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Tag: Patrick Durante

Fear and Action – Mental Toughness In Ultrarunning

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. One who lives life fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain

I was thinking about this quote and had a different spin on it.  Fear and action cannot occupy the same space inside your mind.  The idea is we only have two states our mind and body can occupy at any given moment.  That state is either fear or action.  Before you act, you are in the grip of fear, which normally doesn’t let you act.  The trick is to act before the fear takes hold of you.  Fear makes you believe that 100 things will go wrong before the first step. 

AI image of Fear and Action – Via Bing Image Creator

The power comes after we take that first step.  Every action after the first step melts fear away.  It forces your mind to THINK, “Well, what is my next step going to be?”  You have left the state of fear, and are now in the state of action.  That first step is critical.  Procrastination falls under the classification of fear.  It grips you in thinking no matter what choice you make, it’s wrong.  That’s where we get caught, debating if it’s the RIGHT action.  Action eliminates fear instantly.  You can’t be afraid AND move forward. The fears might be there, but they have a hard time growing roots.  The mind gets focused on making decisions for what needs to be done to keep flight AND move forward!

This brings up the idea of iterative design.  The idea is that we keep improving on every attempt.  “First is the worst” is what I always say.  Iterative design is a design methodology based on prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product or process.  Version 2.0 of YOU gets released only after version 1.0.  It’s not complete until nothing is left to add or take away depending on how you look at it.  The issue is we have to create that first version.  That first version takes the most effort.  Each improvement on that previous version is substantially easier.

AI image of Fear and Action – Via Bing Image Creator

That’s the beauty of running.  There’s always next year, next run, and hopefully tomorrow.  I design a lot of my life with the ability to create a better version of myself. I have put many of my “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” on my TO DO list to achieve each year and get completed with daily effort. The future comes one day at a time and no task can survive daily attacks.  If you put in the work then the greatest of achievements will become yours, and thus the greatest version of yourself.  

AI image of Fear and Action – Via Bing Image Creator

My new version of Mark Twain’s quote is this:

“The fear of failure follows from the fear of action. One who acts in life is prepared to fail at any time AND become the best version of themself.”

I force myself to act, to become that version of myself I imagine.  Am I afraid as I move forward?  Sometimes, but if you move fast enough fear never sticks.

Finally, I leave you with one more quote to think about.

“My Dear,
Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.”

― Falsely yours, Henry Charles Bukowski

Dairy Air 5K by Scoogies Events

When Girls on the Run went to a waiting list and my daughter couldn’t participate I knew I had one choice.  Coach them myself!  I thought it was strange they had such a small cap at her school for who could join, but that’s fine.  My son also joined us in the training as he had recently completed the “Healthy Kids Running Series” quarter mile event.

We started off with a run/walk combo of 30 seconds of running and 30 seconds of walking for 1 mile.  Slowly we lowered the walking and increased the running.  We practiced once a week, and we also play a game that involve a lot of running/cross-training.

My youngest was the first event of the morning, which was a half-mile distance.  She easily ran the entire thing without having to stop.  She would normally scooter with us for the 2-3 miles we did in training.  The motion of scootering is actually very similar to proper running form as mentioned in the book “Born to Run 2”.

Next was the 5K race for my son and daughter.  They knew to pace themselves early and go out conservatively.  It wasn’t until right before the first-mile marker that things started to change.  My son decided the pace was too slow for him and kicked it up a notch.  Initially, my daughter was OK, but it started to wear on her mind as he slowly pulled away.  She didn’t like the fact that he was going to “win”.  I kept trying to remind her to run HER race, stay in THIS mile, focus on something close like the next tree or post, etc, but it was no use.  The entire time in training she had no issue if she or Isaac was faster, but it seemed to be the mix of losing to Isaac AND race day jitters that caused problems.  It was interesting to see how she was handling it.  She had not mentally prepared for the fact this could happen, or the pressure of the race was getting to her.  Around the 2-mile mark, we used a run/walk combo to finish the race, and in the last few yards, she sprinted it in.   

“Children who have not been taught to confront challenges will try to avoid all challenges.”

Ichiro Kishimi

I tried pulling out all the motivational quotes I couldn’t think of, but it made no difference.  The stories we tell ourselves have the most effect, but thoughts are just that, thoughts.  You don’t have to believe them.  They can be intrusive, self-destructive, and I try teaching them that, but it’s one of the most difficult concepts for a child to grasp.  

