adjective / ul-tra
Going beyond others or beyond due limit : EXTREME
This fall, Utah ultra runner, Ben Light, finished three 200-mile races: Bigfoot 200, Tahoe 200, and the Moab 240; and he did it in less than three months—running a total of 645.8 miles in 225 hours, 53 minutes, and 58 seconds. Ben’s efforts were rewarded by placing third in the Triple Crown of 200’s endurance challenge.
The title, ultra runner, is bestowed upon athletes who have completed a distance beyond the traditional marathon of 26.2 miles, with typical ultra distances being 50k, 100K, 50 miles, and 100 miles. The sport of ultra running is gaining in popularity. For many runners, the drive to push limits to see how far one can go leads to longer and longer distances. This drive also rings true for Ben. Running long and far brings him a satisfaction that is hard to fulfill through other outlets.
Year-round, Ben averages 30–40 miles a week. Typically, he is running at least five miles a day during the week with a longer adventure-run on Saturday. As his race dates approach, Ben’s mileage ramps up to typically 40–50 miles a week, and he trains for the terrain of a specific race. If his upcoming race has 30 percent significant elevation gain, he makes sure that at least 30 percent of his training mileage is elevation. He says it’s key to having fun, especially on those adventure days. He sees so many athletes that focus so intensely on mileage that they end up exhausted and burned out by the time they approach their event.
Ben asks a lot from his body and, in return, he treats his body well. He eats as cleanly as possible, a lot of vegetables, salads, beans and rice, chicken, and fish. He loves crossfit and strength training. He keeps his muscle weight in check with bodyweight exercises, pull ups, push ups, box step-ups, keeping the weights low and the reps high. He also incorporates cross training into his routine with biking, swimming, hiking, and backcountry skiing.
Recovery is a vital component of Ben’s training. He makes sure that he does what he can to prevent injury. Ben spends quite a bit of time rolling out on a foam roller. He admits that he typically spends at least an hour rolling out before a 30-minute gym workout. He also incorporates chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, and bodywork into his regimen. It’s important that any muscle tightness he may start to experience is addressed and worked out as quickly as possible, as to not create chronic issues.
When asked, “Why do you do this?” Ben sighs.
“It’s hard to put into words. Running increases your patience, strength, and your ability to evaluate a situation, make assessments, and then make the necessary corrections,” he says.
Ben also sees the close parallels ultra running shares with life’s challenges.
“In long distance running, you’re battling your own head. Even when you have your family, friends, and crew around you, it’s still something that you have to do ultimately on your own. When you’ve gone through something hard, and when you look back on it, you recognize your growth.”