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. thomas

    Hi Bryon,

    keep on going your live, you have my highest respect, for what you did and what you will do. Thanks for this projekt "irunfar", you make so many people get in to this great sport trailrunning an ultra running. Again respekt, and good luck for the future, for your projects, and for your running.

    take care Thomas

  2. David

    This site is fantastic and has served as my "go to" resource for all things trail running. An old college professor once told me to "do what I love to do…and the money will follow", hopefully this is precisely what is happening to you.

  3. Moogy

    Thanx for doing what you do Bryon, AND Meghan.

    irunfar.com is the first page I go to when I wake up when I am at work on the ship, my little connection to the real world.

    Cheers! Moogy

  4. Bartman

    What a 3 year adventure this has been for you! Thanks Bryon, and thanks to the iRunFar team. The entire page reflects the upbeat, positive perspective of the founder and I find myself consistently coming away freshed and recharged.

  5. Patrick Cawley

    Bryon,your passion for running and for the running community in the New Media is inspiring. iRunFar has succeeded because you and your contributors offer such helpful, thought-provoking, amusing, and inspiring content. You really are making a positive difference in the world. Keep up the good work.

    Pat

  6. AJW

    Dear Bryon,

    Thanks for writing this great column. As you know, I am honored to call you my friend and it has been a great joy for me to be a little part of the irunfar team for the past few months. What you have done for the sport and for all of us is truly remarkable and I wish there was an easier way for you to make it work in a more balanced way. That said, your desire to get back to running with no pressure and no focus is wonderful. And, with Memorial Day weekend just around the corner (the psychological beginning of summer!), there is no time like the present to get out there and just run. So, this weekend, you and Meghan should pack the Prius with gear, fill the cooler with beer, and head out to the mountains to just be. You've more than earned it!

    Your friend,

    AJW

    PS — You can count on me to fill your Friday content slot for as long as you'll let me:)

  7. Charlie

    Hi Bryon, I don't submit comments very often but I read the site almost every day with enthusiasm! I sure hope you are able to arrive at a sustainable lifestyle that permits you to keep up the fantastic product at iRunFar but also tend to those important other needs like running, home life, health, etc. Our ultrarunning community benefits greatly from your devotion to the site. I hope in turn we, through our expressed support, can ensure the profitablilty of this venture and therefore the opportunity to enjoy future posts and other informative information.

    Many thanks, I hope to see you at a race this summer.

  8. Graham

    Hi Bryon,

    You have set a new standard for providing cutting edge coverage of major ultra events. Keep it up !

    Graham

  9. Forrest

    Thank you for doing what you do. irunfar has become an important meeting place for the ultra/trail running community. Where I live, it is not always easy to find others with the same passion, but on your website, I always find kindred spirits. Thank you.

  10. Charlie Mercer

    Change is life. Trite but right. This morning I was commuting by bus into D.C. and I looked out the bus window and saw Wardian running along the W&OD bike path, and it reminded me of the early morning runs during which you first started brainstorming about iRunFar. I was too busy getting adapted to my finger shoes at that time to give you much advice, but as it turns out, I think you had it figured out pretty good. As AJW said, you've done something remarkable with this site. And now that you've "made it", I can honestly say I didn't think you had a chance in hell to make a living at this. Unbelievable!

  11. Joel

    Bryon, I read daily, but rarely comment. Thanks for doing what you do. This is one of my favorite websites. Motivating and inspiring features and comments. In fact, I'll be running my first trail ultra in a about a week and-a-half, and there's no doubt this site has fed into my decision to do that.

    Keep it up!

  12. Jim

    Bryon, I too can echo the rest of the loyal followers comments above in that this is a site I go often to check the race coverage, hear stories, and just "hang" out with other trail junkies. Keep up the great work but as long as it doesn't sacrifice sanity! One foot in front of the other with forward progress and a smile!

  13. Clint

    Like a few other commenters on this post, I visit iRunFar daily (sometimes several times a day) but rarely comment. I'm not surprised iRunFar has consumed virtually all of your life during the previous three years and cannibalized your training — what you've created is remarkable both in its breadth and depth. I remember meeting you about four years ago at a WUS run in DC (I was a sporadic attendee to WUS and when I did go, I was bringing up the rear) and during that run, I queried you (and whoever would listen) for any advice on my first 100 mile race. You seemed to have a wealth of knowledge and experience (even then) that you were more than happy to share. Mad props to you for parlaying your knowledge, experience, and passion into something truly extraordinary!

  14. Johnnyroyale

    I felt a little sad when I read that your upkeep of this frankly awesome site is keeping you from running. Sad because the fact this site exists motivates me in a very direct way to run further and more often – as well as reinforces the reaasons why I like running in the first place.

    In fact every time I read an article or watch an interview on iRunFar (almost daily), invariably within 20 minutes of logging on I have put my shoes on and am ready to head out the door on another (mini) adventure.

    Hope you will allow yourself some time to run, I am sure the readers won't begrudge a slightly reduced output if it means you are getting your fix for the day.

    And by the way, thanks for producing such an essential part of my online consumption.

  15. Dean

    Bryon-

    You just described my life…just replace "iRunFar" with two "little kids" and a teaching job. But, I love it and wouldn't have it any other way.

