Over the years I’ve listened to countless runners calling out all the things that could go awry on their ultra. What’s key is the binary language often used; “if things go well I’ll finish and if they don’t I won’t”. Although this is completely logical it is also a very unhelpful mindset for ultras where there are so many variables involved.
The real problem is in the ‘meaning’ attached to the things going wrong, which is commonly absolute - ultimately that if something goes wrong it will consequently lead to a Did Not Finish (DNF). Which is not true.
There are three words ultra runners may want to have to hand - ‘DEAL WITH IT’. They say what they mean, deal with it, then go again and if you can’t deal with it (or cope with it) to keep moving, then and only then you DNF. Which I will add is not the end of the world, you learn and if the desire is still there try again on another event with the wisdom gained from your previous attempt - you’re learning.
With so many things that can go wrong we can easily lose clarity and feel a vague cloud of doom over our head, or to give it a name - anxiety or worry. A great way to reduce or even eliminate worry so you may actually enjoy the ultra you’ve worked so hard for (yes you are allowed to enjoy it!) is to find such clarity and address the issues one by one.
If nothing can be done to fully remove the issue, then aim to mitigate the damage and then accept it as part of your race. Go to a 100 mile finish line and find me a runner that didn’t have to finish with an issue - you’ll struggle! I’ll add the caveat that sometimes perhaps it may be better to stop but that is a personal decision weighing up the issue.
Here are some common ‘If / Then’ examples:
I’d encourage you to write out a list to make it real to you. Print off our handy PDF form to create your own list.