‘Comfort Is A Lie’ Performance Trucker Hat – Night

'Comfort Is A Lie' trail / ultra running performance trucker hat

Our #1 trail running trucker hat featuring our customers’ favorite mantra: Comfort Is A Lie.

This life is not meant to be easy. It’s meant to be cold. We’re meant to breathe heavy and climb steep switchbacks with shaky hands. We’re meant to explore the highest peaks and deepest valleys of this existence. Comfort Is A Lie, the executioner of all we’re meant to be.

High-quality BOCO trail running trucker hat.

Moisture-wicking, lightweight, breathable, structured hats.

Reminds you to stay goal-oriented and adventurous.

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What is an Ultra Marathon?

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A Technical Perspective


What is an ultra marathon?

That question has a perfectly technical answer (and another not-so-technical answer I’ll get to shortly).

Technically, an ultra marathon is completing, on foot, any distance over the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers) that marks the marathon distance. Yes, that’s right: if you run 26.3 miles, many ultra runners would (with a little eye roll) agree that you ran an ultra marathon.

That being said, the traditional starting point of an ultra marathon is a 50 kilometer (commonly called a 50K) effort. After that, especially in the trail scene, distances vary. The common distances, however, are 50K, 50 mile, 100K, 100 mile, 200 mile, and beyond.

You’ll see many distances other than these popular ones listed on UltraSignup, the go-to registration site for many ultra events.

Here are the different types of ultra marathons (with all races going longer than 50 kilometers, usually):

  • Distance races can be road, trail, track, or treadmill. The goal here is to cover a set distance, just like any other race. Some are loops, others out-and-backs, and many are point-to-point.
  • Timed races can also take place on roads, trails, tracks, or treadmills. In this race format, the runner (or…jogging hiker) tries to cover as much distance as possible in a set period of time. Oftentimes these races are loop courses; you’ll usually see runners opting for 6 hours, 8 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours, or 24 hours, though plenty of races go beyond (and sometimes way beyond) these times.
  • Last man standing ultra marathons (like the infamous Big’s Backyard Ultra) are usually loops (though I’ve seen some out-and-back races like Race Mozey’s Magnificent Bastards Challenge pop up) where runners have a set time to complete a distance, and they must continue to do so until only one runner can finish a loop. These races can go on for days.
  • Fastest Known Times are another format of ultra running growing in popularity. The goal here is to set a record on a known, well-used route and have it recorded on the official FKT website. These routes can be thousands of miles, or just a few miles on a local route.

That’s the technical explanation of the ultra marathon.

So go ahead, lace up your shoes and cover a 50K (many runners will cover this distance just while training for longer distances). You can knight yourself an ultra runner and call it a day. Or dive into the adventure that is 50 miles, 100 miles, and beyond.

That’s ultra running.

But for me, “What is an ultra marathon?” has another, non-technical answer.

A Philosophical Perspective


I think this *other* answer also explains why people undertake such suffer-fests.

And much of it has to do with life outside of ultra running.

Because plastered on the walls of culture, covering every surface in every city, are messages of comfort, messages of the modern objectives of humans, messages of contentment.

And why shouldn’t there be?

We are biologically inclined to amass, feed, and shelter.

Amass resources, feed heavily, shelter luxuriously.

It’s the secret (or oftentimes not secret) pursuit of modern people to be comfortable. That’s why those messages of comfort exist, it’s why they are successful, it’s why we need an antidote.

Those messages exist because other people who seek to amass, feed, and shelter know those messages are successful in perpetuating comfort, that biological addiction modern people can’t easily shake, that biological addiction upon which they profit.

And money talks.

Money talks, and comfort is addicting.

Not only is it addicting, but it’s a socially acceptable, conformative addiction.

We need an antidote.

I need an antidote.

Because that sickness—perpetual, mindless, warm and happy comfort—is like a vapor cloud emanating from every piece of plastic, every sugary aisle of the grocery store, and every advertisement pushing us deeper into cozy contentment with how we operate, how the world works, and what thoughts we entertain.

It’s an infestation in the mind, the heart, the lungs.

We breathe it in, and sigh out happy contentment.

Here’s a hard truth: you and I can operate better, the world has some broken pieces that need replacing, and most people aren’t willing to question their thought patterns.

But how can we operate better when every moment of our lives is assailed with loudspeakers of comfort? How can we replace the broken pieces of the world when the modern world revolves around comfort? How can we expand our thought capacity—or accept new thoughts in our minds—when we’re so preoccupied with the next step toward endless comfort?

We can’t.

We need an antidote.

And I think ultra running is that antidote.

I think the ultra marathon is a marvelous medicine to the modern social, environmental, health & wellness disasters that plague comfortable cultures like our modern country, and those like it.

I believe that the ultra marathon is ultimate, perfect, voluntary discomfort. There is no challenge, no self-prescribed adversity, quite like it. You’re going to hurt very bad for quite some time for some little, intangible, silent shift in your character.

And that shift is what we’re after.

Because no finish line is like the 100 mile finish line.

No 5K or half marathon or full marathon can complete a person’s view of themselves quite like an ultra marathon. And I’m not exaggerating. It’s life changing.

And anyone who admits their life needs changing, anyone who is willing to venture into such mental, physical, and emotional hostility, has a place at my table.

Because they’ve stepped far outside of comfort for the betterment of themselves.

And when we better ourselves, we can’t help but see the world through a new lens…

“I stepped way outside of comfort, and I am far better for it. Let me take this perspective into the world. If I am better for this suffering, this new perspective, let me share it with others so that our world might be better. Let this new relationship I’ve forged with my body, my mind, and the natural world shine for others to see. Let my experiences mean something, and let me now begin to learn what that something is.”

For me, THAT is what an ultra marathon is.

Ultra runners aren’t crazy.

We’re curious.

We want to know what lives on the other side of fatigue and discomfort.

We’re not satisfied with the illnesses of convenience, modernity, and ease.

We’ve found another way, a curious way, a courageous way.

While other people amass resources, feed heavily, shelter luxuriously, and die…

We will amass fatigue on gnarly trails or lonely towpaths, fuel our weary bodies for the next climb, and shelter under tall pines from blinding rain and cold wind. Because we want to live.

And sure, many will enjoy a comfortable couch and a cold beer after a big race. But they won’t die on that couch, clutching a can of regret and anxiety. Their eyes are already staring up another mountain, into another storm, curious about what adventure waits in the clouds.

They’re willing to die on that climb, so that they don’t die on the warm, comfy couch.

I think a few hours (or days…) of discomfort is worth more than years of idle luxury, every pleasure within arms’ reach. Those few hours of reflection, staring at oneself and facing the insecurities of one’s own thoughts, are worth more (in my estimation) than all the self-help books in the world.

I wrote the following about ultra running awhile back: “The world may look the same after an ultra marathon, but your world will be drastically different.”

When we spend that time with ourselves and study our thought patterns, we change. It’s impossible not to. And when we change, our worlds change. And when my world changes, the whole world changes.

That’s what an ultra marathon is.

It’s a distance, a mindset, a curiosity.

It’s an antidote.

