Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Ultra Running in the Press

Earlier this week I read this article about the growing popularity of ultra running in the UK. It's not often I see something about longer distance running in the press so it piqued my interest and I thought it was a good feature.

Ultra running does seem to have become more prominent in recent times but I wasn't sure whether it was just because I'm vaguely involved in "the scene" that I had that impression; in the same way that once you buy a car you start seeing lots of the same model around. Since completing Gatliff last year I can call myself an ultra runner, without any of the qualifications that people sometimes put on other distances such as "if you didn't run the whole thing you can't say you're a marathon runner". It's true what they say in the article about it being less about the time and more about the achievement.

A lot of runners I know talk about wanting to complete certain races or distances as part of new year resolutions but they almost always attach a time to this. Ultra running allows you to focus on the ability of the body in a different way. The camaraderie is amazing, you get to see some beautiful places and it can remind you of the simple joy of running. Depending on how much of a kit fiend you are.

In the past I've done a lot of 10k and half marathon running. This year I have three (or four depending on how well I run) ultras in the calendar in addition to two marathons. Marathon des Sables crosses my mind every now and again too... I didn't think I would enjoy distance running as much as I have done. I don't go and knock out 20+ mile runs every week but I know I'm capable of it. And I still respect the distance; if I think too hard about it I get quite scared. Most of the time though it sounds too far to be real and you tackle it piecemeal. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

I'm not suggesting everyone should now go and sign up for ultras, nor that setting goals around shorter distances isn't worthwhile. Far from it. But it's nice to see ultra running getting a bit more coverage and if you already run longer distances it might be something to think about.

And may I also take the opportunity to mention Like The Wind Magazine, who are also referred to in the article. I've read every issue so far and it's a refreshing change from the Women's Running and Runners World style of magazines. More stories, more art work, less training plans. It's full of people sharing their love of running and very inspiring.

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