This is quite a confession I’m about to make… running an ultra-race does not appeal to me. I hear amazing stories from the likes of James Adams and Mimi Anderson about their fantastic 100 mile races, trips across America or from one end of the UK to the other, and they are so inspiring.I get caught up in the stories every time, but I just can’t ever see myself wanting to do that.
Which is fine, clearly. Everyone has their own challenges and goals, and what ticks one person’s boxes may not tick another.
But, it used to be that running a marathon was this big achievement. You’d get into a conversation with a runner, they’d ask what the longest race you’ve done is, and you’d tell them “26.2 miles”. WOW. Yet now nearly a million people have run the London marathon alone. If you want to do something that’s considered to be really challenging, then you are looking at running a marathon a week for a year, or 10 consecutive marathons, or…an ultra-race.
To clarify, an “ultra” is considered to be any race longer than 26.2 miles. It could be 28 miles, or it could be 280 miles, though the most common distances are 30, 60, 80 and 100 miles.
Now, anyone who has run a marathon will probablyagree that the training can be a bit… heavy. Culminating in 2-3 hour long slow runs that see you earning your “time on feet”. But train for an ultra and you could be saying ta-ta to the family for 7-8 hours or more at weekends. And during the week? Run… everywhere. Run to work. Run to meetings. Run to the gym. To the pub. Ok, maybe not the pub, but seriously… run everywhere.
Sound like fun? No?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the training can be lovely. James Adams was telling me that weekend runs were more of an exploration, at what my running-blogging friends lovingly call “party pace”. You have snacks. And cake. And you see lovely scenery in a way you might not have seen it before. It sounds great. Just not all day great.
Even long runs to and from work could be alright, or perhaps (dare I say it)nice. I work in a town about 11 miles from home and there’s a river that runs right to it. I could pick the river up about 200 yards from my office and have a very pleasant run home. But doing that pretty much every day? I’m not sure it’s for me.
That brings me on to the injury topic. It’s a matter of course that your body will get tired. Running long distances day after day without much rest can take its toll. Your recovery time is reduced and, unless you eat every hour, you’re probably going to struggle to get enough food in to fuel all of those miles. Also, some people are just more susceptible to injury than others.
Then there’s the matter of feet… beautiful, blistered feet. With black toenails. No thank you.
I know, as more and more people take up the challenge of ultra-running, that this post could be quite controversial. But what happened to just running a 10k, or a half marathon? Since when did the marathon become a “middle distance”? I think I’ll stick to half marathons.
What do you think?
Have you ever run an ultra-race? Could you convince me to do it? Or do you feel the same as me and would literally run away from the start line? Get in touch on Facebook or Twitter! I’d love to know what you think.
Fitcetera is a health and fitness blog run by Georgina Spenceley, a full time business analyst, part time sports massage therapist and blogger. Running, CrossFit and Yoga are her weapons of choice, but she also enjoys trying new fitness concepts. She has a passion for stylish apparel, and sometimes geeks out with science and gadgets. Georgina believes in a balanced approach to nutrition – no fads, no elimination – just moderation and learning to give your body what it needs, when it needs it.