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51 Ultra Running Quotes you need to read
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Unsympathetic Discomfort

Wicked Trail Ultra Running Blog Unsympathetic Discomfort

I think I’m pretty tough. You probably think you’re pretty tough.

I train intentionally, eat for performance, and structure my life to include a heavy dose of discomfort.

But lately I’ve reflected on toughness, that easily claimed attribute of the modern athlete.

A historical feat of endurance forced some hard questions into my mind.

Could I survive two years in the most inhospitable place on Earth?

Could I stay sane in a place where catastrophe was always a misstep away?

What if food was scarce, the weather was unforgiving, and the very ground beneath my feet threatened my life?

It’s all hard to imagine. Those odds are strenuously unfavorable.

It’s likely you and I would not survive such a test.

But it’s been done.

Those impalpable odds were overcome, the Earth and elements submitted, the catastrophe avoided.

And not one of the 28 men died.

Perhaps you know the impossible story. It made the news recently when the Endurance, Ernest Shackleton’s ship, was found 106 years later and 2 miles deep in Antarctic water.

A crew of 26 men (and one stowaway—can you imagine sneaking aboard to join such an ill-fated mission?) and their captain, Ernest Shackleton, attempted to make the first trans-Antarctic crossing in 1914. After their ship became stuck in crushing ice flows, the men were forced to abandon it. They were stranded for almost 2 years in the harshest environment—not survivable by modern standards—on this planet.

Check out Endurance on Amazon.

Here are a few of the tortures they endured:

  • Using packed snow as toilet paper for over a year
  • Wind madness: mental deterioration due to constant and severe winds. Sustained 100+ mph winds were common across the sea of packed ice
  • Going months without sunlight: the men endured a 4 month stretch of darkness
  • Surgical removal of gangrene and frostbite in austere conditions

Not. One. Life. Lost.

The lessons are abundant; some leap from the pages of the book (Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Tap here to check it out on Amazon) and others require reflection. There are themes of leadership, patience, and camaraderie. Survival and navigation, faith and trust, fear and purpose.

But it’s none of these that fascinates me.

The one theme that has gripped me since finishing the books is discomfort.

Pure, unforgiving, uncaring, unsympathetic discomfort.

You see, we like to think we know discomfort. It comes with being tough. We sweat and bleed for our goals, changing our bodies and minds into formidable weapons by years of challenge. We pound pavement and climb mountains, pursuing an ideal by habit and fatigue.

We show up today and tomorrow and the next day, hungry for hard work.

Today is an easy length of time to battle. It’s easy to digest discomfort for just a day, or even just a few hours on trails, when we know soft, cozy beds wait at home. And so it’s easy for us to embrace our little doses of discomfort, to claim hardship as our path.

But every day has an end. For most of us, it ends easily in softness and warmth.

But still we claim hardship.

We spend hours in the rain, scrambling up steep singletrack, and suffering through ultra races. We count our calluses and inundate our brains with motivational messages. We pursue big goals and sign up for big challenges.

At least I do. And you probably do too.

And I thought I knew hardship, discomfort.

Until I read this book.

Because I realized I knew discomfort of today, but I had no understanding of unsympathetic discomfort, discomfort which is inanimate and unmoving, discomfort which is a mountain of impregnable stone.

This book gave me a glimpse of savage survival in the face of that unsympathetic discomfort, that which knows no laws or treaties, has no blood or breath, and has no eyes for human tears. To survive such internal, mental chaos—or to bring your people through such darkness alive, as Shackleton did—what would that require?

What does it require of me today? Tomorrow?

What habits create such patience for misery?

Could I endure that hardship?

My immediate reaction is YES. It’s a reaction I’m proud of.

But I know there is still work to do.



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And it’s hard to identify exactly what type of work molds a person for impossible hardship, unsympathetic discomfort.

Perhaps, my eyes opened anew to life’s incredible cruelty by this book, my mindset has shifted from TRAIN to PREPARE. If those words are divisible, it is only the latter I now inhale and exhale with the sweat and blood of my pursuit. “PREPARE” for the trials you are not ready for, for unsympathetic discomfort, for natural cruelty beyond reason.

Wind madness, gangrene and frostbite, leopard seal attacks, and months of darkness are miseries you and I cannot imagine. Even typing this now, it takes great effort to conjure those images. It doesn’t feel possible that humans endured, and survived, such calamity.

But we’ve other miseries, modern calamities, to prepare for.

You needn’t be damned to Antarctic ice to understand the lessons of Shackleton’s crucible.

Disease, financial disaster, mental illness, and the loss of family and friends can easily ruin a modern person. Culture even allows such ruin; society permits unending trauma and mourning and tells us constantly “It’s okay.” It is offensive and tasteless to lament the ruin of the modern person, to tell someone to rise up and keep moving (though you and I still might).

Shackleton and his men did not permit ruin, unending trauma and mourning.

They knew their situation wasn’t okay, and they didn’t care.

They had work to do.

And there was no one watching.

And there was no one to hold their frostbitten hands.

And there was no social sympathy.

There was no escape, no relief from the burden.

And still they survived that which should not be survivable.

They knew their situation wasn’t okay, and they didn’t care.

I can hardly say a person can “train” to survive insurmountable odds. It doesn’t feel sufficient. Shackleton and his men didn’t volunteer to be stranded in Antarctica for 20 months, and they didn’t train for that moment. My own understanding of the word “training” is effort toward a moment of achievement, but they weren’t offered an achievement. After that long stranded, even rescue wasn’t an achievement. It was a necessity. Death by starvation or the vicious efforts of nature was the only other option.

I’ll keep working for achievements. I’m not giving up competition and progress.

But I’m preparing.

It has a different taste on my tongue.

Go ahead, say it out loud.

“I’m preparing.”

I’m preparing for wind madness, gangrene and frostbite, leopard seal attacks, and months of darkness, though these I’ll likely never see. I’m preparing for uncertainty, loneliness, and despair. I’m preparing for life to completely remove comfort and ease from my life, to thrust me into savage dependence on my past experiences and a future I can hardly grasp.

Few people understand unsympathetic discomfort and can imagine the descendance of such cruelty.

We’re all flesh and blood, and so we’re all vulnerable.

When life rips you from luxury, or convenience, or simple pleasures (I can’t imagine the crew of the Endurance felt much pleasure during their crucible), do not die. Do not die when instability or uncertainty rock your world, when your possessions are stolen and your values violated.

That’s the lesson of the Endurance.

And it’s why we show up, ready to fight, for every single challenge we volunteer for.

For every day we open our eyes.

Death is easy.

Death is warranted.

But do not die.

Fight.

One short-of-breath, hands-shaking step after step.

Darkness overhead, uncertainty before you, discomfort unwavering.

Endure.

Your life depends on it.

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'Comfort Is A Lie' trail / ultra running performance trucker hat

Run Far. Look good. Keep climbing mountains.

Our running trucker hats are bold companions. Take them on your long runs, to race start lines, and rock them loud and proud in finish line pictures. They represent the long miles and many hours spent in the pursuit of your big running goals.

Comfort. Style. Performance.

