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 

Training Tips

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.

Training Tips

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.


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.


Salomon Women’s Running Shoes

The salomon womens running shoes , If you love trail races up to 50 km or even 50 miles, you will definitely love this universal trail running shoe!

The Women’s Salomon Sense Ride shoe is the new multi trail running shoe model for Salomon that is known to be the most popular and ideal shoe on the market these days when it comes to comfort, ride, protection, and grip. It is is ideal for running junkies that like an 8mm drop trail running shoe.


Stack: 27mm in the heel and 19mm in the forefoot

Weight for Women’s shoes: 8.8oz

Heel-To-Toe-Drop: 8.0mm

Heel Cushioning: Moderate

Forefront Height: Low | 20.9 mm

Forefront Cushioning: Firm

Flexibility: Flexible

Stability Features: Few

Energy Return: Less


This The salomon womens running shoes features a spacious toe-box which differentiates itself from past models in the Salomon brand. It’s minimal exoskeleton helps with the support and durability but does not compromise its ventilating properties. The midsole contains Compressed EVA with softer insert to disperse shock vibrations and the outsole is lined with Salomon’s Premium Wet Traction Contragrip. It’s cushioned and responsive without the bulky aesthetic.

Inside the Women’s Salomon Sense Ride Framework:

Within the shoe, a layer comfortably cradles the heel while a flexible tongue wraps upward from the footbed and molds around your foot completely. The Orthrolite insert allows any other hotspots missed by the exoskeleton to be disbursed for little to no impact feel on the foot. As for the protection of the ankles, the Sense Ride W inner sock wraps over the collar protect the rubbing of the heel and/or ankle bones.

The two midsole components help with movements over blocks of rock, making the feet feel protected and the bidirectional lugs enable quick acceleration with responsive breaking. Therefore, traction on all surfaces is not clunky and helps with smooth transition to the trailhead.

Consistent Features:

Similar to past Salomon running shoes, the iconic Quicklace system is promised in the engaging shoe, “pull it, tuck it, and forget it.”. This reassures that throughout a full day on the trail, the laces won’t budge!

They are also tested in drying properties. These shoes are also quite instantaneous when they are submerged or soaked, making them the fastest drying shoe in the market.


The narrow build affects the stability and a wider platform would help with the ride better.

Extra cushioning in the forefoot would help for longer ultras. This would reduce the heel-to-drop which would make it in the 4-6mm range known as the runner sweet spot.


Fifteen Questions on MDS

Fifteen Questions on MDS

Multi-Day racing and in particular, the Marathon des Sables provides a very unique and difficult challenge for those who toe the line in Morocco. It’s easy to get bogged down with too much advice on equipment, training and what is the best plan of action for a 6-day adventure in the Sahara.
I caught up with three 2017 participants and asked just five questions.

Elisabet Barnes has won the MDS twice, 2015 and 2017. She is a very experienced multi-day racer who is meticulous in preparation.

How did you get into running and how long have you been running?

I started running in my teens as a hobby so it’s been a long time. I ran my first Marathon in 2002 and in 2011 I started running Ultra Marathons as part of a lifestyle change.

What is it like to return to MDS as a previous champion?

I loved returning in 2017 as I felt well prepared and confident. The pressure is always on when you are the reigning champion and I have learned that it makes all the difference how you deal with that. It can make or break you.

You were really prepared for 2017, what made the difference?

I had some really specific training and racing in the lead-up including Lanzarote, Costa Rica, Tenerife and Morocco. In addition, I spent time focusing on other areas such as marginal weight gains on my kit, specific planning of my food, and mental preparations. I was very focused in this year’s edition.

Did you ever think you wouldn’t win?

Winning is never guaranteed. The field was strong and many things can go wrong in such an extreme race. I was super focused every day and never assumed I had it in the bag.

Three tips for those who may run MDS?

  1. Understand your race ambitions, e.g. whether you are a “completer or a completer”. \
  2. This will determine the focus of your training, kit choices and food planning
  3. Acclimatize to the heat. Be mentally prepared for the unexpected.

Kev George is relatively new to running but likes a challenge. It’s always good to dream and Kev made his dream a reality.
 Marathon des Sables

What was your experience prior to MDS?

I was an unlikely entrant to MDS, having only started running in 2014, but I had a dream to complete one of the world’s most iconic ultra-marathons and so signed up in December 2015. I spent the next 12 months training hard, running longer, ticking off multiple marathons and ultras until disaster struck in December 2016 when I suffered a stress fracture.

