Friday, October 9, 2009

Training for an Ultramarathon

I’ve always enjoyed running. Not in a competitive, have to beat everyone every time sort of way, rather, in a this is something that is some of the best therapy in the world sort of way. If you don’t get that feeling in my humble opinion, you’re either running too fast or too slow or you never have. If you are going with the flow of how your body feels on a given day it is the most incredibly rejuvenating experience you can have.

That does not mean that I don’t want to compete or improve. What it does mean is, if I did not first and foremost gain true pleasure from my running, I simply would not do it.

One thing I realized very early on in my running life is I am not that fast. That meant that while I enjoy participating in 5ks and 10ks, I was never going to find real satisfaction in them because they are not much distance to me and although I could improve my speed somewhat, I was not going to be finishing at any level of notoriety in any of the races I did. Not a big deal and yet, if the distance isn’t a challenge for me then what’s the point?

As long as I can remember, I was intrigued by running a marathon. That intrigue finally lead to my completing 4 of them. Again though, I’m not that fast and also I know that pretty much any day of the year I can walk out the door and run 26.2 miles. I have always been curious as to the boundaries of human capability.

In 2004 my brother shared an article in the Los Angeles Times about a guy nick-named "TheUltramarathon Man". His real name... Dean Karnazes. After reading the article I immediately went out and bought a copy of his book of the same title; Ultramarathon Man.

I was hooked! The things he did and continues to do, running through the night, running relay races intended for teams of people as a solo participant absolutely captivated me. I mean, if he could walk out of a bar on his 30th birthday and run 30 miles into the night, why couldn't I?

At that point I still had not finished a single marathon. Four years later and four marathons later, at the age of 45, I had a heart attack. Seems the "best laid plans" has more truth to it thanI had ever realized. I had pushed myself through marathons with little or no actual preparation. Utilizing not much more than sheer human will power to complete them. In fact, I completed my fourth marathon just two months before my heart attack.

Life became a little more serious for me after that point or at least my health did. I found a renewed love of running and an even greater desire to become an ultra-runner. This time though it would not be a simple case of show up at the starting line a go. This time around I would be prepared.

Oddly enough, more for environmental reasons than for health reasons I had gotten rid of my car even before my heart attack. I became a run-commuter! Very cool. I would run to work 10 miles round trip 5 days a week. Then on weekends, I would throw in some longer runs.

Still I didn't have a real plan.

Sometimes life has a way of presenting opportunities when you least expect them. I recently made the move across country from Southern California where I have lived for the last twenty years back to Michigan where I was born and raised. A million reasons: family, friends, change of venue amongst a few.

This leads me to where we are right now...

It is my hope that I will be able to share some of what I have learned about one of the most humanly natural activities... running. More specifically: ultra-running. I will bring you all of the best and latest information on running and fitness in general. From technique to fueling to hydration to gear to personal anecdotes to profiles of the best in the sport to reviews of races and I am hoping to eventually bring an ultramarathon to western Michigan more specifically Holland and I will share my experiences in the creation of just such an event.

If you're just interested in running a 5k or maybe a marathon or perhaps even just walking a race in your local community, its likely that you will find tidbits of info that will be useful for you as this all unfolds.

I chose running ultras for the love of running, an improved lifestyle and the outright sense of freedom that comes from walking out the door and running as far as I want. I also want to know the outward limits of my physical capabilities and this is a sport that will certainly give me that experience and... it is an activity that I will be able to do for the rest of my life if done right.

Whatever your personal reasons I hope you enjoy this blog as an entertaining and informative resource.


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