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Running An Ultramarathon (With Thomas Zachariassen)

Episode #21
English Level: Upper intermediate
Accent: Australia

Thomas Zachariassen ep.21 Into the Story Podcast

About Thomas Zachariassen's Story

Thomas spends months preparing for an ultramarathon, but race day brings surprising challenges. 

On this page, you’ll discover incredibly valuable learning materials and other goodies, to make the most of the podcast episode, and to take your English much further.

Quote of the episode

"You do go through the pain, but you do appreciate life that much more.'

Transcript

Bree: Hello, it’s your host Bree. I have always been just fascinated by people who decide to do extreme physical challenges. Whether you’re an active person or not, most of us know that 30 minutes of movement every day is good for us. It helps us feel good, maybe look in shape, and it also actually gives us more energy and then helps us feel more relaxed at the end of the day.

However, some people go one step further, or many steps further, and they do marathons, triathlons, and as we’ll hear in this episode, ultramarathons. Today, we are going into the story of Tom Zachariassen. Tom is from Melbourne, Australia. And on this episode, he tells us about running a 60 kilometer ultra marathon.

Tom: I tell people, like, when I do long distance running, and they, they think of me like, “how do you run all these kilometers and, you know, enjoy it and continue to do it?” It’s definitely not for everyone.

Bree: Today, Tom takes us to race day. After many months of training, he ends up facing a few unexpected challenges.

If you love Into the Story, then please share it with a friend. That is the best way to support the podcast. And thanks.

Okay. Before we get to today’s story, we’re going to look at five words that Tom uses. The first one is, to push yourself to do something. So if someone pushes themselves to do something, it means that they make a really big effort to do something that is difficult or challenging. For example, I push This is true, need to push myself to wake up early every morning, or she pushes herself to work harder every day, to push yourself to do something

Next, to clock, or to clock up. So this means to reach or gain a certain number or amount of something over time. So let’s look at a couple of examples. He clocked or clocked up 70 kilometers last week as part of his training for the ultramarathon. Or, she has clocked or clocked up. 200 hours of volunteer work this year to clock or clock up.

Next, to take a toll. So if something takes a toll, it has a bad or serious effect on someone or something over time. So look at these examples. working long hours takes a toll on our health. Or hard training takes a toll on your body. To take a toll.

Next, a gut feeling. So a gut feeling is that strong feeling or intuition that we have about something without a clear reason. For example, she had a gut feeling that something was wrong, or he trusted his gut feeling during the race. So when you have a gut feeling, you can also say, I’m going to go with my gut means that you’re going to go with your intuition to have a gut feeling.

And finally, a relief. So, a relief is feeling better and less worried after being stressed or anxious. For example, when the storm passed, they felt a great relief. Or, it was such a relief when I found my keys after I thought I had lost them. A Relief.

For the extended vocabulary list, the transcript, and a listening comprehension quiz, just go to our website into the story podcast.com. Okay, let’s get into the story.

 


Tom: I am Thomas Zachariessen. I am living in Stockholm Sweden at the moment and I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia. Running is a… it’s definitely not for everyone. I tell people, like when I do long distance running and that they think of me like, ´God I couldn’t think of anything more boring to do, you know… I’m not a runner. How do you run all these kilometers? And you know enjoy it and continue to do it? I do run just to get my mind off things, separate myself from technology and yeah just to unclog my mind and thoughts.

Bree: After having run other marathons, like the famous Great Ocean Road marathon on the south-eastern coast of Australia, Tom decides that he wants to sign himself up for a 60 km ultramarathon.

Tom: The run is something that I, I push myself to do. It’s a run that’s in Wilson Promontory. It’s a nature reserve, one of the largest and I think most beautiful preserved forests in Victoria. It’s absolutely massive. I thought, what better way to see than do an ultramarathon. So an ultramarathon is anything that’s longer than a marathon. It could be 60k, 80k, a hundred. A lot of people said… kind of reacted like here we go, another run that Tom wants to do. It was also because I wanted to raise funds for breast cancer and my mother was a sufferer of breast cancer so it was one way I wanted to give back to her. I think it was like 3 months out that I started the training for this.

