Stepping Up: My Journey to Ultra at 40-Something (and Laughing About It!)

Patrick Poh
2 min readApr 12, 2024

My mind is a bit like a web browser with a million tabs open. It jumps from one thing to another, constantly switching focus. But running, especially on challenging trails, demands my full attention. One misstep on such uneven terrain and — well, let’s just say gravity wins.

SO! … Today, I officially committed — well, by “committed” I mean I registered, not magically transformed into a superhuman runner. Here’s the thing: marathons were fun, but I needed a different kind of challenge.

Not faster, but further.

This ultra is an opportunity to train my mind as much as my body, to maintain focus and discipline.

Let’s face it, signing up for an ultramarathon at this age (waves hand vaguely at “masters” category) is equal parts hilarious and terrifying.

Photo by Nathalie Désirée Mottet on Unsplash

For years, my running has tapered to the slow and steady kind. I’m no longer looking to pushing my lungs to the limit. I want to be comfortable, maybe even chatty, while conquering a longer distance. This ultra is about exploration — of my body’s capabilities and the depths of my own determination. It’s a commitment, not just to the race, but to myself.

Now, the real question: how does a “slow and easy” runner train for an ultra? I’m guessing it’s going to be “hills, lots of hills” and extended long runs.

I think gradually increasing the total distance each week will be a good strategy. But training isn’t just about physical conditioning. It’s also about learning from the experiences of others. Joining a running group, reading training plans, and scouring online forums for tips and advice — all of it feeds into this journey. It’s a chance to learn, to adapt, and to participate in a community that is focused on this common goal.

Here’s the thing, I’ve had a special ritual for a few years now — on the 11th of every month, I have assigned it as a day dedicated to self-care, a day of self-reward for taking care of my body and mind. This journey reinforces that commitment.

This isn’t just about the race, though. Very much of this expedition is about self-improvement. Running an ultra is a goal I set at the beginning of the 2024, as a constant reminder to push myself out of my comfort zone. The excitement is undeniable, but there’s also a healthy dose of anxiety bubbling under the surface.

So, here’s to the journey ahead. To sore muscles, breathtaking vistas, and the mental fortitude to push through when doubt creeps in. This ultramarathon isn’t just a race; it’s a test, an exploration, and a commitment to becoming a better version of myself.

Wish me luck (and maybe some good running shoes)!