Is going long just an excuse for running slow? Discuss...
Of course us ultra runners all know the answer to this question, but trying convincing the rest of the running fraternity of this and you get a swift revoke. Those in my running club say what they say mainly just to wind me up, and not because of any deep beliefs but all the same they are still thinking it and I often find myself trying to defend the art of running long (and slower), rather than running a 3hr marathon which is what they all say I should be doing.
I could be quick to dismiss all this and just get on with what I enjoy and do best, but obviously something has triggered me to post this question and seek answers from other ultra and non-ultra runners alike.
Why should I need to defend what I do as not an excuse for running slow. Why isn't running long as respected as running fast (of course there are those special talents who mix running long with running fast) but on the whole I think we all agree that running long does mean 'appropriate pacing'. This is neccesary to cope with the changes in both the terrain and profile, as well as extra distance being attempted. Of course road runners seldom experience the type of terrain and descents and ascents that ultras races serve up. And perhaps because of this they simply can not relate to what ultras are about and thus don't get it.
So where am I going with this... I'm not sure I know myself. Perhaps I shouldn't feel the need that i need to justify running long to my running peers, or why my marathon times are so slow, but something inside me obviously seeks to do just this, rather than just let it lie and go enjoy myself.
Ultimately I think ultra-running should get the same recognition as something that demands just as much dedication in training and competing as other distances. But I'm certainly not after recognition from my peers but just a acknowledgement that I'm not selecting the easy option, that I chose to run ultras because that's what I do, not because I couldn't run a 3hr marathon if I decided I wanted to and train for it.
Perhaps most of this is in my head, and that this post is actually an internal wrangle I'm having with myself about whether what I'm doing is getting the very best out of me in terms of my abilities. There's no doubt that being a member of a running club the talk is all about times, and PBs, and because of this after a while you feel a need to prove yourself even if it's not your distance. And I don't mean proving something to them, but to yourself... So that I can feel that despite being an ultra runner I am still as capable as going as fast as you. And I think the recent XC season has proved to me that I do seek this comparison when racing my peers. No one likes to lose and I'm no different.
I will perhaps take time to reflect on the above, and see what you guys think about all this. Let me know if this strikes a cord with anybody. Because if it's just me then I'm the one with the issue not them, and I should stop the internal wrangle between running long or fast!
And if I read this post back and realise it's just total garbage then I won't be offended at a lack of responses! The most likely outcome I'm sure.....