I Must Be Doing It Wrong

On Saturday, during the Nanny Goat 12/24/100 Ultra Race, I saw some tempers flare and heard others had tantrums/meltdowns. I had not seen that before in a trail race/ultra before and it surprised me. I thought it was just me who had little meltdowns during races. Luckily, no one was there to see the one I had on Saturday. While I was on the course, I tried to be positive/laugh so only Twitter bore the brunt of it. Which was, thankfully, only one tweet.

I think that when you enter the world of ultras and you see all these amazing people doing them and read about all their great adventures that you have this idealized vision of what an ultrarunner is. I know I do. To me an ultrarunner is someone with their sh!t together, who always smiles, never complains, figures out issues and deals with them, and just keeps running strong.

Yeah…that’s not me. So far, I’ve done 4 ultras and in every one of them, I felt:

  • Depressed – because I wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped.
  • Frustrated – because I couldn’t figure out stomach/feet/leg issues.
  • Whiny – because I wasn’t having a rainbows & unicorns race.
  • Sad – because I didn’t turn into the magical, glorified ultrarunner I thought I would be.
  • Angry – because I sometimes thought about quitting.
  • Fear – because I sometimes thought about quitting.
  • Doubt – that maybe, just maybe I didn’t have what it takes to run ultras.

So I must be doing it wrong. Right?

When my friends run ultras or I read race recaps of ultras, I’m always looking for some insight into what they were thinking when they were out there. Did they hit a low point? Did they have any doubts or fears? Am I the only one with thoughts like these?

And then when people congratulate me or tell me that they are proud of me for what I’ve accomplished, that little devil on my shoulder whispers in my ear “yeah, but they don’t know you were _____ (fill in the blank with any of the above).” That stupid little devil makes me feel guilty for accepting praise. I REALLY need to get rid of her or at least put a muzzle on her. Because you know what? I’ve been getting them done. Sure, it hasn’t always been pretty but I finished all 4 of them.

So I must be doing something right. Right?

I guess the whole point of my post is this…If you are thinking of going for an ultra (or your first marathon or half marathon or whatever new distance) but you’re not sure if you can do it…then go for it! Because if I can do it, you can do it.

Just know this…ultrarunners are NOT perfect. Take me for example. I am not a gifted runner. I’m not fast and I’m not agile on the trails. I am full of insecurities and doubts. I have low/ugly/would you like some cheese with that whine moments. I am not the poster child for an ultrarunner. Or even a runner really.

But…I am a runner and an ultrarunner. So, even if it isn’t all sunshine and roses, I keep going. That’s all you have to do. Keep going until you’re done. If you can do that, you ARE doing it right.

[photo submitted by me]



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- who has written 717 posts on Run It Fast®.

Lisa (RIF Club Member #5) has completed 27 half marathons, 13 marathons, 5 50Ks, 2 12 Hour races, and 1 100K. Her favorite races to date are the Disneyland Half Marathon, the Leading Ladies Marathon, the Bataan Memorial Death March, and the Jackson Jackass 50K. You can follow her on Twitter @runlikeacoyote

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One Response to “I Must Be Doing It Wrong”

  1. Mike says:

    Great stuff, I did my first Ultra this year at Tarawera in NZ, I guess I got lucky in that I didn’t have any of the problems you refer to… I asked myself why and realised that I had no expectations of myself… all I wanted to do was finish and I would have walked the last 30km (of a 60km race) if I had to.
    Because I started out so cautiously and stuck to my planned food and drink regimen, in the end I had enough left to push the last 8km harder. From reading your post here it seems you have high expectations… I saw top Ultra runners pull out and evidently they do it all the time.
    Unless you are elite, the whole goal is to finish… and thank goodness I am not elite!


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