Disappear-on-your-head comfort, bold designs featuring original mantras, and the durability to withstand your next many training runs and races.

Your new favorite running trucker hat. Guaranteed.

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I’m glad you’re here.

These performance hats are bold reminders to stay goal-oriented and adventurous. They brandish the mantras of your investment: the miles and hours spent on your ultra running journey.

Fatigue is the ultimate mental battleground: take our hats with you to the darkness of 40 miles, 70 miles, 100 miles, and beyond.

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UltraCaps are lightweight, packable, crushable, 5 panel hats that disappear on your head. Flip the brim up for better visibility or leave it down in the sun, these will be your new favorite ultra running hats. Guaranteed.

Performance trucker hats are just that: structured, snapback truckers with a moisture-wicking sweatband and lightweight construction for any run, no matter the distance. They’re low profile and take a few runs to break in. Once they do, you’ll never wear another trucker hat.

Mesh running hats are our most breathable running hats. They have the least structure, are the lightest weight, and are great for warm-weather running. If you like 5 panel running hats but want more breathability, our mesh running hats are awesome.

All Wicked Trail hats are designed for tons of miles, lots of sweat, and the hardest adventures you’ll ever have.

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Dukkha: Ultra Running Philosophy

dukkha ultra running philosophy

Dukkha: Sorrow, Suffering

Written by Julie Tertin. Julie is an ultra marathon runner who has raced (and won) ultra marathon distances 200 miles and beyond. You can connect with her at liveultrarunning.com or follow her on Instagram @live.ultra.

I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to be honest. I want to hear the story about a time you willingly–or unwillingly–suffered.

The suffering of discipline
The suffering of loss
The suffering of failure
The suffering of hurt
The suffering of grudge
The suffering of ego
The suffering of loneliness
The suffering of addiction
The suffering of regret
The suffering of inadequacy
The suffering of illness
The suffering of demographic

Reading this sparks recognition in your neurons because you are human. You can relate to this. Suffering floods our lives from both internal and external fountains. Remember the Buddha’s first teaching: life is dukkha, or aimless suffering. Learning to understand and interact with the suffering in my life opened my peripheral understanding of the world. It also tangibly applies to ultrarunning. I want to challenge your understanding of suffering.

The etymology of the verb to suffer suggests three meanings:

To experience.

At mile 41, when we realize we have 100k to go and our knee is tender and angry, we begin to enter the experience of what it means to suffer. At mile 76, when our vision slides all over the trail and we are moving slowly and stiffly up our demon mountains, we hurt, we are exhausted, and we are hungry. I believe that we experience suffering any time we ask ourselves to be patient in pain.

We also experience it when we enter lonely places, when our hopes deflate, when our goals are not met, or when our lives are stress-riddled. We experience suffering when we make decisions in secret or live in cognitive dissonance with our values. Suffering finds us when we are rocky financially or broken relationally. When our families grow or fall apart, when we lose cities and houses and friendships. The Buddha was right — suffering is the fundamental human experience.

To be subjected to.

To experience something does not necessarily assign blame. For example, if you registered for the race, you invited the struggle. To be subjected to something adds something sinister to the concept: there is a powerlessness simmering below the surface. This brings up hard words like trauma, grieving, and sickness. Being subjected to something means forced to your knees. You are without say. Scream and break things as much as you want, but you do not have the power to re-write the facts.

Not everything we are subjected to is painful; however, in general, I think that feeling tends to be more humiliating and submissive than not.

This kind of suffering you cannot escape. You cannot quit what you cannot control. You cannot stop mourning, choose not to be anxious, or try to marionette someone’s actions. Powerless suffering is dangerous; the risk is learned helplessness.

To tolerate.

We tolerate annoyances. We tolerate pain. We tolerate failure and weakness; we tolerate authority. We tolerate evil. Our toleration has little to do with good and bad or right and wrong, but again we find that suffering is tied to power. We learn to tolerate the things outside of our control. This is also a dangerous space.

There is suffering we must tolerate, choose to tolerate, and there is suffering we must resist.

In my life, these definitions have been layered. Some of my very earliest childhood memories are painful and dissociative; to be subjected to as a small girl leaves marks. The positive of this introduction to suffering is that it brought an opponent into my life early: hurt. Fighting an opponent will make you stronger than not fighting at all.

As I grew up and started to understand the world, I moved into the second layer of suffering. I tolerated, and still tolerate at times, things that were intolerable. I made decisions I still don’t fully understand. In this position, we develop pain points, hide bruises, switch off, and build in triggers — all for the effort of survival. We tolerate the storm and cling to small faith that it will end.

Sometimes I was forced into toleration by threat, which denied my own reality. I tolerated their desires. I tolerated their selfishness. This made it impossible to tell where boundary lines used to be. We are all pushed forward and backward along the spectrum of suffering throughout our lives, like beads on a string.

The great irony of this is that it spirals us deeper into hurt. I later allowed people and things to enter my mind and body that my reality did not truly want, but I felt submissive to. I was under the delusion that I was trapped – that I had to tolerate it. A sneaky small voice asks: who are you to say no? Why would your needs be prioritized? In the end you will not die, so shut your eyes, suppress your will.

Untangling this idea of toleration was overwhelming to the point of forsaking reality altogether and drowning in alcohol or anything else that misdirected my hurt. In ultras and in life, there is a point of suffering that breaks away into apathy. At a dramatic point, you break. Who gives a fuck? becomes your battle cry.

The truth is, to tolerate something is neither positive or negative. I learned to distinguish an appropriate boundary for what I can absorb without consequence. I learned to tolerate abuse, and later I learned to tolerate it with mercy. Those are wildly different behaviors. One left marks on me, and the other was a gift given freely that never broke the skin. I learned to tolerate illness and evil on my terms instead of theirs. I also learned what I do not tolerate and equally as importantly: how to get away. This is a radical shift of power.

Ultra running

For two decades I tolerated fear and punishment, but today I refuse both. Toleration that leads to further violation is not the suffering that empowers us, not right away. I do not tolerate things that betray my reality. Some people would argue that you should be intolerant to all violations. Ideally that would be wonderful and probably pain-free, but we are human and we are full of mistakes. I think the wiser road is simply knowing your property lines.

I pursue endurance and discipline, which means I welcome the experience of suffering and I tolerate the struggle. Life has the power to pitch you into any of the layers at any time and you will be a pebble in a rockslide. Life can construct all sorts of suffering for you, on any day, that you will be powerless about, so I do not want to give you the impression that I have arrived anywhere above suffering’s reach, but my present suffering is often in my control — like running a hundred or two hundred miles.

It now is an exercise into reality, rather than a desperate attempt to exit it.

The suffering of an ultra is a productive experience to subject yourself because there is no ulterior motive. To be broken is a beautiful thing, especially in a safe place with people who understand. Even more blessed are those who break themselves.

