What ultra-marathons have to do with life


Runners participating in ultra-marathon races have a reputation for being a bit eccentric, weird, and generally overboard. That reputation is partially derived from the colorful personalities and tattoos that adorn most of these runners. Anecdotes about finishing races in spite of extreme fatigue, blisters, boredom, and irritability help bolster that perception. And it also doesn’t hurt that the only prizes for completing such extreme endeavors are bragging rights and a very large belt buckle.

It’s easy to see why these runners earned that reputation because on its surface ultra-running is nothing more than the illogical act of traversing an insane number of miles on foot in pursuit of a gaudy fashion accessory. At its core, though, the ultra-running experience is a lot like life. Ultra-running shows its participants that long-term goals are best accomplished through patience and forethought, that progress is not deterred by obstacles, and that individual pursuits usually involve outside assistance. These ideals are not only applicable to endurance races but also to attaining personal and professional goals.

It’s near impossible to reach any long-term goal on a whim. The process is calculated and deliberate no matter what that goal might be. You must research the best possible tools and route, practice the applicable skills, and eventually follow through on the necessary action despite the possibility of failure.

It goes without saying that you’ll encounter many emotional and physical barriers along the way. Finding a way to work around those obstacles is an important attribute during endurance events, and in life. Not letting them deter progress is how it’s possible to reach that proverbial finish-line.

Generally, at the end of any pursuit, only a singular recipient is recognized: the runner completes the race; only one name is written on a degree. But achieving these goals usually involves receiving help from others. It wouldn’t be possible to reach these seemingly individual achievements without the guidance, support, and push from those around you.

The attitude and thinking needed to successfully complete an ultra-marathon echo those encountered in real life. Fulfilling any long-term goal requires planning and follow-through. Its participants have to persevere despite challenges, and usually accept help along the way.


About Lynsey

When Lynsey became injured in 2011 she changed her focus from running long-distance to working behind the scenes as volunteer and crew chief. You can find me at various aid stations throughout Florida reminding the runners that "this is not a parking lot."
This entry was posted in opinion. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What ultra-marathons have to do with life

  1. Scott says:

    Appropriate observations, especially in today’s “instant gratification” mentality. The rewards for patience and perseverance are worth it.


  2. Well said!! Even a task taken on whim (my upcoming 100 miler) requires careful thought, an acheivable plan of action, and the right support crew to make it happen. Well written piece.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s