Category Archives: Elites

I Am Not A Runner

My second of three “hard effort” days of 2016 came today and it helped me remember something – I am not a runner.  I’m not.  You might infer things went horrible and all of this “not a runner” talk is from discouragement and/or frustration.  Just the opposite.  Things went great.  Better than expected in fact.  15:15 for an honest road 5k, a 55 second win, and a course record to boot.  Still not a runner … let’s back up.

Continue reading I Am Not A Runner


Western States 100 – Raw Human Emotion

It was my first up close and personal look at the Western States Endurance Run – the grand-daddy 100 mile trail race of them all.  I was on board to pace last year’s M9 Joe Uhan (Olive Oil Joe – OOJ) from the Forrest Hill aid station to the river – miles 62 to 78.  But this trip wasn’t just about the 16 mile stretch of Cal Street; the 5 final days of June 2013 ended up being more of a personal journey and experience of possibly every human emotion I could handle for one weekend out West.  The highs most definitely out-weighed the lows and the new (and old) friendships were icing on the cake. Continue reading Western States 100 – Raw Human Emotion

Ultra & Trail Running Training Philosophies: Matt Carpenter & Speed

MAtt Carpenter
Matt Carpenter …. on a ski lift

2005 was a magical year for Matt Carpenter … not only did he seek out his revenge at the Leadville 100mi trail run but post race he championed quite possibly the most epic picture of any elite runner … not running (see image to the right).  I came across the following write-up by ultra & trail running hero Matt Carpenter regarding training philosophies when transitioning from shorter road-racing to the ultra and longer trail running distances.  A great read and confirmation of some of the principles I want to practice while experimenting with the longer stuff.  It’s easy to get carried away, read all the blogs & others’ training logs, and feel as though you have to basically double your volume and/or long run to even consider running past 50-ish miles.  First off, people usually only post about their peak (highest) mileage for a build-up and we must remember that bragging rights (if any) after a race result far out-weigh any kind of mileage written (or typed) in a training log.  Other huge factors in comparing effective training are people’s background and objectives – some run to run, some run to race, and both are fine in their own right.  Matt is speaking from a purely competitive background – an already established elite road racer in his day, he cared about crushing the competition on the trails (and earning money to feed his family) … if the answer is to simply run 3-6 hours a day (while not getting injured), he would do it – but it wasn’t, so he didn’t.

72 miles into the 2005 Leadville Trail 100 miler getting ready to exchange CamelBaks

His 2004-2005 experiences prove the same core principles of road racing directly correlate to hitting the trail and longer distances.  While some modifications will be inevitable – such as gradually extending the long run (or just putting two back-to-back) and dialing in a good fuel strategy (with a plan B & plan C if things turn sour) – the fact remains that running is an aerobic activity.  Aerobic capacity is maximized in many different ways – keeping intervals, tempo runs, hill workouts, and uptempo work is essential when trying to do more with less (more quality running, more increases in aerobic capacity, more fitness gains, less volume, less recovery / sleep, less time away from family, etc).

This perspective excites me as I see Matt was training to run the 10km national trail championships only 2-3 months before the Leadville 100 miler.  Granted this guy has a Vo2-max greater than 90 and some recorded resting heart rates ~33 bpm, but we can all learn from the differences in his 2004 and 2005 approaches …. 2004 – monster miles, pounding out multiple ultras lead to a crash-and-burn 30 mile death march VS 2005 – fewer miles (minutes), high quality (over quantity), good recovery lead to a ridiculous new 90+ minute course record.  Not to mention, for me anyway, when approaching a long term goal running 70-90 miles/week with some variety (a couple up-tempo efforts + long run) is going to fit into my schedule better and be WAY more attainable mentally than slogging 100+ miles/week.  Not everybody is a super-elite like he was (and still is as a master), but scale your training accordingly and learn from his 30+mile death march 🙂

Click here > Matt’s (long but very worthwhile) 2005 article

Film Review: Unbreakable – The Western States 100

Unbreakable DVDWhen it comes to sporting events, we’re at no loss of footage.  Instant replay, slow motion, high definition, every play of every NFL game at our fingertips, and so on … we have a lot.  With respect to a somewhat niche sport of distance running in general, we usually have to settle for Diamond League track meet coverage, large urban city marathons, and the Olympics – each of which is very hit-and-miss with competent commentating.  Take it to another level of “niche” sports in the world of trail ultra-running and you’re left with very grass roots coverage – think blogs, personal video / pictures, tweeting, results links, etc. which is actually preferable to most involved keeping the sport “pure” and/or natural feeling.


All that said, “Unbreakable – The Western States 100″ by Journey Film breaks the mold providing an incredible full length documentary on one of the greatest elite fields assembled at one of the most iconic 100 mile trail races in history.  More than simple running footage with splits and athlete placement along the way, this film rings true to their production title and brings you along for the thrilling journey from Squaw Valley to Auburn.  A perfect balance of having a professional production crew yet keeping the grassroots and natural spirit of trail running.  Incredible cinematography of what only the runners encounter along the high country, single track trail descents through the canyons, and crossing the American River were themselves enough to keep this Midwestern distance runner (born & raised in Wisconsin / currently residing in Iowa) on the edge of my seat with my heart pounding and mind flashing back to my younger days growing up in Golden, Colorado ages 4 – 9.  Amidst the incredible landscapes and nature-filled running footage, the personal stories of each top contender’s lifestyle and training was what will capture your attention to the very end.