 You were injured before the race, how did the MDS go?

Because of the injury, my only goal was to finish and so I committed to only walking on Day 1, but as the days passed, my confidence grew and I ran more and moved up the rankings.

 Did the MDS live up to expectation?

Words cannot describe how special this race is; it is way more beautiful than I could have imagined and to be out there in the desert landscape in searing heat, testing your body and mind against the elements is incredible.

 How tough and long was ‘the long day?’ And what was your lowest point?

Yes, the long day was tough, and I cursed the race director frequently, but there was something magical about trekking over dunes in the moonlight, with desert creatures scurrying underfoot. I had some low points but all were forgotten at the sight of that finish line where I was overwhelmed by the achievement of traveling 150 miles across such an inhospitable landscape.

 Three tips for those who may run MDS?

  1. Do it!  Commit and believe in yourself.
  2. Train smart.  You are going to walk… lots!  So train for that.
  3. The journey is personal.  Train with your food.  Train with your kit and choose what works for you.

Pete Rees is experienced in off-road running and likes his fair share of mud, particularly if obstacles are in the way.

What was your experience prior to MDS?

I’ve run a lot over the last 10-15 years (mostly trail) but, until this year, I hadn’t ventured into ultra-distance.

How did the race unfold?

My aim was to “race” and get into the top 200, and I managed to finish in 89th. It was a grueling experience, mentally and physically, but I felt well prepared for it. My training and kit preparation was spot-on for my needs.

What was the highlight, what was the low point?

My low point was in the second stage. Bad toe-taping resulted in me ripping a large blister before the first checkpoint – it was a mental hit at the beginning of a very challenging day. My high point was halfway through the forth (long) stage. My energy had been sapped by temperatures approaching 50 degrees in the sun. I stopped at checkpoint four to get a grip on myself. I put music on (for the first time), ate and took some caffeine. The boost that gave me was incredible – I stormed through the dunes that followed, while others crumbled around me.

How did you feel at the end?

Elated, exhausted and proud. I have never given so much to anything.

Three tips for those who may run MDS?

  1. Research and test. This applies to training and kit. It helps you to go into the event with confidence.
  2. Lighten your load (but not at the expense of food). My favorite rule when deciding on gear: “If it’s not mandatory and you can’t eat it, don’t take it!”
  3. Contrary to rule 2: Take poles, no matter what your target. There were a lot of runners in the top 100 who were jealous of how they improved my dunes game.

Credit ©iancorless.com


Riboflavin: How This B-Vitamin Could Change the Sport of Ultra-Running

Riboflavin: How This B-Vitamin Could Change the Sport of Ultra-Running
By: Amy Tribolini, MS, RD, LD
You may not be familiar with riboflavin, but it is likely you have heard of or even supplemented with B-vitamins.  B-vitamins have been marketed as “energy enhancement vitamins” and added to sport supplement bars and drinks for years.
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, has stayed relatively under the rug and gained little attention by itself, but all that may be changing after a recent study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine proposed that supplementation may have significant benefits on muscle pain and soreness both during and after completion of ultra-running events.  
In 2016, researchers performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on participants at one of the most iconic ultra-marathons of all time: The Western States 100-Miler.  Researchers split up participating runners into a control group or a placebo group.  The controlled group received a riboflavin capsule both before the race and again at mile 56, the other group received a placebo at both intervals.  Participants in the study rated their soreness and muscle pain before the race, during, immediately after, and for 10 additional days.
The results were significant.  The runners that received the riboflavin reported significantly less muscle pain and soreness during and immediately after the race.  While this is newer research into this area, the findings suggest that riboflavin may be a highly beneficial supplement to decrease soreness and aid in the performance of ultra-runners.  
What Does Riboflavin Do in the Body?
Riboflavin plays an important role in metabolism and protecting against cell damage.  Essential to ultra-runners, riboflavin is involved in the process of energy metabolism.  Without adequate riboflavin, the enzymes needed to break down nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) do not function as efficiently.  This can lead to feelings of exhaustion and fatigue in an athlete.    
The second essential role riboflavin plays in athletes is enhancing oxygen delivery.  Hemoglobin, the protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the body, requires riboflavin in order to synthesize.  Having adequate oxygen transport allows athletes to perform better with less fatigue.  
How Much Should I Take?
In this research study, participants were given a 100mg supplemental capsule of riboflavin twice during the race (once before the race and another 56 miles into the race).  According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this far exceeds the estimated daily needs of healthy athletes- 1.2mg (men) and 1.1mg (women).  But, because riboflavin is water soluble, healthy individuals will excrete excess out through the urine instead of storing it in toxic levels.
Can I Get Enough Riboflavin in the Foods I Eat?
It is easy to meet your estimated nutritional needs by selecting foods high in riboflavin.  However, in order to experience the decreased soreness that the Western States athletes reported, supplemental riboflavin may be needed.  
Foods High in Riboflavin:
Riboflavin occurs naturally in foods and it is also fortified into many grains.  If you are looking for natural ways to enhance your intake of riboflavin during a race, these handy grab-and-go snacks are good sources:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified Grains, Crackers, and Breads
  • Fortified sports bars and supplements
  • Almonds
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Yogurt

