Three Years of Living iRunFar

Two weeks ago, I hit my three-year anniversary of making iRunFar my full-time job. As with all anniversaries, this provided a natural place to look back on the journey that has been and to look forward to what may come before future anniversaries.

The Past Three Years
All journeys contain the unexpected. Perhaps I’ve not always been the best at dealing with the unexpected in my life, but I left Washington, DC embracing the unexpected more than ever before. I had to. I was doing something that no one else had, which meant I had no path to follow, no model to emulate. I had brainstormed a list of projects that, when combined, /might/ just allow me to cobble together a living. I accepted that I’d try some of those projects, ignore others, and jump into just as many I’d never imagined. I gave myself two years to “make things work” and, since iRunFar is still here, it’s clear that I have.

Still, my life is far from that which I expected.

Professionally, I’m shocked both by how quickly and how large iRunFar has grown. What was a good month’s traffic when I was considering going all in with iRunFar would now only rank as a normal weekday. No longer does a well-received article get half a dozen comments  mostly from folks I know. Instead, dozens or hundreds of runners from around the world might chime in with their thoughts. The growth of the iRunFar community is one of the biggest shocks I’ve experienced over the past three years and the considerate discussions that follow are one of the things I enjoy the most and am the most proud of about iRunFar.

In leaving the legal profession and moving out West, I fully intended to live a much more relaxed, tranquil life. Ha! Even before I was jetting around globe covering races, I worked longer hours on iRunFar than I did as an attorney. By the time I moved to Utah a year and a half later, I was working from before breakfast until near midnight nearly every day, including the weekends. Over the past half year, we’ve added many more writers to the iRunFar team. Even though that’s helped take the pen from my own hand, the greatly increased publishing frequency on iRunFar – we went to five days per week at the start of the year and quickly started publishing more than one article many weekdays – has yielded no easing of my work schedule. iRunFar isn’t a 9-5 job, it’s a 16/7 job. Nearly any task – and, particularly, a business – can take up as much time as one allows it to, but I’m surprised that (1) iRunFar could fill every minute of all my days and (2) that I’ve let that happen.

Without a doubt, I expected to train more and be in better shape that I ever had been before in my new life. That’s not happened. If anything, I’ve routinely been in the worst shape since shortly after I started running 20 years ago. That’s been a major disappointment. I did deal with one injury setback – 6 months with moderate plantar fasciitis – in the past 3 years, but there’s no good reason I’ve not trained more or taken the time to do the other things I’d love to do to supplement training (sleep more, eat better, stretch, cross train, etc)… unless working on iRunFar is a good reason. There have been times where I’d consistently skip runs to work more, like when writing Relentless Forward Progress, and even though I now run everyday, I routinely cut runs short to fit in more work. My non-commitment to training means I’m painfully out of shape at the moment; enough so that I will not be running the Leadville 100 this year. I have no interest in running the race this year unless I could run very well and that’s an impossibility with less than three months left to train. As a result, my calendar is bare of any serious race commitments.

The Future
Back to the positive! Despite the negative consequences /I/ have chosen to accept as part of my work, I couldn’t be more excited to continue to make iRunFar even better in the coming months and years. I’ve got great ideas regarding future content, structure, and partnerships. The implementation of my dreams is only limited by time and finances.

Part of growth is learning to recognize and overcome one’s shortcomings. One of my major shortcomings is giving up control. That’s normal enough, but it’s a major problem once what you’re taking on is literally impossible for one person to do. That’s where iRunFar is right now. I’m proud to have grown comfortable welcoming many authors onto iRunFar, but, ultimately, I’ve still acted as a gatekeeper with full control before those authors’ thoughts hit your computer. To create a better iRunFar… and a better life for myself I will need to pass along many other tasks to others with full faith in them. In other words, I will have to let go. That will not be easy.

iRunFar sprung from my own love for running. This August, I’ll hit 20 years as a runner. In April, I passed my tenth anniversary as an ultrarunner. Five years into my running, I had a runner tattooed onto my leg. I knew that even if I never ran another step that running had added so much to my life that I’d never regret that tattoo. I feel confident that I could say the same thing about getting an “iRunFar” tattoo. That’s not going to happen, because, even if it wouldn’t be completely lame (it would be), that runner on my leg just as readily embodies iRunFar.