Bree: To train for the ultramarathon, Tom had to run a lot! During his lunch hour at work, getting up early in morning…

You would have to probably clock about 75 to 80 kilometers. And you don’t actually run 60 km in the training so you’re in the building up your legs to be able to run that length on the, on the day. It is such a balance with life as well. There is running to keep your legs ticking, to clock your kilometers ahh it really takes its toll with like work, friends, your social life. You just have to think about the bigger picture.

Bree: Finally, after months of training, the day is here. Tom wakes up super early to get to the race on time. As he’s driving to Wilsons Promontory national park he discovers that the weather conditions are terrible.

Tom: The race starts at 5:30 so we have to get up at 4:30. Of course it was just like thunderstorms and raining in the morning. It had to happen right. At one point when we were driving down to the starting line, it didn’t, we actually had to stop because there was so much rain we couldn’t actually see out the windscreen. We parked and I got out of the car and I just ran off into the darkness because there’s no lights it’s just, it’s just a few cars. It’s a guy on his clipboard with all these people geared up with their backpacks and headsets with torches and then you’re just, you’re just off. Just running into the darkness, not knowing where to go. Oh god, the hill at the beginning. That was an incline that just kept going and going and going. I mean that was nerves. Thinking to myself what the hell did I get myself into. This is gonna… I’m already battling in the first five kilometers and haven’t even reached the top of this hill. I didn’t do the right training for this.

Bree: At this point early in the race, Tom begins to have a lot of emotions about how unprepared he is. His training did not prepare him for this difficult terrain.

Tom: The important thing with running is that you need a rhythm to be able to feel comfortable with your heart rate, your breathing patterns need to be consistent and if you break that pattern, your body just can’t cope but the fact that the terrain was just never flat, you’re running on sand, gravel, mud… At one point I was running through a river, your body just, you just can’t pick up a rhythm. It was 7 hours of running, so during that whole process, you are going through different mood swings. At the top, you know at one point after being so nervous and being thrown away by this weather in the first few kilometers, there were parts where I felt like I was the Mowgli, like the jungle boy, just like running freely, you know just loving life. And then you are going through emotions where you think you are lost.

I didn’t have a map on me. I didn’t actually use technology at all during the race. I saw people who had maps and laminated them so they could last the whole run. So I just went off logic of you know running these paths, following other people as well which you build a great connection with people. So when you see someone running off in the distance or someone catches up with you, it’s quite special because you’re not alone. There were times when I felt like I was running for like 10 kilometers just by myself in this area I’ve never run before and then when you have people running with you or when you come across someone you’re like ok that’s my safeguard. I’ve got someone who’s doing this race as well, and I’ll use him to get my motivation to get me through this race.

Bree: At some point in the middle of the race, Tom realizes that he is no longer with other runners. In fact, he’s completely alone. And then he discovers that he’s not on the correct trail. Tom is lost.

I took a wrong turn and instead of running along the coast, I went more inland. I realized when I hadn’t seen anyone for like a good 40 minutes. I was just thinking to myself, what have I done this time… this doesn’t…. I should be seeing water at this point around here but I haven’t.

Bree: At this point in the story, without GPS or a map, Tom uses his gut feeling, to try to find his way to the correct path.


Tom: Think logically. Where is the sun? Where is the sun? You know, you’re running towards the east of the island if you are facing a certain direction, so I just had to go off logic really and go off my gut feeling to think ok… this is the way back. They talk to you about if you don’t make it to the finish line, you know, you need to pack these aluminum bags to keep warm or something to keep warm during the night while the rescue team comes to get you. So there are things like that that play on your mind the whole time. Luckily enough, I did do a trial run and I did come across that same path that I ran. It was like I was thanking God at that point.

Bree: When he finally gets on the right path after a 5 km detour, Tom finds that he’s the only runner left. Without another runner in sight, muscles aching, and exhausted, he runs the final 15 km of the race all alone.