With new research suggesting that increased riboflavin intake may be a significant component of decreasing soreness among ultra-runners, there is likely to be more chatter in the ultra-running community over this topic.  While more research needs to be done to identify optimal dosing and benefits, the preliminary research seems to point to this B vitamin as a nutrient that may be changing the field of ultra-running.   
Hoffman, M. D., Valentino, T. R., Stuempfle, K.J., & Hassid, B.V. (2017). A Placebo-Controlled Trial of Riboflavin for Enhancement of Ultramarathon Recovery. Sports Medicine – Open, 3(1).
Denny, S. (2014). Vitamin Needs of Athletes. Retrieved April 5, 2017, from https://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitmains-and-nutrients/vitamin-needs-of-athletes
Zempleni J, Galloway JR, McCormick DB (1996). Pharmacokinetics of orally and intravenously administered riboflavin in healthy humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The American Society for Nutrition. 63 (1): 54–66.
About the Author:
Amy Tribolini currently works as both a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Instructor. She lives, trains, and competes as an ultra-runner out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Amy specializes in fueling endurance athletes, athletic performance, and plant-based diets. Amy holds both a Bachelors Degree in Dietetics and a Masters Degree in Human Nutritional Science from the University of Wisconsin
Instagram- @ultrarunningdietitian
Email contact: [email protected]


