Written by Dakota Jones
This past weekend was very interesting for me. From a mental standpoint I feel that I came through the Pocatello 50 at a new level of ability in running, which is a strong confidence boost for the upcoming Hardrock 100. I ran hard all day long at the limit of my ability and finished in first not through better training than the other runners, but through the power of my mind in forcing my body to run hard. After mile 40 I felt physically devastated, but I kept my legs moving.
My go-to race shoe lately has been the Rogue Racer, in which I ran the Miwok 100k, but with a race touting 12,000 vertical feet, cross-country travel, several miles of snow and a section straight up a flowing creek, I defaulted to my tried and true Rockridges. They served me well, as they have in the past at literally every major race I did in 2010. What really struck me was their ability to dry quickly after getting wet. Pocatello featured a lot of wet feet, but mine were always dry within minutes of each creek crossing and I had no blisters at the end. Go Montrail!
Prevailing wisdom about ultras in the past has been that older runners excel in the sport because they have the mental strength to keep themselves moving after everything seems to be falling apart. I agree with this, except that you don’t need to be old to have that mental strength, just experienced. I am in no way at the level of many of ultrarunning’s legends in terms of experience, but I have gained enough to know that A.) Yes, the race will end someday, just keep moving, B.) Low points can only be followed by high points. Or death. But don’t think about the latter, and C.) We can continue running hard even after we feel that we can’t barely move. Make a conscious effort to move those damn legs, and they’ll keep going. One thing that has struck me in the past was that if I stopped running at 40 miles, I would limp around in the same way as if I stopped at 50 miles. But instead I keep running for ten more miles. Or sixty. So where is that point where you literally can’t run anymore? I crossed it at Miwok, but I still don’t know. The point is that you can run a lot harder and longer than you think, which is the best thing I learned at Pocatello. Our minds are as important as our bodies in running well.
Conventional wisdom seems only to have been tweaked. As far as I can tell, experience is not synonymous with age but in the later stages of a race, the mind is what drives the legs. At least that is the fruit of one experience. Tell me what you think, because we here at Montrail are only learning this stuff through practice.