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Bouncing Soles Posts

Pain and Suffering in Ultra-Racing

Pain is guaranteed in life. There is no escaping the fact that something or someone will cause you pain. What is not guaranteed is suffering. Ultra-running, to me, is a long conversation with yourself about these two ideas. Are you in pain AND are you suffering?  The ability to first understand the purpose of pain, as a feedback mechanism to instruct us to listen to our body, is crucial. Children tend to listen only if there are repercussions for their actions, so the same goes for pain. Our body sends a pain signal because we are not listening. In ultra-racing, you need to learn how to listen to that signal, acknowledge it, and then move past it. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when both pain and suffering collide, and that will cause a DNF. The majority of the time, we choose to suffer because the pain has crossed over a threshold that we decide we can no longer bear. We give in, we give up, and we drop out.

When you reach this point, there are a few critical items you can do to prevent going over the edge:

  1. Listen! It’s trying to tell you something, but if you choose to ignore it, there will be a breaking point.
  2. Take a break! There’s nothing to say you can’t back off the pace, sit in the shade, or just stop and collect your thoughts. Pain comes in waves, and most of the time, you can ride the wave to the next shore.
  3. Reason with it. You can talk with yourself to see if it’s really an issue if it’s really that bad and if you can make a deal just to wait and see if your fears are warranted. Nine out of ten times, it’s never as bad as you think.

This year, I plan to approach racing and life completely differently. I will stop getting in the way of things, stop trying to steer them, and let things play out. I have read many books on self-help, self-discovery, and self-improvement, and the underlying theme in all of them is awareness.  The present moment is always trying to tell you something, but we ignore it.  Far too often, we are on to the next thing, living in the past, or dreaming about the future.  Sitting in silence, with no task and nowhere to be, is life’s ultimate reward. Not what you have, what you have done, and what you will do. The odds of being born into you are 1 in 400,000,000,000,000. Think about that! You already won the lottery, now it’s time to just sit back and enjoy it. So, the next time you are “suffering” you have to ask, but am I really?  Sit with your pain, because it’s a gift trying to tell you what you are doing wrong, and if you listen, you will avoid suffering.

Would you like to live forever?

If you could take a pill to stop aging or extend your life by 200 years, would you?  Multiple stories about biohacking and anti-aging research are in the news.  It made me think that might be the most horrible thing to happen to a person or society.  People can barely save for retirement or an emergency fund, how would you even be able to afford a 100-year retirement?  Would anybody retire? 

Will your friends and family be able to afford the magic anti-aging pill or treatment?  Odds are they will not, which means SOME of your best and closes friends and family will die while you live on. What is the best age to lock in for eternity, 29, or maybe 39?

The fact that we have an expiration date means we HAVE to take risks NOW!  There’s a concept in management called Parkinson’s law, ”Work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion”.  Basically, you would never be motivated to finish anything because you know there’s time.  No set end date for your life or tasks.  You could waste a year in bed watching TV, but would it matter?  Should the drug have productivity requirements?  Only those that contribute to society could take it.  So only “essential workers” would get it?  Do you want to just watch TV and play video games? Sorry kid! No soup for you!

It’s not the cure for aging we need, it’s the cure for fear.  The fear of embarrassment, fear of starting something new, fear of taking a risk, fear of pushing limits, and fear of getting uncomfortable or hurt.  We don’t need more excuses to put things on hold. Would you put everything off or would you take action? Just wait until next year, the weather is better, or you have more money. You would always be putting things off! What’s the rush!?!?  It’s like that quote from Jurrasic park, 

Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” 

Jurrasic Park

Think about when you lost someone close and how it forces you to re-evaluate your life. Death is a reminder, a wake-up call to those barely living to get moving! Will your actions right now be alive time or dead time? Every choice you make is a vote for the person you want to be. Cure for aging, no I’m good.  Cure for fear, sign me up!

Ultrarunner Checklist Manifesto

Inspired by the book, The Checklist Manifesto, this checklist comes from my personal list after completing 6-100 milers and several 50/100K races. I reviewed my race reports to create this but wanted the input of the community. List items should be simple and self-explanatory so it’s quick to review leading up to your race.

Experience is king, so learn from the mistakes that I and others have made. If you think there is something I should add please let me know.

Click here or the link on the left to see the checklist.