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Monthly Archives - January 2019

Javier Dominguez

Well runners, another podcast episode and we surely have a treat for you! Spanish runner Javier Dominguez is a winner of many ultra races. 2017 was a fantastic year for him as he won two incredibly hard races…The TDG and the  Ehunmilak. Actually he wont the  Ehunmilak “Five, six or seven times” as Javi put it himself (to know the exact number, listen to the whole podcast). When Javi shows up for a race, definitely make him an athlete to watch. His athletic abilities and his positive attitude make him a formidable athlete.
 Javi describes himself as a normal guy with a normal childhood ” Tiny child, who likes playing football, being with friends. Nothing more special than that.” He wasn’t always the competitor that he is today, his motivation was spending time with people and sharing experiences. While he might be more competitive today, he still enjoys those things and being active as it makes him feel alive.
Javi didn’t start running till his 30s. “I was getting very old and I thought I could do a marathon”. It was also a way to distract himself from the thesis he was working on at the time. He enjoyed his first experience so much that running became a part of his repetoire. It wasn’t till years later that he attempted Ultras, and loving the outdoors, he found it to be a natural fit. However he did ease into it, starting with 40k and working his way up.
He loves the preparation and commitment required to do ultras. He wouldn’t be able to do it if he didn’t enjoy the process of the race vs being attached to the results.”You need to like what you do. whether you are running a race, reading a book, writing a book or building a house.” This love and desire to enjoy the race also impacts his selection process of the races he participates in. Travel, spending time with friends, going to a new race….all are factors in him creating his “Mini race holidays”.
Javi chooses to focus a lot  on his positive outlook, in racing and in life “You will have up and downs, when you are down you need to think about it going up again.” However this is not a trait he always had, he definitely worked on it. “I think I wasn’t as positive as I was now. Maybe because I have found in this hobby an escape and a hobby that makes me feel alive.”  
Well not many people can turn their hobby into such a successfull career as well. Also his “hobby” got him a sponsorship from Vibram. “I feel very lucky with the sponsorship and my achievements with me hobby.” Javi feels like it was one of the best choices he made  “We are a group of friends and like family”. Plus it also opened new avenues “It opened a lot of gates for me. I could travel to races. They gave me a lot of support, not only with gear, but also races.” The amazing gear if a huge bonus of course. 

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Making Meditation Part of Your Training Routine

It’s long been widely recognized that regular meditation practice brings a variety of health benefits. Reduced anxiety and depression, increased pain tolerance, improved attention span, lower blood pressure, and improved sleep are just a few of the medically acknowledged benefits to mindfulness.

That’s a list that looks like it could double as a description of the benefits of long distance running, which may be what inspired a team of researchers to examine the effects of combining meditation and running1. Their research suggested was a big win for the combined program, which is one of the reasons we now see ultra running pros, like two-time Western States 100-mile winner Timothy Allen Olson and three-time Hardrock 100 winner Darcy Piceu, advocate for what they call “mindful running.”

Getting Started

 

Photo Credit: Meditation

If you’ve never meditated before, you won’t accomplish much trying to get your first session in on the road. Instead, you should start by adding a short, seated meditation session before you start your workout.

Find a comfortable seat—there’s no need to cross your legs, unless you’d like to—close your eyes, and tune in to a guided meditation program. There are several applications available serving exactly this purpose. Three favorites:

Calm – an excellent meditation primer. The freely available “Seven Days of Calm” unit is a perfect place to start, and the additional features are well worth the subscription cost.
Headspace – another solid introduction. The free offering isn’t quite as robust as Calm’s, but the opening session is slightly more approachable.
Run Mindful – Timothy Allen Olson’s own offering to the selection, an app made specifically for endurance runners.

Once you’ve got the program running, all you have to do is sit still, listen for about ten minutes, and do the best that you can to follow along. There’s no need to worry about whether you’re doing it right, just trying will be enough to improve.

Immediate Benefits

timothy olson Photo Credit: Timothy olson

Over time, you’ll start to notice better sleep, experience reduced stress, and exhibit lower impulsivity and greater patience in your daily life. The improvements won’t be limited to long-term gains: in the short term, you’ve brought your breath under control, lowered your heart rate, and cleared your mind of the day’s stress. Pay close attention, and you may notice a marked difference in the quality of that first workout.

Honing the Mind-Body Connection

Depending on the guide program that you choose, you’ll likely encounter body scan meditations. These meditations encourage you to mentally scan your body from end to end (usually head to toe), carefully observing any and all sensations. With practice, these body scans can help you discover knots, tightness, and posture imbalances. Sometimes, simply noticing a pain that you’ve been ignoring is enough to relieve the tension. Even when it isn’t, if you pay attention to the signs, you’ll know when you need a little extra stretch, or a date with the roller.

Take It to The Road

Mediatation

Photo Credit: Meditation is a positive mantra

As you grow in your meditation practice, you are essentially developing the ability to train your focus on one stimulus while tuning out distractions. At first, the stimulus will almost always be the rhythm of your own breath, but once you’ve got the knack, you can substitute anything. That’s when it’s time to take the show on the road.

