At first sight religion and running motivations may not seem related, aren´t they?
Some religious people, such as the early Christians, live an ascetic life focused on self-discipline, self-denial, prayer and celibacy to achieve spiritual development.
On the other hand, ultrarunners also follow an ascetic life, engaging in extreme physical experiences that require high levels of discipline and training.
Thus, both share the acceptance of self-imposed doses of physical pain and suffering. In their common ascetism suffering is ordinary. They endure without complaint thirst, hunger, sleep deprivation, solitude and often extreme weather and terrain conditions.
But why ultrarunners push their body and mind beyond limits? Reasons are multiple. Love of nature, search for a personal challenge, looking for life-changing experiences, trade of one addiction (smoking, alcohol or drugs) for another, solitude, and even the same spirituality than religious ascetics tried to achieve.
The main ingredients in their “recipe” are endurance, perseverance and patience.
Whatever the reasons motivating an ultrarunner there will be always someone that will think of them as masochistic, freak, selfish, super-human or nuts.
Would you define yourself with any of these adjectives?
And more importantly, what is your reason for being an ultrarunner?
Díaz-Gilbert, M. (2018). The Ascetic Life of the Ultrarunner. Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 18(2), 201-217. doi:10.1353/scs.2018.0025.