Sunday, March 25, 2012

50 miles? You're Crazy!

Why on earth would anyone want to run 50 miles? It's a fair question.

I don't have a good answer.

I do know, however, that some of the most enjoyable parts of my week occur early in the early morning as I run up the ridgeline in the day's first light. I have yet to dread my long training runs and the chronic tight achiless tendons and achy knees that I was experiencing have faded. My body is adapting and getting stronger.

What do the experts have to say? As always the answers vary widely.

David Horton suggests that completing an ultra can be the most "rewarding, enjoyable, exciting, and fullfilling moment" of one's athletic career. He says, "before your first ultra you should announce to everyone that you know what you are doing to hold yourself accountable" and relates that many ultra runners are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. He suggests that one must have "desire, discipline, and dedication" to train for and succeed at finishing an ultra and that the enjoyment and excitement of completing the race will make the effort worthwhile.

Robert Lyden in the book Distance Running has a different perspective. Regarding running ultra marathons or participating in long distance triathlons: "From a long-term perspective, the benefit of these activities for athletes is questionable, since severe trials of this kind can threaten their subsequent motivation, fitness, and health. If you want to participate in ultra events make sure your reason for doing so are positive. The body with which you have been blessed is the only one you will ever have".

He makes a point. I know many runners who hobble around a good majority of the time, myself included. I've seen what competitors look like at the end of an Ironman/Ultra and the days following. It isn't always pretty.

Lyden confronts the obession with marathoning head on when he says, "the vast majority of recreational runners are best advised to forgo the marathon" and compares a full-effort attempt at running 26.2 miles akin to a surgery that will require a month recovery. The marathon, he says "tends to conjure up images of dreaming the impossible dream and beating the unbeatable foe, but the truth is, there is nothing especially sacred or noble about this distance".

Lyden continues with the exact opposite approach from Horton. He claims the statement "I'm running a marathon" is a cry for attention. He relates that running a marathon is not therapy, but can be an outlet to aviod facing problems head on and that the transcendental moments of running are not superior to any other activity in which an individual "cultivates excellence". 

Tim Noakes in the 4th edition of The Lore of Running suggests that runners should have been running for at least 1 to 2 years before competing in an ultra. He says, "only after running your fastest possible times over 10k should one consider entering marathon and ultra marathon races".

Race date is only six weeks away. I may not have a good reason for racing. I may run my body into the ground. Time and training will tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment