Now, seeing as I have never run an ultra marathon yet, you will have to take my opinions with a grain of salt. I am currently training for a 50 mile race in October, that will likely have some other races thrown in there before that race occurs. The ideas below are based off my research, thoughts and personal theories.
I have only begun my training, but have already been thoroughly enjoying it. This weekend I will be running 10 miles around Town Lake, here in Austin and along the Greenbelt. One of the many benefits to living in Austin is lots of great trail access! There is quite a big trail running community here as well. Which makes training for an ultra that much easier. There are plenty of other people to motivate and help you along the way.
Seven reasons to run an ultra marathon
- Less Injuries. WHAT? Less injuries, how is that even possible? Well when you think about it, it’s pretty simple. Marathons are run on pavement, ultras are run on trails. So, whenever you train for an ultra you are also going to be training on trails. Constantly pounding away on the unforgiving pavement is not the best for your joints, and muscles. Running on trails (soft ground) is more forgiving. When your foot strikes the ground gives in a bit – not so with pavement.
- Ranks Higher on the Impressive Scale. Lets face it, everybody and their dog knows somebody who has run a marathon, in fact they probably know several people. But how many people can say they have run a 50K, a 50 miler, or even a 100 miler? Not very many, I would think. Your friends and family will probably think your crazy, but hey, the shock factor will be half the fun of it.
- Anybody can win. Some of the most unlikely individuals have won ultra marathons. When it comes to finishing an Ultra, it’s not about speed. In fact, when training you can just kiss speed work goodbye. Some of the toughest ultra marathons have been won by the most unsuspecting individuals. Over long distances, it’s an endurance competition, not a speed competition. Ultra’s essentially level the playing field.
- Better Scenery, less pollution. I know it, and you know it… running in traffic sucks. Have you ever been running up to a traffic light only to inhale our lungs full of exhaust fumes? Running on trails is far more serene beautiful and WAY less polluted. You will also likely enjoy a bit more solitude. AND, your chances of being run over by a car decrease dramatically.
- Eating Real Food. Every ultra runner I have talked to is into eating REAL food. They tend to avoid the nasty tasting, processed energy gels found in running stores. Most ultra runners tend towards things like banana, oranges, and other foods high in simple carbohydrates. Eating real food to fuel my runs has always been my philosophy and it was worked will for me for half marathons, so I’m anxious to see how this plays our for longer distances.
- You are born to run. If you have never read the book Born to Run, you should go out and do so, now! It will change the way you look at running; it might even change HOW you run. Author, Ted McDougall makes a very strong case for barefoot running, based off the Tarahumara Indian tribe in Mexico, and various other scientific evidences. Once you realize YOU are truly “Born to Run”, the idea of running an Ultra Marathon is not that far fetched at all.
- More time to think, process and get away. When your spending longer hours on your weekend runs you will have more time to reflect, our just flat out escape the worries and troubles of the week. It can also be a time to pray, reflect on things, or process big decisions. The endorphin rush might even help you get a clear head and discover new things you had never though of.
So, have you ever run an ultra marathon? Do you plan on running one? Please share your experience in the comments section.