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Running 100 Miles Toward the Health Evolution Summit

By Russell Benaroya



It’s quiet the morning of a 100 mile ultra trail race.  When all of the preparation and planning yields to the only thing that separates you from success:  100 miles of foot pounding, heart aching, mind bending, patience trying, majestic trails.

Last Saturday (April 8th, 2016) I completed the Zion 100, a 100 mile trail race that unfolds the human spirit like the deep layers of rock that created this epic canyon landscape in Southern Utah.  We started at 6am on Friday and at 9:30am Saturday I crossed the finish line having tackled 10,000 feet of elevation and a maze of trails designed to test just how bad I wanted it.  I wanted it bad.

I’m coming into this week with more commitment, more passion and more resolve to tackle life’s “trails”.  It is so apropos to gear up for the next “ultra event” at the Health Evolution Summit(HES) later this week.  Whether literally running 100 miles or figuratively navigating healthcare transformation, the attributes for success and the circumstances that determine them are similar.   

The Health Evolution Summit is the most concentrated display of leadership in healthcare, where athletes come together to figure out how to become better, faster, smarter, adaptable, and triumphant in leading an industry transformation that will improve the lives of millions of people. 

If you want to know what if feels like to run 100 miles, connect with these concepts in building your healthcare enterprise and test them this week if you’re going to be at HES. 

You can’t do it alone.  I was feeling fresh for 40 miles.  But then my legs started hurting, my stomach ached and I started questioning if I had another 60 miles in me.  At just the right time (of course) I ran next to a gal who was running a bit faster than my pace, we struck up a conversation and we ran together for the rest of the race.  She gave me renewed energy, pushed me harder, and provided a new outlook on a shared journey.

Be grateful even when it hurts.  I had a three-word mantra during the run:  Bravery, Grit, and Gratitude (BGG).  When the chips were down I repeated my BGG but I think the most important word was “Gratitude”.  At the lowest points, in the pouring rain of a mud laden trail soup, I was grateful to have this unique experience.  Even in the dips, gratitude is a powerful force.

Constantly scan for the problem areas and fix them.  I often get asked, “What do you think about for that long?”  It’s always a little hard to remember in my delirium but most of the time I’m scanning my body to check in on my systems.  How are my feet?  Am I getting enough nutrition?  How is my self talk?  There is always a system that needs attention and when I focus on solving that system I can free my mind up to tackle the next thing.  Ignoring the primary source of pain drains energy in a big way if it isn’t addressed quickly.

Take off the smartwatch.  Who doesn’t love metrics.  They are essential rails to know if you’re on the right course.  But I’ve learned to be careful about over reliance on data for such a long event.  If my metrics are too stringent I won’t take risks because I want to play it safe.  If I had been monitoring my heart rate the whole time I guarantee I would have taken more breaks and probably missed a cutoff time to continue on.  Sometimes the most important metric is being clear on the goal and having the flexibility to do what feels right at the time to achieve it.  Sure I might fail but not for lack of “going for it”.

We’re all on this journey together.  What I love about the ultra-community is that it is so supportive.  I saw the fastest runners on the course a number of times and we always said the same thing to each other, “You’re doing great.  Way to go.  Keep it up.”  We all have a common goal and yes, we might achieve it at different times but we’re aligned and that alignment propels the whole system forward. 

So here we are, heading into this week at the Health Evolution Summit in Laguna, surrounded by a different kind of ultra-community but one that is running an equally challenging 100-mile race.   I’m grateful that I could complete the Zion 100 but it can’t match the grit and bravery that will be required to transform healthcare in our country. 

That we must do together.

I want to thank Julie Murchinson and her team at the Health Evolution Summit for providing some great support and encouragement leading up to the Zion 100.  I appreciate the relationship and all that you are doing to transform healthcare.

Posted on April 11, 2016 09:49 PM