The significance of this race at the top level was unprecedented – 4 elite ultra marathoners never facing each other in 100 miles before this 2010 running.  That seemed to be the only thing they had in common as each of them shared their own background, strengths, training methods, and lifestyle.  Hal Koerner – 2-time defending champ with an upbeat and infectious personality owns a running store in Oregon.  Geoff Roes – an introverted and insightful organic chef from Alaska undefeated in 100 miles.  Anton Krupicka – a charismatic graduate student enjoying the pure essence of running mountains and undefeated in any ultra marathon distance.  Killian Jornet – a humble and quiet mountain runner / skier from Spain with trekking experience since he was in diapers comes to the USA ultra scene for the first time.

What I enjoyed the most about seeing each of the athletes progress through the course is you never really knew what kind of day each would have until the race progressed  – very similar to distance running in general.  You never REALLY know if you’ll be running average, fighting through a bad patch, blowing up, or having the race of your life until you’re in those moments.  Out of the four featured experienced elite’s, it seemed to be on par with the chances of how any given season or build up might turn out … two running very well and executing, one fighting through some injury trauma, and another blowing up.  I won’t spoil anything for those that haven’t seen it because the drama and unfolding of the race continues right until the very end … do yourself a favor and find out by watching it!


Ok, obviously ultra / trail runners are going to really dig this film … as I mentioned before, it truly captures the essence and spirit of running through the woods for 100 miles.  I challenge any fitness enthusiast – track/road runners, swimmers, triathletes, mountain bikers, road bikers, skiers, mountaineers, climbers, etc. – to indulge in the journey of elite ultra / trail running.  I’m a self-declared running nerd but have been pounding out training and racing on the roads and track since college and couldn’t have enjoyed this more as I look forward to an ultra debut (trail 50km) in a few weeks and explore more in 2013/2014.  I’ve re-watched it a few times just for the mountain trail running footage alone (remember …… I live in Iowa ….. IOWA!!!!).



Think Plan Run – Online Coaching Upgrades

Think Plan Run - Coaching PageThink Plan Run is happy to finally announce a huge upgrade in its coaching platform.  Think Plan Run has moved to a completely integrated online system by teaming with the best online endurance training software also used by professionals such as 3-time Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander, GreenEDGE, Team Sky, and others.  A few of the many new features include dedicated members-only sign in, shared workout calendars, mobile access, online calendar sync, workout notifications, charting, mapping, custom training zones, and more.  These enhancements are more than having a fancier and prettier looking interface – we will have an overall better and more efficient way to communicate and train smarter towards achieving your distance running goals.  I AM PUMPED!!!!!!!!!!


Learn more on the coaching page (click here) about some of the enhancements and on the options & pricing page (click here) about the all new multi-plan structure!

Olympics Team Trials – Marathon Predictions

The week of the Olympic Team Trials for the marathon distance are upon us.  One of the best American distance running events we can look forward to only once every four years.  This year will be like any other as changes have been made since the previous Olympic cycle four years prior.  The most exciting change this year is that both races will be happening at the same time on the same course (15 minute delay in start times) in Houston on January 14h.

The men’s A-standard was moved to 2:19:00 (previously 2:20:00) and the B-standard (previously 2:22:00) was completely dropped.  The other A-standards men can qualify for this race are 1:05:00 half marathon and 28:30 10,000m.  The women retain both their marathon standards as 2:39:00 for the A-standard and 2:46:00 (previously 2:47:00) for the B-standard.  The women also have retained the 10,000m (33:00) standard and added a half marathon (1:15:00) standard to enter the race – both considered B-standards.Below are my predictions to the top ten contestants and winning time in each race as part of the Olympic Trials Prediction Contest for up to $250,000 in prize money.  I’ve got the favorites winning the whole thing as I believe Ryan Hall and Desiree Davila have the big time race experience and are simply more fit than anybody else.  The rest is a crap shoot as anything can happen in the long unpredictable race that is the marathon.  I’ll be shutting off my phone and blocking out the world of media, internet, TV, etc. on Saturday until 2pm (Central Time) when the races are aired on NBC.  Special shout out to fellow Run A Blaze Iowa team members Jason Flogel, Robyn Friedman, Danna Kelly, Erin Moeller, and Ashley Tollakson.

1. Ryan Hall
2. Brett Gotcher
3. Meb Keflezighi
4. Brent Vaughn
5. Mohamed Trafeh
6. Dathan Ritzenhein
7. Jason Lehmkuhle
8. Jason Hartmann
9. Michael Reneau
10. Matthew Gabrielson
1. Desiree Davila
2. Kara Goucher
3. Shalane Flanagan
4. Blake Russell
5. Jennifer Rhines
6. Deena Kastor
7. Katie McGregor
8. Magdalena Lewy Boulet
9. Amy Hastings
10. Stephanie Rothstein
Thoughts?  Comments?  Agree/Disagree?  Tweet me, Facebook me, share this article, and let me know what you think!