Some mindful runners like to silently repeat a positive mantra (a simple, short, repetitive statement, usually reflecting a goal or ideal). Focusing on the finish line can be a strong motivator, or general thoughts about life can help influence positive thinking outside the run.

You can apply the body scan technique here, too. Any time pain crops up as a distraction, you can try impartially listening to it. Our natural instinct is to push pain aside, which often leads to unconscious changes in form and stride. By making an effort to listen to the pain, welcome it, and understand it, we avoid making these comfortable negative corrections, and give ourselves a much better chance of correctly identifying and treating the problem. As Timothy Allen Olson told REI, “When you observe it and accept it, many times pain simply dissolves.”2

Mindful Running Retreats

If you want to make the advantages of mindfulness a part of your running routine, but you don’t think a phone app will get you there, there is help available. As the practice has grown in popularity, there’s been a movement toward group mindful running retreats. Timothy Olson’s Adventure Mindful is one of the groups on the forefront of this movement. They’ve got retreats planned for 2019 in the Canary Islands, Colorado, and Austria, which include trail running for all experience levels, mindfulness training, food, and transportation.

“MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity.” B L Alderman, R L Olson, C J Brush & T J Shors. Translational Psychiatry volume6, pagee726 (2016). https://www.nature.com/articles/tp2015225
“For Runners: How to Stop Stalling and Start Meditating.” Kelly Bastone. REI. May 15, 2018. https://www.rei.com/blog/run/meditation-for-runners

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The Race is on for Big Dog’s Golden Tickets

Gary Cantrell (or Lazarus Lake, to some) began organizing endurance races in 1979, when he founded Tennessee’s Strolling Jim 40 because he wanted to run and couldn’t find a local ultra. He and his races have become a fixture in the ultra running community since then, and his Barkley Marathons has become known as one of the most famously creative, and infamously difficult racing events in the world.

Photo Credit : Gary Cantrell

As the sport grew around him, Cantrell felt that the events themselves had suffered. Where each race had once been a major social event amongst a tight community of runners, now the participants were all in a hurry to get to the next thing, too busy to stop and chat.

Perhaps it was longing for this sense of community that inspired Cantrell to host the first Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra on his own Bell Buckle, Tennessee property in 2012. Since then, it’s been one of the most coveted starting lines in endurance running, with a full field every year, and wait lists so long that dozens of imitators have sprung up across the globe to meet the demand.

The Rules

  • The “Backyard Ultra” concept is as appealingly simple as the race is appallingly difficult:
  • Runners repeat a series of loops around the same course until only one runner remains.
  • Each loop is 4.16667 miles in length.
  • The time limit for each loop is one hour.
  • In between loops, runners wait in the starting corral.
  • Each loop begins exactly one hour after the previous loop.
  • 3, 2, and 1 minute warnings are given prior to the start of a new loop.
  • If a runner does not start a loop on time, they are disqualified.
  • Runners cannot leave the course or receive aid during a loop.
  • The winner is the last runner to complete a loop. All other runners are DNF.
  • If no runner completes one more loop than all other runners, there is no winner.

In the 2018 edition, Johan Steele of Stockholm, Sweden lasted 68 loops and 68 hours, outlasting Courtney Dauwalter of Golden, Colorado to set the race record (Dauwalter’s 67 loops was good for second in course history).

Golden Tickets

On the race’s official Facebook page, Cantrell, posting as Lazarus Lake, has made no secret about his distaste for narrowing down the applications into a practical field of competitors. His commitment to ensuring that the most deserving athletes are able to participate, combined with the growing popularity of “Backyard Ultra” race format, has led to another interesting solution.

For the 2019 Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra, 10 registration slots (“Golden tickets”) have been held for the winners of several affiliated international events that follow the same format. The list was posted to the event’s Facebook page earlier this year, but, as with anything Cantrell, the informal nature of the list means that it may be subject to sudden change.

  • Dubai: 02/02/19: Desert Trail Backyard Ultra
  • Ireland: 02/16/19: Last One Standing
  • Norway: 03/22/19: Ostmarka Backyard Ultra
  • Denmark: 03/22/19: Great Dane Backyard Ultra
  • Hong Kong: 04/19/19: Big Boar’s Backyard Challenge
  • New Zealand: 05/03/2019: Riverhead Backyard Relaps
  • England: 06/08/19: Last One Standing
  • Australia: 06/15/19: Mirrim Wurnit Backpaddock Ultra
  • Germany: 06/20/19: Bienwald Backyard Ultra
  • Sweden: 07/06/19: Sydkusten Backyard Ultra

In addition to the 10 international entries, two golden tickets have been held for the highest mileage winners from this set of North American affiliates.

