Friday, January 17, 2014

Goals for 2014; What I Think Ultrarunning Should Do in 2014

New Year's resolutions have never really interested me for a few reasons. First, I think we can (and should) make positive changes in our lives any day of the year, not just on January 1. Deferring changes to the new year, to me, reveals shaky resolve.

What I am into is goal-setting. I have a few personal and professional goals for this year, but for the purposes of this blog I'll just talk about my tentative 2014 racing goals. Here goes:

Break 3 hours in the marathon once again. The last time I broke 3 in the marathon was May of 2009 (a month later I won a 100-mile trail race--wow, those were the days). Damn, the years fly by. I tried to break 3 at the Arizona Rock 'n Roll Marathon last January but came up just a little short. This spring, with my 41st birthday nearing, I think I may once again go for sub-3. I have this crazy goal of trying to break 3 in three separate decades: 2000s--done (2008, 2009), 2010s--not yet, 2020s--we'll see. I've written on here before that I believe the road marathon is the hardest distance of all when you're racing with a goal in mind. Every second counts, and success comes down to pacing and having enough in the tank for that grueling final 10 kilometers. Sorry, but trail ultras, while really hard, aren't quite as hard as nailing a fast marathon time (fast being a relative term, depending on your abilities). If indeed I go for a sub-3 this spring, it'll likely be at the very downhill Colorado Marathon in Fort Collins. That will mean I need to start ramping up in the next few weeks, with March and April being pretty heavy. I need to decide really soon if that's what I want to do, because I'm not quite mentally ready to take on big weeks of running (80+) when there's still lots of skiing to be had. (UPDATE AS OF 1/21: I REGISTERED FOR THE COLORADO MARATHON!)

Break 21 hours at the Leadville 100. If you've been following this blog for a few years, you know I've been fixated on breaking 20 hours at Leadville. Last summer, I trained really hard and still came in with a 22-hour time. My problem is that, while I run at sub-20 pace for 80 miles of that course, I tend to lose a lot of time on the ~20-mile Hope Pass section. This year, with the right fueling strategy (going to experiment with GU Roctane), I believe sub 21 is possible. My one hesitation is that I'm pretty well "fat adapted." I try to use calories on runs as little as possible, but at the same time I need to be ready for race-day nutrition.

Stay injury-free. Knock on wood, but I've been free of injury for over a year now, save a foot deal that happened in November of 2012 and carried over into 2013. I think weight training and MAF have really helped me stay healthy. I also think I've found the right shoes for me--Sauconys, especially the Ominis.

Those are the goals for the year. The marathon goal is still rumbling around in my head but I'm feeling pulled to the Colorado Marathon in early May. Deep in my mind, I have this thing where I need to break three hours so I'll feel like a decent runner. Maybe it's an ego thing. When I feel like a decent runner, I have confidence that translates into better performances in ultras.


As a fan of the stop/start/continue tool, here are some things I believe ultrarunning as a sport needs to do in 2014:
  • Stop talking about how the sport is growing by leaps and bounds. It's still a very niche sport that, for the most part, operates in the shadows. We've lost all perspective if we think this sport has gone mainstream.
  • Stop beating on the Leadville 100. It got old fast.
  • Stop saying the sport has gone international. There have been badasses from other nations for years. Ever heard of Bruce Fordyce? Yiannis Kouros? How about Don Ritchie or Oleg Kharitonov? Those guys could run circles around many of us today.
  • Stop with the fixation on arranging the sport around the needs of the "elites." This sport isn't about elites; it's about like-minded folks enjoying the road and/or trail together, within the context of a race, and then enjoying a few beers afterward. I couldn't care less what the elites want, but I will say I enjoy watching them mix it up at races like Western States and Hardrock.
  • Start getting more road ultras into the mix.
  • Stop saying that race X or race Y has "the deepest field ever." That got old a few years ago. There have been many deep fields. I know it's hard for many to imagine anything being bigger or better than what we have today. But I think one could argue, as referenced by the international badasses I listed above, that the sport has been strong for a long time. Whatever.
  • Stop talking about prize money. This will not be a big money sport anytime soon, because ultrarunning has little visibility in the "general" market and it's not spectator-friendly. But if it does one day bring in big bucks (which it won't), the sport will go to ruin. Big money=cheating.
  • Start running and enjoying the gift on a daily basis. As a sport, we've come to talk too much (I've been guilty of this, too). We should run more and talk less. 
  • Stop with the ESPNization of the sport. This isn't the NFL. Enough already.

I'd love to hear what your goals are for 2014. Feel free to share them in the comments.


  1. Awesome stuff Wyatt. I know you will have a great year. My main goal is to finish Run Rabbit Run as it's my first 100...a time goal seems counterintuitive, but I will learn a lot at San Juan Solstice in terms of where I am at. Other than that this year is all about adaptation and building momentum in this journey. Staying healthy is important. Balancing everything while succeeding at work is very motivating.