    I'm a sort of new ultrarunner and this site has proven invaluable. It's funny, deep, and information filled. I laugh, I've cried and it's the first site I hit everyday.

    Take care of yourself and the 3 year old that is iRunFar. Good luck to us both on parenting. Now, let's go running…

    Peace-

    Dean

  16. Sam Winebaum

    iRunFar is a great resource not only the great reporting and writing but also because of the store with those hard to find, carefully chosen goodies. Please support iRunFar through the store.

    Readers, I can report I occasionally run with Bryon in Park City despite his crazy schedule and it is always run for fun and highly conversational with, if he has time, a brew afterwards at my place. A most fine gent and site. Keep up the great work!

  17. Jeremy

    Hey Bryon,

    Just wanted to say thanks for all that you do for the ultrarunning community. I, like many others, have gained so much knowledge from this site, and really do appreciate the sacrifices you have made to make it what it is today. Best wishes on finding a work/life balance that is a bit more sustainable (and involves more running).

    -Jeremy

  18. Chris

    Bryon,

    Great job on an awesome site! Thanks for all your and Meghan's work.

    Best of luck on letting go of responsibilities, it gets easier once you see it work…

    -Chris

  19. Tom Caughlan

    Bryon,

    Great article. Your work ethic is inspiring to say the least. I feel very lucky and proud to be a part of the iRF team and this community. Looking forward to seeing you in Leadville and helping with coverage!

    -Tom

  20. Harper

    Thank you for making this site, Bryon. I've signed up for my first Ultra this fall here in Norway and it is very much inspired by your good work. Tusen takk!

  21. FFM

    Keep living the dream and inspiring the rest of us!!!

    I personally consider irunfar the best trail running site on the web.

    many thanks to the irunfar team for the great info/coverage.

    fernando.

  22. Dean G

    Bryon,

    You went ahead and built your own 'Field of Dreams' — and look at how many people have come and are still coming…

    As one of your relatively new fans, who is only a few years into his own personal ultra running journey, I see a wonderful symmetry between you and the elite runners who feature on the top steps of the podiums. All of you embrace what is most positive about this sport. And you do it in a way that allows people like myself and countless others to relate and connect to YOU.

    I come to iRunFar everyday, looking to stay connected to that feeling. The "I just ran a lot and then I won" and the "We are all family in the mountains" ideals. And I always find it here, because that is the spirit of you and Meghan and all of your great regular contributors.

    We are so fortunate that you chose to follow your dream. This place would simply not have become what it has if any less steady, dedicated, or loving hand were at the wheel.

  23. Phil Jeremy

    I began my quest to run ultra's one year ago. I have now done 5 in my first year and I can honestly say that this site is my lifeblood of knowledge and enthusiasm. Your passion is infectious …….and your interviews are inexplicably brilliant. Keep going and thank you.

  24. Andrew Reiff

    Awesome work, Bryon! irunfar.com is the first site I bookmark on a new computer.

    Sorry to hear that you won't be running the local race this year, but hopefully I'll still bump into you in Leadville this August.

  25. Erik Bahnsen

    Im wondering what beer you would suggest they take on the trip? You can't get Yuenling Lager in Utah, I know your pretty hot for that lately.

  26. Sara

    Thank you Bryon and all irunfar contributors for making this community even better. Congratulations on three years!

  27. Kevin S.

    Thanks, Bryon! iRunFar is fantastic and without a doubt the best resource for trail runners. Keep up the good work!

  28. Win Bassett

    Bryon,

    Please keep up the incredible work, and I know where you're coming from. I left a legal career to protect and promote small craft breweries in North Carolina and to write online and in print for a national beer publication. I work more hours in my life now that I ever did, but it's not "work." I have a feeling you feel the same way.

    Cheers, brother!

    Win

  29. Michael

    One foot in front of the other…you have done a remarkable job that brings support and encourages joy and community…you can't really ask for more than that. Honored to be a wee tiny part of it. Forward….

    Michael …"the longrunpictures guy at races in the American West" ( did I mention how much I liked that as a description?)

  30. Dominic

    I feel like you and Kilian have a bit in common, writing the future of MUT running (while having no one to tell you what really works) with the simple empirical method of hypothesis, trial, and results measurement. Things have consistently improved on IRF year month after month; I'm glad to see the sport's media is in good hands ;)

  31. Sophie Speidel

    Goat…

    I had a conversation with the hubz (a social media marketing guy) the first year IrunFar was alive. It went like this: "Remember that guy from the VHTRC who you (hubz) met at the 2006 WS finish line, the young one with the red hair who won his age group? Well, this guy was a lawyer in DC and then he became an ultrarunner, and he decided to bail on law to follow his dream and create iRunFar for ultrarunners, and he lives out west now, writing, (running), researching, interviewing, tweeting, and posting about ultrarunning." Hubz said, "Jealous." Yup.

    Happy Anniversary IRunFar! Come back east and run with us this fall :-)

  32. Jen

    Bryon,

    Congratulations on creating and driving what is hands down gold standard in ultrarunning social media. We appreciate what you do. I've always been told when you do what you love and you do it right, it won't feel like work. So, yes, the training gives a little, but in the end you do this because its not work anyway.

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