Thursday, October 18, 2012

Does It Always Get Worse?

A while ago I posted a question in the ultrarunning forum on Runner's World and got some interesting responses. Here is my question and then a few funny (but true) responses:

Me: I remember reading a quote before my first ultra that has always stuck with me: "It never always gets worse."

The funny thing is that in all the ultras I've done (should have clarified that this was for 100 milers), well, it always gets worse. Once I cross that line where fatigue or leg soreness has set in, I've never come out the other side of that and felt better later on in the race.

I hope I don't imply that I'm complaining. I love the challenge of ultras and can't wait to run Javelina Jundred again next month. So out of curiosity, have you had times when it DOES always get worse?

Joeja: No. It might get worse until you finish, but then it doesn't always get worse.

Weegee (a very experienced ultra runner by the way): I like to repeat to my personal Pessimist's Creed: No matter how bad it is now, it can get significantly worse, so enjoy your current dismal state and laugh as you spiral downward.

Laughing at myself actually does seem to help. When you think about all the time, effort and money you have piled into the patently stupid activity in which you're engaged, it's hard not to giggle. That, and having high hopes but very low expectations does make every little gain much more pleasurable.

Or not. But again, that's funny.

And it does get worse for me afterward. You drink that finish line beer and eat some grilled cheese sandwiches leftover from the midnight aid station crew and lie down to sleep and… Ouch! Why the hell does THAT hurt? And that? Ouch! Running is dumb.

And, for a final laugh, here is how I look around mile 90 when it has gotten worse:


  1. It's such a humbling experience, the marathon and the ultra, especially for those of us that bust our butts for small gains. That and just to FINISH. At the end when I finally lay down on a bed I always ask myself "why was this a good idea?" but I keep going back for more, year after year. I think running just makes us feel alive.

  2. Wegee's answer is awesome!! I can't fathom 100 miles....I remember how I felt at the end of my Disney marathon. Could I have gone another mile or two...probably but 75, I think not! You are amazing to me!

  3. Not lookin' so good there, Cory! 90 miles has GOT to wear on a your body! You're going to have a blast at Javelina this year. I loved that pessimistic creed!

  4. I can't relate to a 100 miler, but I might do that a time or two while running a marathon. Whether's it's my feet or legs when the pain comes up, I suck it up and think pretty much the same thing.

    Good luck on the Javelina! You're an animal ... dare I say tiger?

  5. Like most others, I can't relate to 100 miles and the pain that would accompany that, but I can remember laughing at myself at the sheer stupidity of paying to run long distances and inflict pain on myself. In this world of paying for luxury, spa treatments, and a more pain free and comfortable life, it is a weird and opposing view to pay for self inflicted torture. Good post.

  6. I love Weegee's answer. Sometimes, towards the end of a long race, the "worse" tends to fluctuate among a variety of things, all which suck. But then I have brief moments of happiness that I'm at least distracted by my original woes. :)

  7. Ha ha - love Weegee's answer. And it can apply to any racing distance. It's just with a 5k the suffering is over so much sooner.

  8. Awesome post and great replies! I must admit I often laugh at myself and it definitely helps...a lot in fact. Ultras are still the best!

  9. Maybe you're just not running far enough? Perhaps there really is a point where it doesn't get worse! :)