If I look forward for iRunFar, I need to look forward with my own running in mind. I am determined to recommit to my running. At the moment, that means NOT racing and NOT seriously training. I want to run without pressure, without plans. I want to run for the simple joy of it, because I want to. That’s not to say there’s not an alterior motive to this plan. There is. I DO want to be back in shape. In fact, I think I can be in better trail running shape and far better ultrarunning shape than I’ve ever been in before. However, 4 or 6 or 8 months of falling back in love with running will put me in a position to train with passion… and with a training base.

Just as important as rebuilding my endurance base over the coming months is restructuring my unsustainable life. During law school, I learned I could work without end. I could work my 9-5 job, go to night school, and study after that before sneaking in a midnight run before more studying. I could do that for weeks and months on end without any diversion. Weeks on end with four or five hours of sleep were within bounds. Working through the day after an all-nighter is little challenge. I learned of these awesome powers ten years ago and I’m still using them for iRunFar. However, power is nothing without control. It’s time to put the genie back in the bottle.

There are 94 comments

  1. Tonya

    iRunFar is appreciated by newbies and old pros alike. I fall into the newbie category and can tell you that I am consistently inspired by your site. Thank you for what you are doing. I appreciate your efforts and am happy to hear that you are taking to the time to regenerate your love of running! That's what it's all about really. Thank you!

  2. Eric Schramm

    Bryon,

    Stumbling upon iRunFar has been one of the best things I've ever done! I've yet to run an ultra (I plan to this year), but have become increasingly intrigued by the ultra/trail running community almost entirely due to this site and the amazing articles, interviews, race coverage, etc. that you crank out on a daily basis.

    Your tireless efforts and sacrifices do not go to waste — they inspire people like me (and everyone else who has commented) to pursue their passions. Also, I recall Dakota stating that he and other ultra runners have become "pseudo-celebrities," but are unworthy of the title as they just "run hard in the mountains." What Dakota, you, and every other ultra runner do is far beyond just "running hard in the mountains." You make otherwise impossible-seeming accomplishments (e.g., my dream race — UTMB) much more realistic to average people who love to run, but may have never thought accomplishing such a goal was possible with a full-time job, a family, etc. You also do an amazing job of exposing us to the ultra/trail community as well as runners and races we might have never discovered.

    iRunFar is an invaluable resource for runners who are new to ultrarunning as well as those who know it inside out and have run ultras for decades. You've created something amazing, and I wish you the best of luck going forward!

    P.S. I am fully confident that you'll be able to successfully re-focus on running/training (at your own pace). I'm a rising 3L in law school and could never imagine working FT, going to law school at night, and training for 100's all at once. If you did that, you can literally do ANYTHING.

  3. Martin Stacy

    Bryon,

    Thank you for maintaining iRF to such a high standard. You, Meghan and all the contributors should feel rightly proud of what this site has become.

    However, I feel kind of bummed out that you aren't getting to run as much as you want to. I'd be happy with less content if it meant you got to go running as much as you wanted to or needed to. I hope you manage to balance it all out.

    In the meantime, keep up the sterling work. Zegama last weekend had me glued to my monitor. Where else can you get such awesome coverage and even (sort of) feel a part of it to? Brilliant.

  4. Yahu

    Congratulation in your anniversary with IRunFar!!!! I wish you many years of success and happiness, and hopefully finding the perfect balance that works beat for you do you improve in those areas you wish to, and not to work so hard! But from a fan! Thank you for all you do!!! We really appreciate it!!

