The April issue of Ultrarunner contains an interesting article written by Madeleine McIntosh titled "The Perennial Why". In it, she discusses the types of motivation behind ultra runners and categorizes runners into 8 "types": The Spiritual One, The Mystic Introvert, Neanderthal Man, The Obsessive Compulsive, The Disciple of Nietzsche, The Social Animal, The Show Pony, and the Slow Poke.
The Spiritual One
The Spiritual One believes that ultrarunning pushes one to the extreme limit to a point at which a "spritual experience" occurs. In other words, the Spiritual One is engaged in a quest for the so-called "out of body experience."
The Mystic Introvert
This runner is similar to the Spiritual One. They prefer to train and race alone and is on a solitary journey of self-discovery, a path to enlightenment. The Mystic Introvert likes to use ultrarunning as way of exploring personal boundaries, both physical and mental.
Neanderthal Man uses ultrarunning as an antidote to modern-day stress and as a way to get back to our human "roots" as hunters and gatherers roaming the countryside. They shun gels and isotonic drinks in favor of water, nuts, and seeds.
The Obsessive Compulsive
The Obsessive Compulsive will spend hours studying charts, writing checklists, researching equipment options and calibrating gadgets. Favorite areas of attention are: nutrition and fluid intake, packing, clothing, shoes, injuries, support crew task list, and writing lables in vivid marker on ziploc bags.
The Disciple of Nietzsche
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. This runner believes that without going through extremely difficult physical experiences the human character remains weak. Therefore, enduring long periods of pain and discomfort while running is a process of "hardening up", making them better able to face challenges in other areas of their lives.
The Social Animal
The Social Animal enjoys the training runs as much as the race and sharing the experience is more important than achieving the personal goal. For them, physical fitness is just an entry ticket into a world of weekend adventures with friends.
The Show Pony
This one runs ultras in order to be able to show off, but in doing so, is inspirational to self and others. The Show Pony is constantly raising the bar in an attention-grabbing quest to go longer, faster, harder. They are proud of their accomplishments and enjoy sharing them with others.
The Slow Poke
The Slow Poke runs ultras because they have finally realized they have little talent for any other sort of running. Their dreams of fast marathon and half-marathon times have been long abandoned and shuffling along is just fine for them. The Slow Poke is non-competitive and is just happy to be doing something physical.
I'm sure like most of you, I have a number of motivations and reasons for starting to run them. For me, it's a way to get into shape, perhaps makes some new friends, and most of all, to challenge myself. If I had to pick a type from the list above as my primary one, I'd say I'm The Disciple of Nietzsche. I love to learn and try new things and always challenge myself. In 2001 I decided I would challenge myself to run a marathon, which I accomplished in 2002. Now, my challenge will be to start out at 50k and see how far from there I can go. Hopefully, in the next year or so I'll be trying my first 100-miler.
So, the question to you all of you readers and ultra runners is, "What type are you?" What is your motivation for running ultras or starting to try running them? Please vote in the poll posted up top on the right and feel free to share your reasons. Thanks!
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