Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What can Ultra running teach you?

I came across this video clip of Ultramarathon great, Anton Krupicka promoting the New Balance Minimus Trail shoe. What I like about it, is that is isn’t really about the shoe, which is unusual for a promotional video for a running shoe, but it’s more about Krupicka’s motivations for running ultra distances.


For him, running is the simplest pure of self expression, which he further simplifies by running shirtless and with his trade mark Jesus like beard and hair. He chooses to run in as simple a manner as possible to enhance his experience and to get away from the complexities of modern day living.

Now while this may not be for everyone, and indeed it may also not be practical in some climates, I think his ideal is valid for anyone for running ultras.  He does say that for him it’s about running 100miles or more, “anyone can run 50miles or 100kms” (just loved the way he let that roll off the tongue!).  The reason for this is that running an ultramarathon is about not giving up, persevering through mental and physical barriers, “everything hurts after 60-70 miles”.

I have to agree with the hurt comment, and I think it is because it hurts that you are forced to focus your mind and body completely on one thing – just keeping moving forward. Only when your mind and body are so total immersed in this challenge do you truly forget about the stresses of everyday life. 

That is one of the main reasons I like to run, as there is a kind of spiritual side to things at these points, when you are managing a struggle between conscious and subconscious minds, and the satisfaction of taking control of both.  You cannot do this without laser like focus on the task.

What I do find is that when you have managed to take control of all the voices in your head and the aches and pains from your body, and you begin to forget the hurt, your mind focuses on the important things in life.  It’s happened to me consistently as I run beyond 75kms.

I don’t believe that anyone who, when they have been running for 8 hours or more, is thinking about a presentation they have to give to an important client, or if they should buy new clothes to impress a new group of friends, or perhaps the fluctuations in the stock market!

Ultra distance running, especially when out on the trails away from civilisation, is like a form of psychotherapy, stripping back the layers to what is really important.

I just wonder if there comes a point where you run so far that those feelings and thoughts become a permanent fixture, rather than being brought back to earth with a firm thud on a Monday morning (as a pile of paperwork is dropped in your in tray).

I don’t know quite how far you have to run to achieve this, but if I find out I’ll let you know!

Happy Running

Andy

“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people will always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.” - Mark Twain

Training 5-9-2010 (21.1km Trail)
Training 7-9-2010 (25km Road/Trail)
Training 8-9-2010 (16km Trail)