10 Reasons I Love Ultra Running

I’ve been running for over a decade now and I’ve been training for ultra races for nearing two. Whilst I’m still new at ultra marathon races (7) I’m now a full on convert to them, with little to no urge now to run ‘normal’ road races. To many, that may seem strange – why would I want to put myself through the effort and hell of running for insane distances? Well, here’s a few of the reasons, in no particular order

  1. The Ultra Running Community Is Awesome – It’s friendly, welcoming and free of egos. Every runner regardless of their speed or ability is going through the same thing in a race – namely, pushing themselves through barriers, going through tough times to achieve something awesome. People help each other out, look out for each other and encourage each other.
  2. You Get To Talk To People – I’ve had some great conversations and met some inspirational people during races. As the pace is slower (and plenty of walking) compared to say a marathon, you can get chatting to people and exchange banter/whinges/life stories.
  3. Ultra Running Makes Me Feel Alive – In our day to day lives, we go through the motions for much of it, not paying attention to what’s happening around us, or pushing and challenging ourselves. Running for a long time makes me feel truly in the moment and grateful for my life and what’s in it.
  4. You Get To Eat Loads – I love to eat. There, I said it. Ultra races allow us to eat a shitload of food, including sweets, cake, sandwiches, crisps, energy bars, yummy Gu energy gels (salted caramel FTW!) and not feel an ounce of guilt.
  5. You See The Countryside – Unlike a bland road marathon, you get to see woods, forests, paths, fields, hills… being amongst it on the trails you get to truly appreciate what beauty there is in our country and in nature. You get to really feel at one and connected with the land you’re running on.
  6. The Sense Of Achievement – There is nothing that compares to finishing an ultra. Nothing. Knowing that you’ve just run XX miles and run for XX hours and pushed yourself through fatigue, pain and exhaustion is an incredible feeling. Yes, it’s great to get a medal/buckle/t-shirt but what’s even better is knowing that you’ve just done something amazing, something that years ago you thought would be impossible – and that nothing and nobody can take that away from you, ever.
  7. They’re Easier To Recover From – After my first ultra I was surprised how quickly my legs recovered. The difference in recovery times between the harsh pounding of a road race versus the ups and downs and relative softness of the trails is huge.
  8. Ultras Are Addictive – Just after my first 100k I vowed “never again” and then promptly registered for another the next day. Same with my first 100 miler. Your brain seems to forget the pain you went through and craves the stuff above. I want more and more of these races!
  9. Non-runner’s Reactions – I’ll admit there’s part of me that gets a buzz from when you tell people you’ve done 100k/100 miles.
  10. Time Out From Life – It’s proper ‘me’ time – no work, no emails, no Facebook. Me, trails, maybe an MP3 player, and a bunch of other runners going through stunning countryside.