The decision had really been made for me by the constant ear infections but it was still something I needed to decide to do. I had to have another surgery to clean out my inner ear and close the hole in my eardrum. Hopefully this would take care of the constant vertigo I found at higher elevations while on a run in the mountains. My part of the decision was whether to defer my entries into two target races and have the surgery right away or put it off another three months until after my last race and hope I could get through these races unscathed.

Of course, I decided I was tough enough to get through my fifty- and hundred-mile races.

Reality set in as vertigo struck during both races leaving me a slobbering mess with yet two more dreaded DNFs (Did Not Finish).

As an ultra-athlete sometimes, one begins to think one is indestructible and can actually leap tall buildings in a single bound. Well…until reality, that harsh mistress, steps in and sets you straight.

As I sit in my desk chair facing another five weeks of no running, no lifting anything above ten pounds and generally feeling like a slug since I can’t be doing what I love doing, I am faced with the fact that I am human and that as I grow older I must face some new realities and some new ways of facing challenges.

No, I haven’t sworn off running ultra-marathons. That would be just plain silly.

Make Good Decisions

However, I have made some decisions about how I approach the training and the races themselves. I realize that it is not enough to be physically able to run these races, I must also work on the mental aspects so when the wheels fall off during a race, which will always happen, there is more than just physical fortitude to carry me across the finish line.

As I plan out this next year’s schedule I find myself getting excited because I know that all of life follows these same steps and same plans and if I am diligent in pursuing a life lived to the full in all areas of my life that I will have a much fuller life and find more peace in the struggles.

Make LIFE Work For You

Since my mind works best coming up with easily remembered mantras I decided to label recrafting a stronger mental game plan around the word LIFE.

1. Listening may be one of the most difficult characteristics to develop.

This is because it requires us to acknowledge that other people have something to say and you may actually learn something from other people. If you read a lot and consider yourself intelligent sometimes listening is the hardest characteristic in the world to develop. In order to develop a stronger mental character though, listening is vital. By listening, you will be able to learn what your body is actually telling you while on a long run, instead of trying to tell your body what you want it to hear. In the same way, by listening to another person rather than making your point known in a conversation, you may actually receive the hint that will enable you to become a better leader in your field of work.

Listening is about using the two ears you were given more than using the one mouth you were given.

2. Invest in what is important.

Investing in monetary gain is actually pretty simple and with all the tools available today it isn’t hard to develop a good investment strategy. However, I am talking about investing in something far more important. Yourself and the way you see yourself. Not just the you that you see in the mirror but the inner you, the worth or value you place in who you are as a person.

If you miss out on investing in developing yourself, all the worldly possessions you may gain are really not worth that much in the end. Investing in yourself involves your moral, spiritual, intellectual and mental self. This may actually require taking inventory of who you see yourself as. Do you see yourself as a person willing to invest in the well being of others or are you centered on what you can get out of life?

Are you willing to invest in developing a belief system that is not centered around your narrowly held beliefs but is willing to give room to a God that can guide you through life? Are you willing to invest in a life of continual learning or do you think you have already learned enough in life? And finally, are you willing to push through the mental barriers that have kept you from thinking freely of what and who you could become?

Investing in becoming a better version of you is an investment that can’t be measured by mere dollars and cents.

3. Forgetting what is behind you and forging toward a future will bring you into a fulfilling life.

I didn’t mean to fill that sentence with so many words that started with an “F” but once I got started I couldn’t stop because all of those words describe a life that is lived to the full. First you must forget every failure and success you have had in the past, as they won’t help you in the next step. Forging ahead means you always face frontwards. This doesn’t mean you don’t remember what is in the past, but the past is the past and dwelling on it won’t get you closer to your goals.

Living for what is in the future may entail five minutes from now or twenty years from now but it means that you have the full intention of keeping on moving ahead with life. And finally, a fulfilling life. This doesn’t mean that your calendar is always full and there isn’t time to reflect. The opposite is true. Because you are living for fulfillment instead of satisfaction, you are living a life that is about something.

Life has meaning and you will probably find that it has very little to do with your satisfaction or enjoyment. Rather you may be surprised to find that it has a whole lot to do with others and seeing others being set free, being released to live dreams beyond what they thought possible and seeing others enjoyment and thrill of life.

4. Encourage those around you.

One thing that brings me the greatest joy in life is to encourage others around me to keep pursuing the goals and dreams that have so eluded them. Perhaps it is because when I encourage others, I find myself encouraged to keep pursuing my own goals and dreams.

Watching somebody succeed at something they once thought impossible is perhaps one of my greatest joys in life and I try to find new and creative ways to be a person of encouragement. When I find myself so narrowly focused around what is best for me, I find myself actually getting discouraged because it is such a narrow focus. By focusing instead on encouraging others, I always find myself with a deeper contentment in life.

As I focus on LIFE for the next six weeks before I can begin training for my next year’s ultra-marathon runs I find myself smiling a lot more instead of being so narrowly focused on the fact that I can’t be out running some beautiful mountain trail. Perhaps these words will encourage you to take a step back from your pursuit of your goal and refocus a little bit on living a LIFE to the full.

Over the last seven years I have lost over 80 pounds and gone from a sedentary lifestyle to now running ultra marathons. Along the way I have discovered my love for writing, for encouraging others and for living a lifestyle of constantly pushing myself beyond what I think my limits are. Visit Mike at MikeHornerUltra.com.
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Over the last seven years I have lost over 80 pounds and gone from a sedentary lifestyle to now running ultra marathons. Along the way I have discovered my love for writing, for encouraging others and for living a lifestyle of constantly pushing myself beyond what I think my limits are. Visit Mike at MikeHornerUltra.com.

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