I was running the other day with a friend and as we ran I kept on experiencing this weird, new pain in the arch of my right foot. About three miles in it was really bothering me and I had slowed to a walk and actually was whining a bit about my arch. The friend I was running with simply said “try loosening your shoe lace.” I did so and the next thing I knew the pain and uncomfortable feeling was gone and I nailed five really good miles after that. Three of those miles were in a pace that I had not experienced in quite a while. It all stemmed from two things that are very inter related here – the first being having friends that are willing to see flaws in your running stride and willing to offer suggestions. The second is that you actually listen to them and don’t wait until you stop doing what you are doing to make adjustments but make those adjustments on the move. This is a huge part of ultra running success because mile twenty is nothing like mile five and mile forty is so far different in the way your body reacts to foot plants and nutrition and water that the mental part of making necessary adjustments is just as important as the physical ability to run long distances. Those people who can’t or won’t make the adjustments on the move are more likely to receive the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) instead of crossing or sometimes crawling across the finish line.
These same two principles of having friends willing to speak into your life and then actually making the adjustments as you continue running your own race are vitally important as well. We don’t often think that we are heading toward a DNF in life but how many people do we all know who along the way get sidetracked from the good things in life for the things in life that don’t lead toward a successful race like alcohol, drugs, pornography or a million other addictions out there? We do this in subtle ways when we refuse to listen to a friend or dismiss what they are telling us. Jeremiah 17:23 “Yet they did not listen or pay attention, they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.” I confess that I have been like this much of my life, thinking that I knew where I was headed and didn’t need to listen to other people but my running life has really awoken in me the desire to be teachable and always ready to listen to others in a way that the people who are important around me and quite frankly have life experiences I don’t have yet will be willing to share with me and that I will listen and make the necessary adjustments. Jeremiah goes on to discuss what happens when we are willing to be careful to obey and the adjustments that we make always lead to better life experiences.
Living an ultra life means constantly being willing to make adjustments on the go and being willing to listen to the suggestions of others around us.