    1. Good luck, William. Those are great races you've picked! I would love to do San Juan one day.

  2. We may not agree on everything like Leadville...but I really like everything you wrote here (including not beating on Leadville anymore...and running more, enjoying the gift, talking less). Great perspective!

    I agree with you on road marathons as well. I can add a bit on the FC Colorado Marathon, just to say that the downhillish-ness (at a higher elevation in the canyon) doesn't make it
    much (if at all) easier than many other options, especially flat sea level options. Of course, that comes at a bigger travel expense in time and money. It's beautiful and well-run, but the flat bike paths are often hot and a rude awakening for pounded quads. Go for it if you are happy to enjoy the course no matter what (with a great chance of breaking 3 hrs anyway)...knowing that New Orleans, Tucson, Phoenix, California, etc. are easily 5 mins faster. Otherwise, Quad Rock is cheaper and a great vibe and race!

    But I am questioning the whole marathon->ultra prep paradigm that many of us do, especially in light of much of the latest nutrition talk and research. I personally enjoy shorter, faster races and workouts...but I wonder if longer/slower and appropriate metabolic training is better for optimizing 100M performance by itself. Anyway, good luck in 2014!

    1. Mike: Wow, I was thinking the Colorado Marathon would be faster than a race like Phoenix. The Phoenix course changed and now it has more uphill. Anyway, I haven't yet registered but I may do that as early as today. Quad Rock isn't possible for me--that's my son's birthday weekend.


  3. The Colorado Marathon has notoriously sold out early in the year so don't hesitate too long if you're truly thinking about it (of course, this will be there year it doesn't...who knows!).

    I, too, am not much into resolutions, but I do like the flip of the calendar into a new year because with it comes a blank sheet of paper - a brand new journal - reminding me that all things are possible.

    I'm registered for Quad Rock 50. Just not feeling too tired right now so not sure. Leadville Marathon's on the list. And thinking of this new marathon in Copper Mt: La Marathona Verticale. Guess I'd better find that pep. :)

    Looking forward to following your year ahead!

    1. Jill: I looked up the Copper Mountain race--12,000 feet of vertical. Wow! I'm actually interested in the half marathon option and/or Vertical K. Anyway, I saw that they haven't yet gotten the permits yet--that's a potential red flag.


  4. Still trying to figure this year out but I doubt I will be racing that much. I may only run two sort of significant races this year, Desert Rats Marathon in April and Run Rabbit Run in September. I agree more running and less talking.

    1. Andy: Why aren't you racing much this year?


  5. Hi Wyatt, did I mention before how much I enjoy your blog?:-)
    It was the first thing Leadville I subscribed to before even signing for my first LT race.
    So, thanks Bro!
    My only dream in 2014 is actually finishing Tha LT100. This will be my third time and I am not planning on giving up until I get the job done and get to feel walking up the 6th towards that red carpet and Marylee's sweet hugs in the early morning sunshine.
    This year I have Scott Weber in my corner as a coach and we have been hard at work since beginning of November. I have not much room left in my life besides family , job and Leadville. I am clearly OCD'd about it and having learned every turn and every rock on that cource helps me focus all the rest on training and powering up my moves to avoid bonking this year and outsmarting the GI traps I have fallen to in 2012 and 2013. I love the town and love coming back there as if it was my home. Can't wait till July to get there again.
    Wish you all the best with sub 3 hrs marathon! I can not even remotely imagine how I BQ'd and ran the 3 Bostons. Those short distance days of fast running are now gone forever for me, especially when Pbville training regimen is 9 months long.
    Hope to meet you in person there one of these days.
    Thanks again for a great read:-)

  6. I've been saying, "surround yourself with positive like minded people" for years. Now I have to add your,"and then drink beer." Great post! Good luck this year.
    My goals are: run at least 1500 miles. PR 26.2 run my first 100+ miler(Arrowhead135 in about a week)

  7. Great post, Wyatt.

    My goals for 2014:
    - run different races from my normal Groundhog Year cycle of doing the same old thing
    - get stronger, especially legs
    - staying injury free
    - completing LT100 under the 25 hour cutoff.

    Thanks for this blog, btw. On Jan 1st at around 10 minutes past the new year (after registering for LT100), I did a search "Training for Leadville 100" and this popped up. Great information and I appreciate you taking the time putting it together.

  8. Runner's Roost just posted that the CO Marathon is very close to selling out. If you haven't already registered, I'd recommend doing so now. Best of luck on your goals! See you at Pbville. :)

  9. Those are great goals. Breaking a 3 hour marathon is challenging, but I'm confident you can do it. Make sure to incorporate a weekly workout for speed as it will greatly help. Leadville is out of my league right now, but I'm hoping to run a fifty mile trail race by the end of the year. Maybe I can get to this course within five years.

    Injury free is the name of the game. I'd say that my biggest goal this year is to run smarter - treat easy runs as easy runs, abide by the 10% weekly total mileage rule, and avoid overtraining. Best wishes this year!


  10. Nice, I love this post! Great goals and I really like the list of think to stop doing in 2014.