I’m done with ultramarathons! A few weeks back, I attempted to run a trail 100km under 8hrs (4:47min/km, 7:40min/mi). I ran 8hrs 46min after passing through halfway at 3hrs 59min. That’s a big slowdown. And it was painful. Over the last 30km, as I was willing myself to keep going, I thought, “I don’t need this in my life anymore”.
I ran my first ultramarathon (100km) in 2016, and I’ve run at least one ultra every year since then. I initially signed up to challenge myself. I wanted, needed, to prove to myself that I was mentally and physically strong enough to endure an ultra. That first 100km broke me into little pieces and spat me out. At 10km to go, I told my pacer, “I don’t think I can make it”. I did make it, and the sense of achievement and satisfaction that I squeezed every ounce of physical and mental capacity from myself was intoxicating – this is what I need in my life.
I went on to get faster in every ultra until Tarawera 102km 2021 – the day I thought I was going to die. That day, I was stretchered out at 95km, just 7km from the finish. I shouldn’t have even made it that far. I was utterly cooked from 60-odd km. I pushed myself so far beyond my physical capacity that my body completely shut down. The last few Km before I collapsed, I used a stick as a crutch because my legs were searing with pain with every step. When I eventually lay down, I was vomiting uncontrollably and cramping in every muscle. At that point, I had lost control of my body and thought, “I may have gone too far this time”. Eventually, I got carried out and taken to the recovery tent. (Listen for the recap)
Since that race in 2021, I have only attempted 100km twice, once in February this year at Tarawera (2022 was cancelled… and I was injured), where I DNF’d from heat stroke (read here), and then again a couple of weeks back at the South Island Ultra.
If you’ve never run an ultra or horribly exploded in a marathon, you may not relate to the self-reflection you experience when you run for an hour or more under intense duress. It’s the self-transcendence Sri Chinmoy refers to in his philosophy of running. During the last couple of hours of the South Island Ultra, I realised I didn’t need ultrarunning anymore because I achieved my ultimate goal the day I pushed myself beyond my limits in 2021. That day, I discovered that I am mentally tough enough to take on any challenge, so much so that I can be a danger to my well-being!
What’s in it for me? How does my story help you?
My story is a reminder not to lose sight of your ultimate goal. Running and endurance sport is our means of self-expression and self-exploration. We challenge ourselves physically and mentally to find out what we’re capable of when the bureaucracy of life is stripped back to; “run this distance on this course as fast as you can, go”. If the result sheet, finish time or race distance starts to dictate what is an achievement and what is not, then you’re far from your ultimate goal. 100 miles is not a happier finish line than 100km, and a 2:30 marathon doesn’t feel better than 3 hr marathon. The journey is the reward.
What’s next for me?
My next challenge is to see how fast I can run. I have a massive mental weakness when it comes to believing in myself over short distances. I’ll give the summer track season a crack to see if I can lower some of my PRs from 1500m – 10km.
I will return to ultrarunning at some stage because I’ll eventually want to challenge myself like that again, just not in the near term.
New Website Deals
I’m super pumped about my new website. You can now purchase ALL of my courses and get immediate access—no more third-party sites and logins. I’ve even uploaded the exclusive TrainingPeaks course I did with Dr Matt for their coach education program.
For a limited time, I’m offering ALL MY COURSES for $499usd. It’s seriously nuts value because buying everything separately would be about $1000, and a couple of the courses come with FREE TRAINING PLANS worth over $100usd.
Not only that, you’ll get access to any new courses I upload.
Short of getting one-on-one coaching with me, my courses give you my exact coaching framework with all the background science.
Check out what Dan had to say,
“Firstly, I just wanted to start off with a thanks. The course has been fantastic, and the training plan has me feeling great. I went through my race day planning for the half marathon, and it worked a treat. Felt great throughout the run and had enough in the tank to make a strong push to the finish line over the last 20 minutes. Absolutely stoked!!”