Common Ultrarunning Problems Discussed With Unlikely Nouns

Dakota Jones provides irreverent perspective on our sport in life’s bigger picture.

By on January 20, 2016 | Comments

Noun: A person, place, thing, state, or quality

Respondent: A 19th Century British Gentleman
Dear 19th Century British Gentleman,
I’m a 35-year-old woman who has been running ultramarathons for a year and a half now. I have finished two 50k’s, two 50 milers, and a 100-mile race. I really love the community of runners, but I’ve been having trouble meeting other women runners. When I look at statistics from races, I see that women often represent only 15 to 20% of the total runners. My non-running friends think I’m crazy for running ultras, and they don’t believe me when I tell them how wonderful this sport is. I really want some running partners. How can I get more women into this sport?
Lonely Runner

Dear Lonely Runner,
Well I must say that I agree quite strongly with your, as you call them, “non-running friends.” A woman of your age belongs in the home, preparing meals and tending the children. I must ask–what do your children do during the day when their mother is out running at obscene hours? Of course, their nanny takes care of them, but they need a strong female figure in the home to set an example. And I ask–how can you manage to set a reasonable pace in a corset and long skirts? I do hope that passersby cannot see anything pornographic like your ankles or neckline. I must say that I would be absolutely horrified if my wife were spotted running along some road as if she had some sort of twisted athletic ambitions. Yes, your quest for running partners is quite in vain, my dear, quite in vain. Your obligation is to the household and the children. What would people say otherwise?

Respondent: A Paraplegic
Dear Paraplegic,
I’ve been having an issue with my foot for several months now. At first I thought it was just sore, but when it didn’t go away I went to the hospital for an MRI and discovered that I have a stress reaction, which is similar to a stress fracture but not as bad. I tried to take time off but when I started running again the pain came back. I wouldn’t describe the pain as intense, but it doesn’t feel very nice to run on an injury. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to not be able to run like normal, and I know I probably won’t be able to run again for at least a month. I’m devastated. What can I do to heal up quick and get back on my feet?
Ants In My Pants

Dear Ants In My Pants,
The best way to get through an injury is to gain a little perspective. The simplest way to gain perspective for your injury is to start with what they call a “Stick,” which is a long, stiff rod intended for rolling on muscles and ligaments to loosen them up. You’ll need a partner for this one. What you do is give the stick to the partner, then drop your pants, bend over, and ask them to insert the rod…

Respondent: A Sarcastic Sense of Inevitable Futility
Dear Sarcastic Sense of Inevitable Futility,
I’m really into ultrarunning and have been running steadily longer races for the past year now. My problem is that anytime I run for longer than four hours I have stomach problems. I’ve tried eating ginger, eating solid food, drinking carbohydrate drink mixes, not eating at all, alternating walking and running, everything. But nothing I do seems to help. My stomach always acts up after four hours and makes me stop a lot to go to the bathroom. What can I do to overcome this problem and get back to running?
Belly Unwelly

Dear Belly Unwelly,
I understand what you mean. Belly problems are a big issue in any walk of life, and especially so when you’re doing something brilliant like running for days at a time. It’s really weird that this is happening to you, too; I mean, it’s almost as if it’s not normal to run that much. No, that couldn’t be the case. Surely everything you do is perfectly natural because it’s you and you always know what’s best. If your body acts up, it must be malfunctioning, because your choices couldn’t possibly be mistaken. I suggest you keep fighting the issue and see what happens when your body breaks down and you lose your ability to even function normally and then you get some terrible disease and die a painful tube-and-needle death in the hospital. Genius.

Respondent: A Typical Protagonist from a Cormac McCarthy Novel
Dear Typical Protagonist from a Cormac McCarthy Novel,
I’ve been running ultras for about three years now. I’ve moved up through the normal distances from 50k to 50 miles to 100k, and I’ve felt confident and in control for them all. But the 100-mile distance has been much more difficult for me. I’ve tried two and dropped from them both. My problem seems to be managing my gear. I never know how much to bring with me. At my first hundred I went too light and got hypothermic in the night and had to drop out. Then at my next one I took too much stuff and my pace slowed so drastically that I couldn’t meet the cutoffs at the aid stations. How can I manage my gear so that it helps me to be my best, rather than dragging me down?
Dress Mess

Dear Dress Mess,
The man stood in the dying sunlight holding a thin homemade blade fashioned from the splintered ribs of a long-dead enemy. Dirt on his face and the hair in ragged ropes. Before him a desiccated plain littered with fallen horses and the broken dreams of men, the faces upturned to the stars shining with light long vanished from the energy that bore them. A thousand tangential lifetimes pirouetting from the dust still settling. The man’s back was hunched, his disfigurement obscured by the filthy serape given him by the stained surrender of he who cultivated the man’s weapon. Outfitted in the finery of the failed, victory less tangible than the flickering fires consuming the dead. His gaze fell upon the man garbed in bright plastic, seeming not to hear the desperate pleas for Heed and orange slices. He turned toward where the now-dead sun once glowed and mounted his horse and passed on into the night.

Respondent: People Who Use the Word “Rad”
Dear People Who Use the Word “Rad,”
I’m a young ultrarunner who has been competing for a year, and I’ve done pretty well in races. I took second in a 50k, third in two 50 milers, and then last month I won my first 100 miler. I want to get sponsored but I’m not sure how to go about doing that. I currently wear [brand] shoe but would be willing to try other brands if they were interested. I’ve sent some emails and talked to some reps, but nothing has happened yet. Nobody seems interested even though I have good results. How can I go about getting a sponsor?
Soon to be Great

Dear Soon to be Great,
Super-rad question. You really nailed it there bro–that’s gotta’ be one of the best damn questions we’ve received in years. Seriously. So what you’re asking us basically, what you want to know deep down from all us people who use the word “rad” to describe shit that’s radical, sweet, terrific, totally excellent, and just all-around kickass, is how to become even more rad. You want to go from being a rad runner to a rad representative of an entire culture, man. You want to be more than just the regular joe on the trails; you want to be the radical joe on the TV! We know just what you mean and we have some equally rad advice to lay on you real quick like. What you gotta’ do, dude, what you gotta’ make happen, is get on the social media. Build yourself a totally impregnable (y’know what I mean!) fortress of social visibility and a following of all those who love the Rad. Get enough attention from the world, and the sponsors will start to catch on. You know how those brands can be unradically behind the times. Well, you just gotta’ prove you’re worth something homie. They’ll catch on.

Respondent: A Starving Person
Dear Quintessential Starving African,
I can never seem to get enough to eat. I’ve tried gels, bars, smoothies, and even sandwiches, but I always seem to lose energy late in a race and my pace slows down significantly. What can I do to make sure I get enough calories early on so that I can finish strong?
Hungry Hungry Runner

Dear Hungry Hungry Runner,
I hate you.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

Ahem. Do you ever find humor in moments that provide perspective on the triviality of practicing a sport among life’s greater issues?

Dakota Jones
Dakota Jones explores the wild places of the world on foot and tells us about it every few weeks. He runs for Salomon and Clif Bar.