Florida: 02/09/19: Death at Dupuis Canal Backyard Ultra
Ohio: 03/23/19: The Ohio Backyard
California: 04/12/19: Embrace the SUC Backyard Ultra
Texas: 04/13/19: The Game Backyard UItra
Ohio: 05/05/19: Bob’s Big Timber Backyard Ultra
North Salem, NY: 06/21/19: Mountain Lakes Backyard Ultra
Alberta: 06/21/19: Outrun Backyard Ultra

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Jacob Puzey

Training Tips from Three of Ultra Running’s Coaches

Ultra Running’s Training Tips Whether they’re gearing up for your first marathon, making a third attempt at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k, or testing their legs on a 24-hour, the most important piece of any long-distance runner’s preparation is a thorough, intentional training plan. The right regimen can spur an athlete to P.R.s and victory laps, and a mistimed routine can leave the same athlete on dead legs before the starting pistol fires.
With so much riding on a runner’s routine, there’s little wonder that a handful of high profile champions have leveraged their racing success into reputations as the sport’s ultimate gurus. Let’s check in with three of the top trainers in ultrarunning for a quick primer on the techniques and philosophies that carry their clients to the finish.

Sundog Running’s Ian Torrence

Ian

Photo Credit: lan ultrarunner

Ian Torrence has built a sterling reputation in the ultrarunning world, winning 53 of the 200 ultras he’s completed. 27 of his finishes have been 100-mile runs. Formerly a coach under the legendary Greg McMillan, Ian and partner Emily Torrence (nee Harrison) formed Sundog Running in the hopes of reaching more runners. They offer personal coaching services, advisement, and weekly training plan packages, and keep up a blog with free tips for all levels of experience.
The Sundog team stress individualized plans for each athlete. They build long-term plans for the full season based on the runner’s goals, experience, form, injury history, life events, and fitness gains.

Training Zones

Torrence’s training philosophy revolves around four training zones, each of which focuses on improving a small subset of the body functions involved in an endurance run. This allows a runner to emulate the effects of extreme distance in shorter training sessions. As Torrence himself wrote in Trail Runner Magazine, “Training is the art of replicating different exertion levels in short, controlled bouts so that our body and mind may adapt to the new stressors and be better able to handle that workload on race day.”

  • In the Spring Zone and Neuromuscular Training phase, we enhance the ability to run quickly when our muscles our inundated with lactic acid. This includes workouts like neuromuscular strides, and interval springs with slow jogging recovery between. In this zone, a focus on proper form is stressed.
  • During Speed Zone Training we run full speed for extended durations (8 to 15 minute bursts) to improve mechanics, recruit fast-twitch muscle fiber, improve our metabolic pathways to use fuel more efficiently, and improve the rate of oxygen uptake from blood into muscles.
  • To improve the body’s ability to remove lactic acid building, we use Stamina Zone Training, which consists of race pace work for an hour or more. Steady state runs, tempo runs, tempo intervals, cruise intervals, and progression runs are a few recommended Stamina Zone exercises.
  • Lastly, Endurance Zone Training, which forms the bulk of the training under Torrence’s plans. These runs improve the ability to run for long durations, maintain aerobic fitness, and maximize the capacity to train and recover in the other three zones. These are long, easier runs where the heart rate should not rise about 70% of the runner’s maximum threshold.

Base Phase

Torrence’s plans interweave the 4 training zones throughout four training phases. The first phase is the base phase. This phase should make up more than half of a runner’s training throughout the year, and consists of lighter work in all four training zones to keep the body fast and efficient without a high degree of exertion.

Pre-Race Specific Phase

This consists of a 4 to 6 week ramp-up phase. Runners in this phase perform roughly the same exercises as in the base phase, but slowly increase distance, duration, and intensity to prepare the body for hard running.

Race Specific

Three to 10 weeks of full intensity in all four zones. During this phase, the runner focuses most strongly on their individual weaknesses and on the specific demands of the race.

Peaking

For the last two to three weeks before the race, Torrence’s team recommends maintaining the race specific routine and intensity, but gradually dropping the volume of each run to rest while maintaining peak form.

Jacob Puzey of Peak Run Performance

Jacob Puzey

Photo credit: Jacob Puzey

Compared to Ian Torrence, Peak Run Performance founder Jacob Puzey has had a slightly rockier road to renown in the running community. While Torrence’s claims to fame largely hinge on his own running career, Puzey became a name in the running community when he returned to Hermiston High School, his Alma Mater, and coached the cross-country team to their first ever state title. Despite the differences, the two do share one key link: both have worked as coached under the legendary Greg McMillan.

Training On A Treadmill

As holder of the 50-mile treadmill world record, Jacob Puzey is a major proponent of training on a treadmill. He sees treadmills as a technological advantage, a way to help balance the demands of long running with the other commitments of a busy life.

Aside from taking advantage of treadmill time to spend time with family while training, catch up on TV, or listen to an audiobook, Puzey also loves it for form improvement: put a mirror in front of the treadmill (or find one near the mirrors at the gym) and watch yourself run.

Finding Your Form

If you’re not sure what to look for in the mirror, Coach Puzey has a lot of great advice available on the Peak Run Performance YouTube channel, including an excellent series on injury prevention that serious runners absolutely must see.

In his “Running Form Cues” primer, he provides these vital tips to help with efficiency, speed, and safety.

