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Mental Toughness

Our mental toughness blog, posts dealing with your mind – the mental side of ultra running – is a creative and challenging dive into the world of ultra running.

This is not a safe space.

Welcome to the Wicked Trail.

  • Stranded on a Desert Island

    Ultrarunning blog post develop a code

    It’s a silly, simple question. No, it’s more than that. It’s a question that has tugged at my mind, manipulated my intentions, and directed my actions for a long time. I’m not here to crowd-please or coddle the spaces of others, but the curious question has given relation to people I might not even like (or Keep Reading…


  • White Knuckles

    White Knuckles by Wicked Trail Running

    The blue sky turned grey, the concrete turned to ice, and our wandering eyes, exploring the Virginia mountainsides, turned to the road. The snow fell in clumps and the temperature dropped; the higher our four wheels drove, the whiter my sister’s knuckles became. We passed the ski resort we’d be staying at and climbed higher Keep Reading…


  • The Timing of Chaos

    The Timing of Chaos - Wicked Trail Running Ultra Marathon blog cover photo

    Humans instinctually amass resources. It’s hammered into our ancient DNA to acquire and protect. It’s hunger and thirst, wealth and ease; it’s each of these with a propensity to the stimulation of our mind’s reward—pleasure—centers. We’re pickers, choosers, and takers. We select the good, work for eventual perpetual relaxation, and along the way take materials Keep Reading…


  • Torture Your Faults

    Torture Your Faults Ultra Marathon Blog

    Mornings are hard. Cold weather is hard. Late nights are hard. Saying no to fun is hard. Nobody asked you to Be Your Own Culture, to chase something intangible and pursue an imagined ideal. You don’t have to do whatever hard thing you’re doing. You can probably die happy without ever running, squatting under a Keep Reading…


  • Ask Yourself One Question

    Ultrarunners should ask themselves one question

    Most people, even many hardened by the pursuit of the experience and sensation that is ultra marathon running, lack fulfillment. What is fulfillment, anyway? I’ll let you answer that yourself; most people have a decent idea of what their lives fulfilled might look like. Close your eyes and imagine your life, fulfilled. I’m going to Keep Reading…


  • Don’t Uber Through Life: An Ultrarunner’s Reflection

    Don't Uber Through Life. An Ultrarunner's Reflection

    At mile 70, I said I’m done. I didn’t want to go on. The race hadn’t gone the way I wanted, and my torched hip was bleeding doubts into my mind. My crew didn’t argue, there was no thinking; it was “I’m done” and we were walking away from the aid station toward our transport. Keep Reading…


  • Instinct For Meaning: My Journey to 100 Miles

    Instinct For Meaning my journey to 100 miles

    Meaning is heavy. You’ve felt it. Haven’t you? It’s the highest good of your existence, that place where your passions and curiosities interact musically with the history and future of our world. A chill up your spine, tears in your eyes, anger climbing your face, your laugh bouncing from person to person, lighting a room: Keep Reading…


  • 3 Lessons of a 100 Mile DNF

    3 Lessons From Quitting at Mile 70

    I was 8 minutes shy of the 30-hour cut off. It was not how I imagined finishing my first 100 mile ultra marathon. I pictured gritting my teeth, conquering, and smiling across the finish line of that point-to-point race from Cleveland to Akron, the Burning River 100. I didn’t expect to cry, fall asleep peeing, Keep Reading…


  • Afraid to Run That Ultra Marathon?

    Afraid to run ultra marathon

    Fear is a jester. He dances around the hall of greatness and mocks passersby, planting doubts and insecurities in the minds of those peeking in. He sings of their shortcomings; he jokes about their failures. His greatest trick is keeping people away from the hall of greatness. Fear’s greatest trick is convincing you to lead Keep Reading…


  • So Long, And Thanks For The Suffering

    Thanks For The Suffering Ultra Marathon Blog Michael Moran

    Written By Michael Moran I chose to do this. Nobody forced me to run 50 miles. Pouring sweat into a paper cup of Gatorade three quarters of the way through the race, I felt like I was about to cave inward. The weight of the last few months, the heat, my wet and muddy feet, Keep Reading…


