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.
Question your tech.
Recent research shows that heavy reliance on GPS can actually lead to shrinking in the area of the brain responsible for mental mapping. Similarly, Ayres believes that technological enhancements like pulse monitors and GPS feedback devices can be considered a shortcut to the "work" of running.
"I don't use any electronic guides at all. In a race, I might wear a wristwatch just to check the time at various checkpoints," he says. He is influenced by the thinking of George Sheehan (track star, cardiologist, author of the best-selling 'Running & Being: The Total Experience,' and owner of the world's first sub-five-minute mile by a 50-year-old), who advised runners to shun outside analysis and instead "listen to your body." Says Ayres: "I think the question for an aspiring ultrarunner is, how much do you want to depend on technological aid, and how much do you want to make this an adventure about self-reliance?"
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