  • Relax your jaw. To get the feel for this, Puzey recommends clenching your teeth and then letting go until your mouth is slightly open. A tight jaw causes tension in the neck, which can travel through the back, shoulders, and even into the glutes and hamstrings.
  • Relax the shoulders, too. To test this out, raise them as high as possible, then drop them to your sides.
  • Hold your elbows at a 90-degree angle, and don’t open and close them while you run. Your arm movement should be driven from the shoulders, almost like putting your hands into your pockets.
  • Don’t let your hands cross your upper body.
  • Hold your hands slightly closed, but not clenched, with the thumbs on top, nearly touching the index finger. Puzey suggests visualizing a delicate, dry leaf between the thumb and finger.
  • Hold your body tall while you run, with a slight lean forward at the ankles. Your feet should strike the ground directly beneath your hip.
  • Sage Canaday’s Sage Running

Photo Credit: Sage Canaday’s Sage Running

Sage Canaday has been running, and winning, on some of the sports biggest stages for 16 years. His pro endurance wins include the World Long Distance Mountain Championship (Pikes Peak Ascent), the Tarawera 100k, the Speedgoat 50km, and TNF50 mile championships.

Through his and Coach Sandi Nypaver’s Sage Running coaching company, Sage offers training plans and advice to runners across the world. His Vo2maxProductions YouTube channel, where he releases training tips, gear reviews, and other content, has over 100,000 subscribers.

Feeling Based Training

As vital as a strong training plan is, it can be even more important to know when to know when to leave the plan behind, so Sage Running’s training plans are all based on how the runner feels. Canaday and Nypaver futher explain the philosophy in a joint post on the Sage Running site, “The Art of Feeling Based Training”.

In the same post, they offer several tips to avoid (or recover from) overtraining.

  • The coaches caution that poor sleep, incomplete nutrition, long term stress, or bad caffeine habits can all mimic the symptoms of overtraining. If you maintain healthy habits outside of running, it will be easier to tell when your body needs more rest.
  • Be honest with yourself when evaluating your condition. You don’t want to force yourself to meet the schedule unless you’re sure it’s right for your body.
  • Bad quality of sleep, an uncharacteristically sour disposition, a weak immune system, or an elevated resting heart rate can all be signs of overtraining.
  • If you have overtrained, check your training logs to get a sense of where you went wrong. For now, cut back on hard runs and mileage. Go easy until you’re feeling normal, and then cautiously ramp back up to full intensity over a few weeks.

Don’t Underestimate Easy Runs

Canaday is a big believer in easy runs, and pushes runners to take them at an even lighter pace than they typically expect. Pushing the pace on easy runs limits your ability to recover from the hard days. The key is to get enough work in to keep your heart rate elevated for an extended period, while still giving yourself enough rest to heal from your more intense work. The exercise strengthens your heart, builds capillaries and increases the efficiency with which your body transfers oxygen to your muscles.

Make the Long Runs Count

The long runs on Coach Canaday’s schedule are all specific workouts, rather than pure mileage. Canaday believes that this is the most effective way to simulate race conditions for event specific training exercises, so he makes them an integral part of his training. To further simulate the intensity of competition, Canaday recommends planning long run workouts so that the second half of the run is taken at a much faster overall pace than the first half.

“The Dream Season,” Ian Torrence. July 11, 2013. https://trailrunnermag.com/training/training-plans/the-dream-season.html

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Revenant

21 Take on The Revenant, None Finish

On January 18th, 2019, a field of 21 runners set out on the inaugural running of The Revenant, a New Zealand race in the vein of North America’s Barkley’s Marathons, which bills itself as “an unsupported individual or two person team Ultra Adventure Run.”

Navigated perfectly, the course runs 190km over four laps, with 16,000m of vertical ascent, but unmarked courses, unmanned checkpoints, and a ban on GPS navigation make a perfect lap far from a given.

After race directors Leroy DeBeer and Scott Worthington set the tone by performing a haka that Tim Riwhi wrote specifically for the event, runners set off into the early morning dark. Heavy cloud cover and a low rolling fog made for slow progress over the difficult bush terrain even as the sun began to rise. Working their way through a particularly difficult passage near the 8th checkpoint took some runners over 6 hours on the first lap, and at least three runners withdrew from the race without ever making it out.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, three New Zealand locals, Tim Sutton, Angus Watson, and Ian Evans reached the end of the lap first, after more than 14 hours on the trail. Shaun Collins, Mathew Jeans, Tom Reynolds, and Alistair Shelton soon joined them round out the short list of runners who embarked on the second lap.

Eventually, Ian Evans made it furthest into the course, nearly completing the lap two under the 30-hour cutoff in good physical condition. He chose to withdraw minutes from the end of the lap because he had lost his map. No other runner made a serious challenge at beating the cutoff, and no runners started the 3rd lap at all.

Tapping the Whiskey

A local New Zealand legend holds that a whiskey bottle has always been hidden at Welcome Rock, to help out travelers, adventurers, and miners in a cold and exposed locations.

Revenant

Photo credit: Revenant

To honor the tradition, the race organizers procured a sealed bottle of Welcome Rock Whisky, labeled specially for the Revenant, which sat, sealed, on the check-in table at the starting area throughout the race. As runners resigned, timed out, or were disqualified, each was expected to tap the bottle to officially signal their withdrawal from the race.

The honor of opening the whiskey would have gone to the winner, but since all 21 participants tapped the bottle in 2019, it remains sealed for at least another year.

If you want to take your own shot at opening the bottle, keep an eye on The Revenant’s official web page for updates on the 2020 edition.

