Has anyone ever inspired you beyond words?
People inspire me everyday, from a janitor singing Etta James perfectly in an airport bathroom to a triathlete training for an Ironman in Los Cabos. Inspiration is like like the antithesis of temptation. Instead of being stuck in "OMG I want, I want," you get to feel the power of "Holy shit, I CAN."
I felt that way tonight at iRun, a little running shop on Biscayne Blvd. in Miami with a big, big force of awesome behind it. Walking into iRun tonight was like walking into the next phase of my life, which is ultrarunning. Ultrarunning is spectacular because while it's about many things, such as mental fortitude, respect for the elements, testing limits, etc., it's also just very simple. To me, it's a sport cut out for people who just love to run. You kind of have to.
At iRun, I got to hear two extremely different runners speak about how ultrarunning works for them -- and how they train, prepare, fuel, and hydrate for the sport. Alyson Venti is a Florida runner who holds the women's record for both the 50 mile and 100 mile races in the Keys. Bob Becker is an ultra-runner, director of Ultrasports LLC, and a local running legend who directs the Keys 100 and the Everglades Ultra each year. Bob has run a lot of the major ultra races such as Badwater, Long Haul, and Grand to Grand. Aly started running ultras in 2012, but excelled quickly and is headed to Badwater this year for the first time. Together, they teamed up and gave an informal presentation on ultrarunning. If the goal of the evening was to show ultrarunners, "Ultras might be for you, regardless of your goals, training styles, and likes/dislikes," they both succeeded admirably. Aly's and Bob's training plans, fueling ideas, and race goals are very different. But their hearts are in the same place. They both love running, and they want to inspire others to find their own personal greatness.
What they had to say really blew my mind, not because of training tips or secrets or hidden Harry Potter passageways to the best ultramarathon strategies alive. What they had to say was pure, simple, and mind-clearing. If I had to sum it up, it would be this: Go your own way. Listen to yourself. Everyone is different. And work on cooling techniques.
These concepts were really pivotal for me tonight, coming out of race season with a swarm of advice and training instructions swimming in my head. I've written about this before, but when you're a new runner, you get to enjoy the luxury of a ton of knowledge surrounding you. It's a library full of experience, and seasoned runners are more than willing to hand out tips and advice. Yet, this advice can be overwhelming, and sometimes stunting if it interferes with listening to your own voice.
It was refreshing to hear someone (Aly) explain that she doesn't load up on a huge meal before a race and instead sticks to what she normally eats. It was equally comforting to hear someone (Bob) say that he cross-trains often, has ample rest days, and doesn't include frequent super-long runs in his training even for ultramarathons. It was good to know that many racers finish 50-milers un-crewed and don't die of heat exhaustion. That some runners (Aly) run regular morning runs of 18+ miles without carb-loading, and regular 50 mile training runs without taking an energy gel every 45 minutes. Aly logs more than 120 miles per week. Bob logs somewhere closer to 30 to 40. Not every runner does what other runners are doing. Bob runs with hydration systems. Aly doesn't even like to wear a watch.
The best thing: There was no "my way or the highway" tonight. There was only, "Do you like highway or trail. It's up to you. Also, there's beer in the back."
I could really get addicted to that kind of running community. Because, it makes sense. Nobody should be competing on having the best method for training, unless you're trying to strike oil with a nationwide training book that makes you mega bucks. In reality, that's its own industry. That has nothing to do with the sport of running, and everything to do with selling commodities. If you want to be the Atkins Diet, this post isn't for you.
I'll be hitting up iRun again, soon, because I think it's a running shop and company that believes that running is an individual experience, driven by the runner, not by the industry. And, I'll be Crowdraising for Aly Venti so that she can head to Badwater this year and do more of what she loves while inspiring people like me to put running shoes on and listen to myself.
If you want to read more about Aly Venti's journey to Badwater, go HERE.
If you want to help raise money for Aly Venti's journey to Badwater, go HERE OR HERE.
If you want to check out Bob Becker's races and maybe sign up for an ultra in Florida, head here: Ultrasports LLC
If you want to check out iRun Company in Miami, go HERE
But most importantly, if you want to achieve something, go THERE. Do it. If you feel the urge, thank your lucky stars for the urge. Do something with it, before it flees.
What's the oddball thing that works for you in training? What's your current urge? Who inspires you beyond words? What's your favorite flavor of awesome?
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