Is Surviving an Ultramarathon Enough?

 Ultramarathon mindset coach Susan Donnelly trains to do more than survive 100-mile races like Javelina 100

This recent quote on my daily desk calendar stopped me in my tracks. 

“Just because you survive something does not mean you are strong.” Roxane Gay

Thought-provoking, huh?

I agree with her.

All I have to do is compare my first 100-miler at Superior Sawtooth with my 17th finish there last year to see the difference. I survived it back then, I play with it now.

That doesn’t mean surviving's always easy. Sometimes it’s the best you can do and sometimes it’s amazing. Survivors of natural disasters. Survivors of sexual assault. Surviving a  motorcycle v. car accident like my neighbor did last week.

Surviving something doesn’t mean you're not strong. It’s not an either/or. You can obviously be both. After all, being strong typically means you’ve survived, and then some. 

So surviving isn’t “bad,” but endurance runners throw the phrase “I survived” around a lot.  As in,

“How was your race last weekend?”

“I survived.”

Sometimes we're being honest, like with our first 100-miler. Sometimes we're inflating it with artificial drama. Most often (ahem, women!) we're downplaying our accomplishment.

And surviving is also the best baseline race goal - to finish.

So it’s easy to get comfortable with the idea of surviving an ultra, and not think much about it.

I want you to think about it.

Which are you going for - survival or strength?

Have you settled for surviving or do you want to get strong?

I hope it's the latter. I hope you see more for yourself than simply surviving a race. That you could:

  • Learn instead of just endure.

  • Find solutions instead of escape obstacles.

  • Build confidence instead of get lucky.

  • Get better instead of get through.

You have to start somewhere in ultras and surviving's a great place to do it. Just don’t stay there forever.

You can do better than that. 

Survival becomes strength if you do something with it.

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Until next week,

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PS - I'm so excited! If you’ve visited my website in the past week, you might have noticed some change afoot. I’m going to be offering some cool new packages designed to make sure you Don’t Go Home Without a Buckle. Space will be limited - the people on my mailing list get the announcement first, so get on that list!

You get a great bonus right now for joining my list - a real life, five video series that gives you an Insider's View of a 100-Mile Race. One video at the start, 25 mile, 50 mile, 75 mile, and a recap at the finish, packed with useful tips and strategies. Check it out here!