I joined a listserve a couple of days ago on Ultra running (www.ultrunr.com), participated in a couple of conversations and then started my own regarding low volume training. In general I found the response to be far more cordial than what i'd experienced on similar triathlon type forums. Maybe ultra-runners are to the athletic world what long-boarders are to the surf-o-sphere (and triathletes are the short-boarders). Analogies and/or metaphors aside (too lazy to figure out which it was), i was pleasantly surprised.
|Ultra-runners. Long-boarders of the running world.|
What was the most interesting was that there were a number of very smart posters that seemed to corroborate some of my ideas regarding human capabilities towards what are usually thought to be super extreme distances.
I believe very strongly that most people don't approach their actual physical potential, myself included. This isn't a negative judgement - it just means that there are so many 'stop mechanisms' in place that are designed to convince us that we have reached that potential that removing all of them becomes a practical impossibility in almost all race situations. Some people can get very close, but most never do. What this means is that barring cutoffs, most people not suffering from chronic health conditions (obesity, etc) could go out tomorrow and complete a 50 mile distance if they could over-rule these mental mechanisms. Yeah, maybe it wouldn't be a great idea - maybe it wouldn't add anything to their lives - but the physical potential is there. It isn't the issue. And a based on the thread that was generated from my post on Ultrunr, I'm not the only one who thinks so:
Sure you can do almost anything without out any training...How well you do it RELATIVE TO YOUR ability is the question....And
I agree with Mr. Price and a couple others who've posted that anyone reasonably healthy can complete an ultra, particularly a 50K or even 50 miler on low volume training. It just depends on how much individual discomfort to personal suffering you are willing to undergo to get to the finish line.
In my mind there's no benefit necessarily to one training method vs the other in terms of developing the required physical potential to complete ultra endurance events. I can do it on one brutal hour a week. Most choose to spend much longer than this. If you like training/running/biking whatever, great, do it. Being in good shape is awesome. My challenge is simply with the idea that volume and distance are requirements for doing these events. Volume and distance can certainly provide needed ammunition for the inner mental debate with one's own central governor that is a foregone conclusion of these big efforts. But if this ammunition is already available I think that the main pre-requisites for ultra endurance events have already been met.