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"Standing on the starting line,we're all cowards."††Alberto Salazar

"I find that when I run a long race I get to meet some new people including myself. And that's the guy I'm trying to figure out."

"Speed is sex ... distance is love."††David Blaikie

"It's not the races you enter that count. It's your runs in training and sticking with it. It's how you adjust to injury and how you recover that makes you a good runner."††Dave Hladysh

"Any idiot can run a marathon. It takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultramarathon."††Alan Cabelly

"The 10-K is a race. The marathon is an experience. The ultra is an adventure."††Bryan Hacker

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." Jim Ryun

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runners image "It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."††George Sheehan

"It's not the races you enter that count. It's your runs in training and sticking with it. It's how you adjust to injury and how you recover that makes you a good runner."††Dave Hladysh

"A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame and money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well." G. K. Chesterton

"The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."††Pierre de Courbertin

"To try is to live; not to try is to die. That is the real essence of life; the doing of something, irrespective of success or failure." Mark Long

"The essence of ultrarunning isn't so much the avoidance of pain and trouble as much as adjusting to their inevitable appearance.."††Ann Trason

"There are times in our lives when we are drawn uncontrollably to some dangerous source of misery."††Suzi Thibeault, in a letter to David Horton during his conquest of the Appalachian Trail: 2144 miles in 52 days, 9 hours, 41 minutes

"Donít bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."††William Faulkner

"The heart controls the mind and the mind controls the body." Jim Lampley

"Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe." Mark Victor

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"Everybody wants to know what I am on. What am I on? I'm on my bike... six hours a day. What are you on?"
Lance Armstrong
"When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on, or we will be taught to fly."††Patrick Overton

"When you're afraid of failure you're more likely to do it."††Gordy Ainsleigh

"Even now I keep thinking it was nothing at all, truly nothing, a task anyone who wants to can do!"††Jo Wells (run across Canada)

"Sweat is the cologne of accomplishment."††Heywood Hale Broun

"It only gets so bad, then you just deal with it." Ann Trason

"You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you."††Heraclitus

"Do not fear failure. Fear does not exist in objects or situations that confront you. It is an obstacle to action created by your mind, created solely by false ideas of weakness that have been taught to you by others. Whenever you are afraid, you have frightened yourself. Once you understand that you create your own fear, then you can learn to eliminate it. The will to excel is of far greater strength than any inborn talent. But you cannot do it half way. Excellence is never achieved by moderation." Dr. Michael Colgan, OPTIMUM SPORTS NUTRITION, page 465 defeated runner image

finish line image "It's a line you have to cross to understand."

"The fear of not finishing is often greater than the fear of pain." Laurie Dexter

"Find the joy in the journey - the finish line will come soon enough."

"The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do." Bagehot

"When you are 99 miles into a 100-mile running race, your brain is not the same brain you started with." Paul Huddle

"Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic."††Tim Noakes

"Pain is a given - suffering is optional."

"Pain is temporary, pride is forever."

"Rewards are on a level with the effort, and the effort is extreme."

"You can do infinitely more than you have already done."††Sri Chinmoy

"Even the strongest have their moments of fatigue.."††Friedrich Nietzsche

"There is no reason to attempt such a feat of idiocy, other than the fact that some people, which is to say some people like me, have a need to search the depths of their stamina for self-definition. (I'm the guy who can take it.) It's a contest in purposeless suffering. But for reasons of my own, I think it may be the most gallant athletic endeavor in the world. To me, of course, it's about living." Lance Armstrong, in his autobiography, "It's Not About the Bike", on the Tour de France.
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climbing image Fear not what you see with your own eyes! Have confidence in achieving your goals. Everyone gets intimidated at the start line. Everyone sees first a seemingly impossible challenge... But most just overestimate the challenges ahead. Even specific psychological research explains built-in human timidity. Recent research by psychologist Dennis Proffitt of the University of Virginia indicates that people consistently overestimated the slant of shallow hills showed to them, judging 5-degree slants to be about 20 degrees. At the same time, people accurately mimicked the angle when asked to demonstrate it with a flat board. Proffitt sees a good reason for this mental disconnect. People's instinctive mind needs to move legs to match the real inclination of the hill, but the conscious brain has to decide how much energy to expend. A mental mechanism that causes the eye to overestimate the potential task ahead helps prevent person from overexerting himself. "You want to see your relationship with the world and what you can do," says Proffitt.

"In my failures, I saw the darkest part of myself, where I was weak, where expectations did not meet reality. Until you face your fears, you don't move to the other side, where you find the power." Mark Allen

"No matter how well you know the course, no matter how well you may have done in a given race in the past, you never know for certain what lies ahead on the day you stand at the starting line waiting to test yourself once again. If you did know, it would not be a test; and there would be no reason for being there." Dan Baglione

"What we are all really looking for is an experience that lets us feel the rapture of being alive." Joseph Campbell

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"Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it." Sir Winston Churchill

Ultra distances are unparallel as a setting for personal achievements. Duration and demands of such events provide multiple opportunities to meet "that other guy" - yourself.

