Ultra: Step 1: Decide. Step 2: Do. Step 3: Be Epic!

DSC_9349_s_jpgI am totally stoked and completely thankful to have such a great opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts on ultrarunning with other individuals who are also slightly insane, irritatingly persistent, and somewhat sadomasochistic.  Major thanks to Epic Ultras founder, Eric Steele, for not only this opportunity, but for inspiring and motivating me to be the most ass-kicking epic athlete I can be.

Just in case you are reading this blog because you misspelled “Epicurus” or “epidural” in your Google search bar and have NO background in running, an ultramarathon or “ultra” is any event where you cover a distance of more than a 26.2 mile marathon on foot, under your own power – no roller skates or pogo sticks allowed.  Lots of times an ultra will take you up and down trails, through the dirt, bogging through mud, climbing rocks, tripping over roots, and even pounding some pavement.  Blisters and blood are common, as it is a pretty tough thing for most humans to cover this kind of distance. You already know this, of course, that’s why you are here on EpicUltras.com.

One truth that I have learned is that almost ANYONE can run an ultra.  Completing an ultra starts with the decision to complete an ultra.  In less than two years, I went from running a 5k to finishing a 50 mile road race that started at midnight, in Oklahoma, in July.  It was not because I am some kind of gnarly physical specimen of nutrition and athleticism.  It is not because I have been running all my life.  It is because I decided to.  I decided that I wanted more of that elusive feeling of accomplishment that I got after crossing the finish the first time…I was like a crackhead trying to recapture the feeling of his first high.  What I found out was that each time I added distance or difficulty it was amplifying that feeling of accomplishment, and,  for me, this explains the addictive nature of ultrarunning.  According to Wikipedia only about 70,000 people per year out of the nearly 7 billion people that make up the entire world’s population participate in ultras.  I am more runner than math whiz, but if my calculations are correct that is 0.001%.  Even if you toss out all the babies and those physically incapable of running (not literally of course), that is a pretty elite group.  We are the .001%, and you can be too!

Do not let the fear of failure keep you from taking the next step.  If you can run a 5K, you can run a 50K.  It just takes the right level of desire, commitment, and crazy.  It is in you…trust me.  You wouldn’t be on EpicUltras.com if it wasn’t.

So if you are already a runner who has completed distances of full or even half marathon distance and want to become an ultrarunner here are the three steps you need to take.

1.  Find an ultra that interests you.  If you like hills, pick one with hills.  If you like mud, pick a muddy one.  The point is that there are all kinds of ultras available for all kinds of runners. Epic Ultras puts on events that reinforce and reward everything that it means to be an ultrarunner.  In fact the Prairie Spirit 50 would be a perfect first 50 miler for a motivated individual ready to take the next step and plunge into a whirling sea of personal awesomeness.

2.  Sign up.  You will be more motivated.  For me it’s like “putting my money where my mouth is.”  Especially if you are broke as shit like me, then this capital outlay is a good motivator.

3.  Train appropriately.  There are no shortage of free plans and resources you can find online.  Figure out what works for you through a series of trial and error, practice, blood, sweat and tears.  Ask questions from those with experience.  Make like Forrest and start running.

The hard part is now done.  If you do these three things I have just discussed, race day will be a reaping of the rewards for your sacrifice and effort.  But first, now that you have metaphorically grabbed your manhood (or womanhood) and registered for your first ultra – it is time to get ready.  I will warn all of you burgeoning runners who make the leap to ultrarunning; get used to being called a lunatic.   In my next post I am going to throw down some of my personal experience and sage advice about what you can do as a mere mortal to get your ass to the starting line, locked and loaded, and ready to propel yourself across the finish line into personal glory.

Until next time…Be Epic!

If you think I am totally full of bullshit, please let me know!  Most importantly though, I would love to hear your own stories of badassery, along with any creative questions or constructive comments you may have.  However, please remember that any whining, insults, rude remarks etc., will not be posted/responded to, as this has “no place” in Epic Ultra culture!

Zach Adams

3 Responses to “Ultra: Step 1: Decide. Step 2: Do. Step 3: Be Epic!”

  1. Bryan Hojnacki

    “I wanted more of that elusive feeling of accomplishment that I got after crossing the finish the first time…I was like a crackhead trying to recapture the feeling of his first high.”

    I gotta say you nailed it. My first marathon in 2009 I crossed the finish line in 4:20 and change, completely spent. From mile 26 to that .2 seemed longer than the entire race I had just ran. As a 39 year old man I felt myself loosing it in the euphoria of what I had just done. Fighting back tears of joy, pain, hunger, cold, thirst. pushing it into the finish line manning it up holding it in as my daughter jumped out of the side gates and grabbed my hand to pace me through the last 50 yards. I will never get that moment back again. Now I get my joy from pacing first timers into a 4:30 finish, or pushing myself to cross a mountain range and 32 miles. Or keep on my feet for 24 hours. But I will never get that back again.
    I did however discover a new high. Last fall I had been toying in my head signing up for my first 100. On my Saturday morning group run I discussed it with another runner who told me he was going to do it. This was all it took for me to push me over the edge. I decided to get to work early that day and log onto the website for the race. It had been know to sell out in under 10 min the past years. At noon the registration opened. At 12:01 I had secured my spot. I had 20 min to complete the entry or it would kick me out and give it to some other runner. WAIT! I never even discussed this with my wife $150. is alot of money. As I called her to discuss it I started sweating not only from the fear of spending the money but 100 miles IM I FRICKIN NUTS! My pits were dripping, my heart was racing. The clock was ticking. I convinced her this was good and my training wouldn’t be much more than it was for the 24 hour event. ( Yeah right) She gave me the timid, “If this is what you want to do?” It was enough for me. Credit card in hand, I finished the entry with time to spare. I walked out of my office with a swagger and a confidence, soaked from sweat and full of adrenaline. I had just registered for my first 100.(I thought to myself.) HELL YEAH! I AM A BAD ASS!

    Thanks for your post, It just gave me the urge to write this and relive those two experiences.

  2. Zach Adams

    Love it Bryan! So has that 100 already taken place?

  3. Bryan Hojnacki

    April 6th. 6 weeks 5 days and some change. This week and nest a my 2 max mileage weeks. 78 last week and pushing for 100 this week. Dreading the back to back 20’s to come this Friday and Saturday.

    http://www.umstead100.org/

    I had been saving these thoughts for my blog after the race but you inspired me to post them today. Thanks

    http://runhojorun.blogspot.com/2013/02/100-miles-why.html

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