Tom: By the end of it, it was quite funny actually, my friends are waiting really patiently. I came hours after my expected finishing time and they were just waiting and waiting and waiting. The finish line, I actually came from the back, I didn’t actually finish the proper way and I’d literally walked up to my friends who had been facing and they were all looking curiously like where the hell is Tom? When is he going to finish this race? And I just walked up and literally being a meter away and said, ‘Oh hey guys’. And they were like, ‘What the!?’. They just got shocked and so they cheered and said aren’t you meant to be coming that way, and they were like I got lost on the way. Thanks for hanging around, you know. It was a massive relief and I think seeing them at the finish line really motivated me.

I was feeling pretty amazing. Being able to see Wilson’s Prom and that type of beauty in that way, I was really appreciative of the beauty in that sense. Yeah, it is something that will always be a part of me running and I always appreciate it and I will keep it up. You do go through the pain but the experience of being that close to, being through that much pain, you do appreciate life that much more.

Bree: Tom said that after the race, his leg muscles hurt so much that he struggled to even walk down the stairs. I don’t know about you, but I find the mindset behind runners just fascinating. Now, of course, fitness and achievement are big motivators, but training for, and then actually doing an event like Tom’s ultra marathon, can help us understand ourselves better.

It shows us our limits and our strengths. It’s much like working towards other goals in life. These days, Tom lives in 📍 Stockholm, Sweden, where he works as an architect focusing on sustainability. And of course, he continues running.

Okay, folks, if you’re loving this podcast, then you’ll definitely enjoy my newsletter too. Every few weeks, I’ll send you a quick email with practical tips and fascinating topics from the world of psychology and ways to make your life better. Just head over to IntoTheStoryPodcast.com and click subscribe.

It’s completely free. Okay, that’s all for today. Until the next episode, I hope that you have a good time or at least a good story to tell.

 

Bree: Hello, it’s your host Bree. I have always been just fascinated by people who decide to do extreme physical challenges. Whether you’re an active person or not, most of us know that 30 minutes of movement every day is good for us. It helps us feel good, maybe look in shape, and it also actually gives us more energy and then helps us feel more relaxed at the end of the day.

However, some people go one step further, or many steps further, and they do marathons, triathlons, and as we’ll hear in this episode, ultramarathons. Today, we are going into the story of Tom Zachariassen. Tom is from Melbourne, Australia. And on this episode, he tells us about running a 60 kilometer ultra marathon.

Tom: I tell people, like, when I do long distance running, and they, they think of me like, “how do you run all these kilometers and, you know, enjoy it and continue to do it?” It’s definitely not for everyone.

Bree: Today, Tom takes us to race day. After many months of training, he ends up facing a few unexpected challenges.

If you love Into the Story, then please share it with a friend. That is the best way to support the podcast. And thanks.

Okay. Before we get to today’s story, we’re going to look at five words that Tom uses. The first one is, to push yourself to do something. So if someone pushes themselves to do something, it means that they make a really big effort to do something that is difficult or challenging. For example, I push This is true, need to push myself to wake up early every morning, or she pushes herself to work harder every day, to push yourself to do something

Next, to clock, or to clock up. So this means to reach or gain a certain number or amount of something over time. So let’s look at a couple of examples. He clocked or clocked up 70 kilometers last week as part of his training for the ultramarathon. Or, she has clocked or clocked up. 200 hours of volunteer work this year to clock or clock up.

Next, to take a toll. So if something takes a toll, it has a bad or serious effect on someone or something over time. So look at these examples. working long hours takes a toll on our health. Or hard training takes a toll on your body. To take a toll.

Next, a gut feeling. So a gut feeling is that strong feeling or intuition that we have about something without a clear reason. For example, she had a gut feeling that something was wrong, or he trusted his gut feeling during the race. So when you have a gut feeling, you can also say, I’m going to go with my gut means that you’re going to go with your intuition to have a gut feeling.