To cut away the safety netting, the comfort, the easiness, and sometimes even your help — to remove it all and ask yourself if you are strong enough to keep going, if you are committed enough to endure the pain, if you are disciplined enough to continue to push forward — that is invaluable suffering. These are the decisions that keep us honest and help us mark our boundaries. These exercises help me know my own thoughts and feelings in no uncertain terms. For those of us who have had to live others’ realities, there is something freeing in living your own raw reality during the second half of an ultra. The pain grounds us, but not like the past.

The denial of suffering leads to locking the doors to rooms in our minds and slipping the keys on a keyring of delusion. Sometimes we do this so readily that we now carry a heavy jangle at all times. I think true freedom is perhaps throwing away the keyring entirely.

Some things cannot change—powerlessness is also part of life—but your interpretation of suffering can. Your relationship to it can. If you can accept that idea, you have already loosened its grip, just a little. We are not free when we are someone’s subject. Do not let suffering be your master.

Because we’ve chosen this sport, because we’ve attempted to give life’s aimless suffering a compass, we might be a little more free.

If you’re suffering with us, if you’re in control of your own suffering with us, I applaud your courage, and look forward to running with you today, tomorrow, and every day after, as ultra marathon runners.

Written by Julie Tertin. Julie is an ultra marathon runner who has raced (and won) ultra marathon distances 200 miles and beyond. You can connect with her at liveultrarunning.com or follow her on Instagram @live.ultra.

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About Wicked Trail Running

Wicked Trail Running is a poetry project about the experiences and adventures of ultra running, written from the pain cave. It’s about inspiring you to inspire yourself.

Take these writings, mantras, and reflections with you to mile 40, 60, 80, and beyond.

I am an author and poet, and I’m glad to express my creativity inside this amazing, brutal, life-changing sport.

Tap here to check out the fiction books I’ve written or explore my second poetry project: PineTreePoet, Poems About Adventure.

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Ultrarunner smiley shirt Wicked Trail Running sand color

Your new favorite strength training tee.

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Soft Strength Tees to rock loud and proud in the gym, on race day, and hanging around aid stations. Original designs and mantras keep your mind focused on big goals.

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5 Panel UltraCaps

Ultra Marathon Gear by Wicked Trail Running

Crushable. Packable. Lightweight. The best 5 panel running hat in the game.

UltraCaps: built for trail and ultra running. Our ultra light 5 panel running hat can be crushed into a pack, dunked in streams, and tossed in the washing machine after your longest races.

Flip the brim up on the shady single-track, and leave it down in the sunshine.

Disappear-on-your-head comfort, bold designs featuring original mantras, and the durability to withstand your next many training runs and races.

5 panel running hat with breathable construction for performance, style, and comfort.

Your new favorite lightweight trail running hat. Guaranteed.

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Why run in Wicked Trail 5 panel UltraCaps?

These hats feature the mantras and designs to inspire uncertain challenge and fantastic adventure, two core principles of a life well-lived (at least we think so). Our hats are bold, daring, and built to last forever.

We really do think they’re the best 5 panel running hats for endurance athletes.



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Ultra Running Books: Must-Read List

UltraRunning Books

As an Amazon affiliate, Wicked Trail LLC earns from qualifying purchases of these books for ultrarunners (don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you extra).

Fictional Ultra Running Books

Fiction uses human themes to tell stories that convey deep meaning. Suffering, companionship, achievement, victory, sensation, adventure: they’re all represented in fictional stories.

And they’re literally represented in ultrarunning.

Dive into these stories to immerse yourself in the human condition and evolve through your relation to the characters. Fall into another place, time, or world. Don’t forget to bring something back with you. We put this section first in our ultra marathon book list for one simple reason: we love adventure and creativity.

Inspiring Athlete Stories

Ultra marathon runners truly are modern day gladiators. They enter dark and painful arenas to do battle with some frightful enemy. Forests and mountains and unending loops of pavement or gravel carry the sounds of their battles. Men and women, influential for their candid testimonies about the power of entering the infamous pain cave, who set the example of living a life fulfilled, of pursuing dreams, and of settling for nothing but YOUR best. These are their stories.

Read about great personalities like Dean Karnazes, Emelie Forsberg, Rich Roll, Kilian Jornet, Catra Corbett, Scott Jurek, and David Goggins in these inspiring athlete ultra marathons books. From Navy SEAL training to Western States 100, you’ll be captivated by what one can accomplish with a proper mindset, and an adventurous spirit.

Just getting familiar with these athletes? Perhaps start with Born to Run or Finding Ultra.

Ultra Marathon Books about Training

Training for an ultra marathon is more than good running shoes and daydreams of the finish line. Simplicity is essential, especially for first-timers, but learning from those who have accomplished that which you seek (and more) can have a monumental impact on your approach and mindset. Level up your endurance training with ultrarunning books about training (or two).

Form a training plan and learn from the brightest minds in the world of ultra running. There’s a lot to learn. Start here.

Non Fiction Ultra Running Books

Stories of adventure, suffering, and perseverance are the original ultra marathons. Men and women facing danger, insurmountable odds, or grand adventure paved the way for common people to strive for greatness. The question “What am I capable of?” is born of these stories and adventures. Here’s some we recommend for ultrarunners.

Recommend another book or have yours added to the library. Email george@wickedtrailrunning.com

“Ultrarunners ought to train their minds with books like they train their bodies with miles…”

A good book lets your mind wander into the realm of possibility: What are you, others, and the world capable of? Are there adventures left unexplored? What new experiences or investigations are you drawn to?

Sound a bit like ultrarunning?

Ultrarunning and books are related in ways both obvious and mysterious: some stories scream at you with the ideals of the ultra marathon (like discomfort and patience). Others, thought-provoking and clouded with questions, beg the reader to think beyond understanding.

Ultrarunners are always reaching beyond understanding, just like the books they read.

It might be a book about strength training, VO2 max, and splits. Or modern, heroic stories about overcoming addiction and destitution.

Sometimes, it’s fiction, or history, or philosophy.

Reach beyond understanding.

Question your motives, ideals, and actions.

Read a book: explore the lives and adventures of others, as you venture down your own Wicked Trail. What did she learn? Has he changed? Why? What of this journey resembles your own?

So, what comes after your finish line, your mountain peak, your moment of fruition?

Dive into an ultrarunning book, and let me know.

Welcome to the Wicked Trail…

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Light 2 Light 50 Race Report

Light-2-Light-50-race-report-cover-photo

Ultra marathon running isn’t about winning, unless it is.

Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person’s journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own goals.

If you run ultra marathons in an aimless soul-searching, without goals, you miss an incredible opportunity to explore the parts of your mind that see pain and massive fatigue as assets, darkness and fear and anxiety as welcome mental battlefields, and failure as an investment.

What is your goal in participating in these grueling endurance runs?

Is it just pushing yourself and living apart from the constraints of a society that feeds on comfort and opinion?

I challenge you to dig deeper.

I challenge you to Be Your Own Culture.

Look at your last race, or your first race coming up; where can you improve? What goal can you set that seems ludicrous? How can you push yourself beyond “pushing yourself?”

Something ultra marathon runners ought to think about. How else will we find the Taller Peak?

My first time looking past what I thought was possible occurred at my third ultra marathon, the Light 2 Light 50 mile run on the outer banks of North Carolina.

