Some people think we are “crazy” but I think we are just passionate! It’s true that running Ultra marathon distances are beyond most people’s comprehension of doing and it leaves them completely unable to relate. We, on the other hand, like to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. This is where life begins for us!
As with most huge achievements or experiences, we want to share our accomplishments and tell others. All too often this is met with reactions of disbelief, an obvious inability to truly comprehend or the look of “you’re not right in the head,” leaving us with little support or validation from them. We return from an event and can feel both happy and let down, and don’t know where to turn for encouragement. For many, even family members and spouses offer no support or understanding for our “craziness”. Some are even met with hostile behavior towards them from those they are closest to, and the lack of support can be very difficult to navigate. There are a few things we can do to ease our way through this circumstance and find personal satisfaction.
From my experience we need to go into these events knowing that our accomplishments won’t be understood by most of our friends and family. If you participate in these endurance events for the purpose of impressing your non-running family and friends, you’re probably doing it for the wrong reason and will be let down by their response. Some faced with the question of “why do you do it,” answer with “if you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand.” To keep from explaining things that others just can’t comprehend, we try to avoid those conversations. Others of us will avoid conversations with their non-running friends altogether. We can’t hold it against them but it’s often more helpful to not talk about it with those non-accepting friends and family members. There is another family we have in the community of ultra runners who will completely get it, and we should seek those relationships out for our support.
Plan a period of recovery where you continue to get out on the trails or roads that you enjoy, even if you are only hiking or walking. Your love and commitment to what you enjoy doing can help fill the void that is often not filled by friends or family closest to you. The only thing that gets us through the long, painful journey of an ultra distance run comes from deep inside us. Likewise, the only one that can bring us back to our passion when others don’t support us emotionally, comes from within ourselves. We can’t expect others to understand and we need to anticipate this empty space we will have.
While it becomes hard to share with others, it’s often very helpful to write things out for ourselves. Taking a little time to write down your experience and thoughts, either in a race report format or just journaling thoughts can be helpful. This gives us a chance to relive the race with some detail, record things we might do differently next time, and help take in the whole experience. Others can help us on our journey to achieving our goals, but we are the only ones who truly experience it! Stay focused on your goals and review your accomplishments often. Keeping your goals updated and fresh.
Be verbally thankful to those who do support you. Family members and friends often do support us even though they don’t “get it”. We need to be proactive in thanking them for their support, whether it’s a spouse who financially supports our efforts, or takes care of things at home so we can do our thing. Offering our gratitude to them for the level of support they do give can go a long way. Ultra running is often a selfish sport as it requires lots of time to train, and while we might not receive verbal support, we might receive it in other ways that are equally as important. For some of our friends and family, support can be a process so remember to be grateful for the little things along the journey.
Published April 2017