7 Ultrarunning Myths That Hold You Back

Do you know when people start believing in you? When you prove yourself. When you finish. When you find success. So don't sit around, whining about how nobody supports you. Of course they don't, and why should they? You haven't done anything yet. Your ultra is just crazy talk.

Know your potential, and go after it with all of your strength. When you believe in yourself and prove your ability to finish, others will start believing in you as well.

More: 5 Ways to Run Past Your Mental Blocks

4. If I'm running in the back of the pack, I'm in the wrong training group.

Take it from this back of the packer—you're in the perfect spot. When I started running ultras, I was always in the back of the pack. As I slowly started becoming a mid-packer, I sought out stronger runners who would push me to the back again.

Many runners are embarrassed or ashamed to bring up the rear—to the point that they will switch training groups. But I'm not here to impress anyone—I'm here to get better, and I want to do it as fast as possible.

Struggling to keep up with a strong group is how I've grown. Fast. I've picked up tips and invaluable knowledge that may have taken me years to learn otherwise, and it also keeps me extremely humble.

Obviously there's a limit—you don't want people waiting forever for you to catch up. But your own common sense and/or pride will prevent you from hitting any extremes. 

More: 5 Ways to Benefit From Group Workouts

I want people in front of me, driving me forward. I want to be friends with people who can kick my ass any day of the week, who are better trained, and have more experience. The rewards are far better in last place than in first. There is tremendous opportunity to advance. The day I'm the best runner is the day that I didn't learn anything.

5. I'm too old to start running ultras.

At 29, I'm a newborn in this sport. I'm also one of the slowest, less experienced, and less accomplished. Ultrarunning is for an older crowd. The strongest runners tend to be in their 40s and 50s (women included), with a few in their 60s who can run circles around them. I've seen men past middle age with abs more ripped than any teenager on the planet.

Age in ultrarunning means grace, wisdom and respect. You are admired and consulted for advice. If you watch an older ultrarunner, there is a calm and carefree aura around them. It's like they know every step of every trails, what's underneath every rock, and the location of every bug.

Their sense of direction is inhumanly sharp, and you get the feeling that if you were to ditch them in the middle of nowhere on the other side of the world, they would run back and ring your doorbell in about a week. Other sports cut you off after a certain age. In this sport, you become a legend.

More: How to Run Strong at Any Age

6. After I finish an ultra, everyone will admire and praise me. 

Ultra running is like a spiritual experience—you get the most out of it when you approach with a pure and humble heart. An ultra is something you can't finish for anyone else. You have to do it for yourself.

The runners who give off a "Hey, look at me!" vibe generally don't stick with ultras. If your goal is social acceptance and praise, there are much easier ways to get it.

When you run a marathon, all your non-running family and friends think you're a superstar. They might meet you at the finish line, talk about you with pride, and tell you how awesome you are.

But when you run an ultra, you are out on those trails by yourself. You're facing your demons alone on a foreign terrain. There are no motivational signs to lift your spirits. There are no cheering fans to scream your name. If you're lucky, you may get some weak claps or cheers at the finish line.

But that finish is unlike anything else. It's yours and yours alone. Nobody can know what it took for you to get there, and nobody can share in your glory. That finish line is where you first realize that you can do anything.

You'll go into the world the next day to brag about your accomplishments, but instead of looking at you with admiration, people will look at you like you're insane. Your non-running friends will not understand. Their first reaction will probably not be, "You're awesome!"

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About the Author

Vanessa Rodriguez 

Vanessa Rodriguez is the former nutrition editor for Active.com, and author of The Summit Seeker. She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an avid ultra-distance trail runner. Keep up with her adventures at vanessaruns.com.
Vanessa Rodriguez is the former nutrition editor for Active.com, and author of The Summit Seeker. She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an avid ultra-distance trail runner. Keep up with her adventures at vanessaruns.com.

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