“Everyone wants to feel success”

Editor’s note: This week we are sharing an ADHD success story by Chad Rickner. Chad ran his first Ultra Marathon this year at age 40. He contacted us earlier this year because he wanted to dedicate run to the students served by the Edge Foundation. We want to thank Chad for raising $1,250 (matched by JSF) to provide ADHD coaches for students and also congratulate him for successfully completing his goal.

Until about 8 months prior to running in l’Eco-Trail à Paris, I never dreamed I would be running a 50km (31 miles) ultra marathon right before I turned 40. Actually, I never really dreamed I would be a runner. I always hated it. I had never even run a 10 km race, let alone an ultra. I guess interests change as you get older. (I even like eating broccoli now!)

The reason I began running in the first place was to calm and clear my mind, to lift my mood, and to just feel healthy and happy. I understand the physiology of exercise and have always understood the benefits, but wanted to see what running in particular could do for me. (Editor’s Note: see Exercise Can Reduce ADHD Symptoms.) So, I figured if I were going to run, I might as well run a long (long) way.

When doubt gives way to confidence

If I had to pick one thing about my race that stood out to me, it would be the emotional part. At the beginning of the race, I was a bit nervous, but in a positive way. I had put in the training and prepared as best as I could, but I wondered if it would be enough. As the doubt began to enter my thoughts, the race began and I suddenly felt okay. Doubt gave way to confidence and I was on my way to finishing my first ultra!

Through the first 20 kilometers, I felt pretty good. I wasn’t trying to win this thing, but I definitely wanted to finish. However, I wouldn’t really be able to know exactly how far I had gone due to the fact that I had left my phone at home, and the running app I used to track my distance was… of course… on my phone.=

I began to question myself more and more. I kept wondering where the first aid station was. I kept thinking that I should have already arrived, but it was nowhere to be found. It was also quite warm that day and I was sweating more than I was used to. Obviously, I was drinking more as a result of the temperature and ended up running out of fluid.

I began to panic a bit because I knew that dehydration could end a race pretty quickly. I was wondering if I filled up my pack completely or if I was just sweating it out. After about 20 minutes, I finally saw it, the oasis in the desert, the first aid station.

I had made it the first 28 kilometers and felt okay! I rehydrated, ate some food, and then sat down for a minute. I quickly began to calculate how far I still had to go and immediately found the doubt creeping back in. My feet hurt, I was sweating profusely, and I was just over half way there.

What had I been thinking when I signed up for this race in the first place? I was kicking myself and beating myself up over this latest venture. I don’t know if you can relate (laugh), but I have made some pretty stupid decisions that, at the time, seemed like good ideas. Can anyone relate?

So here I was sitting at the first aid station thinking that I had done it again, when all of a sudden I simply “got over myself.” After all I had put in countless hours training, additional hours reading everything I could about ultra marathons, and had the love and support of my family behind me. So I popped up and took off again… after making sure I had filled my hydration pack to the brim.

Back on the trail, I never doubted myself again. I was physically exhausted by 40 kilometers, but wasn’t going to let anything stop me (except for maybe getting hit by a truck or some other disaster.) My goal now was to get to the finish line in time to meet my wife and kids. They had travelled all way to Paris with me, and I wasn’t about to drop out now.

My motivation level soared, although my body didn’t know exactly how to catch up. For the last 10 kilometers I felt the pain, but knew that I would make it. I had always been an underachiever and had felt the pain of failure so many times before, and I wasn’t going to let that happen again. Needless to say, I crossed the finish line and was welcomed by my incredible wife and kids.

It took 7 hours and 14 minutes, but I made it!

Dedicating my run to Edge

I was thrilled to be able to help raise money for the Edge Foundation through my running, and it gave the race even more meaning. Exercise is a way that I have been able to “clear my head” and to generally balance my brain chemistry. I know that Edge really promotes exercise as a part of a bigger plan to manage ADHD. I’m behind them all the way, and hope to see more people support such a worthwhile organization.

Just as I felt like a success when I finished my first ultra, the Edge Foundation helps students feel successful in finishing academic challenges. Everyone wants to feel success!

 — Chad Rickner

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