Things I learned from ultra running
Reflections on things I learned from ultra running 🏃♂️ which are useful in organisations and maybe everyday life
A cloud inversion in the lake district in the middle of a 50 mile race
1 — Building resilience
Resilience is important and very useful. But it doesn’t come from just doing hard things or being in difficult situations.Yes, doing hard things and coming out the other side can help build resilience, but only with control and methods for learning. Dropping someone into a 100 mile race with no experience is unlikely to help them build resilience…tolerance to pain possibly, survival maybe, a hatred for ultra running definitely. Same with work, putting someone in difficult situations without support won’t help them …. but it will piss them off. Same with organisations, going through difficult times won’t help unless you can learn from it. Building resilience is intentional and controlled.
Use these 4 lenses
For organisations interested in resilience check out the Organisational Resilience Guide produced with Lloyds Bank Foundation and a number of small charities
For running resilience check out @jasonkoop podcast https://youtu.be/7WSYBojcJBE
2 — Data is your friend 📊
Every ultra race is different. Different distances, terrains, elevation, climate, time, number of check points, available food. Knowing as much of this as possible, AND using it to prepare is vital.
100 miles in the mountains ⛰ is very different to 100 miles on the track ⭕ The different variables will have an impact on a race, and its the same for organisations. Knowing what data is important, and how you will adapt is vital.
Some places to find help with data
Find more (and add yourself to the list) here
3 — Equipment 🛠️
Now you have the data, get the right equipment to help you through it. Ultras are hard enough, don’t make them harder. I’ve seen many good runners DNF because they had the wrong equipment. It’s not always about the BEST equipment, but the right equipment for you. Same for organisations.
Having tools that make things easier seems pretty sensible to me. I’m a big believer in #nocode tools as a way for organisations to help themselves. If you’d like a curated list of 700 nocode tools let me know and i’ll send it to you
4 — Know how to use your equipment 📚
Having the right equipment is only half of it, you need to know HOW to use it. Invest in learning
There are lots of ways and places to learn
Ultras are loooong. It’s kinda difficult to really imagine how long 36hrs of moving is. Success in most ultras is in a combination of small moments, over long periods. There are times when you will feel awesome, go too hard, forget to eat, and you will pay later.
Same with organisations, letting things like governance or culture slide because you are too focused on the short term things will hurt you. Holding the immediate, the short and the long term in your head at once is key. Be of the moment, but not only in the moment.
Ups and down ↗️↘️
There WILL be dark moments You WILL feel you can’t go on You CAN get through them
Cloud inversion day (mile 9)
Cloud inversion day was also 34 degrees with no shade an little water (mile 32)
Planning is important, vital even. But even then, things won’t always go to plan, and dealing with and accepting that is a huge advantage. Being comfortable with uncertainty is a superpower Go check out https://uncertaintyexperts.com/
Training for ultras takes a lot of training. There isn’t much of a short cut. But as important as logging the miles is rest. Prioritise the rest as much as the work. Say no to things.
The best results from training come from consistent training. Missing a few here and there won’t hurt, but the more consistent you are, the more you will improve. Same with any development. Over the last couple of years, organisations I’ve worked with that have consistently engaged have shown most improvement.
Most ultra runners will have DNF’d a race. Failure is part of it, and of life. it shows you pushed beyond your comfort zone. This is good. And if you reflect and learn from failure you will be better. You will grow.
One of the biggest things I love about ultras is the sense of community. Every runner is there for their own reasons, but you are all in it together, and it helps massively when you are struggling. And it’s hugely rewarding to help others. Communities are good. Join some
Enjoy the food, enjoy the views, enjoy the elation, enjoy the people, enjoy the challenge, enjoy the beer at the end. Enjoy the process, the result may not always be what you hoped or expected, but it sure feels good to be alive and trying.
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