Thoughts are only thoughts. They are not you. You do belong to yourself, even when your thoughts don’t.

John Green

Before every time she started walking she said the words, “I CAN’T do it”.  As we got closer to the finish line she regained the ability to run, but it was a struggle.  It was both amazing/sad to witness as a parent.  It made me realize you can’t save them from suffering/pain, they need to experience it for themselves.  You can tell them they need to practice more or put in the time, but until they experience the effects of being ill-prepared they won’t listen.  I could have given her all the support in the world, but it just fell on deaf ears.  

They both did an incredible job, but Hannah felt disappointed in her performance.  It was their first 5K, but not their first race.  She was nervous and that is completely understandable, it can be nerve-racking even for adults!  To most adults, 3 miles doesn’t seem far, but for a child, it’s the equivalent of a marathon. Doing hard things that we CHOOSE makes it easier when hard things happen we don’t choose. This was such a good learning opportunity for the kids and FUN, the training leading up was filled with playgrounds and bike rides to promote a more active healthy lifestyle.

Later that night, she told me how much she enjoyed the race and she wanted to do it again.  My son wants to run a 10K.  We will definitely be doing the 5K again next year.

Post-race I asked if they had awards for children under 10.  The race timer said, “O, are you one of those crazy parents that make their child run a 5K?”.  I took offense to that because I didn’t MAKE them do it, I asked and they said YES.  They wanted to train and they WANTED to race.  Did I add some incentives YES!  I actually paid them each 50 “Durante” dollars if they could complete the race. You might ask why would you do that.  Well, I am also trying to teach them the value of a dollar and that is also working very well.  

As adults, it’s easy to see the benefits of running, or maybe not.  A child needs more immediate rewards/consequences for their actions.  We had started adding chores around the house for an allowance.  They are learning the value of a dollar, and slowly I hope they learn the value of running/physical fitness.  If I had to pay 50 bucks to inspire a lifetime passion it’s worth every Penny 😁.

Please note that Durante Dollars are NOT legal tender, except in the Durante household.  Durante dollars can be redeemed for real cash when they actually want to buy something.  

I like to film my runs and make a video to remember the experience. Here was the race through my eyes.

Old Dominion 100 and The Lost Boys

What went right:

I started with an empty backpack and one bottle in my vest for my water strategy and also wore arm sleeves for ice when it got hot. Temps were moderate that day. I kept the water bladder empty until the heat kicked in around 10:30, and then I filled it. I would empty it again once it cooled down around 8:30 – 9:00 PM and switched to a waist belt with just one bottle. As the sun went down and the heat and humidity decreased, my fluid demands also decreased.

Try to wipe this smile off my face in an ultra.

Using THIS strategy for my mental state worked incredibly well. I came across an article posted by a Reddit user in this thread that advised staying in the moment, and I kept reminding myself of that. I consistently found enjoyment throughout the race. After passing mud hole gap #17, I started pushing really hard with the pace, believing I still had a chance. Even when I went off course and fell behind the clock, I didn’t give up. I managed my expectations, initially aiming for 24 hours, and I persevered until Elizabeth’s furnace.

SHUT IT DOWN! You have no chance in hell!

It was at that point that I finally reached the last stage of acceptance, realizing that 24 hours was impossible and it was time to switch goals.

I had sandwich bags filled with food in each aid station bag that I would grab. These bags contained granola, double-nutter butter, and a bar. This allowed me to have more food than I needed, which I would consume slowly as I walked, rather than stuffing my face at the aid stations. It was convenient because I could load my pockets and go.

Meeting the “Lost Boys” was a nice addition to the race. We shared a lot of miles together, especially with Greg Smith, who had recently got married. He technically wasn’t a “Lost Boy” as he never went off course and I only found this out near the end. They pushed me along and when they surged I kept pushing to keep up. I was really sad/broken once I heard they wanted to drop. Rob and Brian both jointly dropped out at mile 56, Edinburg Gap.

What went wrong:

The first aid station at mile 7.18 should have offered more than just electrolytes. I used a tailwind from my pack to fill up on water.