I wore just a loose t-shirt and shorts; no warm hat, gloves, jacket, or leg-warmers protected me from the 35 degree early morning breeze under the lighthouse on Corolla Beach. Immediately –and probably out of a desire to get warm– I led the group of ultra marathoners with two others.

One stopped to tie his shoe and the other greeted one of his crew on the side of the road.

Suddenly I was alone. Surely those two, and others, would soon catch back up.

Without a headlamp to guide them, my feet pattered down the winding asphalt beach road. I was running at a decent pace; again, I wanted to warm up and cover a lot of ground before the sun came up during the Light 2 Light 50.

I looked back a few times within the first 20 minutes and saw headlamps bobbing in the night around a quarter of a mile to half of a mile away.

Eventually I looked back and saw no headlamps; I turned up the speed even more.

I went into this race with the mindset that it was a winnable race; the fastest course time thus far sat at around a 9 minute per mile pace, it was just in its second year, and less than 60 runners were registered.

Could I win a flat 50 mile race?

Would any local, elite runners show up?

Would my legs blow up if I went out too fast?

I wouldn’t learn any of these things if I played it safe and decided to just push myself into discomfort and finish the race. Ultra marathons are never comfortable; could I go beyond discomfort and answer these questions?

My Secret Weapons

In any goal in ultra marathon running, I’ve found, you must establish an advantage over your adversary.

Who is your adversary?

Is it the ticking clock, compounding minutes and hours, at your first attempt of a sub-twenty-four hour 100-mile race?

Is it the elevation gain of a mountain ultra where you simply want to finish the race?

My adversary at the Light 2 Light 50 were the other runners.

Once you identify your adversary, however simple, complex, real or imagined it may be, you have to silently and patiently develop Secret Weapons in training. These are the tools by which you will wage war over 50, 100, or many more miles.

My confidence was rooted in my Secret Weapons.

I knew there were other runners on that course that had covered more miles running than I had in training. I also knew, however, that not a single one of the other runners had done more lunges than I had, stretched more than I had, or spent more time on their feet than I had. I work in a restaurant, after all. I walk for 8 hours, 5 days a week.

What are the tools in your arsenal that will carry you to victory over your adversary, that which threatens your goal? What is your answer to that ticking clock, those long climbs in your first mountain ultra marathon, or the other runners eyeing the podium?

Develop, in quiet patience, the weapons of fulfillment; what will carry me to my goal? What are other runners who would fall short not doing that I can develop? What will my strength be?

These are your Secret Weapons. Remember: ultra marathon running is subjective; each has his own goal, her own adversary, and his own weapons to see through his goal.

Time to start developing yours…

My Mental Edge

My goal, and perhaps yours, required another approach to complement the Secret Weapons.

I needed a mental edge over my adversary, the other runners.

I decided to Take Their Souls, right out of David Goggins’ playbook. 

I started the race with no headlamp and no warm clothing. This was no mistake. I knew the temperature was near 35 degrees on that dark, coastal morning.

Shorts, t-shirt, ankle socks, and a trucker hat.

No leg warmers or tall socks, nothing covering my ears, no gloves, and I started the race with no hydration bladder. It would be 17 miles to the first aid station with just a water bottle.

Bare minimum.

I wanted to be fast and I wanted other runners who were eyeing first place to see me and wonder what sort of competition I’d put up; when I started out fast, leave-those-headlamps-bobbing-in-the-distance fast, I wanted them to wonder how they’d catch up to him.

I wanted second and third place to contemplate first place and how far ahead he was.

I wanted in people’s heads. This is Taking Souls.

How else would I be able to answer the questions I had regarding winning the Light 2 Light 50?

Would my legs blow up if I went out too fast?

Would any local, elite runners show up?

Could I win a flat 50 mile race?

Start out fast and see how far your legs carry you.

Dress for speed and dress efficiently, even if it means starting out the race shivering.

Run like you will win the race, accomplish that which you set out to accomplish.

Otherwise, you’ll never know.

Take Their Souls.

When my mental state wore and self-talk became my medicine, I reminded myself of my Secret Weapons: my stretching and lunges and the many hours on my feet at work.

“No one has done more lunges than me.”

“No one has stretched more than me.”

“No one has spent as many hours on their feet as me.”

I am uniquely qualified to win this race!

Thoughts like these qualified me to accomplish my goal. They qualified me to experience greatness as I saw it.

And when I felt fatigued or wondered how close other runners were behind me, I remembered why I started out fast in so little clothing. “Take Their Souls. Keep going. Don’t let them consider catching you.”

These two tools, my Secret Weapons and my Taking of Souls, were complemented by the mantras of the Wicked Trail which I never took off my head.

I switched between my ‘Comfort Is A Lie’ and ‘Be Your Own Culture’ truckers throughout the race.

When thoughts of pain and discomfort and nausea crept into my mind during the race, I reminded myself of why I toed the starting line in the first place. Why do we run ultra marathons?

My goals, the highest fulfillment of my passions, are on the other side of Culture, this mass-marketer of comfort. Culture tells us to spend liberally, eat for pleasure, to consume and relax. Culture wants us to be just like everyone else aligned in it: mediocre, without goals, sitting in comfort as the mind rots.

An ultra marathon is the rejection of this Culture.

I am my own culture, and so are you.

We reject the lie of comfort; we experience and pursue. We see opportunity through adversity and mindfully reject complacency as the path to fulfillment.

Of Comfort and Culture I reminded myself when the fatigue grew massive. Of Taking Souls I pondered when I wondered if I could maintain my pace and lead. And of my Secret Weapons I thought when I questioned if I was qualified to win a 50 mile ultra marathon.

When I reached the last aid station at mile 44, I was 18 minutes ahead of the next runner. I maintained this distance until crossing the finish line in 8 hours 21 minutes and 20 seconds.

I learned many lessons during this race. I learned the power of confidence and strategy; I learned about switching muscle groups on those long, flat, beach roads. I dove farther into controlling pain, something I learned a lot about at my first 100 mile race.

I learned that each of us are qualified to accomplish goals we set for ourselves. It takes intentional thought about our goals and trial and error. It takes quiet preparation and risky implementation. It requires patience and decisiveness.

While not an elite time, I am happy to have won my first ultra marathon. I look forward to taking these lessons and applying them to future races as I grow as a runner and competitor.

I look forward to developing more Secret Weapons

I look forward to Taking More Souls

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Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed [But It’s Ok]

Ultra Marathon DNF

Mediocrity

I was perusing some online ultra marathon running groups last weekend and came across a post about DNFs in ultra running.

DNF stands for “Did Not Finish;” the participants name is not published and no belt buckle is awarded. The DNF is dreaded by many as hot-spots and slight aches turn into bloody blisters and swollen joints.

They’re a part of ultra running; eventually any person who ventures to run longer and longer and longer will fail an ultra.

Yes, I dare say fail.

Most of the comments on the posts I found offered words of support and encouragement for the runner who carries a DNF.

You still made it so far!

I can’t even run half of that!

Trying is not failing!

You’re incredible for even starting. What an accomplishment!

