Ed Ayres has been on the run for a very long time – running long distances, that is. As founder of 'Running Times' magazine at the dawn of the modern running movement, he placed third in the inaugural New York Marathon in 1970 (and is, remarkably, the only participant of that race still competing today). "Ultras," the wilder world of extreme endurance running that covers distances from 50 kilometers to 1,000 miles, have been another passion.
His new book 'The Longest Race: A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance' is a play-by-play of his experience at age 60 in the famed JFK 50 Mile (a race he won in 1977). But it's also a thoughtful guide to the accomplished environmental journalist's ideas about sustainability and the natural world. Ayres is gearing up for another JFK 50 in November – this time competing in the rarified 70-year-old group. Recently he shared with 'Men's Journal' his 10 tips for anyone who aspires to go the distance and become an ultramarathoner.
Neither a loner nor a groupie be.
"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.
Credit: Courtesy Ed Ayres