Fear is one of the least tolerable human emotions. To confront it regularly (and by doing it, to admit its presence) you need inner strength, outside supportive stimulae, honor and dignity. Because the alternative is not to be in the race, or turn your anxieties and fears into something more easily manufactured and accepted - excuses, blames, criticism, rage - even before the start or during the race.

Don't get emotional about the race location and its environmental conditions - you are here not to battle against the terrain, the weather, and the nature but to accept them in your struggle. Hills and surf, wind and hail, jellyfish and heatwaves are indifferent to you and the rest of humanity; they just are. Accept (or surrender) to the conditions as overpowering equalizers, or as additional challenge, and this may make you accept or even enjoy it.

Get into habit of finishing your events (be it a race or a training session) unless you're getting injured. This is especially important when things don't go as planned. Don't force yourself and don't give up, just adjust to the new circumstances and finish what you have planned. Overcoming mental and physical adversity in racing and training is not only a boost to your self-confidence but also a conditioning exercise.
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"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. " T.S. Elliot

During the race many external factors will assist you with the mental aspect of racing, by motivating you and giving you encouragement. Other competitors, support crews, bystanders will help you but most of the motivation will have to come from the within you. Success will be achieved by backing up your body's effort with your willpower. Without resolve and strong will, you may not be able to stand up even to the moderate assaults by fatigue and low morale. Regardless of your preparation, training, and past experience, time will come when during the race a grave moment of self doubt, pity and weakness will overcame you. Will you quit or make another step thinking "this shall also pass"? Will you succumb or overcame it?

Remember, even as race clock runs and distance covered grows, and you become progressively more exhausted and fatigued, there is still time and distance left to step back and recuperate, to survive the lows and to pick up again. Here lies the attraction and the evil of ultra distance racing - a paradox of having more time to focus and dwell on personal suffering and distance remaining, as well as multiple opportunities to redeem yourself through decision to continue racing. It's a delicate balance with significant personal ramifications: to stop the movement (and achieve an instant and deserved liberation from pain with a corresponding gain of long-term suffering from the failure to finish) or to embrace the next installment of pain (and knowledge that it will be not a last one on a way to the finish)? Some may have to face these decisions too often for a human being - every step, paddle, stroke and revolution. And that is a mystery of ultras and humans racing them - that so many make it to the finish line.
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What will you do when your RFP (Relentless Forward Progress) grinds to a stop?

Thoughts by UltraMentor:

"Natural ability" is not a result of personal genetics or some other extraordinary gift. It is a result of long-term, committed devotion and desire to the goal that propels normal and ordinary abilities to the greatest levels. Yes, one may be born with a great performance machine of the body, with long femurs, large lungs, sturdy knees, and insensitivity to lactic acid and pain, but such gift set of abilities is wasted unless desire and passion, commitment and drive, are all present. With them, even ordinary ability can be elevated to the magnificent level. Without them, even extraordinary gift is useless.

"Satori" is a state of being in which everything and everyone else moving in slow motion, while individual experiencing it has absolutely no distractions and knows exactly what to do as if actions were performed automatically without any significant mental or physical effort. In endurance sports, it's a common state, triggered by the focused and trained mind presiding over a highly conditioned and trained physical body. Athlete is totally immersed in the moment, as time becomes irrelevant, with near moments of the past and future being very far away. You may have entered satori already in the past. It may have been your fast 400 meter sprint on the running track that seem to last forever, with every stride being a separate life; or while running or cycling long, with miles, hours or even days seem to compress and disappear.

"The body moves naturally, automatically, without any personal intervention. If you think too much, your actions become slow and hesitant. When questions arise, the mind tires; consciousness flickers and wavers like a candle flame in a breeze." Taisen Deshimaru, Japanese Swordmaster

"At the peak of tremendous and victorious effort, while the blood is pounding in your head, all suddenly comes quiet within you. Everything seems clearer and whiter than ever before, as if great spotlights had been turned on. At that moment, you have the conviction that you contain all the power in the world, that you are capable of everything, that you have wings. There is no more precise moment in life than this, the WHITE MOMENT, and you will work hard for years, just to taste it again." Yuri Vlason

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victory sign image Overheard at the races...

"This run is so tough, I won't even have to lie about it when I get back home. "

"All you have to do is not quit."

"To those who know (why we do ultras), no explanation is necessary... To those who do not know, no explanation will suffice."

"Yes, I still believe that the Western States course is one of the most beautiful places upon which I have vomited."

"Should have a pretty good group of people like you there: i.e., their calves are bigger than their brains."

"It's right around the corner."

"It's going to hurt a lot worse before it gets any better."

"A'ole makou e ho'ohikiwale kela!" (rough translation: "We wouldn't want it to be too easy!")

"The first 15 miles are exercise, then it's a sick compulsion!"

"Ultrarunning is like drinking beer, keep going until you pass out or throw up."

"This is the best you will feel all day." (heard at the start of the race)

"Anything said after 30 miles is forgiven."

"It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others."

"The key to running 100 milers is to go easy for the first 100 miles."

"The races are an amusement. The training is the life force, the essential element in my life that happens with or without races. Races are merely an excuse to buy flashlights."

"I like to tell people that the difference between a runner and other people is that most people consider walking to be a form of exercise, runners consider walking to be a form of rest."

"Good judgement is the result of experience and experience is the result of bad judgement."

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