Do you remember your first miles? Your first race? Running 1 mile feels like an incredible accomplishment, then you race 3.1 miles. Then you push for a 5 mile, a 7 mile, & a 10 mile run, decide to toe the line of a half marathon. 13.1 miles later your brain challenges you to take on the marathon. You start training again. 15 miles, 18 miles, 20 miles, marathon day. You take on the day, attack the race with fervor, run 26.2 miles, and cross the finish line. Then what?
The life of the marathoner is spent pushing yourself. Motivating yourself. Pounding miles into the pavement. Repeating mantras. After weeks of work where does that focus and drive go? What is next on the to do list? The natural progression of the runner often times will reach its ceiling at the marathon distance. For me the goal became to finish faster& to finish 49 more marathons. I am 14 races into that goal and have cut over 70 minutes off of my first marathon finish.
At some point however, the marathon loses the “challenge” appeal. Don’t mistake this comment to mean that the race comes easy. Every marathon, every half, every 5k has its challenges. And every finish line reached is an accomplishment, I believe that with all of my heart. But I don’t train to run a marathon to prove to myself that I can run a marathon. I have 14 finisher medals hanging on my wall that show I can go the distance.
In thinking about what comes next there are two paths that most marathoners will take. They will buy a bike and a wetsuit and set their sights on the triathlon, beginning the progression again until eventually they can claim the title of becoming an ironman; or they buy a new hydration pack and tackle the world of Ultra Marathoning. The Ultra has no designated mileage but usually fall in 3 main mileages: 50k, 50 miler, or 100 miler.
I have been toying with the idea of running an ultra for several weeks. Over the past weekend a race popped up on my radar that is less than an hour from my house. It takes place in March and offers a 20k, 50k, & 50 mile option. A shiny belt buckle awaits those finishers who finish all 50 miles within the 12 hour time limit. After a few hours of doing math, calculating required pace, average pace, & goal pace then looking at several training plans and the mileage required to train for a 50 mile run I think it’s a very high possibility that this run is in my future in 5 months. Between then and now I have 4 marathons scheduled and possibly a 5th on the way. Lots of miles to put on between now and then.