  • Shawn Livingston: Be Somebody’s Pacer

    Be Somebody's Pacer

      Woke The Monster “He’s a lazy, lying, lost, hopeless drug addict,” Shawn Livingston says, reflecting on the colors with which he painted his adulthood. It started as the life of a partier, just an addiction to a good time. Drug abuse and alcoholism, taking root slowly in late nights and over-prescribed pain killers, became Keep Reading…


  • Victims Die Slow

    Victims Die Slow

    Casting Call The Victim strolls through life, uninhibited by his own tragic state, unaware of the folly of his existence. When life goes well, he laughs and sings and is captivated by his circumstances. Life is glorious and wonderful; all is well. The path is smooth and everything is the way it ought to be. Keep Reading…


  • Bleed For It

    Bleed For It Wicked Trail Running

    It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and watch it all go by. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. People around you and I do it every single day. There it goes, right now, while you read this. What is it? What is all this going by? Opportunity. Not opportunity easily grasped, I warn. It’s Keep Reading…


  • Ultra Runner Candice Burt: Read the Fine Print

    Ultra Runner Candice Burt: Read the Fine Print

    Mile 92 When I reached mile 92 of my first 100 mile race, the Burning River 100, I was told I wouldn’t finish. I was almost hoping to miss cut-offs by this point in the race, for someone to pull me off this Wicked Trail and say “You’re done. You failed.” Standing at mile 92, Keep Reading…


  • Barbed Wire

    Barbed Wire | Scott Waldrop

    Written By Scott Waldrop Scott has completed numerous ultra marathon distance races (including a Badwater 135 finish and an Arrowhead 135 attempt) and is a father, husband, writer, and guitarist. He placed first in the 2018 Charleston 100, 2 weeks after winning the crewed division of the Tarheel 378-miler. His story has been featured in Keep Reading…


  • My Top 3 Ultra Marathon Tips [Mental Hacks]

    Ultra marathon tips and tricks | Mind Hacks

    My Three Tips and Tricks for ultra marathoners The top three Tips and Tricks I used in the beginning of my ultra marathon running journey, the three Mind Hacks that led me to my first 100 mile finish, my first 50 mile victory, and conquering my first mountain ultra marathon aren’t exactly what you’re expecting. Keep Reading…


  • My First DNF: Umstead 100

    Umstead 100 mile | my first DNF

    Umstead 100, My First DNF: Excuses I’m not one for dramatizing a DNF, let alone my first DNF, so I’ll get right to it. My first DNF came at the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run on April 6th, 2019 not because I wasn’t physically prepared, or I didn’t sleep well or was sick, or because Keep Reading…


  • Let’s Cut Back On Tolerance

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    There are moments in a person’s life when he or she says, “Why am I tolerating this?” He knows he deserves better treatment at work; his skills are undervalued and underutilized. She sees her care and affection wasted in an emotionally absent relationship. An exhausting ‘friendship.’ An ungrateful client. Why am I tolerating this? Directly Keep Reading…


  • You DNF Months Before Your Race

    Ultra Marathon DNF blog post featured image

    When you toe the line for your first ultra marathon, or any race after, there will be someone running with you that no one else can see. His bib has no number. It simply reads “DNF.” He’s right there when you start the long journey down the Wicked Trail, surrounded by other runners and volunteers Keep Reading…


  • Run 100 Miles With No Pain

    pain-in-ultra-marathon-100-mile-race

    If a person hasn’t experienced physical pain in union with mental and emotional pain, an ultra marathon could be a worthwhile lesson in pain management. What is pain? A physical sensation? An emotional state? A mental yearning for comfort? What is pain? New ultrarunners wonder about the pain they’ll feel 60, 70, or 80 miles into Keep Reading…


  • 5 Things Your First Ultra Will Teach You

    things-learned-at-first-ultra-marathon

    You’ve signed up. You’ve decided the Wicked Trail is meant for you; you want to experience your first ultra marathon and all the joy that comes with conquering, and the eradication of complacency that comes with the pain. Are you ready? Have you prepared mentally? Have you prepared physically? Don’t underestimate the challenge; there is Keep Reading…


  • Training and Expectations

    ultra-marathon-expectations-cover-photo

    Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they’d have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When race day comes and all of those miles and hours are behind the ultra Keep Reading…


