I had a humorous exchange with a co-worker this past week. He’s training for his first ultra that’s coming up in a couple weeks (Labor Pains) and I asked how far he was running this weekend. He said “just 20 miles” and immediately paused like he’d just dropped the F bomb. After a second, he smiled as I started to chuckle and said “well, you understand”.
And I do.
No one wants to be that guy. The one who can’t help bragging about his latest race or how fast they can run. So you do whatever you can to never come off as that guy. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your races and runs. You can. But you need to be aware that it’s very easy for you to come across as that guy without you even knowing it. When you finish one of these crazy long runs for the first couple times you’re going to want to tell everyone and their brother about it. And you should. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments. But only for a couple days afterwards and only if it comes up naturally in conversation. Mentioning to someone how your coffee tastes just like the cup you had at the mile 76 aid station in your last hundred six month ago? Not cool.
So while I have nothing but contempt for all the blowhards out there, I do have a lot of respect for those who occasionally let slip with a “just 20 miles” or two. It takes a lot of four to six hour runs to get to that point in your running career. More than you would think. And it’s a great accomplishment to finally reach that point. It doesn’t mean 20 miles is easy. Far from it. Long runs are never easy, however that doesn’t mean they can’t become normal if you work hard enough. Just don’t forget that your normal is abnormal for the rest of the world.