"Around the time when I was getting started in running, back in the late fifties, the [Alan] Sillitoe book 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' came out and that was made into a movie. There was a popular idea of distance running as a lonely pursuit," Ayres says. Today, it's completely turned around, with a big ultra social scene.
While he believes this is a positive development, he suggests that a good amount of solitary running is key to developing your ability as an ultramarathoner, and he mostly trains alone. Ayres suggests that the self-sufficiency and time for reflection you get running alone are just as important as the camaraderie, motivation, and education that people claim to get from training with groups.