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Making Meditation Part of Your Training Routine

It’s long been widely recognized that regular meditation practice brings a variety of health benefits. Reduced anxiety and depression, increased pain tolerance, improved attention span, lower blood pressure, and improved sleep are just a few of the medically acknowledged benefits to mindfulness. 

That’s a list that looks like it could double as a description of the benefits of long distance running, which may be what inspired a team of researchers to examine the effects of combining meditation and running1. Their research suggested was a big win for the combined program, which is one of the reasons we now see ultra running pros, like two-time Western States 100-mile winner Timothy Allen Olson and three-time Hardrock 100 winner Darcy Piceu, advocate for what they call “mindful running.” 

Getting Started

If you’ve never meditated before, you won’t accomplish much trying to get your first session in on the road.  Instead, you should start by adding a short, seated meditation session before you start your workout. 

Find a comfortable seat—there’s no need to cross your legs, unless you’d like to—close your eyes, and tune in to a guided meditation program. There are several applications available serving exactly this purpose. Three favorites: 

Calm – an excellent meditation primer. The freely available “Seven Days of Calm” unit is a perfect place to start, and the additional features are well worth the subscription cost. 

Headspace – another solid introduction. The free offering isn’t quite as robust as Calm’s, but the opening session is slightly more approachable. 

Run Mindful – Timothy Allen Olson’s own offering to the selection, an app made specifically for endurance runners. 

Once you’ve got the program running, all you have to do is sit still, listen for about ten minutes, and do the best that you can to follow along. There’s no need to worry about whether you’re doing it right, just trying will be enough to improve. 

Immediate Benefits

Over time, you’ll start to notice better sleep, experience reduced stress, and exhibit lower impulsivity and greater patience in your daily life. The improvements won’t be limited to long-term gains: in the short term, you’ve brought your breath under control, lowered your heart rate, and cleared your mind of the day’s stress. Pay close attention, and you may notice a marked difference in the quality of that first workout. 

Honing the Mind-Body Connection

Depending on the guide program that you choose, you’ll likely encounter body scan meditations. These meditations encourage you to mentally scan your body from end to end (usually head to toe), carefully observing any and all sensations. With practice, these body scans can help you discover knots, tightness, and posture imbalances. Sometimes, simply noticing a pain that you’ve been ignoring is enough to relieve the tension. Even when it isn’t, if you pay attention to the signs, you’ll know when you need a little extra stretch, or a date with the roller. 

Take It to The Road

As you grow in your meditation practice, you are essentially developing the ability to train your focus on one stimulus while tuning out distractions. At first, the stimulus will almost always be the rhythm of your own breath, but once you’ve got the knack, you can substitute anything. That’s when it’s time to take the show on the road. 

Some mindful runners like to silently repeat a positive mantra (a simple, short, repetitive statement, usually reflecting a goal or ideal). Focusing on the finish line can be a strong motivator, or general thoughts about life can help influence positive thinking outside the run. 

You can apply the body scan technique here, too. Any time pain crops up as a distraction, you can try impartially listening to it. Our natural instinct is to push pain aside, which often leads to unconscious changes in form and stride. By making an effort to listen to the pain, welcome it, and understand it, we avoid making these comfortable negative corrections, and give ourselves a much better chance of correctly identifying and treating the problem. As Timothy Allen Olson told REI, “When you observe it and accept it, many times pain simply dissolves.”2

Mindful Running Retreats

If you want to make the advantages of mindfulness a part of your running routine, but you don’t think a phone app will get you there, there is help available. As the practice has grown in popularity, there’s been a movement toward group mindful running retreats. Timothy Olson’s Adventure Mindful is one of the groups on the forefront of this movement. They’ve got retreats planned for 2019 in the Canary Islands, Colorado, and Austria, which include trail running for all experience levels, mindfulness training, food, and transportation. 

  • “MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity.” B L Alderman, R L Olson, C J Brush & T J Shors. Translational Psychiatry volume6, pagee726 (2016). https://www.nature.com/articles/tp2015225 

  • “For Runners: How to Stop Stalling and Start Meditating.” Kelly Bastone. REI. May 15, 2018.  https://www.rei.com/blog/run/meditation-for-runners 

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Training Tips from Three of Ultra Running’s Greatest Coaches

Whether they’re gearing up for your first marathon, making a third attempt at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k, or testing their legs on a 24-hour, the most important piece of any long-distance runner’s preparation is a thorough, intentional training plan. The right regimen can spur an athlete to P.R.s and victory laps, and a mistimed routine can leave the same athlete on dead legs before the starting pistol fires.

With so much riding on a runner’s routine, there’s little wonder that a handful of high profile champions have leveraged their racing success into reputations as the sport’s ultimate gurus. Let’s check in with three of the top trainers in ultrarunning for a quick primer on the techniques and philosophies that carry their clients to the finish.

Sundog Running’s Ian Torrence

Ian Torrence has built a sterling reputation in the ultrarunning world, winning 53 of the 200 ultras he’s completed. 27 of his finishes have been 100-mile runs. Formerly a coach under the legendary Greg McMillan, Ian and partner Emily Torrence (nee Harrison) formed Sundog Running in the hopes of reaching more runners. They offer personal coaching services, advisement, and weekly training plan packages, and keep up a blog with free tips for all levels of experience.

