By HPRS Director of Human Experience Hollis Lyman
How do you become the master of the Universe?
I have no idea…But I can tell you about the path to mastery, and when you become a master of the Universe holla at me.
As an ultrarunner, mastery could be many things. Mastery of the sport could be running as an elite competitor, it could be completing 100 mile endurance runs 100 times, it could be completing your first 50k. You could be master of volunteering, master of trail work, master of discovering all Colorado trails, a Master Blast from .
Before I tell you all about Mastery Mountain, let me tell you about the other paths we often take.
The path of the DABBLER
Dabblers often come to ultrarunning from other sports, and love the challenge it presents. They invest themselves at the beginning and see quick improvement in performance. Yet, as the name suggests, many dabblers are not long-term committers to one endeavor. They have wide and varying interests and want to try one of everything! While they may continue to run ultras, they may also do triathlons, rock climb, yoga, rec soccer, acting class, and more. Did you know the full saying “Jack of all trades, master of none….” Continues to say “but oftentimes better than a master of one”? Drop that knowledge bomb next time someone misuses that quote, you’re welcome. Dabblers will ultrarun until something shiny comes along to challenge them in a new way.
The path of the HACKER
No not that kind of hacker. Though if you want to become that kind here is a “how to” article! Seems legit.
Hackers, are the hangout people. That friend you invited to do Tommyknocker Ultras who shows up and runs their first 50k then waddles around the next week cursing your name. The hacker does just enough to be invited to the party per say. They’re not bothered with high performance, and find joy in spending time with their buddies, being outdoors, and frolicking. Though they may have some natural athletic talent, they’re not following a training plan usually. Hackers will be in the ultra-world loosely, as long as their friends are in ultra-world, and they are enjoying themselves.
The path of the OBSESSIVE
Do you crush every single training session? Are you often on the mend from an injury? Have you been an ultrarunner for years with some great performances originally, but fewer as time has gone on? You may be a bit obsessive mate. MANY high performers and high achieving people are on an obsessive path. (*eh hem* This is totally me). Obsessive’s commit all out when they choose ultrarunning. They see immediate performance increases, and often have some personally amazing successes quickly. However, obsessives only know how to achieve these successes by figuratively killing themselves for it. Every run is at 100% of what they have that day, rest days are few and far between. Long term obsessives fight off more injuries than the other groups, and often-times injury or burn out is what forces them to leave the sport. Obsessives come to ultrarunning to conquer the world and themselves and may have the easiest time scooting over to a path of mastery.
DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong with any of these paths. I bet you can see that you are or have been on some of these paths. For example, I am an obsessive grad student, a blogging hacker, and a dabbler in every sport that crosses my path. Mastery is not a path you can be on in every single area of your life. Mastery takes time, dedication, attention, expertise, and patience.
The path to MASTERY
Mastery is the path of patience, and long-term consistent growth. Masters learn to love the work done during a plateau in performance, knowing that it will lead to a quick increase in performance, eventually. In fact, masters love this process so much, they don’t mind that this path is a repetition of plateaus and up-ticks over, and over, and over. To follow this path, we need:
INSTRUCTION From a coach, a training plan, a teacher, a mentor ect.
PRACTICE Following a training plan, running the course before the race, ect.
SURRENDER To the process and the unknown. Become the fool and the student.
INTENTIONALITY And a purpose that drives you through the plateaus.
RIDE THE EDGE Between failure and expertise. Have you ever noticed how much these two outcomes
have in common? Risk taking, dedication, hard work, ect. Be willing to fail big so that you have the chance
to succeed big.
All together now!
What path are you on in ultrarunning? What other paths are you on in life? Is that the path you want for that part of your life?
Don’t forget to let me know when you become master of the universe.
Director of Human Experience
Human Potential Running Series
The above discussion is based on the book Mastery by George Leonard and lectures in Sport and Performance Psychology Master’s Program at the University of Denver.