In a marathon maybe you took a few Gels, had some tough sections around mile 18, but by noon you were done and in the car headed home ready to bask in the 26.2 mile glow. You did something hard, something impressive and challenging. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the road.
When there is an opportunity for failure there is a much higher opportunity for learning. In a road marathon you probably don’t go to the start line with fear of not finishing. You might not get your goal time, but you’re probably going to finish. For most road marathons the finisher percentages are in the high 90’s. As you attempt longer distances with more hills and terrain, the chance for failure goes up. This is exactly why you should do it.
We are not saying that everyone who has finished a marathon should now go out and sign up for a 100 mile race. Do not do that. There are important steps between 26.2 and 100. But, taking one of those steps might be the best thing you ever did.
Traveling 50 miles in a day by foot is a big deal. It’s really far. And with all the terrain, and the hills, and river crossings, and all mother nature can throw at you, it’s gonna take a long time. You are probably going to want to quit at some point. Your whole body will revolt. You might feel sick, have no energy, and get some gnarly blisters. Multiple times after mile 1 you’ll have to decide if you really want to get to mile 50.
Ryan Ghelfi’s mental dialogue mid Pine to Palm 100:
“Holy crap! my foot is messed up. I can’t run anymore. I still have 50 miles left. There are 4 giant climbs. I am slowing down. I think I am going to get caught soon. My stomach is jacked. I forgot my headlamp and it’s gonna be dark in an hour. I think I am just gonna drop. No one will care if I drop. I think that I am feeling bad enough to drop. Haven’t I done enough?” 1 more mile passes by: “Maybe I can just change shoes when I get to the aid station. I think I’ll just change shoes. Maybe that will help. I can just eat something and start hiking the 15 miles up Dutchman Peak. Yea, I’ll just keep going. None of this pain matters. I can finish this damn race. I just have to keep going. It’s gonna feel really good when I don’t drop out”
This is a pretty standard experience for front, middle, and back of the pack ultra runners. It’s what keeps people coming back for more. Finding yourself in what seems to be a very desperate time and getting to face your own thoughts and fears head on is an incredibly valuable experience. In a 50 mile race you will have this opportunity.
If you ran a marathon this year and you want take that next step, why not do it in 2017? You don’t need anything special. You don’t need to double your weekly mileage. You don’t need new shoes. You don’t need a coach. You don’t need extra strength body glide, the regular version will do. You might need to wake up a little early some days. You might need to train in the rain. You’re going to have to be consistent. Register for a race. Without registering you’ll never train for it, and without training, you won’t be ready. With the right amount of dedication and desire you can do this!
Here are a bunch of rad 50 mile races all over the USA. For our international readers there are likely some 80k ultras near you, or come visit us in Oregon.
- Tillamook Burn 50 mile, April 30, Oregon
- Flint HIlls 50 mile, April 15, Kansas
- Leona Divide 50 mile, April 22, California
- Jemez Mountain 50 mile, May 20, New Mexico
- Cruel Jewel 50 mile, May 20, Georgia
- Cayuga 50 mile, June 3, New York
- Black Hills 50 mile, June 23, North Dakota
- Minnesota Voyageur 50 mile, July 29 Minnesota
- Pikes Peak 50 mile, July 29, Colorado