The Sundog team stress individualized plans for each athlete. They build long-term plans for the full season based on the runner’s goals, experience, form, injury history, life events, and fitness gains.

Training Zones

Torrence’s training philosophy revolves around four training zones, each of which focuses on improving a small subset of the body functions involved in an endurance run. This allows a runner to emulate the effects of extreme distance in shorter training sessions. As Torrence himself wrote in Trail Runner Magazine, “Training is the art of replicating different exertion levels in short, controlled bouts so that our body and mind may adapt to the new stressors and be better able to handle that workload on race day.”1

In the Spring Zone and Neuromuscular Training phase, we enhance the ability to run quickly when our muscles our inundated with lactic acid. This includes workouts like neuromuscular strides, and interval springs with slow jogging recovery between. In this zone, a focus on proper form is stressed.

During Speed Zone Training we run full speed for extended durations (8 to 15 minute bursts) to improve mechanics, recruit fast-twitch muscle fiber, improve our metabolic pathways to use fuel more efficiently, and improve the rate of oxygen uptake from blood into muscles.

To improve the body’s ability to remove lactic acid building, we use Stamina Zone Training, which consists of race pace work for an hour or more. Steady state runs, tempo runs, tempo intervals, cruise intervals, and progression runs are a few recommended Stamina Zone exercises.

Lastly, Endurance Zone Training, which forms the bulk of the training under Torrence’s plans. These runs improve the ability to run for long durations, maintain aerobic fitness, and maximize the capacity to train and recover in the other three zones. These are long, easier runs where the heart rate should not rise about 70% of the runner’s maximum threshold.

Base Phase

Torrence’s plans interweave the 4 training zones throughout four training phases. The first phase is the base phase. This phase should make up more than half of a runner’s training throughout the year, and consists of lighter work in all four training zones to keep the body fast and efficient without a high degree of exertion.

Pre-Race Specific Phase

This consists of a 4 to 6 week ramp-up phase. Runners in this phase perform roughly the same exercises as in the base phase, but slowly increase distance, duration, and intensity to prepare the body for hard running.

Race Specific

Three to 10 weeks of full intensity in all four zones. During this phase, the runner focuses most strongly on their individual weaknesses and on the specific demands of the race.

Peaking

For the last two to three weeks before the race, Torrence’s team recommends maintaining the race specific routine and intensity, but gradually dropping the volume of each run to rest while maintaining peak form.

Jacob Puzey of Peak Run Performance

Compared to Ian Torrence, Peak Run Performance founder Jacob Puzey has had a slightly rockier road to renown in the running community. While Torrence’s claims to fame largely hinge on his own running career, Puzey became a name in the running community when he returned to Hermiston High School, his Alma Mater, and coached the cross-country team to their first ever state title. Despite the differences, the two do share one key link: both have worked as coached under the legendary Greg McMillan.

Training On A Treadmill

As holder of the 50-mile treadmill world record, Jacob Puzey is a major proponent of training on a treadmill. He sees treadmills as a technological advantage, a way to help balance the demands of long running with the other commitments of a busy life.

Aside from taking advantage of treadmill time to spend time with family while training, catch up on TV, or listen to an audiobook, Puzey also loves it for form improvement: put a mirror in front of the treadmill (or find one near the mirrors at the gym) and watch yourself run.

Finding Your Form

If you’re not sure what to look for in the mirror, Coach Puzey has a lot of great advice available on the Peak Run Performance YouTube channel, including an excellent series on injury prevention that serious runners absolutely must see.

In his “Running Form Cues” primer, he provides these vital tips to help with efficiency, speed, and safety.

Relax your jaw. To get the feel for this, Puzey recommends clenching your teeth and then letting go until your mouth is slightly open. A tight jaw causes tension in the neck, which can travel through the back, shoulders, and even into the glutes and hamstrings.

Relax the shoulders, too. To test this out, raise them as high as possible, then drop them to your sides.

Hold your elbows at a 90-degree angle, and don’t open and close them while you run. Your arm movement should be driven from the shoulders, almost like putting your hands into your pockets.

Don’t let your hands cross your upper body.

Hold your hands slightly closed, but not clenched, with the thumbs on top, nearly touching the index finger. Puzey suggests visualizing a delicate, dry leaf between the thumb and finger.

Hold your body tall while you run, with a slight lean forward at the ankles. Your feet should strike the ground directly beneath your hip.

Sage Canaday’s Sage Running

Sage Canaday has been running, and winning, on some of the sports biggest stages for 16 years. His pro endurance wins include the World Long Distance Mountain Championship (Pikes Peak Ascent), the Tarawera 100k, the Speedgoat 50km, and TNF50 mile championships.

Through his and Coach Sandi Nypaver’s Sage Running coaching company, Sage offers training plans and advice to runners across the world. His Vo2maxProductions YouTube channel, where he releases training tips, gear reviews, and other content, has over 100,000 subscribers.

