This past Wednesday, Jeff Mallach asked if I would assist him this fall in addressing a group of runners concerning ultras. I eagerly accepted because the opportunity to pass on what I have learned seemed fun. Notes were soon jotted down and the gears began turning in my head. It is something I think about everyday. It also became a medium for me to share on this blog. Below is the start of what I think about. Many of the comments or phrases I reference are from people I have had the pleasure of learning from over decades of running. They have become part of my verbage, so forgive me that I don't take the time to quote them all.
Mastering the time continuum has always been a foundation in ultras. There are no tricks I know of other than training. You have to build the foundation and the bigger the base the higher the peak. The purpose of training is to prepare yourself to finish the task. The more time you spend preparing to me means...less suffering and better results. I have never been into death marches. Simply put, running is how I would spend my time preparing and I would pass on any other activity to aid or supplement performance. Nothing against weights, biking, swimming, stretching, crossfit, etc. That was time I could be running. The more time I spent running was more time I could learn about its magical powers. This leads to consistency and consistency leads to an iron clad will to push farther. This is what ultras are about to me. If I had to incorporate other activities they would compromise my need to test my running limits. Simply put, if I was into biking as well, I would have dual biking goals every week. That's how I work, it wouldn't be enough to be average on the bike.
So it is beneficial to forget about time. The struggle I see with beginning runners is they think by time. How can you run for an hour? What do you think about? To me this is easy...I think about the act of running. I don't try and think in terms of an end. If you run three miles in 30 minutes five times a week this is good physical conditioning. They have a set limit and when they get closer to 30 minutes they percieve this is it. They let themselves get tired. They set it up this way.
On the other end you have a guy like Craig who is going to run 500 miles solo soon. He has to master the time continuum in a manner I cannot fathom. I draw from this because it makes me look at myself. More so, it makes me look at the physical limits we set for ourselves. Craig might be an outlier, but because I know him I know he is no different than me other than he sets the brain limit way beyond what seems possible.
I will run 4 black loops tomorrow which should be around 26.8 miles. Those who are familiar know it is pretty darn hilly. Sure, I have an idea of how long each loop will take, but you work to the point where it is another run. When you get to the point the first two loops are the warm up and then you think...hey just two hours to go...you are mastering the time continuum. By the time Ice Age rolls around and you have done enough of these at times you can honestly say...just 2-3 hours to go and you do it. For me the time gets absorb managing the act of running. Trust me, enough stuff takes place you have to manage. About the time you solve one issue another one pops up. This is ultras to me. The better the manager you are the better your run will go.
I guess this post ended up with more rambling than real info. Hey, maybe I will eventually get better at keeping one idea in mind.