5 Lessons Learned From Completing An Ultramarathon

For those who have read my previous articles, I want to let you know that I've completed my first 100km ultramarathon in March.

I wrote that I wanted to figure something out by training and running a 100k. I wasn’t sure what that something would be, but I had a gut feeling it would be important.

Now that it’s done, I actually figured out nothing, which is a surprisingly good outcome.

I guess what I’ve come to realize is that there are always more things that will require more figuring out. Even the people I admire, who seem to have their lives pointing in the right direction, will be the first to admit they're just as clueless as you and I.

But I feel good, somehow more confident. It’s like the positive energy from the successful completion of the run has spilled over to other areas of my life. Perhaps this feeling is that aforementioned “something.”

Although there was no big light bulb over the head moment, I’ve gained a better understanding on the importance of patience and perseverance. Put in the proper effort and the result will eventually be positive. It may not be apparent right away, but progress is there.

1. Trust your training.

My target time for the ultra was under 12 hours. I finished in 13 hours 6 minutes. I was happy that I finished the run, but was a bit disappointed with the time. “Should have trained better,” I thought. However, two days later the muscle soreness was completely gone and I'd recovered much faster than expected. I have my training to thank for that.

2. Acknowledge yourself humbly.

There is a fine line between self-acknowledgement and arrogance. I had a few good races where I placed high and broke personal records in 2012. The minor success boosted my confidence even though I'd never run anything close to a 100km. It’s important to celebrate success and pat yourself on the back for a job well done, but don’t forget to stay humble, be patient and respect the challenges ahead. Improvement just doesn’t happen overnight

3. It’s a marathon…

There's a runner we call “The Slippers Guy” because, well… he runs in house slippers. I've never finished behind him in any previous races, but on the final 10 or so kilometers he steadily trotted passed me while I was in agony. He may not be the fastest, but he could certainly run forever. The phrase, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” has never been more true, as people I'd passed before the turnaround blew past me on the way back.

4. It's never too late.

The ultra-running community is small in Taiwan. At 35, I’m probably one of the youngest participants. Rarely do I see anyone under 25 attempting ultra. When I run along and talk to runners in their 50s, 60s or even 70s (and countless finished ahead of me), I can’t help but feel that it’s never too late to do something “crazy,” to shoot for something that is uncomfortable yet extraordinary.

5. Get the ball rolling.

The night after I finished, I was lying in bed absolutely useless, and cringed at any TV commercials with people running. A few days later, with the pain subsiding, I was already talking to my buddies for the next mission. With patience and perseverance creating momentum, progress and action become addictive. And, of course, runners are great at amnesia.

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