  5. jenn

    Happy Anniversary Bryon/iRunFar! All the best for a Year 4 with more of the balance you're looking for! Happy trails,

    jenn

  6. Clive

    At the registration in Zegama I was pleased i spotted you so i could personally pass on my thanks for providing such an informative website … it really is a useful link for ultra/trail running. Hope you manage to find time to keep up the good work and get your running into gear!!

  7. adam

    Congratulations!!! Find the balance. Make us wait or just don't cover as much….it'll just makes us want it more!

  8. Cristobal

    You do a great job Bryon, one year ago one article fron irun far was my begening as a ultrarunner, a couple of weeks ago i was on the same plane than you reading your book in my ipad on the way to la Palma where I have done with success my first ultra the Transvulcania, thanks to be there with all this usefull information about this our pasion

  9. Kristin Z

    Great Job, Bryon and Meghan!! I, too, would be happy with less content if it meant greater longevity to each of you as fulfilled individuals, runners, and iRunFar creators… You two and this site ROCK! :)

    kz

  10. Brett Rivers

    to most runners, the thought of running 100 miles seems crazy and extremely risky. to most employees at companies, the thought of quitting to start a business seems crazy and extremely risky. you have done both (very well!) and are an inspiration both to those who have crossed the finish of a 100 or taken the leap and started a business, and you are even more of an inspiration to those who mentally believe that ultras and entrepreneurship are crazy activities that do not justify the risk. way to keep at it, you are continuing to build something great!

  11. Becca LaFond

    I still remember 3 years ago when you told me you were quitting your fancy law career to…what? move out West and blog?!?! Ok, so I may have thought you were a bit nuts but if anyone I know can make it happen it's you. And look what you've accomplished. While the rest of us take the secure and known path through life, you've been the risk taker, working hard and throwing aside things that just aren't that important to follow your dreams. Yeah, it sounds a little hokey, but as someone who's known you since before you became a runner (which was the last time I could actually keep up with you, sadly) I want you to know how proud I am that you've not only taken this path but that you've been successful in doing so. I am extremely proud to know you and, alright, a little bit jealous, too.

  12. Mike W.

    Bryon,

    Thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability in this post. You exemplify the authenticity which is characteristic of the trail/ultra community.

    I can only echo the sentiments of others that your tireless efforts have not been in vain. In fact, more than any resource, iRunFar has served as the hub for information, reviews, and race reports for our sport. We are all indebted to you. Try to let that sink in, amidst all of the hustle and bustle: You have made an enormous difference our lives and invested your time in something that you are passionate about. Freaking awesome bro.

    Glad to see you've got balance on the horizon, though. A running Bryon is a happy Bryon, I would imagine. :)

    Best to you and Meghan as you take iRunFar into its next year of greatness.

  13. Ivars

    Bryon, I greatly appreciate your efforts of filling this site with quality content. Similar to others this is the site I check every single day just to see what's new. I like all the other people that you have brought in to help with the articles.

    The effort you expanded on the book is well worth it. That was one of the best value books I ever had read. I still re-read it several times a year and find new aspects that I missed last time.

    Keep up the good effort!

    P.S. Being a good runner for long period puts your expectations at level most of us don't even consider. However, you should try stepping into the shoes of chronic back of the packers and see the joy they have. Upcoming Leadville is a good way to do that. Try connecting to the nature and running within your current limits rather than chasing some higher level goals.

  14. Mike vooris

    This is a hard decision but the right one Bryon. I am making a job change this summer to clear time in my schedule for more family time and more running. I'm leaving a job I truly love but in the big picture my family and my running is the priority.

  15. Matt Smith

    Major props for iRF (Bryon, Meghan, AJW and all the content creators on the site!)

    Your sacrifice is our gain.

    Once your devise a way to leverage the readership of the site to bring in some more cash, you can hire an editor or part time help to free you up to pursue your own running aspirations. You deserve it!