Know Your Macros: A Recovery Guide for Endurance Athletes

Know Your Macros: A Recovery Guide for Endurance Athletes 
By: Amy Tribolini, MS, RD, LD
You’ve done it!  Maybe you finished your long run for the week or your highly anticipated race.  You are feeling proud and accomplished but your body is feeling run down.  No matter how good your fueling strategy during your run or race is, it is near impossible to end up anything short of depleted.  It can be easy to overlook the proper nutrition your body needs to repair, recover, and rebuild.
While there are many factors to consider, let’s start with the basics:  carbohydrate, protein, and fat.  These substrates are the building blocks of food and athletes have specific needs when pushing their bodies to the next level.
Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles and liver in the form of glycogen.  If you have been running more than 3-4 hours, your glycogen stores are likely running on empty.  There is a short window of time after finishing your workout or race, when carbohydrate is more effectively absorbed.  This window is about 30 minutes.  This is why it is very common for runners to begin to imagine, dream, or even fantasize about what they are going to eat at the finish.  This is the body’s natural way of cueing the mind to consume carbohydrate-rich foods while the body is still rushing with adrenaline and enhanced blood flow.  During this window of time, your cells are more receptive to breaking down carbohydrate to glycogen and rebuilding the body’s stores.  The faster your body’s glycogen stores get re-filled, the less muscle soreness you may experience.
It is also important to understand that all carbohydrates are not the same.  A research article published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the effectiveness of glucose vs. fructose at re-fueling muscle energy stores.  The results showed that glucose was significantly more effective and lead to increased exercise performance the next day.  Some handy whole-food, post-run snacks high in glucose include: bananas, grapes, dates, and dried fruits.  There are also many sports bars and supplements high in glucose that are easy to take during or after endurance activities.
endurance athletes
Protein is another big factor in refueling.  While protein is not a primary substrate that is burned for fuel, it is critical to repair the standard muscle breakdown and tears that can occur.  If you are in the market for a post-run protein or amino acid supplement, look for ones high in the branched-chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.  These amino acids are especially beneficial because they are more rapidly absorbed.  Unlike other amino acids, the branched-chain can bypass the liver and be directly transported into the muscles for repair.
Marketing and media have really pushed the idea that more protein is better, but science disproves this theory.  According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the athlete needs only slightly more than non-athletes.  The daily recommendation for athletes is 1.2-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.  The lower end is better suited for endurance athletes while the higher end is more directed toward bodybuilders and power athletes.
Fat is definitely part of a healthy diet, but science has yet to demonstrate that fat consumption is essential for recovery right after a race.  Its function may be more to provide satiety and let the brain know that the body no longer has to be in fight or flight mode.  Fat is also essential to aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.  Remember to choose foods high in healthy fats like avocados, nuts, chia seeds or olive oil.
An Important Mineral for Recovery – Magnesium:
Repleting magnesium may aid in preventing stress fractures and demineralization of bones.  Magnesium largely exists in muscles and bones where its primary function is muscle contraction and energy metabolism.  Ensuring you consume enough magnesium-rich foods after events can aid in longevity
and quick recovery in your sport.  Some great whole food sources of magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure:
Going into a race or a hard workout well rested, well nourished and well hydrated can be worth more than anything you can do to fix your body up after.
While exercising in moderate doses boosts your immune system, long endurance events, such as ultra-marathons and multi-day events, tend to do the opposite.
Prolonged endurance events can kick out the release of cortisol (a stress hormone), which causes your immune system to kick into high gear.  This may be one reason it is common to hear athletes complain of getting a cold after a hard race.
Research shows that consuming sports drinks or carbohydrate-rich supplements during a race can slow down the production of stress hormones leading to less stress on your immune system.  This, coupled with consuming adequate macronutrients post-run (carbohydrate, protein, and fat) can really get you out running again quicker with higher performance.
Protein and the Athlete – How Much Do You Need? (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from https://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-your-workout/protein-and-the-athlete
Rosset, R., Lecoultre, V., Egli, L., Cros, J., Dokumaci, A. S., Zwygart, K., . . . Tappy, L. (2017). Postexercise repletion of muscle energy stores with fructose or glucose in mixed meals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105(3), 609-617.
Matias, C., Santos, D., Montiero, C., & Vasco, A. (2012). Magnesium intake mediates the association between bone mineral density and lean soft tissue in elite swimmers. Magnesium Research, 25(3), 120-125.
Nieman, D. C. (2007). Marathon Training and Immune Function. Sports Medicine, 37(4), 412-415.
About the Author:
Amy Tribolini currently works as both a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Professor. She lives, trains, and competes as an ultra-runner out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Amy specializes in fueling endurance athletes, athletic performance, and plant-based diets. Amy holds both a Bachelors Degree in Dietetics and a Masters Degree in Human Nutritional Science from the University of Wisconsin
Instagram- @ultrarunningdietitian
Email contact: [email protected]


Failure… or is it?

Failure… or is it?

I have just watched a movie Karl Meltzer on his successful FKT (Fastest Known Time) on the Appalachian Trail. The movies called ‘Made To Be Broken!’
While watching the movie I thought of Karl’s previous failed attempts, the most recent being in 2014. Let’s get one thing straight, the Appalachian Trail is tough – very tough. The first time you try something and fail you can put it down to inexperience, bad planning, bad luck or whatever… but I say failure is good!
Life is full of failure and if we don’t learn how to pick ourselves up and try again, then our lives will not be complete.
Karl Meltzer
Karl personified this tenacity. I respected him 100% when he said he would try again in 2016. I knew and more importantly, he knew, that should all things go well and he breaks the record, he was in for a miserable and tough time for 40+ days. Days that would send him to the edge, take him to a whole new place mentally and yes, may even break him.
So why, why go back?
To live!
As the closing credits rolled in, I sat watching the celebrations. Scott Jurek was there, David Horton, Karl Senior, Eric Belz and Karl’s wife, Cheryl. Karl’s triumph was all the sweeter through previous failures.
He’d nailed it!
My attention then turned to the Barkley. What a race unfolded in Tennessee. It was an epic and it may well go down in history as the most memorable. Not because John Kelly was the 15th finisher of the race but because Gary Robbins ‘failed!’
Notice here that I place ‘failure’ in commas – for me, Gary didn’t fail. He achieved a great deal, he just didn’t achieve his goal.
Just as John Kelly had failed on 2 previous occasions, he triumphed on a 3rd attempt and the victory was sweet.
Gary, of course, was left on the floor, a tired wreck facing demons.
Initially many of us had thought Gary had missed the record by 6-seconds! The reality was, as race director Laz pointed – Gary missed completion by 2-miles. At the final book (13 need to be located and a page is torn away to prove that you visited it) Gary removed the page but in the mist and through extreme tiredness, he navigated the wrong way and therefore did not complete the course as he should have – he finished from the wrong direction. Laz was clear to point out, had he been within the 60-hour cut-off it would still have been a DNF as he had not followed the specified route.
Gary confirmed it: “I did not finish The Barkley Marathons, and that is no one’s fault but my own. That one fatal error with just over two miles to go haunts me.”
This failure is a great example for us all.
Gary will be back. He will be fired up more than ever before. Will he achieve his goal in 2018? Who knows, that is part of the challenge. One thing I do know is that Gary will come back year-on-year until he does. When he finally touches the yellow gate with all book pages and within the 60-hours, that moment will last a lifetime and he will have the satisfaction of having worked his butt off for a goal.
Is it me but today does everyone want it easy?
Even schools are reluctant to run races because ‘everyone’ must be a winner… let’s get real folks, life is full of highs and lows, failure and success.
We want to make people happy, we want to wrap everyone in cotton wool and we want to say, ‘don’t worry, it will be ok!’
Some days my 100% and your 100% just won’t be good enough. Be happy with that. We all fall short. It’s not how you fall down, it’s how you pick yourself up.
For me, John Kelly and Karl Meltzer (amongst many others) should be applauded for their failures. For it is those failures that made them fight and succeed, just as Gary Robbins will do – one day!
Laz, thank you for creating something so tough that it takes all those who toe the line to the limit, to experience something so life-changing that they leave a new person. Finally, thank you for not bending, not waiving, not showing leniency in failure. Stick true to the values you hold – you and your race will produce more great stories and more heroes and yes, it will let all the world know that if we fail, at least we fail while daring greatly!’
Gary Robbins As Roosevelt said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Credit ©iancorless.com

