We hammered down the Rim Trail, and cruised onto the Gabrielino Trail into Sturdevant. The indulgent pace caused me to bonk on the climb up Sturdevant as Timmy flew up, enjoying the steep grade and the scent of Jeffery Pines. In an instance, I'd gone from enjoying the technical and scenic route to feeling weak and lightheaded. I had another thousand feet to grunt through on fumes before I reached the top. As I begun to curse myself for foolishly showing up hungry and low on calories, I caught myself in the realization that this training in struggling was what we really loved and what made us grow as runners.
Forcing the body to find metabolic efficiency is a nice term for bonking, which is never a nice experience, but serves as a valuable tool. It trains the body to respond to low points in races not with rest, but with persistent determination to switch fuel sources quickly and push on. This is a huge part of the reality of ultrarunning; lows are unavoidable, and they're defining moments in races. It's a problem solving that isn't of the mind, but of the body and soul. Every bonk in training is a chance to become a little bit better at taking lows on stronger and faster.
I believe my specific reason for training hard, is fairly rational. It feeds my need to get the very best out of myself. I got into the sport because I thought it would fulfill my need for challenge in life, and I've found it challenges every aspect of my life. For me, ultrarunning is 95% training. Race day is just a display of what you've really accomplished thus far, and how well you've trained your mind. I go out and train hard because my real limits will never come out in races if I don't train with a purpose. Everyday is a chance to achieve and to supersede perceived limits; anything else is short sighted. I say this because I know the feeling of joy from training well and racing to my limits, and I also know the feeling of not training hard enough and feeling regret on race day.
Below are two huge tracks from the "Into the Mind" soundtrack.