Inconsistency with course markings led to my downfall in this event. I should have familiarized myself with the course and known where the big climbs were. The race staff mentioned that the orange tape could be on either the left or right side. I missed a turn to the right after aid station 3 (Boyer-In) because I wasn’t aware of the course details. It’s important to know the course and ask for directions at the aid stations. Unfortunately, they didn’t provide any information to the four of us as we left, but I could have asked! They also used “2 pieces of tape” to signify a turn vs 1. I think they should just stick to using arrows like the rest of the world, which were not always there like in the case of my mishap. I did see some of the later turns used an arrow vs “2 pieces of tape”. Mind you I wasn’t the only one that went off course, the entire pre-race meeting was filled with stories of people going off course. Doesn’t that tell you something? I think I was with at least 10 others that went off course once we doubled back to the climb on the trail.

My shoes were good until around miles 60-70, but then I started developing blisters between my toes from rubbing. Injini socks address this issue, but they take a lot of time to put on. Initially, I led the race with those socks, but when I switched to a bigger shoe and “Darn Tough” socks, I noticed more movement in the foot box of the shoe. Perhaps I didn’t tie them tightly enough? I might go back to using Injinis because the blister problem only started when I changed socks.

I thought I could do sub-24 which had my good headlamp waiting at Elizebeth’s Furnace. I only had my small backup. The backup lasted much longer than expected. Surprisingly, it performed better and lasted longer than anticipated for a $10 device. Shout out to Michelle Goldberg who originally recommended it to me.

At the mountaintop aid station, you couldn’t take more than one water bottle. They should come up with a method to supply more water there. I wasn’t the only one who complained about this limitation.

The unmanned aid station was out of the water, and the food there had flies on it.

What I would do differently:

During the race, I found myself running right behind my friend Mike Warren at the start. He eventually buckled but stayed on course. I had to make a decision: do I want to run his race or focus on my own? My initial plan was to start off super slow, so I held back and took the early miles easy. However, this caused me to miss my turn. In situations like this, I have a quote that I say to myself: “It’s neither good nor bad, it just is.” So, this is what my race was meant to be, even if it didn’t align with my expectations. Our ability as humans to think ahead, make predictions, and imagine the future sets us apart from other species. But more often than not, things don’t go according to our plans of how we envisioned the future. When reality clashes with our expectations, it can be devastating for some individuals because they struggle to see a happy future in the new reality. However, regardless of the outcome, I was okay with simply participating in the race. I focused on staying in the present moment with each mile. I didn’t let my mind wander to the future or the finish line, nor did I dwell on past mistakes. I stayed focused on the mile I was currently in because there was nothing more I could do.

Final Thoughts:

Throughout the entire race, I ran my own race without specific goals or objectives, except to keep moving fast enough to finish. I never experienced fear, depression, or unhappiness; I was simply grateful to be doing what I love.

Who’s having fun!?!?!? This guy!

During the race, I was running alongside two individuals who eventually dropped out. When I reached mile 56, I found them standing with the aid station captain. I grabbed some food and coke, intending to continue with them, but they announced their decision to drop out. One of them said, “I don’t have anything to prove.” These events aren’t about proving anything; they are about pushing past the perceived limits our minds create. It’s about embarking on something that we might fail at and surpassing our own perceived boundaries. The “pain cave” is a common experience for everyone at a certain point in the race, and it is meant to be challenging.

In racing, it is often advised to have an A, B, and C goal. The question is, when do you decide to give up on the A goal and shift to the B or C goals? I became fixated on my A goal for too long; I should have focused on just running sub 28 sooner. I didn’t stop fighting until mile 80. When I reached Elizabeth Furnace, and the trail became rockier, I knew it was dumb to keep up this effort. At the start of the race, my focus wasn’t on earning a buckle or achieving a 24-hour goal; it was more about savoring the moment (which I captured in the video) and enjoying the trip with my father, which I did. While the “lucky number 7” for hundreds wasn’t particularly lucky, I always feel fortunate to be able to participate in these races, and my mental state of happiness in racing never seems to waver. I like the new mental strategy I took to this race and I think it worked. Thank you Reddit user BigFootBoogie!

I was prepared for whatever challenges the day presented. I anticipated things going wrong and maintained a positive mental state. I never give up hope, and my focus wasn’t solely on achieving a buckle. Easy for the person to say who has 6 of them 😂. I aimed to stay fully present in each mile. This technique proved effective as it allowed me to redirect my attention to my breath, and my surroundings, and shift my focus away from the pain. It was only when I couldn’t break focus on reaching the finish line that the pain became overwhelming and I really started to notice it.

No buckle for you!

I enjoyed making this video, which is my longest to date. I really liked this camera setup and I can’t wait to use it at Leadville!

Hat camera: InstaGo2

360 Camera: Insta360 X3