DNF doesn’t define you. It’s silly to even use that designation for people who try.

Toxicity in the form of helpful encouragement.

Mediocrity disguised as cheerfulness.

Comfort clawing at the door.

There is nothing wrong in the moment of a DNF. You’ve decided to quit –or your body has decided for you– and you give in, grasping for some relief from the pain of hours and hours and hours on your feet.

Sickness, mental deterioration, broken bones and torn ligaments.

There is no shame in a DNF and there is no need to question your character or your willpower. These are not broken.

They aren’t broken because of what comes next.

What does come next?

You decide.

Rise Up; Confront Another Dragon

People’s words of encouragement, their propping up of your character and personal value, their words of appreciation for your effort all come in vain. Their Facebook comments and Instagram likes mean nothing.

In fact, these well-intended comments may unintentionally –unconsciously– bring you down.

Listen to them. Thank them. Welcome their words of encouragement.

Fall into what they stand for.

Comfort. Mediocrity. Complacency.

You tried. That distance is hard. You made the right decision.

Why aren’t any of them telling you to rise up, and confront another dragon?

Where are the Facebook comments telling you to get back on the Wicked Trail and get moving; time spent mourning a DNF is time lost in the pursuit of challenge and adventure!

Why are none of your Instagram followers asking you where the next challenge lies, or how you plan to conquer this challenge, this challenge that proved too great the first time?

A DNF is a moment of failure, but it doesn’t define you. What your mind sets upon after the DNF is what keeps your character and willpower alive. Let it wander away from social media, away from the kind words of those who didn’t taste the suffering and the pain of all those hours.

Set it upon the Wicked Trail; decide what comes next.

Ultra Marathon DNF: The Wicked Trail

Remember why you ventured down this Wicked Trail in the first place; what led you to pursue such a challenge, one that proved too great? Why did you toe the line?

Have those reasons vanished? Are you not of the same mind and body?

Look in the mirror, not to social media and the kind words of friends and family.

Why did I dare go there?

It wasn’t for comfort and calm; you didn’t go there for acceptance and warmth.

You signed up for that ultra marathon, the dreaded DNF, because it made you afraid, and to be dark and cold, to experience the twisted roots of the ominous forest.

And now is no time to forget that.

Your rejection of the norm, of the established standard of mediocrity and complacency, must carry through after your DNF. This rejection was the reason you wanted to see if you had it in you to run the race, the ultra marathon.

But guess what?

You didn’t have it in you.

And that’s okay.

The end of that race, which came too early for you, was never the end goal in the first place.

Right?

Remember why you signed up for the race.

“Why?”

Your “Why?” surely wasn’t because you wanted to run 50 miles or 100 miles or more.

It was to inspire yourself, to conquer the unimaginable and experience the effects in your daily life, post-race. You wanted to teach your children, or brother, or sister, or friends that your physical limits are a decision you have to make. It was to live a life free from the bondage of comfort, the great lie that permeates a life and breaks down it’s potential, dragging it into complacency.

You ran that race, you laced up your shoes and toed the line, you ventured toward and experienced the dreaded DNF because there was a lot more at stake, because you are your own culture.

All of these reasons of inspiration and embracing discomfort and living a life free of the confines of culture are ongoing processes.

They don’t happen in a moment of success; they aren’t forgotten in a DNF.

This race was never the finish line.

The Wicked Trail winds on, past the final aid station, past the spectators at mile 99, and past the finish line. It carries on regardless of whether you win the race or quit at mile 10.

You don’t have to look very hard.

It’s right in front of you.

Thank your friends and family for their words of encouragement and respect. Set an example of humility in the face of a great defeat.

But don’t let your mind wander far from your “Why?” or from your next challenge. Confront another dragon.

Welcome to the Wicked Trail…


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5 Ultra Marathon Workouts You’re Not Doing

5 Ultra Marathon Workouts to challenge your mind. Are you ready?

The following 5 ultra marathon workouts are not for the faint of heart. They’re not for people who are new to fitness (although, scale accordingly and give them a try).

These workouts are designed for those gearing up for an ultra, looking for a little strength challenge, or want to take a periodic does of discomfort. Choose one and use it as a monthly challenge, or complete them with a training buddy. Just keep in mind: any strong training program will incorporate much more than these. Glute and hip isolation, ankle stability, and posterior chain strength, along with other facets of endurance training, cannot be neglected.

These 5 ultra marathon workouts push your body and your mind.

You ready?

Consult a doctor before beginning any ultra marathon exercise program. Wicked Trail LLC is not responsible for injury, death, hurt feelings, or excessive laundry.

Enjoy…


Ultra Marathon Workout #1: Trunks

Equipment: squat rack with barbell

Warmup

  • 60s slow high-knees in place
  • 30 slow, controlled body-weight squats
  • 60s slow high-knees in place
  • 20 cross-body leg swings each side
  • 2 minute plank with some mountain climbers sprinkled in

⚔ Ensure legs are warm and ready for high volume exercise. The high-knees should elevate your heart rate and get some sweat dripping. Strength and endurance come into play in Trunks. My first two ultra marathons saw my quads and glutes go down in flames; this is one of my remedies. Keep good form and don’t force reps late in the session. ⚔

Remember as you go through these ultra marathon workouts: Comfort Is A Lie. [click to shop]

100 squats @95lbs-135lbs in as few sets as possible

Use good form and take your time. Which is harder: 100 miles running or 100 weighted squats? Probably whichever one you’re currently doing. Start with a weight you can outright do 30 reps with and build from there.

5 minute hand plank

This is the real kick in the teeth. Get off those elbows and up on your hands; your shoulders are feeling neglected. You might not think you used your core on those squats and it’s not like you’ll use your legs on these planks, right? Incorrect. Start small and build to 5 minutes.

REST

That’s it. 100 squats and a 5 minute plank. Rest after these types of intense workouts. Not for us; we already waived liability (see above). Do it for your next long run. You may be inclined to try running immediately after this workout for an extra ultra marathon inspired challenge. If so, take it easy and get fully recovered before your next hard effort.

Dismantle Your Wall: Each moment of discomfort beyond fatigue frames your mind for your next big challenge. [click to shop]


Ultra Marathon Workout #2: Washboard

Equipment: a good attitude

Warmup

  • 60s slow high-knees in place
  • 30 slow, controlled body-weight squats
  • 60s slow high-knees in place
  • 50 2-count trunk twists
  • 2 minute hand plank with some mountain climbers sprinkled in

⚔ Ensure legs are warm and your core is ready for high volume exercise. The high-knees should engage your lower abs and hip flexors, elevate your heart rate, and get some sweat dripping. My hip flexors and lower core was smoked for the last 30 miles of my first 100 mile race. Strengthen them with Washboard so you don’t suffer the same fate. ⚔

Some Core to Get Those Abs Turned On. Summer is only 0-12 months away. The trails are calling.