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron Deficiency Anemia : What Athletes Need to Know

By Amy Tribolini, MS, RD, LD

Iron deficiency anemia can break down even the toughest competitors and it is more prevalent than you may think.  Approximately 10 million people in the United States are iron deficient and 5 million suffer from iron-deficiency anemia.

While mild anemia can go overlooked within the general population, it can have a significant impact on performance in athletes.  It is definitely valuable to be informed of early warning signs of a deficiency and understand what your options are.

The diagnosis of iron-deficiency anemia may not be more common in athletes vs. non-athletes, but data shows that athletes are more likely to overlook or confuse the symptoms.

Does Running Increase my Chance of Getting Anemia?

Running and high levels of physical activity do not necessarily increase your chance of becoming anemic, but it may cause you to overlook the symptoms longer and neglect to seek treatment.

High-level endurance athletes, such as ultra-marathoners and triathletes, are at an especially high risk of overlooking iron-deficiency anemia because they tend to shrug off some of the common symptoms, such as: muscle burning, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, and increased frequency of respiratory illnesses.  Because of the stress and fatigue that can naturally coincide with the rigors of training for extreme endurance events, symptoms of iron-deficiency can easily be confused with symptoms of overtraining.

How Does Your Iron Level Effect Running?

Iron plays an imperative role in transporting oxygen to muscles.  Hemoglobin, the primary transport system for both oxygen and blood in the body, is largely composed of iron.  If you want your metabolism to function normally and your muscles to receive oxygen, you must maintain an adequate level of iron.

In a healthy athlete, regular exercise increases red blood cell mass and plasma volume.  These natural adaptations lead to heightened oxygen delivery and potentially enhanced performance.  In an athlete with iron-deficiency anemia, these adaptations do not take effect as efficiently and the athlete may struggle harder to perform at their baseline activity level.


I’m a Healthy Athlete, How Could I Have Iron Deficiency Anemia?

There is a strange phenomenon known as foot-strike hemolysis that some runners may experience.  What this literally means is that red blood cells are being destroyed during exercise.  The theory behind this is that the capillaries in the feet are being compressed from the foot strike and this results in red blood cells being physically damaged.  While this phenomenon has been scientifically documented, it does not account for a huge drop in red blood cells; and often times cannot be detected on a routine blood test.

Another explanation is simply diet.  Athletes are often times particular about their diet and may omit certain foods or food groups in hopes of meeting their race weight or performing better.  If high iron foods have been largely omitted from the diet, it is understandable that iron deficiency will occur.

How Can I know if My Iron Levels are Low?

If you feel healthy and have not been having any difficulty training at your normal level, you would not necessarily benefit from undergoing screening for iron deficiency.  Often times, it is difficult to get insurance to pay for screening if there are not documented symptoms of deficiency.

If you have been experiencing decreased energy, weakness, shortness of breath, headaches, lightheadedness, or an unusual drop in your athletic performance, these are not symptoms to overlook or train through.  The simplest way to identify iron-deficiency anemia is to go to your primary care physician and have labs drawn.