And finally, a relief. So, a relief is feeling better and less worried after being stressed or anxious. For example, when the storm passed, they felt a great relief. Or, it was such a relief when I found my keys after I thought I had lost them. A Relief.

For the extended vocabulary list, the transcript, and a listening comprehension quiz, just go to our website into the story podcast.com. Okay, let’s get into the story.

 


Tom: I am Thomas Zachariessen. I am living in Stockholm Sweden at the moment and I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia. Running is a… it’s definitely not for everyone. I tell people, like when I do long distance running and that they think of me like, ´God I couldn’t think of anything more boring to do, you know… I’m not a runner. How do you run all these kilometers? And you know enjoy it and continue to do it? I do run just to get my mind off things, separate myself from technology and yeah just to unclog my mind and thoughts.

Bree: After having run other marathons, like the famous Great Ocean Road marathon on the south-eastern coast of Australia, Tom decides that he wants to sign himself up for a 60 km ultramarathon.

Tom: The run is something that I, I push myself to do. It’s a run that’s in Wilson Promontory. It’s a nature reserve, one of the largest and I think most beautiful preserved forests in Victoria. It’s absolutely massive. I thought, what better way to see than do an ultramarathon. So an ultramarathon is anything that’s longer than a marathon. It could be 60k, 80k, a hundred. A lot of people said… kind of reacted like here we go, another run that Tom wants to do. It was also because I wanted to raise funds for breast cancer and my mother was a sufferer of breast cancer so it was one way I wanted to give back to her. I think it was like 3 months out that I started the training for this.

Bree: To train for the ultramarathon, Tom had to run a lot! During his lunch hour at work, getting up early in morning…

You would have to probably clock about 75 to 80 kilometers. And you don’t actually run 60 km in the training so you’re in the building up your legs to be able to run that length on the, on the day. It is such a balance with life as well. There is running to keep your legs ticking, to clock your kilometers ahh it really takes its toll with like work, friends, your social life. You just have to think about the bigger picture.

Bree: Finally, after months of training, the day is here. Tom wakes up super early to get to the race on time. As he’s driving to Wilsons Promontory national park he discovers that the weather conditions are terrible.

Tom: The race starts at 5:30 so we have to get up at 4:30. Of course it was just like thunderstorms and raining in the morning. It had to happen right. At one point when we were driving down to the starting line, it didn’t, we actually had to stop because there was so much rain we couldn’t actually see out the windscreen. We parked and I got out of the car and I just ran off into the darkness because there’s no lights it’s just, it’s just a few cars. It’s a guy on his clipboard with all these people geared up with their backpacks and headsets with torches and then you’re just, you’re just off. Just running into the darkness, not knowing where to go. Oh god, the hill at the beginning. That was an incline that just kept going and going and going. I mean that was nerves. Thinking to myself what the hell did I get myself into. This is gonna… I’m already battling in the first five kilometers and haven’t even reached the top of this hill. I didn’t do the right training for this.

Bree: At this point early in the race, Tom begins to have a lot of emotions about how unprepared he is. His training did not prepare him for this difficult terrain.

Tom: The important thing with running is that you need a rhythm to be able to feel comfortable with your heart rate, your breathing patterns need to be consistent and if you break that pattern, your body just can’t cope but the fact that the terrain was just never flat, you’re running on sand, gravel, mud… At one point I was running through a river, your body just, you just can’t pick up a rhythm. It was 7 hours of running, so during that whole process, you are going through different mood swings. At the top, you know at one point after being so nervous and being thrown away by this weather in the first few kilometers, there were parts where I felt like I was the Mowgli, like the jungle boy, just like running freely, you know just loving life. And then you are going through emotions where you think you are lost.

I didn’t have a map on me. I didn’t actually use technology at all during the race. I saw people who had maps and laminated them so they could last the whole run. So I just went off logic of you know running these paths, following other people as well which you build a great connection with people. So when you see someone running off in the distance or someone catches up with you, it’s quite special because you’re not alone. There were times when I felt like I was running for like 10 kilometers just by myself in this area I’ve never run before and then when you have people running with you or when you come across someone you’re like ok that’s my safeguard. I’ve got someone who’s doing this race as well, and I’ll use him to get my motivation to get me through this race.

