Monday, November 20, 2006


One of the toughest things about being an ultrarunner is not running long distances through winding trails with jagged rocks and undulating terrain in rain or snow or sweltering heat for hours and days on end. It's not the mental challenge of persevering through the 20-mile long wall between miles 60 and 80 in a 100-mile race. It's not the muscle pain or tendon pain or the gut pain so commonly encountered. It's not the pressing on when every part of you wants to quit.

The toughest thing about being an ultrarunner is knowing restraint, knowing when not to run, when not to push. It's holding back when your cells are jittery and wanting to go. Whether it's injury or fatigue or other life responsibilities that need attention, there are times when an ultrarunner should simply not run long distances.

I've made the mistake of unrestraint several times this year. I do not want to repeat the mistake again. It is very difficult - extremely difficult for me - to practice restraint and to ease back a little at a time. I hope I have abolished forever the notion that if I am physically able to run 5 miles, then I am physically able to run 30. The truth is that I can, and that's what gets me into trouble. I suffer for it later. Just because I can doesn't mean I should. I am learning restraint. It takes more effort for me to not run than for me to run. It is mentally and physically fatiguing. This is one of the toughest things about being an ultrarunner.