What If My Iron is Low?

If you have low iron levels or have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, it will be important to first discuss treatment options with your physician.  Your physician may prescribe a supplement to treat your specific level of deficiency but it will also be important to start incorporating high-iron foods into your diet to prevent this from happening again in the future.

What are Some High Iron Foods to Choose?

There are two forms that iron comes in: heme and non-heme.  Animal products such as beef, chicken, oysters, turkey, and eggs are examples of foods high in heme iron.  Non-heme iron can be found in foods like beans, tofu, lentils, spinach, peanut butter, and brown rice.  Your body can benefit from either type or both as long as it is getting adequate amounts.

If you want to boost the amount of iron your body absorbs from these high-iron foods, pair them with fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C.  Vitamin C is known to increase the absorption of iron and allow it to be more readily absorbed.

Iron Deficiency Anemia


Miller, J. L. (2013). Iron Deficiency Anemia : A Common and Curable Disease. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, 3(7).

Zielińska-Dawidziak, M. (2015). Plant Ferritin—A Source of Iron to Prevent Its Deficiency. Nutrients, 7(2), 1184-1201.

About the Author:

Amy Tribolini currently works as both a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Professor. She lives, trains, and competes as an ultra-runner out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Amy specializes in fueling endurance athletes, athletic performance, and plant-based diets. Amy holds both a Bachelors Degree in Dietetics and a Masters Degree in Human Nutritional Science from the University of Wisconsin

Instagram- @ultrarunningdietitian

Email contact: [email protected]


The role of running in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders and addiction

anxiety The role of running in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders and addiction

By Alice Morrison

Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, a writer for RunUltra, author of “Dodging Elephants: 8000 Miles Across Africa by Bike” and Special Correspondent for IRUN4ULTRA.


Although I was never formally diagnosed (because I never sought help) four years ago I almost certainly had depression and was working very hard on giving myself a drinking problem. I would certainly tick Yes on most of the questions on those ‘Spot if you have a drink problem’ medical leaflets. I was living away for work reasons and would travel by train at the weekends. One weekend I was very close to stepping off the platform in front of a high-speed train. I would run a little bit with the military but not a lot. I knew I needed to dig myself out of the hole I was in but not how. On a holiday someone mentioned the Lakeland 50 race. Knowing nothing about ultra running and running maybe five miles once a fortnight I signed up. Then I started training. I read a few things on how to train for these types of events and then started training properly. On the New Years Eve I stopped drinking – partly to help me train but mainly because I knew what it was still doing to me. Nine months after starting to train I completed the Lakeland 50. Running, and ultra running in particular, has helped me get myself out of the hole I was in. The black dog still comes to visit sometimes but I’m now better equipped to deal with him.”


Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders and addictions to alcohol, drugs, and nicotine affect a huge number of families worldwide. According to The National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. (NIMH) In 2014, there were an estimated 43.6 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with mental health Issues. This number represented 18.1% of all U.S. adults.
This number does not include the statistics for addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 16.3 million adults ages 18 and older (6.8 percent of this age group) had an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in 2014. This includes 10.6 million men (9.2 percent of men in this age group) and 5.7 million women (4.6 percent of women in this age group).
The figures from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) make equally somber reading: NIDA estimates that the use of illegal drugs costs the U.S. €11 billion per year in health care and $193 billion in loss to the economy.


In the face of this epidemic, can something as simple as running really help?  Well, yes, is the answer. There has been a great deal of clinical research carried out over the past couple of decades in the use of exercise for treating depression and anxiety and also addictions. The Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK says on its website. “Why does exercise work? We are not yet exactly sure. There are several possibilities.  

  • Most people in the world have always had to keep active to get food, water, and shelter. This involves a moderate level of activity and seems to make us feel good. We may be built – or “hard-wired” – to enjoy a certain amount of exercise. Harder exercise (perhaps needed to fight or flight from danger) seems to be linked to feelings of stress, perhaps because it is needed for escaping from danger.     
  • Exercise seems to have an effect on certain chemicals in the brain, like dopamine and serotonin. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect your mood and thinking.
  • Exercise can stimulate other chemicals in the brain called “brain-derived neurotrophic factors”. These help new brain cells to grow and develop. Moderate exercise seems to work better than vigorous exercise.
  • Exercise seems to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress. “