    Cheers!!

  16. ScottD

    Wow, three years already? But at the same time, it feels like you've always been there for the community. I'm hoping it remains as fun and exciting as it has ever been.

  17. Ben Nephew

    Congratulations on your anniversary!

    In case you need a guilt trip, or some tough love to get back to running, I'll give it to you. You know tons of people who have jobs not related to running that make time to run. Considering your job, you have no excuse. You are also setting a back example for all your readers, shame on you! If your productivity does not increase by fitting in an hour of running a day, I'd be very surprised. Even if your productivity does not increase, the quality of your work will. Good writing requires time to think, and that would be away from the computer. There were plenty of other students who put in more hours than me in grad school, but I was just as productive or more productive, and graduated before most of them. On the faculty side of things, the professors that put in insane hours year after year often end up single or divorced. In terms of health, your schedule seems pretty stressful. You might want to get Robert Sapolsky's "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers." It's a great book on the effects of stress on animals and humans.

    Make running a priority for your work, your health, your significant other, and yourself. I'm sure this wasn't really necessary, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn't being too subtle.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Ben,
      Fortunately, I've made some strides in the past half year. Aside from one week that I purposefully took off after an ab injury lingered, I've run ever day since early last December. I've never run anywhere near that consistently in my life. During that period, the majority of days I have found the time to run as much as I want. However, I want to make sure that I continue to improve this trend in the future, so when I am finally training … or just looking to spend more time enjoying putting one foot in front of the other, I have made the necessary changes to make this possible. To put it another way, I've made some positive strides, but I realize that this is a process. I intend to keep working to improve.

      In the mean time, there have definitely been other issues that have affected my running during that half year (i.e., downward spiral with not hitting training marks/pressure to be in shape for a race). I've corrected that, in part, by freeing myself to run simply for the fun of it. Being in great shape or whatever is a minimal factor in my running. It'd be fun to explore at some point, but I mostly run for fun. :-) I suppose that fact is part of why I've let seriously running slip. I've run most days for every stretch in the past three years and that's often enough. That said, I do recognize that both (1) being in somewhat better shape and (2) having more time to make use of it would add happiness to my life.

        1. Ben Nephew

          There you go!

          Do you think your goal races require more training than you are willing to commit to at this point, and so you never really feel like you are doing enough, triggering the downward spiral? If you just aren't interested in racing anymore, then changing distances probably won't matter, but it does seem easier to lower the priority of running when you are not racing. If the goal of both racing are running are happiness, though, I guess our running should be consistent whether or not we are racing.

  18. CJ

    Bryon,

    I've really enjoyed this site over the last couple years. Thanks so much for all your hard work and the sweat you've invested. I do agree with you regarding power and control. Balance is so crucial in life. When things are out of balance, it sometimes takes a breaking point to get our attention. Take care of yourself…good nutrition, sleep, exercise, enjoying reading for the fun of it (not just for this site), etc will allow you to maintain quality without going overboard on quantity (i.e. time spent).

    Enjoy the run

  19. Marjorie

    Thank you for all you have sacrificed to bring such an amazing thing to life. Such dedication does not go unnoticed the wide spread running world. You have brought community to myself and others who so often find ourselves solo on the trails we love. Business is just like running: to achieve great things sometimes you have to get a little fanatic, a little tunnel visioned and then push through all the walls. You've been running a buiness-ultra for the last three years. Congrats.

  20. Jon Allen

    Bryon- we really appreciate all you do. I think many of us never miss an article or a race twitter-cast on iRF. Thanks.

    If you're not in great shape and are skipping Leadville, maybe you could try some of the shorter races in the area- Mid Mountain marathon, some of the NUTS races, Logan Peak, Squaw, etc- run for fun!

  21. Bill

    Congrats on achieving your three year anniversary! Your site is a great resource for enriching my love of running and for that I'm truly thankful. I wish you all the best.

