I feel like my motto these days should be “meh, good enough”, which would be one of the more ironic mottos in sports. People think of ultrarunners as elite athletes cranking out 100+ mile weeks in training or running for days on end. “Bigger, faster, longer” would be a great ultra motto. “Go big or go home” would be another one. Someone looking to settle at good enough probably isn’t the type of person who should be seeking out ultras as a hobby.

But is that really true? Or if it’s true, does good enough really mean what we think it means? What is good enough for me?

Let’s start with what good enough isn’t. First, it’s not the same for everyone. We’re all going to define the level that we don’t want or need to exceed differently. It’ll be lower for some and higher for others. Some will define it as weekly mileage or time spent training or race distances or race frequency or finishing position or a dozen other metrics. Whatever it is, no two will be the same.

Secondly, it can and will change over time depending on what our goals and priorities are. Good enough can be more or less miles/fitness/goals depending on our age, family/work priorities, or what we’ve accomplished. Personally, good enough was annual mileage of 1800-2000 for my first couple years running. Then it was +/-1700 miles for the next several years. More recently 2500 miles/year has been good enough for me. Along with no speedwork, stretching, and walking just about every hill I come to in my daily training runs.

As a society, we’re conditioned to always strive for what’s best. Settling for good enough is viewed in a negative light. My guess is most ultrarunners are driven people who are aiming for a much higher level than just good enough. It’s why when I initially think of myself as a “good enough” ultrarunner, it’s in a negative light. It’s like I have this theoretical potential and I’m doing a disservice to myself by not always trying to achieve it. Good enough? But I could have been the best!

At the end of the day though, do you know what “good enough” is? It’s sustainable. We might be able to push ourselves to higher and higher levels for a while, but at some point we’re going to hit our ceiling. Or worse yet, the floor is going to fall out beneath us because we physically break down or mentally burn out. Good enough lets us run another day. And the day after that. For years into the future.

And let’s not lose sight of the “good” in good enough. We’re not talking about the bare minimum here. We’re not cutting corners. (Well, not all of them.) It’s about executing a solid plan. It’s about doing enough to let you do what you want as often as you want. It may not be better or perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not pretty darn good in and of itself.

You know what else “good enough” is? It’s acceptance. It’s realizing we’re all on a journey. That we’ve come a ways from where we’ve started. Maybe a little distance. Maybe quite a bit further than that. It’s being satisfied with what you’ve been able to accomplish. What you are accomplishing right now. I’m not the faster runner out there. I may not be able to finish all my races. But I am very proud of what I can do.

Turns out being a Good Enough Ultrarunner is good enough for me. Hopefully for you, too.