Friday, January 16, 2009

The ultimate ultrarunner

Here's a tribute post to my ultrarunning hero - Rob Apple.

Rob has been around for a l-o-n-g time on the ultrarunning scene. He now has over 500 finishes and is going more "global" with overseas events. Rob is pictured here with his ultrarunning partner and lady friend Susan Donnely. Susan is a big name in the sport and can get 'er done...she is a past women's winner at the demanding Superior Trail 100 mile.

So without waxing on, following are a few comments from Rob himself, off the www.ultrunr.com web site. These thoughts are a few years old, but still ring true.

If you're a master competitor, can you see yourself in the profile?

  1. Physical Considerations
    Most ultrarunners in the beginning of their career are near the peak of their running years. They have probably reached PRs in the shorter distances and realizing this are seeking new challenges. I remember ten years ago I was much better trained physically than today. As an ultrarunner reaches their PR for 50, 62, and 100 miles, the work necessary to improve seems like a great investment without much in return. As the finishes mount up the desire to train decreases and finally at some point the lack of training leads to poor performances and chronic injuries. The injuries and lack of improvement leads to the retirement of the ultrarunner. For some this could be a year for others a decade. I feel my longevity has been my love to train. I still run 80 to 110 miles per week, but recently the pace is more like 10 minutes per mile rather than 6. Since I've been in decent shape over the past 15 years, I've still been able to "complete" races and not be destroyed physically. I've been extremely lucky with no major injuries.

  2. Mental Considerations
    I'll start again with the disclaimer of "most" ultrarunners are compulsive subjects. When one completes their first ultra, the drug addiction for the compulsive runner begins. I just finished 50 miles, next I'll do 100 miles, then 24 hours and six days, in six months I'll be running across the country. Most addicts at some point reach their fill and move on to another drug. The moving on happens when the expected "high" doesn't happen anymore. It just isn't fun, I don't want to be here, I can't believe I'm doing this again are the comments the retiring ultrarunner repeats until the final race. I went through this stage about five years into my career. I was doing races with unrealistic visions. I was able to convince myself running slow was okay and just finishing still feels good. Don't misunderstand me, I still have little twitches to run fast, but they get fewer as time goes by. Most retirees can't mentally watch the pack run away. I have fun running ultras and it's up to me to make the party happen!

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