Monday, August 07, 2006

Enjoy Your Life

I love the statement made by a fellow ultrarunner, (Rob) recently, "I know that I can finish the 100 miler, but there is also that doubt in the back of my mind, which is the way I like it. I am participating because I know that some day I may not be able to do so."

It shows a healthy respect for the distance. It also says that with every 100 or 50-miler, we are pushing the limits of our own endurance enough to know that there is still quite the possibility of either not finishing the race, getting injured, or even dying. Rob brought up some other things in his post that I fully agree with.

My personal (Bad Ben) philosophy:
I run 50 and 100-mile trail runs for the sheer enjoyment and personal challenge of it all, knowing that I will not be able to do it forever. For all of my 50-100 mile runs, I run to FINISH, and that's all. If I'm feeling well enough on that particular day, I might do well. I'll never be a front runner; it's not in the cards I was dealt, genetically. That's fine with me, because I'm still having fun! And, if training for these runs helps keep me in better than average physical and mental shape, that's a great side-effect.

Many runners are far more serious & competitive. Many of those runners run on pavement in much shorter runs, and they just don't understand these concepts. Some of them offer me the advice that I should give up some of the more enjoyable things in my life and get more SERIOUS about my running. Well, I won't give those things up! Some have actually stated that if I'm enjoying a distance event, then I must not be trying hard enough, and should quit competing, until I am serious about it. I'm not going to become a running facsist! I know many top-rated runners that STILL ENJOY running, even though they tend to win a lot. But there are those few out there that think that you can't enjoy life and do well in running. I am truly sorry for them.

I really ENJOY my life right now, and that wasn't always the case. I try to keep a good, healthy balance and enjoy all facets of my life. My running has very little impact on my family life right now. It's great that I have a wife that enjoys traveling with me on our 4-day weekends to these events, even though she's not a runner. This wasn't always the case.

Compared with the actual ultra events, I think I love the "journey" more, which involves the training miles and the camaraderie of running with other trailrunners. It is the best part of trailrunning for me. I also enjoy exposing newbies to trail and ultrarunning. That's the reason why I started a trailrunning group, web site, and blog. Scheduling and running in 4 runs per week doesn't require much effort, when it's something that I enjoy.

Ultra-distance events are basically training milestones and vacation destinations, for me. My spouse has had her hand in picking some of my running event locations, as well. This makes it even more fun and challenging. It's one of the main reasons that I'm going to be running the CCC100 in 3 weeks...she gets to see & visit with her best friend.

Have fun out there!

(Truly) happy trails,
Bad Ben


Jack said...

As I also said to Rob, I admire your running philosophy. I used to be one of those road racers who felt obiligated to run every race like my life depended on it (despite the fact that I'm more mid to back-of-the-pack runner performancewise). It finally took some overtraining and a marathon DNF to open my eyes. Now I have relaxed and learned to enjoy the journey and this has actually resulted in better performance and successful completion of my first 50K and 50-miler. I look forward to my first 100K next year and probably lots of shorter events.

running42k said...

That is a wonderful philosophy and an approach to life. Glad you are enjoying the journey on this spinning ball of ours.


Alex said...


This is a very good post. In the end, it all comes down to what makes you happy. You are not in a professional competition and your personal or your family’s well-being and livelihood do not depend on the outcome of your ultra-runs. You are doing it for your personal satisfaction, and that’s all it matters. That and all those endorphins you get after the runs make you a happy guy and not a cranky guy like so many people out there, so your family does benefit as well :)

Ironically, a lot of people who talk about that something is not worth doing unless you are dead-serious about it and pour every bit of your life’s energy into it are either the old has-beens who are desperately trying to accentuate the old glory of their own slightly better-than-average performances or some dysfunctional narcissists who don’t know how to live unless they tightly control the direction of just one particular aspect of their lives.


olga said...

Yep, what mnakes you and those around you. So for me it took some eye opening to distinguish the two. Now we all are better for this.
I might see you in 3 weeks.

Caleb said...

Right on Ben!!!!!!!!!! You Rock!!!!!!! I'm not going to lie before my last race I was scared sh@tless. But you know, that's what makes it fun, not knowing and of course putting your body through an assload of pain. Cleansing isn't it.

Ben, aka BadBen said...

You rock!
You're one of the front runners that I was talking about that still has fun while running races, (even though you usually WIN them), and yes, even though you are nervous as heck, prior to the start.
Keep enjoying the ride on this ball of dirt!

Bad Ben

Sarah said...

Great post! I tend to agree with you. I've been having so much fun getting involved in the ultra and trailrunning community. And the challenge is part of the fun too.

Good luck at CCC!

shliknik said...

Couldn't have said it any better. You really are a grounded person and now what matters.

I enjoy running but it doesn't come in front of what really important. I run for FUN...I work hard at it but it doesn't have to be work.

pastor mark said...

Good philosophy, Ben, and thanks for commenting on my blog post about Hardrock- I've got some more pics up and will be reporting on the Minnesota Voyageur 50M (which I ran the same day as you ran Hood). Best wishes at CC!

E-Speed said...

great post Ben. I agree that you have to have fun. If you aren't having fun then why the hell do it? I hope I love the ultra scene as much as you do after my first Ultra!

robtherunner said...

Great post Ben! I still struggle with where exactly my running fits in with my life, but more and more it is on the trails and in the mountains participating in ultras. I enjoy the training part of running to stay in shape and keep my weight down, but I really live for long distance trail running. See you in a few weeks.

Josh said...

though I haven't tried an ultra yet, this is exactly the post I needed to read today. thanks Ben for your great attitude and outlook.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Ben, you've got it!

I do runs for the scenery and community. I run to finish. I run to live!

D said...

Great post Ben! I sometimes wonder what people are thinking when they dish out certain "advice." You choose to run the way you see fit. It works for you. It makes you happy. Kudos.