Give me a break!

November 10, 2008

I can’t bear to write yet another race report describing how everything started out fine and then slowly unraveled. Let’s just cut to the chase: it’s time for me to take a break from ultramarathoning.

I’ve been showing signs of ultra burnout for the last year and a half, but the diagnosis became much more obvious this past weekend. The race result itself was just another huge disappointment — a time of 9:04, about two hours slower than expected. My reaction to it was unusual, though. I typically respond to poor performances by trying to figure out exactly what went wrong and how I can avoid similar pitfalls in the future. This time, I thought: I’m tired of having to guess why I didn’t get the result I deserved. There’s no point in putting so much into these ultras when I’m getting so little out of them. I want to run races where the suffering lasts for minutes, not hours, and I want to go home afterwards and recover in three days, not three weeks.

So that’s what I’m going to do, once my legs regain their structural integrity: some 5Ks and 10Ks, maybe a half marathon. But no more ultras for a while.


  1. Greg:When I saw the results, I wondered if there was something else going on. Based on fewer sub 7:00 times for the top men (I'm thinking Japanese, Russians, and French in addition to the Americans), the success of the Italian men, how women seemed unaffected, and generally the difficulty in figuring out the results, I was wondering if the lead pack for men got off course.

  2. Sorry to hear it did not go as you had hoped. Sounds like it's time to take a little break, but remember, some of those 5Ks can hurt more than a 100-miler 😉

  3. Hey Doogie,My heart gradually sank as I was paging through the results on Saturday and your name wasn't coming up.Sometimes you gotta switch rather than fight. I'd suggest not just switching to shorter distances for a while, but picking some less competitive races you know you can win. There are few better ways to remind yourself that you're a big fish (and you are), than by seeking out a few small ponds.Calgary Marathon and Half-marathon are in July. Let me know if you want to come out and kick some Canadian butt. 😉

  4. bummer about the rut you seem to be in, but you seem to have a sense of what you need to do. i have a feeling that when you come back to the ultra world you will do so stronger than ever.

  5. Man that is too bad, I'm sorry to hear that. I would second what Jem says though; winning a local and/or noncompetitive 50K or other "short ultra" might be good for you after a few 5K's and 10K's.-Michael

  6. Greg,Don't get so down on yourself.In my opinion the 100K is the hardest distance to race. So much can go wrong. I think out of all the 100K's I've ran I only felt like I was racing about 2.Sometimes it takes more guts to hang on and finish a race then it does to be running it at 100%. I think you represented the US well under the conditions and you should be proud of yourself for finishing.-Godale

  7. As always, I'm grateful for everybody's interest and comments. I think the Jem-and-Michael-endorsed idea of entering less competitive races sort of misses the point, though. If I'm not racing up to my potential, I won't be happy, no matter how lackluster the competition. I've won six small races this year, including a 50K, but I only enjoyed two of them because my times were slow at the other four.

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