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Attention trail runners: ultras are not for everyone

5 reasons you don't need to run an ultramarathon to be a real trail runner

Just like road marathons are the new 10K, 100-milers are the new marathon. But loving the trails doesn’t mean you need to run ultra distances. A few months ago, David Roche reminded the trail community that being a trail runner does not necessarily equate to running ultra-trail distances. Too often the trail running world associates trail running with ultrarunning. But the two are distinct. Here are 5 reasons why you don’t need to run ultras to be a trail runner:

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Photo: Facebook

1. Trail running is hard

Trail running is fun. But it’s also tough. The many variables in trail running such as the terrain, the weather, the mountains mean that the trails will challenge you regardless of the distance. Training on the trails means challenging yourself daily in the trails and mountains. If you decide to race on the trails, getting to the start line is a courageous act no matter how far you’re going.

2. Longer doesn’t mean better

On paper, it appears as though a 5K trail race is less daunting than 200 miles through the wilderness. But that’s like comparing apples to elephants. A 5K trail race is it’s own beast, which requires focused training and execution. A 200 mile ultra through the trails and mountains is entirely different and unique. Both distances are challenging and deserve kudos.

Photo: Getty Images

3. Know what makes you happy

If short and steep is your jam–then that is awesome. If mental and physical perseverance with limited sleep makes your heart dance, that’s great too. Know what makes you happy, while remaining open to new experiences. Being a real trail runner means knowing your ‘why’ and not caring what the world thinks.

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4. Ultras aren’t for everyone

But neither are 10Ks. Despite the fact that social media can be saturated with images and videos of everyone and their uncle finishing 100-milers, the trail running world is so much more. Trail running is simply running on the trails, which can include any distance and any terrain off the road. As long as you’re not having a party on the pavement, you are a trail runner.

Nick Elson at Zegama. Photo: Philipp Reiter/Golden Trail Series

5. Make it meaningful

One of the keys to success in any area of life is meaning. Whatever distances you decide to focus on, make it count and don’t forget to smile.

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