Feeling Based Training

As vital as a strong training plan is, it can be even more important to know when to know when to leave the plan behind, so Sage Running’s training plans are all based on how the runner feels. Canaday and Nypaver futher explain the philosophy in a joint post on the Sage Running site, “The Art of Feeling Based Training”.

In the same post, they offer several tips to avoid (or recover from) overtraining.

The coaches caution that poor sleep, incomplete nutrition, long term stress, or bad caffeine habits can all mimic the symptoms of overtraining. If you maintain healthy habits outside of running, it will be easier to tell when your body needs more rest.

Be honest with yourself when evaluating your condition. You don’t want to force yourself to meet the schedule unless you’re sure it’s right for your body.

Bad quality of sleep, an uncharacteristically sour disposition, a weak immune system, or an elevated resting heart rate can all be signs of overtraining.

If you have overtrained, check your training logs to get a sense of where you went wrong. For now, cut back on hard runs and mileage. Go easy until you’re feeling normal, and then cautiously ramp back up to full intensity over a few weeks.

Don’t Underestimate Easy Runs

Canaday is a big believer in easy runs, and pushes runners to take them at an even lighter pace than they typically expect. Pushing the pace on easy runs limits your ability to recover from the hard days. The key is to get enough work in to keep your heart rate elevated for an extended period, while still giving yourself enough rest to heal from your more intense work. The exercise strengthens your heart, builds capillaries and increases the efficiency with which your body transfers oxygen to your muscles.

Make the Long Runs Count

The long runs on Coach Canaday’s schedule are all specific workouts, rather than pure mileage. Canaday believes that this is the most effective way to simulate race conditions for event specific training exercises, so he makes them an integral part of his training. To further simulate the intensity of competition, Canaday recommends planning long run workouts so that the second half of the run is taken at a much faster overall pace than the first half.

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Anna Frost

Anna Frost

Another episode of IRUN4Ultra’s Podcast what a powerhouse of a guest did we have! Anna Frost, or Frosty as many know her as, is a passionate runner with many interests… and since 2004 she has managed to combine two of those passions….running and travelling….and turned them into a very successful career. Anna has set many records and gotten many wins under her belt. To name a few she won and set records at  TNF 50mile Championship, Table Mountain Challenge in south africa, Everest Marathon, TransVulcania – La Palma, Bear100, Nolans 14, Snowman Trek to name just a few. She has also won many prestigious races like the Coastal Challenge – Costa Rica, Hardrock100, Leadville 1/2 Marathon, Speed Goat 50km, and Transrockies….the list is long! In addition, Anna prides herself on being more than just a runner, but a woman of many passions and she spoke to IRUN4Ultra about them.

When asked ‘who is Frosty?’ she said “Well I am Just me.” In her humble answer she also acknowledged the importance of her support system in her successful career “I have had an amazing and long career and it hasn’t been just me, myself and I. Its definitely been a huge team effort from sponsors, friends, fellow runners, family, people that are there and people that are far. I have been really, really lucky that there have been open doors and I have had the guts and the encouragement to take the opportunity to grasp the opportunity.” Words she used to describe herself were determined, driven, free-willed and excited for new challenges.

She believes that she was born a competitive person, however the importance of passion in her life is a common thread. Whatever she does, she does with gusto, she doesn’t know another way. 
An expecting mother, she is also super excited about a new bundle of joy she is expecting, her first baby. She is taking the time to enjoy the ability of the body and mind to adapt for a baby to come. She understands that it effects her running for now, however she is looking forward to getting back to competitive running. She also talked about having future play dates with Killian and Emelie’s baby “Emilie and I have already planned to have baby outings and then for Emilie and I to be able to leave the babies at home with the guys and us going on our adventures”.
She believes that her childhood spent traveling, camping, fishing, field hockey etc shaped who she is today. when asked about physical challenges, Frosty names injury as one of the biggest  hurdles. She emphasizes the importance of being in tune with your body. “You have to listen to your own body” She said, and to get to a place you know your body, you have to spend a lot of time learning and pushing your boundaries.
When asked about issues important to her Frosty talked about the importance of being mindful of one’s footprint…She doesn’t eat much meat and the meat she eats is from sustainable sources, she promotes new running apparel and gear made from sustainable materials, participates in races that care for the terrain and environment they are held in and more.
Frosty talked to us about a lot more. Listen to the full podcast Here.

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Weekend Recap Vibram Hong Kong 100k and HURT100

Saturday, January 18th at 8am (local time) saw an unbelievable field of runners compete in the Vibram Hong Kong 100k to kick off the 2019 Ultra-Trail World Tour. Contestants tackled a 5300m of elevation on a 103.6km course spanning dirt and paved trails, stairs, beaches, forests, and mountains.

Photo Credit: Vibram Hong Kong

Vibram Hong Kong 100k Men’s Race

Conditions were excellent on the morning of the race, with light cloud cover and a pleasant breeze. Though Jing Liang set out to an early lead, with Tom Evans and Long-Fei Yan close behind, it was Jiasheng Shen who crossed the finish first at 10:22:45. Liang Jing took second at 10:35:50, and Zhenlong Zhang followed in third.

