I don't know about you but I have sort of figured out that there seems to be a cycle to ultrarunning here in the Philippines. At least, from my personal point of view. An observation if you will for the last 10 years or so.
Take for example the amount of races tucked in the first half of the year. Every friggin year. Since ultrarunning here went ballistic, almost all of the races are scheduled from January to June with months of January and February having the most number of races because of good weather, obviously. You can basically find trail races almost every week from short distance to hundos. So the slew of races to choose from seems to have increased through the years. But of course, some are only worth running as end-goal races and the rest as fillers or training runs if you can call them that.
And I tend to get swept likewise in this cycle and thus, run more races during this period than any other months of the year. This is all good as coming off from the Holiday season seems to bring with it the unwanted weight gain with the guilty feeling but I don't give a fuck about it. It is what it is. Eating more than your body needs and being lazy will amount to no good. So mortals like us look for races during the first half of the year lest you feel left out or "OP" (out of place) from the rest of the trail running community since you can see all your "friends" posting races through social media. Oh well, the social media like Facebook is a panacea to others and is concededly both a bane and boon but that is another story altogether. It sorts of adds pressure to you to get your getting-heavy, sorry ass up and running and in shape pronto.
But the title of this post is not about the first half of the year but rather the last half.
Personally, I can confirm how things slow down towards the end of the year mostly because of the onset of the rainy season and believe me where I am now on this side of the planet, the rainy weather here can be very muddy and slippery for trail running. It can be slow, dangerous and annoying. So in lieu of trail running out there on the mountain or your favorite hilly places is replaced by road running where the weather can be forgiving to your feet even with the rainfall or not.
This period of being less active is equally important as well in conjunction to being active during the first half. Yin-yang if you may. No trail runner can sustain being active all the time throughout the year and expect himself to excel in all those races. There is also the perennial issue of burnout. I have seen many runners come and go like mushrooms. You see them now and after a while, they are no longer active in races and abandoned ultrarunning completely. Others have somewhat adopted a different sports. More importantly, there are the questions of sustainability and health not to mention the expenses that come with joining races.
I can vouch for the health benefits of slowing down during the remaining half of the year. Obviously, there are downsides to it like, on the top of the list, gaining weight as there are less races and thus, being less active racewise.
The upsides however are sustainability, less stress, cost-saving and above all, healing. Your body needs to heal up also after months of sustained trail running.
For me, that has worked pretty well through the years. That my dear friends is the "secret" to longevity or sustainability in ultrarunning. Perhaps, that is one of the main reasons why I have avoided serious injuries and burnout after more than 10 years in the sport. I let my body and mind heal during the last half of the year. Every year.
Jon (on the other side of the fence for CM50)