we run ultras ?

We’ve all started by running 5k and then 10 because we wanted to stay in shape. A couple months later we signed up for that half marathon and then thought that if 21k was possible, than maybe 42k was not that far away. So a year later we signed up for this and we dedicated ourselves to train every two days. The big day came and we ran. Maybe the weather was ultra shitty, maybe it was only a blister or a muscle; but in any case we suffered. We had to go through our mental barriers and break them to ease the pain. The joy we felt at the finish line and, later, while drinking that first sip of beer was not comparable to anything we knew. We wanted more.

Deciding to run an ultra for the first time is understandable. It’s a big challenge. While the personal reasons underlying the decision might not be readily apparent, even to the runner, it’s really not that difficult to communicate the essence of the challenge: to prove, to ourselves or others, that we have the fortitude to push through the limitations we once imagined, defy the odds and endure hardship. And to have that feeling of accomplishment once again.

I love the feeling of strength, independence and fluid freedom I get from trail running and ultras. Yet the more events I run, the more I need. Other than drugs and surrounding ourselves with loving distractions, often the only thing that helps us cope is going out for another run. Mind boggling and incredibly frustrating for an injured runner.
I ran the Nilgiris 100 a few months ago, a 100 kms race in the mountains of South India. It was tough. I didn’t cross the finish line and I got injured. I was physically fine but emotionally devastated. I had to learn to cope with the frustration of the injured runner and slowly the need to run dissipated in trail running videos of the Salomon channel. But it came back when I had a hard day at the office. How to get rid of that anger without running ? Is that why children are so happy ? Why do we stop running ? All those questions that popped in my mind while running initially, became unanswered problems that fermented in my subconscious. Maybe ignoring them is just what they need. Dismissal, pure and simple. Or perhaps the real benefit of running isn’t physical, but spiritual; Maybe the hormones released put us into a state so receptive to self exploration that it would be sacrilegious to ignore it. I started running again leaving my problems away and that’s all what I needed.

the globe jogger

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4 comments

  1. This is amazing!

    Like

  2. Jim Brennan · · Reply

    I ran my first ultra this year. I’m sixty. I’ll run my second, a 40-miler, the end of March. Why? Not sure, but that independence and fluid feeling has something to do with it. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The holy graal that everyone is looking for and that is only truly reached while running. Thanks for the compliment.

      Like

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