My guest is someone that I connected with online a while ago so today’s chat is long overdue.
He took his running to a new level in 2022 by running 5 hundred-mile races in a 7-month window.
I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Ryan Good today.
Never A Dull 100
Ryan Good didn’t hesitate to answer with 100 miles when asked what his favorite distance to race was.
The distance is full of variables which always keep it interesting and challenging.
Training for ultras has turned his hobby of running into more of a lifestyle.
Ryan consistently builds his days around training which helps to keep some bad habits at bay.
The shared suffering and immense camaraderie keep him returning to the distance.
In the time it takes to cover 100 miles, Ryan will often experience a rollercoaster of emotions.
Part of the challenge of completing 100 miles is managing the mental as well as the physical components.
A Seemingly Impossible Goal
Ryan first began running while in the military.
Running was a large part of training, but he also found that he relied on running while on deployment for personal reasons.
During long deployments, running allowed him to get some much-needed solitude while staying in shape.
It was around 1994 that Ryan first got the idea to run a marathon.
The idea seemed impossible to him at the time.
Once Ryan was out of the military, he joined a local run club.
With consistent training, he successfully completed his first marathon in 1996.
From that day forward, running would come in and out of his life.
Drawn To Endurance Sports
Ryan has always been drawn to endurance sports in general.
Along with running road marathons, he also got into endurance cycling, mountaineering, and endurance skiing.
Ryan describes himself as not particularly gifted athletically, but extremely stubborn.
That combination makes him especially suited to endurance endeavors.
Ryan recognizes that endurance events aren’t for everyone.
The beauty of running is that there are a variety of events and always something for everyone.
Ryan believes that running should be whatever we want it to be.
A Sliding Scale
Oftentimes, what seems crazy now might not seem so crazy once you have more experience.
Ryan learned this firsthand with most of the activities he has done.
Prior to becoming a mountaineer, he had zero experience.
What seemed impossible at first, quickly morphed into what else he may be able to accomplish.
A sliding scale of what is possible is how Ryan first got into ultras.
Ryan had always had a passing curiosity about trail running.
In 2015, Ryan decided he wanted to try running 100 miles.
His training to get to the start line took a couple of years and a lot of shorter distances.
Orcas Island 100
Once Ryan made the decision to sign up for his first 100-mile race, he jumped right into training.
He gradually moved up the distance ladder, beginning with two 50ks and then two 50 milers.
Training went well and he got to the start line of Orcas Island 100 in February 2017.
The race itself was beautiful but challenging and included over 26k feet of climbing.
He was third from last, but overall he felt great.
One year later, he attempted another 100 but had to drop out.
Following the DNF, Ryan switched to more cycling for a bit, before he eventually returned to running.
In the fall of 2021, Ryan returned to the 100-mile distance.
There were a lot of races that he wanted to do, but he wasn’t sure how to fit them all in.
His friend and veteran ultra runner posed a question that shifted his way of thinking.
She asked him, “what is the worst that could happen,” if he signed up for all the races he wanted to do?
Ryan had gotten onto a waitlist for a 100-mile race and in the meantime signed up for a different one as well.
The universe spoke and he got off the waitlist and into the race.
The two races were a mere 5 weeks apart, but Ryan decided to go ahead with his plan and see what happened.
A Fine Line
Ryan successfully completed both races and found that he was able to recover much better than expected.
That was the evidence he needed to continue signing up for races.
By the end of 2022, Ryan had completed five 100-mile races in the span of 7 months.
He learned that there was a fine line between doing enough and doing too much.
Ryan tries to stay in tune with his body and pull back training when/if needed.
Recovery between races has been uneventful with Ryan following a reverse taper.
He wants to be able to run for the rest of his life and realizes that in order to do that he needs to be smart.
His increased mileage over the past year has played a major part in the positive adaptations that Ryan has noticed.
Every race hasn’t been smooth sailing for Ryan.
He is not immune to making rookie mistakes, such as trying a new fuel on race day which led to major GI issues.
Another 100-mile race that proved challenging was in Virginia where the rocky terrain beat up his feet more than usual.
The weather is not always ideal and extreme heat during one race affected not only his performance but all participants in the race.
Experiencing rough patches during long endurance events has taught Ryan the difference between needs and wants.
In order to be successful in ultras, he had to learn to be uncomfortable but still have fun.
Ryan prides himself on being able to suffer better than most which give him an advantage during long races.
The misery won’t go away, but changing your focus can shift the entire race experience and outcome.
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, Ryan has a lot of plans.
He intends on sticking with the 100-mile distance for now, with 4 races on his schedule with the possibility of 6 or 7.
Ryan wants to work on improving his running weaknesses.
Volunteering at more races is also high on his list of things to do in the upcoming year.
A trip to Alaska with his wife is in the works, along with a race while there as well.
The past year has opened Ryan’s mind to what is possible.
One key piece of wisdom that he wants to pass along to others is that “you’re tougher than you think you are and can do more than you think you can.”
As Ryan always says, “what’s the worst that can happen if you try.”
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