Friday, May 16, 2014

Quintessence of Ultra Running, what you can learn from a guy named Walter Mitty

There are many things in life that motivate us: fear, self-improvement, nature, family and sometimes we find motivation in odd places, such as a mix reviewed Ben Stiller movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. The premise of the movie is based on a day-dreamer who escapes into his own world to break out of his mundane existence until the day comes when his real life adventures surpasses any and all of his expectations. Along the way he learns some valuable lessons that I think can carry over in the Ultra running world, and for me has lead to some additional motivation lately.

The Ultra Running lessons (without giving any of the movie away) can be broken down into these four thoughts:
  1. Jump
  2. Stay in it
  3. Look inside
  4. The quintessence of life

Most Ultra Runners progress along from a life-time of running, kicking things off with the mile in middle school and progressing upwards in distance as their age and experience increase. Other runners would never even consider stepping up to the “Ultra” distance because of the pure fear and unknown that the distance presents. All runners regardless of experience reach that point when stepping up to the next level is all they have. Take it from Walter, when the opportunity comes you have to jump. Don’t think twice, don’t second guess your abilities. The fact that your heart is pulling you towards the distance is enough to push you through the event. JUMP!

Stay in it

When race day finally comes, enjoy it. There are a million things that will go wrong during the race, except them as part of the journey. It is very easy to forget what brought you to this point. How many miles you’ve run up to this point. How much time you spent building up your strength and endurance. You earned this moment, now enjoy it. Don’t let it slip by, it’ll be over before you know it and you’ll miss it.

Look inside

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times… “Humans are awesome”. When all the gear has failed and you hit rock bottom dig deep inside yourself and you’ll be surprised what you can do. How far you can go and how long you can keep moving. The bottom will drop out and there is nothing but your self to decide what happens next. Magic potions, energy drinks and  Be amazing, you just have to find it in you… and it is there!

The quintessence of life

When the first three thoughts are actualized the quintessence of life is yours for the taking. It is something different for all of us. Completing a new distance, running a new PR, staying alive… it doesn’t matter. The best in life is within all of us. We have the power to be awesome, we have the ability to achieve greatness, it just takes the human will to drive us to that point! Be the greatest you that you can be.

This movie has stuck with me for the past few weeks and I really enjoyed watching it with my son Jacob because I could see the light coming on inside him as we watched Walter Mitty struggle to greatness. My kids are in fact my greatest motivator when the going gets tough but following these simple thoughts are a great way to stay focused when doubt begins to enter your mind.

I close this post off with the Life Magazine’s Motto:

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.

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