April 2, 2014 ultra.mel.jon@gmail.com

Running on Empty – Marshall Ulrich

Running on empty cover RUNNING ON EMPTY

– Ultra-marathoners Story of Love, Loss and Record Setting

By: Marshall Ulrich


This book has a multitude of different aspects and emotions woven through it.  The most obvious is the author’s introduction and induction into the world of ultramarathon running.  Having taken up running as more of a safe haven from his struggles at home, Ulrich talks about the effects that it had on his wife and children.  For me it was a great reminder that taking on anything as demanding as ultra running requires a lot of support from your family and can quickly take over your life if you let it.  Ulrich creates quite a bit of vulnerability within himself as he reflects on his mediocre job as a father as well as his three (completely different in dynamic) marriages.  It becomes quite easy to relate the story to your own life and stuggles that you may have gone through, family members which you might have tension with, or dreams that rattle around in your head waiting to be chased.

The more inspiring side of the book was what really had me glued to it more than anything else.  Ulrich didn’t simply stay around his home town to run the same races each year.  He quickly searched far and wide for races which could both challenge him and bring him to places all over the US.  Not even staying within the realm of one particular style of racing, Ulrich bounced between road marathons, trail races, 5k’s to 100 milers, and even into multi-day adventure races.  With each race fertilizing that little seed in his mind telling him that anything is possible, Ulrich started to up the anti.  Creating goals which to some would seem suicidal, like climbing Mount Everest (Summit photo below), and others which people simply haven’t thought to try yet, say Leadville Trail 100 and Pikes Peak Marathon on the same weekend.


Getting to the chunk of the book that truly matters, at least in the eyes of Guinness!  Ulrich talk extensively about his record setting run from coast to coast across the United States.  Without taking anything away from this great novel, this epic story has a little bit of everything.  It’ll show you that weather won’t always cooperate with plans, sponsors can turn “corporate” at the snap of a finger, it’s never too late for family, distance running can ramp up your sex drive :S, farmers shoot first and ask questions later, friends can turn on you, friends can save you, and most important of all the human spirit has no boundaries!

A great book that I would recommend to just about anyone and highly recommend any ultra runner to pick up.  Ulrich was generous enough to include a vast amount of information about his trans-continental run, including training programs, nutritional info, injuries and prevention/treatments, and all of the equipment and clothing that was used.

Run free and read lots!!

– Jon –

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