“I’ve always been against using any form of drugs that I absolutely don’t need (alcohol being the notable exception in the past few years.) When I went through a tough divorce, a counselor was suggesting the use of anti-depression medication and I skipped it with the understanding that I ran to accomplish similar goals. Running continued to be a great form of stress management and social interaction and eventually, I did my first impromptu marathon plus a little more while checking a course I was RD’ing the next day. This was eventually followed by a more official 50km. I’ve always known that I have an addictive personality and I realize running is now my addiction but I’m mostly OK with that. Someday, I may be forced to find another form of addiction but until then, running is my drug.
It was a very conscious decision not to add anti-depressants to my world and the counselor I was seeing asked, “why not?” I said I would rather deal with the root of the issue than treat the symptoms. In the year leading up to my divorce, I was isolated in a small apartment in Pittsburgh that was noisy and my ex-wife was hardly ever around; She basically came home to shower and sleep while working on her Ph.D. The social isolation did a number on me and about halfway through that year, I started cycling again because I had gained a lot of weight. At the time of my separation, I moved back to Tucson, AZ (where my job was) and started cycling a lot. I was riding up the local mountain several times a week and it wasn’t enough to deal with my grief. My body was often exhausted but I still had more to deal with mentally. It was at this point that my boss (an ultra runner) said, “Ya, know… you should run.” He told me about a group that met every Tues/Thurs for speedwork and I started going. I found myself surrounded by people who made healthy decisions and good life choices and made a very conscious decision to let myself feel peer pressure from them in order to improve my own life. So … for me running was about rebuilding the social part of my brain which had atrophied in isolation for a year, rebuilding my body and managing stress. I lost over 100lbs, gained friends and healthy habits.”


We asked Tanya Woolf, Consultant Counseling Psychologist, Efficacy if this chimed with her experience of treating Depression.
“Typically with Depression, you get into a vicious cycle. You feel low on motivation, so you don’t do anything and then low levels of activity make you feel more depressed.  One of the first treatments for depression is behavioral activation – doing something that gives you a sense of achievement and pleasure.”
“Exercise helps in two ways: on the psychological level it gives you that sense of achievement and – hopefully – pleasure, and physically it releases endorphins.”


For almost all of us who run, one of the great joys of it is that you have time in nature. Research has shown that this can add to the benefits. In a study called “Acute effects of outdoor physical activity on effect and psychological well-being in depressed patients” the researchers found:
“A single outdoor exercise bout showed greater affective improvements compared to indoor and sedentary equivalents for self-reported excitement and activation. As patients felt more active, an outdoor setting might be useful in overcoming listlessness during depression treatment. “


Krasse Gueorguiev is a keen ultra runner but also studied Psychology and worked in Victim Support. He used running as one of his tools to help clients.
“I used to work at Victim support in London for quite a few years and dealt with domestic violence rape etc…. and also had some private clients that would come to me with addictions from drugs to smoking and eating. So I would get them to concentrate on doing sports that can be by themselves for a period of time like a running for a few hours where I would ask them to think of solving mechanisms while running. Nothing in particular just think of their daily lives and see how they see it on the go.”
Tanya Woolf, adds, One of the things that is often observed in addiction is that people pursue their goal (be it drugs, drink or anything else) at the expense of all previously valued goals. So, having a new, valued goal such as a race, can help displace the old, unhealthy one. Also in addiction, people very often get the notion that they don’t have control, that their addiction controls them. Any goal-oriented exercise and ultra running is a fantastic example, gives the person a sense of control. Instead of your addiction controlling you, you are controlling your body.”


Research and expert opinion shows that running really does have a role to play in combating a range of mental health problems.  According to the study, “The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed”:

Many studies have examined the efficacy of exercise to reduce symptoms of depression, and the overwhelming majority of these studies have described a positive benefit associated with exercise involvement.
Additionally, exercise compares quite favorably with standard care approaches to depression in the few studies that have evaluated their relative efficacy. For example, running has been compared with psychotherapy in the treatment of depression, with results indicating that running is just as effective as psychotherapy in alleviating symptoms of depression “
Compelling as the scientific research is, inspiration is at the human level so let us leave you with a final story from the ultra running community.


