The sport I love goes by many names. Trail running, ultrarunning and MUT (mountain - ultra - trail) running to name a few.
I've been solely running trail for nearly four years now and racing at the ultra distance for the last two. Ultra distances are courses longer than 26.2 miles, anywhere from 50Ks and 60Ks to 50 miles, 100 miles and more!
No matter the label or the ultra distance, what I'm asking my body and mind to do during these long training runs and trail races boils down to the same set of qualities.
I need to be strong, tough, tenacious, deliberate, methodical, present, mindful, decisive, thorough, focused, practiced, patient, flexible, committed, independent and gutsy.
Long-distance running is about mental preparation just as much -- or more -- as it is about physical endurance.
I need to be able to run across all manner of terrain -- from technical, rocky and gnarly singletrack to miles of unforgiving jeep and fire roads.
I need to be able to run no matter the elements of weather and topography -- from extremes in temperature or precipitation to the variables of elevation gain or altitude.
I also need to be able to run regardless of circumstance -- from a missing course marker to a broken piece of gear.
I need to be able to run alone and at night ... through discomfort and pain ... and sometimes carrying a heavy pack with water, nutrition and gear.
Training at GRIT means that I'll be prepared to tackle all of that and more. Coach Twohey's sport-specific programming for strength and conditioning has helped me make my body and mind ready for whatever comes down the trail.
The welcoming and nurturing environment at GRIT has also been key for me. Coach Twohey is keenly tuned into what each athlete needs in terms of motivation, encouragement and personalized attention. Plus, that same level of support and camaraderie comes directly from the other GRIT athletes themselves.
It's the physical and mental fitness we cultivate inside the gym that is woven into everything I do outside the gym, as well as the sense of GRIT community and support that I carry with me to all the amazing places the trail takes me.