When life (and other things) get in the way

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Do I want to train for another ultramarathon? Is it worth it? Are there better things I could do with my time?

These are questions I have struggled with lately.

In 2020, at the heart of the pandemic, I ran a lot. It was one of the few things we could all do. Going on a long run was a great way to clear my mind and I could get away to somewhere carefree while doing what I love. But I missed running and I missed the ultrarunning community.

In 2021, I jumped at the chance to get back into running and ran three ultras plus the Boston Marathon. I loved seeing the crowds cheering on the runners in Boston. It was amazing to reconnect with volunteers offering support at the ultra aid stations, and it was great to suffer for miles again with strangers who became instant friends.

But 2022 has been a little different. My son recently started kindergarten and we spent much of the summer traveling and seeing family. I favored camping trips over long weekend runs. We bought an old canoe and I spent as much time researching the lakes and streams as I did the race courses. I haven’t run this summer.

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up running. I still plan to attempt a 100k drop, but I just find it mentally harder to train than in the past. The balance between racing and life has been more difficult to achieve.

Wildfires don’t help. The race is not large compared to the human costs of these fires. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t give some thought to the trails that are burning, like the ones near Lake Waldo in Oregon and along the Western States 100 course. I wonder what those races will look like in the future. .

As I type, the air quality in my hometown is terrible. It’s supposed to be my peak training week, but I can’t run outside. The idea of ​​training exclusively on a treadmill is not very appealing. Again, I ask the question, “Is it worth it?”

Often, I wander to find answers. Most of the time it annoys my wife while she is trying to sleep. But right now it’s on my laptop keyboard.

And the more I type, the more I know the answer is: yes, it’s worth it.

Ultrarunning has changed my life for the better. It has allowed me to meet many amazing people and has made me a better father, husband and all round human by giving me an energy and confidence that I didn’t have before becoming a runner. And I don’t want to give that up.

But I understand that to continue running ultras, my training will not be like before. I don’t have as much time to run, and I don’t feel like sacrificing weekends of family fun to get out and do long runs. I know that because of this, my results will probably suffer. My goals will need to be adjusted. My times will be slower. I may need to walk on an incline that I used to run, and that’s okay.

I can still train by running regularly (albeit shorter distances) when I have the time, focusing on strength and mobility throughout the day, and doing a long run once every two or three weeks, instead of every weekend.

Will it be enough? Probably not for the results I would like, but enough to enjoy the experience. It’s not too much where I have to sacrifice the other things I want to do, like teaching my son to paddle the canoe or casting his new fishing rod.

Soon, maybe my son will be able to participate in races or longer hikes. And that can be part of my training. Maybe one day he can help my wife crew a pit station or even follow me for a few miles. But right now he has more important things to do like playing with toy dinosaurs. I don’t think he’ll mind if his dad sneaks out once in a while to go do what he likes to do too.

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