>>Go the Distance
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GO THE DISTANCE
For many of us mere mortals, the idea of running a 100-mile race or riding a mountain bike for 24 straight hours makes us wonder, not so much “how” but “why” people would do that to themselves.
Sure, a lot of us compete in sports. We run 10Ks and ride RAGBRAI. We enjoy keeping fit, spending time outdoors, participating on a team. Some of us even run marathons.
But there is a culture of extreme athletics out there, too, and many of the athletes are Iowa State alumni. They go far beyond the limits of what most of us would consider normal physical endurance. Their treks are long, difficult, and often life-changing.
Why do they do it? What pushes them to compete? And who are they competing against – themselves or others?
Marty Martinez, a psychologist for ISU Student Counseling Service and a sport psychologist for the U.S. track and field team, says we all push ourselves to do things beyond our limits from time to time.
“There’s something that drives us to move into areas of uncertainty,” he said. “There’s an internal need for that, so people find different ways to meet that need. Competition is one of them.”
Martinez says that sports, especially endurance sports, require a combination of psychological, physiological, and spiritual strength. It’s a higher calling, he says.
“When you see competition as a way to learn to help you in the higher values in your life, then that’s to me the ultimate in sports,” he said.
Martinez says he enjoys working with athletes. “There’s tremendous importance in helping athletes to recognize the greater value, the deeper foundation of themselves as an individual, so that sport or competition is not a place to earn your self worth but is a place to express your gifts and your talents.”
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