Marathons, Triathlons, Ultras

I have already spent considerable time on long rides and runs thinking about what kind of events I want to do in 2009. The plan includes marathons, triathlons and ultra marathons. I’ll probably throw in a century ride or two. But in talking through this with some training partners, I now have a better understanding of why I choose this combination of events.

For me, the triathlon is the ultimate challenge. Nothing tests your physical conditioning, endurance, and mental fortitude quite like the tri. The amount of training required to perform respectably in three disciplines is so much more physically demanding than a single sport. The effects of sleep, stretching, rest, and eating habits are exacerbated. And so many things can go wrong in a tri. So when a race goes well, it is incredibly rewarding.

I’ve been a runner for over 30 years and the marathon represents the pinnacle of the sport for many runners. The lore and lure of Boston alone makes the marathon a must do. But I avoided it for years. It is a test like no other. The training is hard…really hard, and it keeps you honest. For most runners, it’s the longest distance you’ll ever try to run as fast as possible. I have learned to always respect the marathon.

I am really glad to have found ultras last year. Through many long hours of training with friends and running events in incredible places, the ultra represents the pure joy of running. You only take on the ultra if you really love to run. Family and friends can’t appreciate the ultra distances (most have never even heard of ultras). You don’t run 6 – 10 hours or more for the recognition. I’ve never even seen a finisher’s medal for an ultra. You do it for yourself, and the satisfaction in an ultra comes entirely from within. I got into ultras because I love to run, but I found training for ultras all winter took me into tri season in great shape.

I don’t know if this is just my twisted way of justifying what I love to do, but it works for me.

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