“How (ultra) running helped me. Being a victim of a heinous crime… kidnap victim of an aggravated sexual assault by four men, running, in general, has played a big part in my therapy. I’m training for my first 50km in October and ultra running helps me cope. It reminds me to overcome and conquer my fears. I was destroyed and I learned to rebuild my life again. I was also an addict for over almost 12 years which I don’t share openly. I quit cold turkey and never looked back. Running and living a healthy life has been my “addiction”. Not losing my sanity after the sexual assault on Christmas Eve and Christmas day is also on my priority list. It’s been a long road but running besides God and family is most important in my life.”
Many thanks to all who shared their stories with us and congratulations on your recovery and transformation

UTMB Champion

Thoughts on UTMB

UTMB, the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc is the biggest mountain ultra in the world. It is a dream for most mountain ultra runners to take part and winning catapults any runner to trail stardom.
The race kicks off tonight at 6.00pm local time. It is 170km with 10000m of ascent – Everest is 8848 meters to put that in context. There are 2300 runners and a cutoff time of 46.30 to complete the course. The leaders should take approximately 21 hours to finish.
So, what are the thoughts of the international champions who have taken part (past or present) as UTMB 2016 gets underway? We look at their motivation and inspirations, reflections and even share some of their training tips.

Zach Miller –  2015 CCC Champion


Photo Credit: Zack Miller’s Mom

“I’ve received many messages, emails, and words of encouragement from all sorts of people in the lead-up to UTMB, but this picture of a bulletin board from the school where my Mom teaches really hit home today. Thanks Mom!”

Rory Bosio, 2 x UTMB Champion

Photo Credit: North Face

Photo Credit: North Face

“I do not have the fortitude to run just for the sake of running. I like to use running as a way to escape from everyday life or to see a new place. Fitness is a great by-product. I choose races based on location rather than competition. If I’m running somewhere that inspires me, or I find beautiful, I usually have a better race anyway.“ https://www.theguardian.com/

Kilian Jornet, 3 x winner UTMB

Photo Credit: UTMB

“A great athlete is one who takes advantage of the ability that genetics have brought him in order to secure great achievements, but an exceptional athlete is one who can swim in the waters of complexity and chaos, making what seems difficult easy, creating order from chaos. Creative individuals search for chaos in order to explore all the places they can imagine beyond the frontiers of consciousness, following the irrational forces that come from within themselves and from their environment.” https://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Kilian-Jornet

Marco Olmo – twice winner of UTMB and Ambassador for IRUN4ULTRA

Marco Olmo

“It is very emotional to be back here because ten years has passed since I first won UTMB. I realise that the years have passed and that you have to be happy with what you have done before.”

Xavier Thevenard  2 x UTMB Champion

Photo Credit: © UTMB® - photo : Pascal Tournaire

Photo Credit: © UTMB® – photo: Pascal Tournaire

“UTMB is mythical because of its relationship to Mont Blanc. It is a place known all over the world and everyone wants to get closer to see what it looks like. And then there is the route itself that is very tough and physical. For purists, it’s something to do. Chamonix is the capital of mountaineering and all these make this race unique. I think this is how it will continue for a long time.” https://www.meltyxtrem.fr/

David Laney, UTMB 2015 3rd place

Mont Blanc

Photo Credit:David Laney

“Run the most technical trails you can find.  Find steep rocky mountain ridges and steep rugged canyons that mirror the course you plan to race on.  Get to a place where you can roll through really rooty, rocky or steep downhill sections.  Find those trails that allow you to practice the more technical aspects of running. Do them again and again and again.The mountains are big and free and wild and powerful.  Use those emotions to inspire your next race.” https://davidlaneyrunning.com/

Luis Alberto Hernando Alzago, Skyrunning Champion

Photo Credit: correrxmuntanya.com

Photo Credit: correrxmuntanya.com

“Everything is prepared and we are convinced that the third time is a charm!“ https://www.luisalbertohernando.com/utmb/

Lizzy Hawker, 2 x winner UTMB

Photo Credit: Lizzy Hawker

Photo Credit: Lizzy Hawker

“As a child I preferred to walk rather than take the bus and I just found moving under my own effort more appealing. By the time I came to run that first UTMB I was used to long days on my feet – mountaineering, hiking as well as running – and for a long mountain ultra like the UTMB ‘time on feet’ is good preparation.” https://www.independent.co.uk/

Jason Schlarb, 4th place UTMB 2015 and IRUN4ULTRA Ambassador


“I want to improve on my 4th place. I want to get on to that podium which is a very high ambition for a USA runner.One of our difficulties (in the USA)  is that our mountains just aren’t as steep. We have the Rockies, but they are more characterized by switchbacks and there are trails there for mountain bikers and hikers whereas the Dolomites and the Alps are really sheer. I really attribute my fourth place to the fact that I went to Europe for three months to train. It made all the difference.” https://www.runultra.co.uk