Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Ultra Endurance Athlete

 What makes a person want to put themselves through extreme mental and physical tests throughout their life (as if once wasn’t enough) is a mystery to many.

  I often think of horses and dogs and how the Ultra Endurance Athlete is very similar to their mindset.  Have you ever watched a dog or horse run until they couldn’t go anymore?  They didn’t wake up that day wondering if it was a good day to push themselves, they just got up and went.  As they run, I imagine that they don’t think about much, they just seem to be led by joy and freedom and they run and run and run.  If I asked my border collie why she runs for hours and hours she would look at me much the same as an Ultra Endurance Athlete if he or she were asked the same question. 

Many people would say we’re  “running from something”.   They would say that many of us have had “traumatic childhoods”.   I believe that in order to do what we do, there is something deep inside that fuels us.  It is so deep however; that I imagine some of us will never know what “it” is.  The “traumatic child hood” assumption is interesting though because that would force survival mode at a young age.   The child would likely spend years crafting his or her ability to overcome obstacles and develop mental toughness, which coincidently are 2 key ingredients of the Ultra Endurance Athlete.

 I have had many strange things said to me over the years in relation to my racing; my favorite is “why are you doing this, you have nothing to prove?”    That one makes me laugh and sometimes it makes me mad.  The person assumes that my reason for doing what I do is to gain approval from others, which is far too superficial for a 30-hour race finish.

 Having lost my mother at age 7 and watching her fight to stay alive puts me in the category of “traumatic childhood”.   As a child though, I just kept moving, I didn’t realize at the time that I was crafting my ability to overcome obstacles and that I was developing mental toughness, for me it was just living.  Who would have thought that- that little girl at 7 years old was taking her first steps to becoming an Ultra Endurance Athlete?   As I awoke each day and went to school and played with friends, no one ever said, “you have nothing to prove” and that journey my friends, was far tougher than any race.  
I believe that those days created a foundation from which I live but I don’t believe that I am running from them or anything else for that matter.  Just as some kids will spend their days on computers and may become programmers, or drawing and may become artists, I and so many like me spent our days building mental toughness and are now Ultra Endurance Athletes.

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