  22. Nathan

    Bryon let me also add my appreciation for all your efforts here. I've just really got into trail running the past few months and irunfar has played a big role in aiding my own running and falling in love with the sport in general. I've turned into a daily reader and look forward to each new post. I've especially enjoyed the two recent live coverages of Transvulcania and Zegama. My wife thinks I'm crazy as I've woken up around 3:30am to follow both races. You've really helped to grow my enthusiasm for the sport. I've just ran my first trail marathon this past Saturday and will be training for my first 50k soon. I can't wait to get a hold of Relentless Forward Progress to help me along the way. Thanks for all you do!

  23. j.xander

    Congratulations on your success in the realm of your passion! Also, an Ultra sized "Thank You" for sharing the love and logistics of the sport. It is greatly appreciated!

  24. Jo

    Thank you for your vital contribution in making ultras a global community. Your work is sincerely appreciated… :)

  25. mushmouph

    i am glad you put in the effort to make this happen. i have read rfp many times. it gets me through the time when the coffee is in my body but not my blood.

  26. Jared F

    Bryon, here I am, yet again, spending my lunch break in front of my computer reading the latest articles from Irunfar. I have only ran 1 ultra (2 more planned for this year), and already I am trying to find ways to get into WS, Hardrock, and UTMB. Why? I have no idea, I like to run I guess, not sure why I like the pain. That aside, your website is awesome! I have to stop myself from checking multiple times a day to see what the ultra world is up to, I mean even my wife now knows about Dakota and his recent results, and she hates running!

    Thanks for all you do, and like others, I am sad to hear you can't run as much as you want to, but I am sure soon you will find the proper balance.

  27. Drew

    I'd also like to add my thanks to Bryon and all the contributors to iRunFar. I've decided over the last year or so that I'm going to move to ultra distance rather than the conventional sub marathon stuff (mostly due to lack of speed) and this website, along with many blogs that are linked to from here, has been invaluable.

    Long may it continue, and if you ever want articles from a noob point of view let me know. My first ultra is fast approaching in August!

  28. Ian Scott

    Cheers to 3 years Bryon! Keep the great articles coming, I have been loving the new writing additions you have brought on.

    Enjoy the journey.

  29. DCraig

    Keep it going Bryon, thanks for the hard work and motivation. In the year since finding RFP and irunfar, along with the motivation of many other trail hounds, I've rolled up 5 ultras and will be hitting the San Diego 100 in a few days. Prior to that I thought runners were crazy; still do, but count me in, thanks to irf! Keep going…

  30. Jack

    Kudo's and thank you for your blog.

    Not running ? Get your butt out the door for one hour a day and do something like run , hike , walk , swim, bike , ski , no excuses. What seems to be important can wait for an hour , we can wait for an hour.

  31. Morgan Williams

    An ex-lawyer is a happier human being. You and I both know that.

    Not a day passes without me checking in with iRF.

    And I'm quietly proud to have made a couple of very small contributions along the way.

    Keep up the fantastic work Bryon, and Meghan too.

    Morgan

  32. Aaron

    Very cool site! I discovered it about 6 months ago and have become a regular reader. I have really enjoyed your race coverage articles and the glimpse it provides into the ultra events. Also the candor we get from the runners is awesome!

    Congrats on your success and keep up the great work!

    Aaron

  33. David Keating

    Bryon

    Congrats on taking the risk, and achieving success. It all goes to show what hard work, self discipline & an engaging writing style will take you.. What most impresses me is how Irunfar.com has fostered & solidified a community of folks who do these ultra runs. They get inspiration & guidance from this site You have created what Durkheim called a "collective consciousness" in this world of distance runners. (Bryon I figure that as a fellow alum, you will understand references to obscure 19th century intellectuals)

    If y'all ever come up to New England, you have a place to sleep,shower, run & blog

    Be Valiant & Run Far

    -Dave K

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