100 four-count flutter kicks [minimal rest between exercises]

90 lying leg levers

80 two-count mountain climbers

70 V-Ups

60 second side planks each side

50 pushups

40 four-count flutter kicks

30 lying leg levers

20 two-count lying windshield wipers

10 eight-count bodybuilders

REST + EASY MOVEMENT

Take the next few days to gradually return to core exercises. Sprinkle in some light work with your regular training until any residual soreness has depleted. After all, time on your feet is always the focus in ultra marathon training. Remember, these workouts are intermittent challenges, not smoke sessions to take away from the rest of your training.


Ultra Marathon Workout #3: Secret Weapon

Equipment: running shoes and a local hill of at least 400 meters

Warmup

  • Simple mobility to warm up ankles, hips, knees, and the surrounding muscle tissue
  • 2-4 miles at an easy jogging pace with short strides in the final 25% of the distance

⚔ Ensure legs are warm and you’ve got a decent sweat going. This Secret Weapon is a great way to finish a running session and prepare for the hills of a trail or mountain ultra marathon. Downhill running is a skill and ought to be practiced on fatigued legs; use the uphills to build endurance and persistence.

Find a hill near you of at least 1/4 mile. If you can’t find one, refer to workout #1, Trunks

The distance of your hill does not matter. Adpat to the distance. Its YOUR Secret Weapon, use its entirety.

Summit hill at 85% effort. Return to bottom, letting yourself go. Develop a downhill rythm and let your quads absorb the impact, building your downhill legs.

Rest 2 minutes

Repeat hill 3X, resting for 2 minutes at the bottom

100 four-count lunges, standing in place (400 total lunge steps)

Rest 2 minutes

Summit hill at 85% effort. Return to bottom, letting yourself go. Develop a downhill rythm and let your quads absorb the impact, building your downhill legs.

Rest 2 minutes

Repeat hill 3X, resting for 2 minutes at the bottom

REST

A running workout like this, one that is taxing on many different systems in your body, needs to be followed up by a few days of low intensity training. This is how you avoid burnout & injury. A workout like this should only be used as a mental challenge for healthy ultra runners gaining traction in their training.

This workout is tough: strength, endurance, and grit are put to the test.


Ultra Marathon Workout #4: Super Murph

Equipment: pull-up bar and a great attitude

Warmup

  • Simple mobility to warm up ankles, hips, knees, and the surrounding muscle tissue
  • 2-4 miles at an easy jogging pace with short bursts of speed in the final 25% of the distance
  • 50 two-count trunk twists
  • 50 arm circles in each direction

⚔ Ensure legs and upper body are warm and you’ve developed a decent sweat. This ultra marathon workout is going to be something elseSuper Murph simply requires grit. It is long, arduous, and multiple muscle groups are used throughout the session. The second one mile run is a good taste of ‘mile 80.’ Don’t worry about time. Just get it done.

Our take on the Murph:

1 mile run

100 4ct lunges (400 lunge steps)

100 pull-ups (sub sandbag rows / slow downward dog to high plank

200 lying leg levers

200 pushups (elevate hands on a counter if necessary)

300 seconds worth of elbow planks

300 body-weight squats

1 mile run

REST

This is a multi-discipline workout not necessarily ideal for runners focused solely on getting faster. Just like this entire list, this is a test of grit and persistence. This is a long, take-it-slow workout for those who like a cross-training challenge.


Ultra Marathon Workout #5: Trunks, The Sequel

Equipment: 25lbs weight

Warmup

  • 60s slow high-knees in place
  • 30 slow, controlled body-weight squats
  • 60s high-knees in place
  • 20 cross-body leg swings each side

⚔ Ensure legs are warm and ready for high volume exercise. The high-knees should elevate your heart rate and get some sweat dripping. One of my favorite exercises for building a strong core and legs is lunges. This takes lunges down the endurance route and throws in a heavy dose of hip flexor work. Another great option is simply 100 four-count lunges with no break. Build those tree trunks.

50 four-count lunges @25lbs

Stand in place. Keep your knees over your ankles and keep a strong, solid core. Don’t get into extension; keep your ribs down and low. Hold the weight at chest-level, but don’t lean it against you. Take 200 total steps, alternating legs.

50 two-count Russian Twists @25lbs

Feet elevated, ankles uncrossed. Full torso twist with weight, barely tap the ground. Legs kick in opposite direction of weight-tap. Full range of motion here.

50 four-count lunges @25lbs

Stand in place. Keep your knees over your ankles and keep a strong, solid core. Don’t get into extension; keep your ribs down and low. Hold the weight at chest-level, but don’t lean it against you. Take 200 total steps, alternating legs.

REST

This is another great way to ruin the rest of your week, so make sure you’re hydrating and fueling well in the hours and days after this session. Easy, slow runs should be on the agenda for the next few days.


Whew.

You didn’t do them all at once, did you?

Thanks for reading through a few unconventional workouts for endurance athletes. I’ve done them all, and they are gut-checks.

And I think gut-checks can be important leading up to 50+ mile races.

Give these ultra marathon workouts a try. Tweak them, scale them, make them a little easier or harder; it’s your personal challenge. They’ll test your training and your resolve, like a micro-ultra marathon. A little taste of the discomfort that lies ahead.

Don’t be afraid of long, arduous workouts that don’t require your running shoes. Keep the trails and pavement primary, but acknowledge, with your training, the importance of strength and the fundamental idea of discomfort.


If you’re content with your training, start challenging yourself with uncomfortable workouts like these.

It’s all in your head.

Now go get after it.

Concise, simplified training tips:

  • You can get faster with 90% of your mileage being easy.
  • Hamstrings are often neglected by mid to back-of-the-pack runners.
  • Doing one speed workout per month might be better than one per week.
  • Cross train! Seriously. Hot yoga, cycling, hiking, rowing.
  • Simplicity is important in running, training, and life.
  • Comfort Is A Lie

Check these out

51 Ultra Running Quotes you need to read
Ultra Running Books
Follow us on Instagram for more content like this
Hang these in your home
Ultra running poems
Our most-popular hat
Buy a soft Strength Tee shirt

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Your First 100 Mile Race: Are You Ready?

Your First 100 Mile Race by Wicked Trail Running

Running your First 100 Mile Race will come with a lot of questions…

“What’s your weekly mileage?”

“Are you ready?

“It’s going to take how long?”

Why would you ever do that to your body?”

“I could never do that.”

Not enough. Probably not. At least a whole day. It’s not about what happens to your body.

Most importantly, yes, you could.

After I ran my first ultra marathon, a 50 mile race, a simple question burned in my mind: What else can I do?

I stood at the finish line of that 50 mile, 11-something-hour run, and thought: Look at those people. They’re going to do 50 more miles!

That simple 50 mile race altered my understanding of challenge, altered the way I interpreted the world. I’d caught the bug.

Two weeks until I run my first 100 mile race

With only two weeks until the day of my first 100 mile race, it honestly doesn’t seem like a big deal. I’ve spent so much time thinking about it on my own terms, deeply in training and preparation, I don’t often stop to think about how crazy the idea once seemed to me. [Update: its done. Read about it.]

I once categorized marathon runners as crazy. I didn’t even know people ran 100 mile races.

To clarify, “What’s the point? Why do people run races of 100 miles?” summed up my opinion of ultra endurance running.