Photo Credit: Vibram Hong Kong

The uncomplicated results from the men’s field come as a welcome relief to racing fans, after last year’s finish was marred by a disqualification on Jing Liang’s record setting first place time of 9:28. The win fell to the second runner to finish, Min Qi, only seconds behind at the 9:28 mark himself.

Photo Credit: Vibram Hong Kong

Vibram Hong Kong 100k Women’s Race

From the women’s field, Yangchun Lu finished first, in 11:43:20. Fuzhao Xiang followed at 12:17:32, and Guangmei Yang took third in 12:43. The course record of 10:40, set by last year’s women’s winner, Yao Miao, was not seriously threatened.

It’s no surprise that times rose across the board after changes were made this year to increase the difficulty and distance of the course.

Vibram Hong Kong

Photo Credit: Vibram Hong Kong

With UTWT 2019 officially up and running, there’s a whole lot of great racing coming up. Check the schedule below to see what’s on the horizon, and check back often for constant coverage of the biggest wins, best times, and most shocking DNFs.

132 Endure the HURT100

On Saturday, January 19th, 132 runners took on 100 miles of punishing forest trail in one of January’s most anticipated racing events: The Hawaiian Ultra Running Team’s Trail 100-Mile Endurance Run, or the HURT100.

Photo Credit: HURT100

The course, maintained by the State of Hawai’s  Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s Na Ala Hele program, runs 5-laps and 100 miles of semi-tropical rain forest, primarily on narrow single-track packed dirt paths in the mountains above Honolulu, and features 24,500 feet of cumulative elevation gain.

This year Nate Jaqua finished in first with a time of 22:37:54. Trevor Fuchs finished in second at 23:24:32, and top returning competitor Masazumi Fujioka took third in 23:38:57, improving on the 24:03:34 which landed him 3rd in 2018. No runner seriously challenged Gary Robbins’s 2013 course record of 19:35:00.

First in the women’s field was top returning competitor Sabrina Stanley. She improved on her 2018 3rd place time of 29:45:04, finishing at 28:28:06. Solange Saxby’s 29:07:16 followed, and Anna Albrecht’s 29:54:55 was good for 3rd. No runner faired as well as 2018 women’s leader Darcy Piceu, whose 25:48:27 was the third best women’s time in course history.

If you want to learn more about the Hurt100, check out “Rooted: The Story of Hurt” for a fun view on the history of the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team and the evolution of the HURT100.

SCHEDULE – MAYBE USE THE OFFICIAL IMAGE INSTEAD? https://www.ultratrail-worldtour.com/races-all/races/

January, 19th, 2019 – Vibram® Hong Kong 100 – 100 km – Hong Kong, China
February, 6th-10th 2019 – Tarawera Ultramarathon – 102 km – Rotorua, New Zealand
February, 20th-24th 2019 – Transgrancanaria HG – 125 km – Gran Canaria, Spain
April, 5th-15th 2019 – Marathon des Sables – +/- 250 km – Sahara, Morocco
April, 12th-14th 2019 – 100 Miles of Istria – 100 miles – Umag, Croatia
April, 12th-13th 2019 – Patagonia Run – 160 km – San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina
April, 27th 2019 – Madeira Island Ultra-Trail® – 115 km – Funchal, Portugal
April, 26th-28th 2019 Ultra-Trail® Mount Fuji – 170 km – Fujisan, Japan
April 13th, 2019 – Penyagolosa Trails HG – 109 km – Castellon, Spain
May, 16th-19th 2019 – Ultra-Trail Australia – 100 km – Katoomba, Australia
June, 15th – mozart100® – 105 km – Salzburg, Austria
June 28th-30th 2019 – La Sportiva Lavaredo Ultra Trail – 119 km – Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italia
June, 29th-30th 2019 – The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run – 100 miles – California, United States
July, 19th-21st 2019 – Eiger Ultra-Trail® – 101 km – Grindelwald, Switzerland
August, 28th 2019 – TDS® – 119 km – Courmayeur-Chamonix, Italy – France
Aug, 30th 2019 – CCC® – 101 km -Courmayeur-Chamonix, Italy – Switzerland – France
Aug, 30th 2019 – UTMB® – 170 km – Chamonix, France – Italy – Switzerland
September, 6th- 7th-8th 2019 – Harricana Ultra-Trail® – 125 km – La Malbaie, Canada
October, 20th 2018 – Salomon® Cappadocia Ultra-Trail® – 119 km – Urgup, Turkey
November, 2nd-3rd 2019 – Javelina Jundred 100 miles – Arizona, United States
November, 30th 2019 Ultra-Trail Cape Town® – 100 km – Cape Town, South Africa

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Eoin Keith


Eoin Kieth is a self professed nerd who didn’t discover his athletic side till later in life. However once he did, his competitive spirit and natural abilities combined with his intellectual analytical mind has made him the most accomplished Irish endurance Ultra runner out there. Eoin has set many records in the UK like the Irish 24 hour, 48 hours and 6 day challenge, he also set a record for running the entire length of Ireland and is the current men’s record holder of at the spine race. He most recently won the men’s race again. Listen to the whole podcast to hear Eoin talk about his running, childhood, career, Columbia sponsorship, philosophy of life and much more. hear everything that Eoin Kieth had to say.

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