  • 3 Reasons To Practice Fasted Running

    Fasted Running: Welcome to the Wicked Trail For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. During the final three miles, I wasn’t sure I’d finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, of course with much less lower body-body pain. Ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous final Keep Reading…


  • The Best Ultra Marathons Aren’t What You Think

    The Best Ultra Marathons

    “What’s the best ultra marathon?” Is it the most remote or adventurous like Marathon des Sables, the most challenging like Badwater or the H.U.R.T 100? Rather, is the best ultra marathon simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Races with the most elevation change, winding through the widest Keep Reading…


  • 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 Keep Reading…


  • Blame Yourself Blindly: Ultra Runner’s Mentality

    Blame Yourself Blindly

    There are people in this life that are walled in. They’re stuck in the parking lot, but they don’t realize it. Over the wall, this wall that surrounds the parking lot, they can see mountaintops covered in tall trees. They see trails winding through the forest. They feel the rain. All around them, in the Keep Reading…


  • 5 Ways to Be Your Own Culture

    5 Ways To Be Your Own Culture blog post by Wicked Trail Running

    A Quick “Be Your Own Culture” Testimony “I decided to truly embrace this mantra, this mantra of the Wicked Trail, after I bought my husband one of your hats and saw how much he loved it. I wanted to be the inspiration for a renewal of his interest in fitness. Well, your hat beat me Keep Reading…


  • One Breath Of Air

    Wicked Trail Running One Breath of Air Ultra Marathon Blog Cover

    People fear what is inside them. I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. You probably fear what is inside you. All of your hopes and dreams, your wildest ambitions and most profound daydreams, the talents and skills and experiences you possess, the unique character perfected over years and years and years: all of these are Keep Reading…


  • The Pain Cave: You’re On Stage

    The Pain Cave | You're On Stage Cover

    The pain cave is a place in your mind, but it’s also where people watching you in the ultra marathon draw their greatest strength. Keep Reading…


  • How Ultra Marathon Runners Find Time to Train

    How Ultra Marathon Runners Find Time to Train

    “I’d love to sign up for an ultra marathon! I just can’t find the time to train or be away from my responsibilities. It’s just not for someone like me.” Find the time.  Where are you looking for time? Early in the mornings and late at night? Around lunch? Anywhere you can squeeze it in? Take Keep Reading…


  • Patience: Why Ultra Marathon Runners Need It

    Ultra Marathon Runners Need Patience

    Ultra Marathon Patience, or lack thereof… You seek excellence and pursue challenge; your goals and passions breathe life into your days. Any bystander would say you have WHAT IT TAKES to run an ultra marathon. Is there anything missing? Hardly. And so you sign up for that ultra marathon; you’re physically prepared and mentally ready Keep Reading…


  • Become An Ultra Runner: The First Step

    Become An Ultra Runner The First Step

    Imitiation I have a quick story to share that will frame the main point I’ll make about becoming an ultra runner. This story starts long before my first ultra marathon, long before I’d run 50 and 100 miles. I worked in a restaurant on a Forbes 5-star property, the big leagues of service and hospitality. Keep Reading…


  • Why Run An Ultra Marathon? The Taller Peak…

    Why Run an Ultra Marathon | The Taller Peak

    I know what it’s like to fall asleep while running. I’ve rested my hands on my knees as I trudged up a rugged trail, 90 miles from the starting line, wondering where the race had gone wrong. Stumbling over roots and rocks in the dark, I prayed the sun would offer some renewed energy to Keep Reading…


  • How to Run 100 Miles: Action

    How to Run 100 Miles steps by Wicked Trail Running

    How to Run 100 Miles.Hint: It’s Easier Than You Think “People don’t do that,” I thought. “Nobody can run 100 miles! How do you run 100 miles?” When I first learned of ultra running, this was my initial reaction. Who what when where why and HOW do you run 100 miles? After a bit of Keep Reading…


  • Dismantle Your Wall

    Dismantle Your Wall

    The Wall. You’ve Hit It. Fatigue is the ultimate mental battleground. Your body is pulling one way and your tapering will is pulling another. Feelings against your goals: which comes out on top? Mile 5, or Mile 20, or Mile 80. Exhaustion, or hunger, or mental fatigue. That’s enough. I’m finished. I need rest; I’ve Keep Reading…


