It’s not just left right repeat

It’s not just left right repeat


SR50 Kids Printer BoyFor the 2013 Silver Rush 50 my family came to crew me. That means my wife and 4 kids. Pretty good motivation! At the same time, created a lot of worry on my mind in between aid stations. I know that our 4 kids can be distracted and have their own priorities. Wonder where they get that from?

We thought it would be fun to make t-shirts for all the kids to wear. It would be easy to keep track of them and maybe even a bit of a motivator. The back of the shirts said “Team Ross” and the front stated:

How to finish: Left, Right, Repeat

Cute right?

During my recent attempt at the 2014 Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run, I found myself describing that saying as, and I’ll censor it to one word:


Ultrarunning is not that simple. Yes, I used that saying and did move forward with no quit. At the start of the race I said I would not stop unless someone made me. Even at mile 32 when I was past cutoff I had the option to stop. I talked my way into being let through. For that moment there, I am quite damn proud of. A lady that came in with me made a different choice. We all make our choices.

Yes I was walking, but in ultras, things can turn around 5 minutes later.

Hanging out with Mike Aish a couple days before the race, he recounted his experience at Western States 100. For the first half of the race he was way ahead and then his body decided to take a break. He sat down for a couple hours, ate some food, and was back at it.

My challenge, I’m not fast enough to get 2 hours in the bank to do that.

Much of running is taken 6 inches at a time. That’s the 6 inches between your ears.

Running for hours and upon hours requires you to be comfortable in your head. There will be thoughts of doubt, regret, happiness, and absolute silliness. I have come up with some great slogans on long runs. The challenge is that amnesia also kicks in. Even through conversations with my wife over the past few days, I revealed some moment in the race that I hadn’t shared before. The brain was just processing so fast that it was filing away memories as quickly as they come in.

So what else is included besides left right repeat? Here are 3 that come to mind …

1. Mental
As mentioned above, the mind has the power to keep the body moving past its physical limits. There are mind games you can play like telling yourself you’ll just run to that tree, run 50 steps and then walk, singing a song in your head, creating stories about things you see on the course … although I have arrived at the point of depletion and scared myself thinking trees were people. In an ultra, your crew can change the course of your race and keep you going. You also want to make sure that people on your crew and your pacers are those that know you well. So you have an emotional sissy fit because an aid station doesn’t have chunky peanut butter, they won’t hold it against you.

The mind can also turn negative quickly, but I have learned that there is a root cause to this …

2. Fuel
If you don’t have fuel, things will start to break down. Even a car will operate a certain distance without oil. Unless you put fuel in your tank, then it’s a matter of time before you break down on the side of the road. Test what fuel works for you while simulating the event you are training for. What works at sea level won’t may not work at 10,000 feet. Listen to everyone but accept nobody as fact. Everyone’s body reacts differently to a variety of fuel and even their body’s need changes over time.

3. Gear
Chaffing. One of those TMI (too-much-information) topics that you can’t talk about with everyone. Practice running in the shorts/shirt/shoes you are going to use on race day. Experiment with bandaids, duct tape, Body Glide, Vasoline, baby powder, etc etc etc so that you know how it works for you. Same with knowing if you like running with a water bottle in your hand, around your waist, in a Camelback, or in a vest. Everyone is different.

It is a crazy puzzle game trying to determine what works for you. That’s why I don’t go on training runs … I go on practice runs. I’m trying out new combinations of the above to see what feels the best.

At the end of the day, go into a race with a plan. Then expect to throw it out the window when the race starts.

Problem solving, staying relaxed, and working with what you have will move you along the journey.

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