Trail & Ultra Liars | Lift Heavy Run Long

You should be ashamed of yourself.

You really should be.

If you are a trail and ultra marathon runner, you cannot be trusted.

I’m no expert, but I have been sucked into enough trail runs to have learned that although most trail and ultra runners are good people…..they ALL lie to you.

I want to give you the facts of Trail & Ultra Running. I highly encourage taking up the hobby of trail running, but I would like to give you an idea of what you can expect.

First of all, a trail run that is pitched to you as a 10k will range anywhere from 7-15 miles long, a 25k can be as long as a marathon, a 50k is just a best guess, and anything over a 50 miler is just an arbitrary number which has no relevance to distance.

There has not ever been an American trail runner who understands the metric system. They throw out kilometers in an effort to confuse you into running with them. Distance means nothing to them. They plan to run until they die or they have to be at work, whichever one comes first.

If a trail runner tells you that, “You are almost there”, it is a blatant lie. You are never “almost there”, because these people run forever….there is no end. On the road, the pace of the run along with the distance you are traveling will give you an idea of how many minutes you will be running (ex. 45 minutes or 2 hours). In the trail running community, runs are measured by chunks of the day (ex. most of the morning, mid-day, late afternoon). What time of day that you will finish a run is generally rounded off to the nearest sunrise or sunset.

If you are fortunate to be running with a trail runner honest enough to tell you, on the front end, that you will need a headlamp….bring your own. Trail runners have no grip on reality when it comes to “safety”. They think that two headlamps with one set of batteries is plenty. They believe that two runners sharing one headlamp, on uneven ground, on the edge of a river or cliff, is perfectly safe. They feel that we all possess some kind of internal instinct that allows you to sense the terrain ahead of you, like Predator or something. I don’t have this sense.

True story. I once had a trail runner tell me that he would supply the headlamps for a night run. When we put them on, mine had no batteries. I told him, “my headlamp has no light.” He looked me square in the eye and said, “mine does, and you plan on sticking pretty close, don’t you?”. WTF. Aside from some nights spent in jail and rehab, it was the worst night of my life.

An aid station that is “around the corner” is rubbish. There are no corners on the trail. Around the curve, there are only more curves and more trail…the pain never stops. The belief that there is some sort of relief ahead is a tool that trail runners use to sucker you into a few more miles of masochism while you suffer. I have been convinced to run a few more miles in hopes of bumping into some guy named “Carl”. Carl is a guy, who I have never met, who will give me a ride back to my car, after I continue down the trail for an extra five or six miles. When I ask, “Who is Carl? And, how do we know that Carl is even out here?”. The response was, “Don’t worry, Carl’s always out here. He is parked at the other end of the trail.”

All trail junkies know a Carl.

Trail runners will risk their life on running into half-strangers who might have a Gu, jelly beans or some sort of nutrition, if it means logging five more miles. I’m not use to this, I don’t leave my couch unless there is a bed nearby. I prefer safety and certainty. “Larry is probably out here. He will have a Honeystinger or something.”

“What? Who the hell is Larry”

Last month, I crossed paths with a friend of mine on the 18th mile of a 50kilometer race. While we passed in opposite directions, as I was truly concerned if it was possible for my hips to snap in two and fall off of my body, we acknowledged each other.  After our initial greeting, and my mentioning that I thought I was dying of dehydration, she very matter-of-factly asked me, “Some of us are thinking about attempting a 100miler next year, are you interested?” (Who the hell asks these kinds of questions? Especially at a time like this?)

Let’s not forget this one, “You look great!”. These words have been said to trail runners just moments before they collapse and fall over dead. Back in college, some friends of mine drove to Mexico and bought a bunch of Quaaludes. I saw a few of them that weekend, at a keg party, which asked every guest to bring two pints of Mad Dog 20/20. My friend Peter spent most of the evening walking at a 45degree angle, using only the wall to hold him up, as his forward motion combined with Mad Dog and sedatives propelled him around the same four walls for a period of about four hours hours. I was pretty sure that he would be tits-up-dead by morning. He essentially looked like every trail runner looks at about three-fourths of the way through a mountainous ultra. Had it been a party of trail runners, each person who passed Peter, as all of the color had drained from his face, and another step would be certain to be his last, would have repeated….

“Keep going! You look great. Almost there.”

Don’t act like I’m exaggerating. You should be ashamed.

This weekend, my wife and I enjoyed a trail event. I needed to get a few extras miles after the event, for training purposes. I asked a friend/fellow trail runner for advice on where I could enjoy a few leisurely miles, as I was unfamiliar with the area. He painted the picture of an open trail which runs along the side of a serene pond of calm water. So far as I know, most bodies of water are generally pretty level. To my surprise, he led me down an overgrown single trail, which quickly bottomed out into marshy wetlands, just before leading me to a never-ending stairway of stones. At the top of the stones, was an endless path of ups-and-downs which led me to only more path and left me with nothing but sore hamstrings…and an honest desire to never speak to my trail running friend again.

Upon returning, my wife told me of everyone’s concern for my safety. My only question,

“If they knew it was so bad, why the hell did they send me out there in the first place?”

The reason?  Because they wanted to get some extra miles, and they thought that forming a “search and rescue” team for my fatass would be fun.

I will say it again. They can’t be trusted.

As I was licking my wounds, another “friend” said that he wanted me to go run with a group. He claimed that he wanted to “Show me some lesser-known sights that the park has to offer”. I was quick to decline. These sights are “lesser-known”, because people aren’t crazy enough to get to know them, and they are not “offered” probably because they are off-limits and unsafe.

“Show you some lesser known sights that the park has to offer….”

Translation: “I want to watch you die, slowly, painfully, and legally.”

Never trust a Trail & Ultra Runner if it’s regarding a trail or a run.

Find a trail, and have some fun today.

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,

Beefcake