  • “UltraRunners Are Crazy.” Or Maybe You Are…

    UltraRunners Are Crazy blog post

    “UltraRunners are crazy.” He peers through the trees. “I don’t see them.” “They’re out there, I saw them!” “Wait. Yes! I see them, too! Up that ridge; there! They’re climbing the mountain, into the trees…” Wiping the condensation from his glasses and adjusting his umbrella, the man climbs back into his sedan. All around him, Keep Reading…


  • Are Ultra Marathons Bad For You?

    Are Ultra Marathons Bad For You? blog post cover photo

    “Ultra Marathons Must be Bad for You…” I remember the first time someone asked if I ever wanted to run a marathon. My long runs to that point had probably been a lung-searing 5 miles. I set down the greasy pizza I was eating: “No way! Marathons are bad for you. Your knees and ankles Keep Reading…


  • Go Farther So You Can Go Further

    Go Farther So You Can Go Further title picture

    Opinion and Visual The mantra of the ultra marathon runner: Go Farther So You Can Go Further. This idea holds little value to most; physical exertion is understood as punishment. It’s painful. Physical training, all of the sweat and blood and early mornings and missed social activities, is viewed as a chore, if it is Keep Reading…


  • You’ll Regret Not Running An Ultra Marathon

    Ultra Marathon Regret Blog Post

    Regret is a festering negativity, a self-blame for mistakes that have come and gone. Leave regret behind: run the ultra marathon. Do you fear the regrets that hide in the back of your mind? Do you refuse to look at them for fear the pain will become real again? It is not often that people Keep Reading…


  • The Mind of an Ultra Runner

    The Mind Of An Ultra Runner Wicked Trail Running Blog Post

    The Mind of an Ultra Runner Ultra marathons, these mythical beasts of endurance, are spoken of in hushed tones between crazy friends or coworkers, people who find peace in pain and loneliness. The mind of an ultra runner… I was stopped recently by a coworker, someone with whom I regularly shared small talk. This conversation, Keep Reading…


  • Ultra Marathon Training Groups Are Overrated

    Ultra Marathon Groups Are Overrated

    “I’m looking for an ultra marathon training group!” I can’t train alone; I don’t want to! I want someone there to push me, to encourage me, and to motivate me to keep moving. My training group, my training partner, supports me. I would never be where I am without these people or this person. All Keep Reading…


  • Your First 100 Mile Race: Are You Ready?

    Your First 100 Mile Race by Wicked Trail Running

    Running your First 100 Mile Race always comes 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 Keep Reading…


  • Motivation Is Not Real: Run Without It

    Ultra Marathon Motivation Blog Post

    To an outsider, the ultra marathon community appears to lean on motivation. To the outside world, motivation drives an ultra marathon runner to explore possibility, their own iron wills, and the limits of their bodies. Ultra marathon motivation… Stand at any aid station during an ultra marathon, or any endurance race, and you’ll hear all Keep Reading…


  • Comfort Is A Lie

    Comfort Is A Lie is the subject of this ultra marathon blog post

    The man looks around at his life. Not much to worry about. Not a lot of sweat. No real adversity. “Perfect,” he thinks. “I’m comfortable.” Isn’t life supposed to be this way? Free of pain. Free from worry. Free from adversity. This must be the right way… Comfort, this “perfect” place, is the intersection of expectation and Keep Reading…


  • Cowards Are Realistic

    Cowards Are Realistic

    The Common Man Be realistic. Think of the consequences. Proceed with caution. Be like us. The common man wants you to live in a box, the box of culture and society. Stay inside the lines. No adversity, no pain, and no fear. Live like everyone else. Adversity? Culture and society push for complacency. Fitness centers Keep Reading…


  • Be Your Own Culture

    Be Your Own Culture by Wicked Trail Running

    When a person embraces mediocrity and settles into a complacent existence, he or she admits an unpreparedness for life and an unwillingness to reach the highest fulfillment of his or her time on Earth. This person lives in the culture of the common. Men and women, stunted by a victim mentality, who watch success and Keep Reading…


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