Guest Blog Item: Running and Mental Strength

Today I introduce to you a guest blogger from Taiwan, Will Teng.  Will approached me about guest blogging on eachother’s sites and after reading his blog I readily agreed! Without further ado, here’s Will in his own words:

Will Teng is a health coach and ultra runner out of Taipei, Taiwan. He enjoys writing and spreading the word that running in Asia, particularly Taiwan, is sublime and under rated. Please follow his adventures on http://willteng.blogspot.tw/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/3-dudes-on-ultra-mission/271137916280936

Running and Mental Strength

It was my third-time on skis, yet I found myself staring down this double black diamond in Jackson, Wyoming. It was steep. It was covered with moguls. No easy route. I shrugged, said “F#$% IT!” and down I went…

When Rod suggested that I write about my training or how I became an ultra runner, this image popped into my head. I’ll elaborate in a moment…

There are plenty of ultra runners that are faster, more experienced and more qualified to give training tips. Many professional coaches offer detail plans that are easily accessible online, so I’ll spare you my amateur routines.

However, please allow me to share a few personal thoughts.

On the elite level, training is indeed a science. There is no disputing that. But when you break it down to the most fundamental level, training for ultra distances is simply putting mileage on your legs. No getting around it. Got to pound the road and trails and labor up mountains. Be comfortable with fatigue and embrace the pain.

Regardless to how much you train, it doesn’t adequately prepare you for the actual race, particularly if you are a rookie of a certain distance.

If you signed up for a 100K, it’s unlikely that you will go out and run 100km for a training run. And unless you live near the course, none of your training will be able to truly mimic the race terrain.

Every time you move up a distance, from marathon to 50K, to 100K to 24-hour race to 100 miler to multi-day stage race, you will enter uncharted territories. And each time, despite all the training, you will face the unknown and you just have to say “F$#% THIS!”

I learned to ski the same way in the winter of 1995. My college buddies took me up to most difficult routes and let me improvise.  I would say “F#$% IT” or “whatever” or “I don’t give a shit” and tumbled down.

That day at Jackson, the time it took me to ski down once, my friends were able to get in multiple runs (they were kind enough to wave at me from the ski lift while I was digging out my skis).

When I finally reached the bottom safely, I said “F#$% it! Let’s go again.” And again it took me forever to get back down, but my skis popped out a few less times and my falls were less comical…Two runs, 2 hours, dead legs. That was my entire ski day.

I’m sure you have all heard this before. For running, especially ultra marathons, physical training is only part of the game. This just-do-it mentality that I’m trying to describe is equally significant. It’s what makes you tough or foolish enough to sign up for an ultra, kick off your training, maintain discipline, toe the starting line, struggle through the run and then, a few months later do it all over again for longer distances and bigger mountains.

Somehow, triumphing over the discomfort, self-doubt and setbacks during the whole progress, we runners find fulfillment. Perhaps pleasure and pain are not two extremes on a linear line. Instead they are connected on a circle.

We understand that too much pleasure can be harmful. But that also suggests that courage to battle through pain can lead to happiness as well.

Sorry about going all philosophical.

F%$# IT. Don’t mind me.

Let’s just run.

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3 comments

  1. Rod, writing this was fun. thank your for the opportunity.

  2. My pleasure! Thank YOU!

  3. […] Guest Blog Item: Running and Mental Strength (runrodrun.wordpress.com) […]

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