SILVA: Extreme endurance athletes amaze, inspire

jsilva@modbee.comMay 16, 2013 

Silva Marathon

Jim Silva following completion of the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon in June 2012.

Before he jetted off to The Netherlands to compete in the 24-hour world championships last week, Modesto ultramarathoner Jon Olsen came to our office to talk about writing a blog about his experiences.

For 45 minutes, Olsen talked about running, his planned trip, how he goes about completing more than 160 miles in 24 hours. I was enthralled.

The matter-of-fact way Olsen talked about the race — how he would run an 8-minute, 30-second-per-mile pace for what turns out to be six consecutive marathons — was almost comical. You just have to shake your head and smile to hear about what he goes through during those24 hours.

The one question that I wanted to ask him was "why?" Why push yourself to such an extreme?

Many people ask me why I run marathons, pushing myself my so far. Olsen does it six times in a row!

So why does Olsen — or any other "ultra" endurance athlete — push themselves to such an extreme?

I believe the answer is simple: Because they can.

When you become an endurance athlete, you constantly want to push yourself further. You always want to get better and go farther.

Athletes like Olsen show just how amazing the human body can be. They show that with training and perseverance, the body is capable of doing things that few of us think we are capable of.

Olsen is an incredible inspiration to all of us who strive to be healthy and fit.

Lately, when I've gotten tired during a run, I think about what Olsen was able to achieve and it motivates me to push through being tired.

If Olsen can run 160-plus miles in a 24-hour period, can't I complete six miles in the morning before I head to work?

It's athletes such as Olsen who can inspire you to continue a path to fitness.

Think about what he accomplished and it can help motivate you to do better and go a little further. I hope his story, which we shared with you on and in the newspaper, will inspire you to begin or continue your fitness journey.

Let's eat better, train harder and push a little further.

You've got 24 hours … what are you going to do with it?

"What's your next big race? Will you do another marathon?"

That's what I've been hearing a lot lately, ever since I finished the marathon in San Luis Obispo last month.

What's next? Well, I'm not sure exactly. Will I do another marathon? Probably.

But right now I'm trying to let my body rest a little while still maintaining my fitness. I continue to try to eat well (more on that in a future column), and plan to continue to explore other areas of exercise … yoga anyone?

As for my next marathon … I'm thinking of either a big trip or staying close to home. But we'll just have to wait and see.

Reach Jim Silva at . On Twitter: @mission26point2.

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