Bree: At some point in the middle of the race, Tom realizes that he is no longer with other runners. In fact, he’s completely alone. And then he discovers that he’s not on the correct trail. Tom is lost.

I took a wrong turn and instead of running along the coast, I went more inland. I realized when I hadn’t seen anyone for like a good 40 minutes. I was just thinking to myself, what have I done this time… this doesn’t…. I should be seeing water at this point around here but I haven’t.

Bree: At this point in the story, without GPS or a map, Tom uses his gut feeling, to try to find his way to the correct path.


Tom: Think logically. Where is the sun? Where is the sun? You know, you’re running towards the east of the island if you are facing a certain direction, so I just had to go off logic really and go off my gut feeling to think ok… this is the way back. They talk to you about if you don’t make it to the finish line, you know, you need to pack these aluminum bags to keep warm or something to keep warm during the night while the rescue team comes to get you. So there are things like that that play on your mind the whole time. Luckily enough, I did do a trial run and I did come across that same path that I ran. It was like I was thanking God at that point.

Bree: When he finally gets on the right path after a 5 km detour, Tom finds that he’s the only runner left. Without another runner in sight, muscles aching, and exhausted, he runs the final 15 km of the race all alone.


Tom: By the end of it, it was quite funny actually, my friends are waiting really patiently. I came hours after my expected finishing time and they were just waiting and waiting and waiting. The finish line, I actually came from the back, I didn’t actually finish the proper way and I’d literally walked up to my friends who had been facing and they were all looking curiously like where the hell is Tom? When is he going to finish this race? And I just walked up and literally being a meter away and said, ‘Oh hey guys’. And they were like, ‘What the!?’. They just got shocked and so they cheered and said aren’t you meant to be coming that way, and they were like I got lost on the way. Thanks for hanging around, you know. It was a massive relief and I think seeing them at the finish line really motivated me.

I was feeling pretty amazing. Being able to see Wilson’s Prom and that type of beauty in that way, I was really appreciative of the beauty in that sense. Yeah, it is something that will always be a part of me running and I always appreciate it and I will keep it up. You do go through the pain but the experience of being that close to, being through that much pain, you do appreciate life that much more.

Bree: Tom said that after the race, his leg muscles hurt so much that he struggled to even walk down the stairs. I don’t know about you, but I find the mindset behind runners just fascinating. Now, of course, fitness and achievement are big motivators, but training for, and then actually doing an event like Tom’s ultra marathon, can help us understand ourselves better.

It shows us our limits and our strengths. It’s much like working towards other goals in life. These days, Tom lives in 📍 Stockholm, Sweden, where he works as an architect focusing on sustainability. And of course, he continues running.

Okay, folks, if you’re loving this podcast, then you’ll definitely enjoy my newsletter too. Every few weeks, I’ll send you a quick email with practical tips and fascinating topics from the world of psychology and ways to make your life better. Just head over to IntoTheStoryPodcast.com and click subscribe.

It’s completely free. Okay, that’s all for today. Until the next episode, I hope that you have a good time or at least a good story to tell.

 

Episode's vocabulary List

*vocabulary featured in podcast

*TO PUSH YOURSELF TO DO SOMETHING: To make a big effort to do something. Examples: “I need to push myself to stay awake until midnight.” or “He pushes himself to work harder every day.”

*TO CLOCK / TO CLOCK UP: To reach a certain number or amount of something. Examples: “He clocked 70 kilometers last week as part of his training.” or “She has clocked up 200 hours of volunteer work this year.”

*TAKE A TOLL: To have a bad effect on someone or something. Examples: “Working long hours takes a toll on health.” or “Hard training takes a toll on your body.”

ULTRAMARATHON: A race longer than 42 kilometers. Examples: “He trained for months to run the ultramarathon.” or “Completing an ultramarathon is a huge achievement.”

