You asked, I answer! Part II

Here are the rest of the answers to your questions in my Q&A game!

OreMan asked:

Is there a race in the world that you definitely want to run one day? If yes, which one?

There are many! I’m obsessed with ultras, and I’d love to someday run:

  • Western States
  • Badwater
  • Copper Canyon

Pretty much any ultra I hear about, I want to run it. But I also really want to keep exploring my own trails in different parts of the world. I’d love to run, not just in organized ultras, but long distances over days and across trails where I’ve never been. Just camping out and navigating my way around, discovering new things.

Cognitive Dissident asked:

What’s the breakdown of your mileage in terms of footwear vs foot-freedom?

Over the winter, I wore my Vibrams almost all the time. As soon as the weather got warmer, I ditched them and I’m pushing 100% barefoot now. If I get caught outside at a time when the sidewalks start burning my soles, I’ll slip on some sandals. Other than that, I’ve done all my running completely bare for a couple of months now.

However, that will likely change in the fall when I start racing. I’m hoping to start transitioning to rougher trails where I’ll probably have to use sandals. I haven’t worn running shoes since October 2010.

Are you faced with negative thoughts (I’m tired, I’m not in the mood to finish this run, why am I doing this again…) while training? If so, how do you overcome them?

Definitely! I really try to develop my mental strength on every training run, because I feel that at this point it’s the only thing holding me back. Especially for long distances, I think mental struggles are over 90% of the battle for me. There are a few things I do when my mind starts playing games:

1. Do a body check.

I consciously think through every part of my body and decide whether there is any real physical danger or need to stop. So far, I’ve always been fine. This way I know that there’s no real cause for concern and my mind is just playing games with me.

2. I give myself a choice.

Before, I used to tell myself that I HAD to continue and couldn’t stop. But that only made me feel moody and sluggish.

Motivation is one topic I’ve thought about in a lot of depth. I’ve realized that growing up, my dad always used to “motivate” us with punishment. Do this or ELSE. He was also really good at punishing, and I think that now as a result I have a very high threshold for pain and discomfort.

I feel like I can endure a lot, so when I try to motivate myself with fear and punishment, it doesn’t really move me because I can just as easily take the consequences. I’m not afraid of hurting.

But reward is different. Reward seems to drive me. So now I think – Is there anywhere else in the world I would rather be? Because I can go there right now. This immediately gives me a sense of freedom and choice and I realize that there’s actually nothing else I’d rather be doing. This is what I love.

3. Moral support.

I ran alone for a long time, but I’ve learned that running with others, or even having running friends to report to makes a huge difference. I’m lucky to have such a strong barefoot running community online. They’re a huge source of motivation for me, even when they’re not physically present. The ultra running community is also very similar – they are small, loyal, and tight knit.

I also find it helps to have one or two really close running buddies who can listen to your bitching and feel no sympathy for you. Someone who can put everything into perspective and tell you when you’re just being an idiot. I’m not normally quick to trust people, so just one friend like that is enough for me.