Ultramarathons & Self-Mastery
Tomorrow - Monday, October 18th - I begin a new endurance training cycle with the end goal to run a 50-mile ultramarathon. Thinking back to my IRONMAN, I remember the most consistent question asked was - why? why are you doing this?
For me, setting borderline unreasonable goals and knocking them down is when I feel as if I am at my best. It is hard to describe the feeling after finishing a race. There is almost no sense of personal achievement, but there is an overwhelming sense of appreciation. When your body is in shambles and your mind is reduced to total attention on basic functions - breathing, moving, drinking, and eating... there's a sense of emotional relief - purity of thought. You're totally present, engulfed in the moment. Then, it all ends in an instant and you turn to see the finish line behind you.
In the moments after I finished my IRONMAN, I was in pain and I was exhausted, but I wasn't destroyed. Thoughts begin to wander as soon as the primal focus resigns... What's next?
I want to know what I'm capable of. I want to know how far I can take my body. I want to know how far I can expand the capacity of my mind.
That's the thing you realize in the moments immediately after a race. You've established a new baseline expectation - a new standard for yourself.
Will you meet and exceed that standard moving forward?
As far as I know, we have one shot at life and to a certain degree, we can exercise control over the outcome. Unlike a race, however, we don't know when we will cross life's finish line.
There's a quote by Derek Sivers I read this morning, which inspired me to put these thoughts to paper.
Mastery is the best goal because the rich can't buy it, the impatient can't rush it, the privileged can't inherit it, and nobody can steal it. You can only learn through hard work. Mastery is the ultimate status.
Endurance sports - running, specifically - have helped me pursue the unending journey toward self-mastery. I can't fake that journey. It can't be bought, rushed, inherited, or stolen. It all starts and ends with me; with you.
You didn't ask for my advice and a mentor of mine once told me to always be wary of free advice, but I'll give it anyway. Don't wait until the end - of a goal, journey, or milestone - to embrace appreciation. The sense of accomplishment fades, the joy of completion fades, but appreciation crystallizes and remains. Appreciation is powerful. It is filled with optimism and can benefit more than just your life if you share appreciation freely with others.
I appreciate you all for being a part of this community and I sincerely hope some of these words I've shared over the weeks have benefitted you in your own life. Whether that's true or not, I am committed to continue trying; because my journey to self-mastery encompasses more than ultramarathons.
Whatever your journey looks like. Wherever you see yourself on that journey. Know I'm fully supportive of you and believe in you. My inbox is always open if you need a sounding board or motivation.
On a related note, as part of my journey sharing thoughts on the internet, I've met and encountered a handful of inspirational people walking similar paths.
The video below is an amazing short film tracking one of those inspirations to me, Nick Bare, as he completes the famous Leadville 100 ultramarathon.
Nick Bare (runner) and the team at Bare Performance Nutrition show how beautiful and powerful running can be.
Ultramarathons, specifically, are a team sport. The video shares both perspectives - the grueling effort of the runner, as well as the dedication and commitment of the support team.
There is immense power in surrounding yourself with the right people - people who believe in you as much as you believe in them.
Establish a belief and build a mindset around living that belief.
One step at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time - keep moving.
Never stop. You don't fail unless you give up.
You have one shot at life - it's up to you what you do to maximize that opportunity.
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