The ultra has been seducing you for some time now. You think the two of you might have a future together, and you'd like to register for your first race. The butterflies are there, but do you know what you're getting into?
While a 5K is a teenaged summer fling, an ultra is a long-term relationship. And just like any committed relationship, it takes work. While ultras are amazing, they definitely have their ups and downs. Have you seen those elevation changes?
Here are some tips to help you survive if you've been bitten by the ultra love bug:
1. Come out to your family.
When you first tell your family or loved ones (or innocent by-standers) about ultra running, expect a mixed response. Some people might question if this is right for you, poke holes in your reasoning, or ask if you are feeling ill.
On the other hand, they could be supportive. They may offer to attend races or crew for you. As long as you're happy with your decision, don't get discouraged by the responses of others. You can choose who to be with.
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2. Meet the in-laws.
The ultra family is awesome. These folks are the kind of people you actually want to see more that once a year on Thanksgiving, Christmas or Bar Mitzvahs. In fact, you may find yourself seeing them on a regular basis. Embrace this new family. It's completely normal to take weekend camping vacations with them.
3. Express your love.
Facebook does not officially recognize this type of relationship, but that's no reason not to flaunt your love. If "it's complicated" or "in an open relationship" doesn't quite describe the bond you have, a profile picture with you running on a single track toward a mountain range works.
You can also try a few hundred albums filled with random landscape photos that document every scene from your weekend training runs. There's no shame in that.
4. Make time for old friends.
Running for hours can be addictive. You may find yourself spending nine hours on Saturday running the mountain trails, then falling asleep afterwards out of sheer exhaustion.
You may stay up for a night run. Or call in sick on days when the weather is perfect for a "quickie" through a romantic aspen forest. Other runners will applaud, and even encourage this behavior. But don't forget about your non- running friends.
Make time for non-runners by cutting a run a few hours short, or inviting them over when you are foam rolling your IT band. Feel free to invite them on your runs, but don't get upset when they politely decline your invitation to run hill repeats up Pikes Peak.