June 16, 2015 at 11:37AM
"Ultrarunning doesn't have a governing body to say  how often an athlete can race in a season." #readingToday  

That's not to say that athletes in other sports aren't working hard. They are. But they typically do so within a team environment or under the direction of a professional coach, providing them with well-established frameworks for success. Even though ultrarunning has grown, there's still little infrastructure to support its competitors. Sponsorships mean full-time careers, but that rarely includes coaching. Most top runners oversee their own training, logging miles with other ultra stars, who often share the same dangerous mix of characteristics: a high tolerance for suffering, rejection of moderation, and the belief that the top performers are the ones who train the most. Inside this bubble, many runners are reluctant to complain or discuss their own struggles, making OTS, until very recently, a silent plague. And there's no organized response to keep it from spreading. Ultrarunning doesn't have a governing body to, say, dictate how often an athlete can race in a season. Sponsors, meanwhile, are only just beginning to learn how dangerous OTS can be.

Over the past decade, ultrarunning has gone from a fringe pursuit for distance freaks to a hypercompetitive sport attracting big-time sponsors. But a mysterious training condition is suddenly plaguing its ranks, robbing a generation of top athletes of their talents and forcing victims to wonder: Is it possible to love this sport too much?