Finding your motivation to run long

There are both healthy reasons to run, and unhealthy reasons to run. Sometimes those reasons merge, and sometimes what started out as a journey toward better health quickly becomes a journey toward worsened health.

I found myself in this state between 2017-2018, where I was inevitably destroying my body. There’s a lot of research out there, and what we generally can conclude is that running is great for your cardiovascular health, until you go off one too many cliffs and suddenly, it’s not. It was around the tail-end of 2016 when I started realizing that I could no longer sleep on my left side, as it caused sharp pains to the area around my heart. I underwent an ultrasound in 2019, and they ultimately found nothing; but to this day I’m not entirely convinced that something’s not wrong, and I don’t even bother to try and sleep on my left.

You know when you exert yourself so much that you feel faint? I’ve experienced this quite a few times in my training. As long distance runners, we learn to push past the pain. This isn’t always healthy, and as you know, can lead to devastating injuries that curtail your entire running career. Like me.

It’s also quite possible that the varicocele that I developed likely happened as a result of long-distance running. I can remember a few clean shots to the sack growing up as a kid, but the repetitive tightness, excessive heat and pressure probably exacerbated the condition, even if it had already been waiting to develop earlier in life. I experienced what’s known in the running/health community as RED-S throughout 2015-2018, and I know for a fact that for the better part of eight years, that I was addicted to the sport.

As a runner of thirteen years now, I can tell you with confidence – running long is great for your health; until it’s not. Being cautiously aware of this, I feel like I’m in a much better place. I’ll explain as I go through this journey with you, but there’s been several times throughout the past month where I’ve actively run less than I wanted to or even would have been physically capable of doing. Back in 2017/18, if I was feeling good on the day and had nowhere to be, I would simply run until I couldn’t anymore. But now, keeping in mind my injury record, the betterment of my health, and what actually serves as adequate training progression, I’ve been cautious.

I’m not training to run an ultramarathon tomorrow. I’m not even training to run one in a month. I’m cautiously training and working my way up to a state where I can run a 50k, with absolute and utter ease, one year from now.

Don’t get me wrong, your time window toward ultramarathon stardom can be significantly shorter than this. If you’re already running marathons, you could probably train for one in a few short weeks. Understanding your context is abundantly important. But even for a complete running newbie, a year-long haul will inevitably have you ready for your race.

The thing is – I know myself. I know how easy it was for me to get addicted to running in the past. I know the pressure I used to put on myself to perform at the highest level. I know the pressure that others used to put on me to perform at the highest level. And I don’t want any of that. I want to run for me. I want to run because I genuinely love being out in nature, being physically active, and reflecting on life – in a fun format of having hours alone with nothing to do but think.

My motivation to run an ultramarathon is no longer to prove anything to anyone else, like it might have been before. It’s probably not even to prove anything to myself. I know I can run an ultramarathon. I could probably do one tomorrow. But I wouldn’t be fully prepared to the best of my ability, and I wouldn’t be doing it for the right reasons.

So this is what I believe you have to come to enlightenment about when training for an ultramarathon. Genuinely, why do you want to train for an ultra? If you haven’t already thought about this, take some time to write your answer down below.

So now that you’ve decided to train for an ultramarathon. The next step is in recognizing your priorities. Skeptics would say you’ve already failed the first step toward prioritization, but I beg to differ. Meaning is specific to you, and you get to form the narrative of your life. So with that, let’s talk priorities, and how to make running a healthy priority in your life.

Thanks for reading & see you soon!

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8 responses to “Finding your motivation to run long”

  1. […] In 2017, I would have told you that I wanted to run an ultramarathon for fun. But I don’t think that would have been genuinely true. I wanted to do it to test myself, probably to impress others, and to show other people how much of a cool beast I was at life. Now I’m doing it for myself. Here’s my motivation. […]


  2. […] explored in your own city. So go out, and make it a habit of running not only for all of those other purposes you listed, but for […]


  3. […] my long-running capabilities, and only added to my enjoyment of the process. I’ve genuinely never enjoyed running more than the exploration of finding new trails for back-to-back long-hauls. This is a privelege. Build […]


  4. […] sprinkled some tips throughout my writing in how to stay motivated, including making running an adventure, going out and exploring new spots, re-arranging your […]


  5. […] to me, I first started my ultra training journey while dealing with the initial stages of plantar fasciitis, which ultimately boiled over to […]


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