PROMONTORY: A formation of land that extends out into the sea or a large lake. Examples: “They stood on the promontory and looked out at the ocean.” or “The lighthouse was built on a promontory to guide ships.”

THE BIG PICTURE: The overall view or perspective of a situation, considering all aspects. Examples: “When planning a project, it’s important to look at the big picture.” or “He focused on the details without losing sight of the big picture.”

GRAVEL: The surface of the ground covered with little stones. Examples: “The path to the house was covered in gravel.” or “He walked carefully on the gravel road to avoid slipping.”

MASSIVE: Very big, enormous. Examples: “They saw a massive whale in the ocean.” or “The building was massive, towering over the city.”

MUD: A wet and soft mixture of earth and water. Examples: “After the rain, the field was full of mud.” or “The children loved playing in the mud.”

TICKING: A regular short and sharp sound, or to keep something continuously moving. Examples: “She could hear the ticking of the clock in the quiet room.” or “The engine was ticking, keeping the machine running smoothly.”

UNCLOG: To remove something that is stuck or collected in another thing. Examples: “She used a plunger to unclog the sink.” or “They had to unclog the drainpipe to stop the flooding.”

*GUT FEELING: A strong feeling about something without a clear reason. Examples: “She had a gut feeling that something was wrong.” or “He trusted his gut feeling during the race.”

*RELIEF: Feeling better after being worried or stressed. Examples: “When the storm passed, they felt great relief.” or “Finding her lost keys was such a relief.”

*vocabulary featured in podcast

*TO PUSH YOURSELF TO DO SOMETHING: To make a big effort to do something. Examples: “I need to push myself to stay awake until midnight.” or “He pushes himself to work harder every day.”

*TO CLOCK / TO CLOCK UP: To reach a certain number or amount of something. Examples: “He clocked 70 kilometers last week as part of his training.” or “She has clocked up 200 hours of volunteer work this year.”

*TAKE A TOLL: To have a bad effect on someone or something. Examples: “Working long hours takes a toll on health.” or “Hard training takes a toll on your body.”

ULTRAMARATHON: A race longer than 42 kilometers. Examples: “He trained for months to run the ultramarathon.” or “Completing an ultramarathon is a huge achievement.”

PROMONTORY: A formation of land that extends out into the sea or a large lake. Examples: “They stood on the promontory and looked out at the ocean.” or “The lighthouse was built on a promontory to guide ships.”

THE BIG PICTURE: The overall view or perspective of a situation, considering all aspects. Examples: “When planning a project, it’s important to look at the big picture.” or “He focused on the details without losing sight of the big picture.”

GRAVEL: The surface of the ground covered with little stones. Examples: “The path to the house was covered in gravel.” or “He walked carefully on the gravel road to avoid slipping.”

MASSIVE: Very big, enormous. Examples: “They saw a massive whale in the ocean.” or “The building was massive, towering over the city.”

MUD: A wet and soft mixture of earth and water. Examples: “After the rain, the field was full of mud.” or “The children loved playing in the mud.”

TICKING: A regular short and sharp sound, or to keep something continuously moving. Examples: “She could hear the ticking of the clock in the quiet room.” or “The engine was ticking, keeping the machine running smoothly.”

UNCLOG: To remove something that is stuck or collected in another thing. Examples: “She used a plunger to unclog the sink.” or “They had to unclog the drainpipe to stop the flooding.”

*GUT FEELING: A strong feeling about something without a clear reason. Examples: “She had a gut feeling that something was wrong.” or “He trusted his gut feeling during the race.”

*RELIEF: Feeling better after being worried or stressed. Examples: “When the storm passed, they felt great relief.” or “Finding her lost keys was such a relief.”

Listening Comprehension Test

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More about Thomas Zachariassen

EP 21 Thomas Zachariassen - Into the Story Podcast - Improve your English listening to true stories

Thomas running the ultramarathon

Thomas Zachariassen is an interior architect, from Melboure Australia, based in Stockholm Sweden, whose work focuses on sustainability and building more resilient cities. 

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