I now look at it another way:

Why aren’t more people jumping on board and running ultras? Does the danger of exploring one’s mind, one’s capabilities, scare people away? I can’t believe more runners aren’t wondering if they have what it takes to conquer 50, 100, or more miles!

Do I have what it takes?

On April 7 2018, the day of my first ultra marathon, it rained for 12 hours and the temperature stayed below 45 degrees. It turns out a windbreaker can’t cut it as a rain jacket; I was soaked by mile 20. I only had two spare shirts. “Movement is warmth” became my mantra.

The weather necessitated rain gear and I wasn’t prepared. I walked about 10 of the last twelve miles because of blisters and chafing, peed on my own hands multiple times to warm them up, and refused to take hand warmers because, once the sun went down, the 100-mile runners’ teeth would be chattering harder than mine.

The last lap of the 12.5 mile course was the most difficult; I was chilled to the bone wearing only a long sleeve polyester shirt (soaked) under a veil of a windbreaker (more soaked) and running shorts in 45 degree, rainy weather. My feet had over 8 hours on them. To further my physical deterioration, I attempted to dry off at the last aid station and wiped all the BodyGlide off of my nipples. They chaffed raw.

Uncomfortable hardly describes that first 50 miler.

While my clothing choices left much to desire, I finished in 10 hours 41 minutes and 26 seconds, a time burned in my mind. That’s about a 12:49/mile pace. In other words, physically I was decently prepared. Additionally, I felt mentally prepared for the race. I didn’t get frustrated or upset, I had positive thoughts the entire time, and I finished with a smile and a deep breath of relief.

Now, in early July, with only weeks to the most physically demanding challenge of my life, I feel similar to what I felt before the Umstead 50. Only this time, I’ll repeat the distance back to back at the Burning River 100 in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Are You Ready to Run Your First 100 Mile Race?”

This ultra marathon is my first of many 100 mile races, I hope.

And if someone asked me today “Are you ready?” my answer is: “I have no idea.”

Because I don’t. I have no idea. Is a person ready to run for 24+ hours with only one other ultra-distance event under his belt? Does pain exponentially get worse? What mile will be the hardest? Will the mild elevation changes of Northeast Ohio play to my advantage, or is it still enough to dismantle my legs? Does anyone have an advantage in his or her first 100 mile ultra marathon? What exactly does it feel like at mile 70, 80, or 90?

As my first 100 mile race approached, these are the questions I asked. I haven’t talked to many people about their first 100 mile experiences because frankly, I never thought the experiences of others mattered much. It’s 100 miles: suck it up and keep moving.

But now, as I stare down the barrel of 100 miles, I’m listening to others’ experiences. Did you have doubts? What was your peak weekly mileage? Was there any moment of the race you thought you’d throw in the towel? What was the hardest part? Is it really all in your mind? (Turns out: YES)

As I prepare to tackle my first hundo, I feel calm. Either I have trained enough, or I have not; it’s too late to try and catch up. I genuinely don’t think the training matters after a certain point, unless you’re after the podium. In other words, it really is all in your head.

If your mind is right, if you have mental clarity heading into the race, you are ready.

This is why I’m doing it. I’m not a great athlete. I had never run an official race (of any distance) until four months ago. But does it matter? When the race clock hits 24 hours at 4 AM on July 29 and the morning darkness is thick & chilly in Cleveland, everyone on the trail will be exhaustion beyond comprehension. Everyone. Time, distance, and darkness will leave everyone in the same shoes, not realistically capable of continuing.

But we’ll run on…

When Your 100 Mile Race Training Falls Short

My training plan fell apart for my first 100 mile race [in fact, THIS is how bad it went]. I have battled Achilles, hip, and foot issues all on the right side of my body due to running and non-running activities.

Consequentially, my peak mileage was never where I wanted it. Last month I adopted a “healthy not ready” mindset. This decision certainly gave me peace. I was no longer racing a clock to squeeze mileage in. Instead I was preparing my mind and body in a way that carried no anxiety or hurry.

“Healthy not ready” means lots of cross-training and less running.

I am ready. Even if my training log doesn’t say so.

And you are too, you would-be-100-mile-runner reading this. Or you who would embark on your first ultra marathon.

Just show up to the starting line and start running. Value lies in the passing of the miles, the steps toward the finish line. As the pain passes by, something will be left…

A hardened man or woman who just traversed 100 miles; one who can shut the voices off and just keep putting one foot in front of the other, relentlessly.

Over and over again. No matter how you feel.

Anything life can throw at you, any hill that rises in front of you, will be easier after your first 100 mile race. Sure, you get a belt buckle and a great set of finish line photos for Instagram. Above all, though, the moment of your finish will never die.

Your First 100 Mile Race Is Just One Long Hill

Earlier today, a steep hill interrupted one of my casual runs. People normally take it easy on hills so I choose to run them faster solely for the reason that most people don’t. It’s also great for the glutes, I suppose. As I was gasping up this steep incline today, I realized something: my first ultra marathon was, and this impending first 100 mile race is, just a long and steep hill.

Too many people avoid the hills or use them as an excuse to slow down. We all have these hills in our lives; I challenge you to not slow down on the hills, to not take it easy, and to search them out.

Look for the hills.

If you find them and run them hard, harder than anyone else, you’ll build your glutes and hamstrings and grit and confidence. Then, when another hill comes along, a Wicked Trail you didn’t plan for, you’ll be ready. Your legs will be strong, your mind will understand the value of the hill, and you’ll run up it, passing everyone who wasn’t prepared, who chose to avoid hills and remain comfortable in life.

Hills are meant to forge an uncommon mindset. Comfort Is A Lie, and if you don’t challenge yourself on some hills, you’ll slip into a dull, comfortable, life. You’re going to get knocked down by life. Go forge an uncommon mindset so you’re prepared.

When you find a hill, whether it’s a jog tomorrow morning or your first 100 mile race, remind yourself of the prize at the finish line: you will be that much more prepared for the next hill. And the next, and the next. Your body will be more capable, and your mind more endurable.

That’s what it’s all about. And anyone eager for hills, eager for growth, eager to develop that uncommon mindset, is ready for their first 100 mile race.

Check these out…

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I’ve read too many boring ultra running blogs. The ultra marathon is a crucible that demands reverence and contemplation. These events are where I go to unlock something new of myself, to learn something. I explore my mind and body and I return to society a more thoughtful person.

Sometimes the thoughts are good, sometimes they’re stormy.

I want to give you a glimpse inside those sometimes good, sometimes stormy thoughts.

With this ultra running blog, I want to take you with me into the heart of my ultra marathon journey: the blood, sweat, tears, and laughs that make up this strange adventure sport.

You won’t read much about race stats or course details, and I may not stuff my race photos throughout these posts (okay, maybe a few), but I hope my ideas and musings are enough to make you think. Perhaps they’re enough to make you act. Putting these words down in the following posts has changed my life, and I look forward to impacting yours.

Welcome to the Wicked Trail.

PS. If you like our ultra running blog, check out our favorite books for ultra marathon runners and shop our inspirational prints.

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