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Why I Signed up for an Ultramarathon

Stepping out of My Comfort Zone

“I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days.”

– Ronald Rook

I have always been someone who has stayed in my comfort zone. I like to have a plan for everything and have never been one to stray from what is my normal, even if that normal was something which made me miserable.

The problem with staying in my comfort zone is I become complacent. I get into bad habits or routines which don’t challenge me. As I get older, I find I need to challenge myself more because complacency never led to anything meaningful.

And it’s time I change that.

I’m also finding I need something to look forward to. Whether it be a vacation, a hike, a run, whatever — there needs to be something on the horizon I can go towards.

While I love all the races I’ve run in the past couple years, I find they don’t challenge me as much anymore. I will still sign up for those races, but I don’t enjoy them as much as I used to. I believe that’s part of my growth as a runner. And I need to be challenged more.

So against my normal, I signed up for an ultramarathon (55 km/34 miles) which will be held at the beginning of November. Because I need that challenge to continue my growth.

I’m also finding out I can be really competitive. And while for some this may not be a bad thing, I find myself a little disappointed if I don’t place in my age group or get the time I wanted. It takes a little fun out of everything because I can be the hardest on myself.

We all know that feeling, don’t we?

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

“The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”

– Haruki Murakami

In signing up for the ultramarathon, I’m hoping to bring a little of the fun back because I know I will have to slow down. By being able to take my time and not compete with others, I take some of that pressure off that I always put on myself. And when that pressure is released, I can enjoy the experience and the scenery. Because I know I will have to walk some. I know I will not be able to listen to music as a distraction. And I know it will be hard.

But I also know I will love every minute.

And if I’m being honest, I’m looking forward to the ultramarathon more than the marathon I’m running in January. I realize I’m doing this a little backward as most people would do the marathon first, but sometimes to move forward, you have to take the long way around.

I’m looking forward to the ultramarathon more because I find I enjoy the experience of running more when I slow down. When I’m on the trails, the desert scenery calls out for me to stop and look around. It tells me to take the time to be in the moment and be thankful I’m able to run. It tells me to be thankful I’m able to see what is around me and to hear the sounds I take for granted. Because many cannot do any of that.

When I’m on the trails, I’m not paying attention to form as much because I’m concentrating on my footing and not falling on my face. I’m not worried about placing in my age group or showing everyone how fast I can run. I’m enjoying myself more, and that is what’s important. 

The constant awareness of where you are going makes you forget where you’ve been. It’s movement. And that movement is wonderful and challenging and painful and freeing.

It’s running.

I’m running. I’m just running.

Sometimes we need to shake things up a bit to remind us we are alive and how much we are capable of. This is my way to do that.

What will be yours?


  1. Maynard Maynard

    So funny, this post was like you were writing my story. Coming off an injury at the end of 2017, I thought my running was over. But at that point I had only run 5 and 10Ks and wanted to achieve more…at least a half-marathon. When I started back running, I ran slower…I just didn’t have the desire to run as fast as I used to. But I ran thru most of 2018 just doing 3 – 4 mile training runs…no races. But then I decided it was time to try for the half. I trained for that and ran my first half in November (finished middle of pack which was wonderful to me even though in a 5k I was used to being on the podium). Now I’m focused on a 50K in January 2019, skipping over the marathon. There just weren’t any marathons coming up that I wanted to run, so why not? I’m currently at 17 miles for my long run and will be at 20 by end of December. I love the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment, and the growth. And it’s all under my control. Maybe the 50K will not be the end…100 miler anyone?

    • I like how you said, “so why not?” That’s been a theme for me lately, too. Why not? And I love all those things you listed also. The challenge and the accomplishment are what drove me to sign up and finish. I plan on a 100k next year but don’t know if I’ll go any further than that. But we will see! Thanks for reading and responding Maynard!

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