“I’m looking for a group to train for ultramarathons with!”

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 the early mornings I may have hit snooze if it wasn’t for the people around me, pushing and encouraging me!

All of the late nights I would rather have been asleep, my training partner was there to challenge me!

My longest run during my ultramarathon training buildup wouldn’t have happened without the kind words and support of my friends. I needed them when the July sun beat down on the towpath and I’ll need them again when fall turns to winter and crisp winds gush through the trees of the forest.

I train for ultramarathons with a group. I am not lonely.

The morning of my race I meet with my group, we’re all running together, and we arrange our drop bags. Its early fall and our training has gone wonderful; we’re ready to set off and earn our belt buckles.

We arrive together and start the race together.

The terrain early on is simple and we all stick together. Would we stay together throughout the run? Unlikely; how cool it would be, though, if we all crossed together!

The sun rises. “I’ll see you at the finish line!” one of our group shouts as he slows under the warmth of the day.

We debate whether we, the rest of the group, ought to slow down too. A pack mentality. We grew together in training and now feed off each other’s energy. We run on.

As the morning turns into afternoon and the afternoon into evening, our pack spreads thin over the now-rugged trail. The sun dips below the treetops and one of our group has dropped out of the race. It was statistically inevitable, I suppose.

I fall behind the others.

A chill permeates my jacket as I slowly pull into an aid station. I expected to see another of my training group, my pack, but none are there. No other runners around, a volunteer assists me with food and water.

Did they see anyone resembling my friends? They don’t know; its dark, people have changed clothes, and most moved through quickly.

How quickly? Am I the slowest of the group? Or did I pass any of them and not realize it?

As evening turns to night, I see no headlamps around me. I am chilly, fatigued, and in pain.

I am alone.

I am alone on the Wicked Trail.

I am not prepared for this; I haven’t done a long run on my own in over a year! I don’t have my headphones and I have no one to talk to; my thoughts are dancing around in a circle of pity and fear.

Focus. Breathe. Make it to the next aid station. Maybe some of my group will be there! And if they’re not? I must set off again down this Wicked Trail with no one. Can I keep moving with no one to push me, with no one to make jokes with and talk to? On paper I am prepared. I have the mileage, the health, the strength; it’s all there! The only thing missing now is my group, my pack. Can I continue on if I don’t find them? Am I too far behind? How does one prepare for this mental game; this loneliness? Prepare for your dark, twisting, Wicked Trail as it will be; train alone, train in the cold, train in the rain, train fatigued, and train with fear. Train for the Wicked Trail. A failure to prepare in one area of ultrarunning distress (fatigue, pain, adverse weather, rugged terrain, loneliness, etc) is a failure to prepare for the race. Preparation will carry you across the line, and a failure to prepare for every worst-case scenario can have disastrous implications. Being lonely is a mental battle; your thoughts occupy the forest air and the soft footfalls of your battered feet are the only sound. What do you think about? Who can you talk to? How can you control your thoughts? Train this way. Explore your mind in loneliness. Ditch the headphones. Ditch the running group. Do your running partner a favor. “I’m doing this one alone.”
Written by: George C.

Written by: George C.

Writer, Wicked Trail Running

When he's not running with his Cattle Dog, Cowboy, in Raleigh, North Carolina, George likes to kick back and keep the content on Wicked Trail Running fresh and engaging. He's got a few Ultras coming up in 2019, so if you need to get in touch with him, the local parks and greenways around Raleigh are a good place to start looking.

He really doesn't like cooking, so if you've got any quick vegan smoothie ideas or recipes, shoot an email to george@wickedtrailrunning.com. He also enjoys talking about running, mental toughness, and the art of mindset alteration.

Follow George on Instagram @georgecarterc!

Written by: George C.

Written by: George C.

Writer, Wicked Trail Running

When he's not running with his Cattle Dog, Cowboy, in Raleigh, North Carolina, George likes to kick back and keep the content on Wicked Trail Running fresh and engaging. He's got a few Ultras coming up in 2019, so if you need to get in touch with him, the local parks and greenways around Raleigh are a good place to start looking.

He really doesn't like cooking, so if you've got any quick vegan smoothie ideas or recipes, shoot an email to george@wickedtrailrunning.com. He also enjoys talking about running, mental toughness, and the art of mindset alteration.

Follow George on Instagram @georgecarterc!

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

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Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"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, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

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

UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering? Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon. What is your perspective? Why do you run an...

share this post

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

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...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

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...

Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"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, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

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

UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering? Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon. What is your perspective? Why do you run an...

share this post

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