Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Things You Can Do to Have a Long Running "Career"

With the Western States lottery gods once again overlooking me, 2015 will feature the Bighorn 100 and hopefully the Pikes Peak Marathon. Taking the year off from any Leadville races has been a tough decision because I've come to love both the marathon and 100-mile run. With the lottery open another 12 days, I'll be the first to admit that I've been tempted several times to put my name in the hat.

I have come to be a bit too obsessed with Leadville. The fact is that I've yet to have the race up there of which I'm capable. In 2013, I lined up in amazing shape and still underachieved. This year, despite really solid training, I went backwards as far as how it all went relative to my 2011 and 2013 results. Whatever is vexing me up in Leadville, I've yet to understand it in the five years I've lined up for that epic 100-mile race. It could be that the biggest barrier to my breaking through is mental. The altitude has no doubt been a factor, but I think it's become a mental thing. Some time away might really help as far as putting Leadville in perspective and regaining some confidence.

Plus, the timing of Leadville (especially in 2015) has come to really suck from a family standpoint. It's right when my son goes back to school (if you don't have kids, you couldn't possibly imagine how busy back-to-school season can be) and all of the training Leadville requires can get in the way of fun family time throughout the summer. I try not to allow running to take priority over family but the bottom line is that training for Leadville requires lots of time away all summer. With Bighorn happening in mid-June, I'll have a big chunk of the summer after the race to relax, maintain fitness for Pikes Peak and, most importantly, do fun stuff with the family (camp, hike, etc.).

As difficult of a decision as it's been, It'll be good to step away from Leadville for a year and give Bighorn a go.

I've been thinking a lot about what I learned in 2014 as far as running. Here are my top 5 learnings:

1) On race day, less is more. Whatever you pack for a 100-miler, you'll use probably 10% of it during the race.

2) At some point in your life, you develop a big enough base that you can start to train smarter and not longer. This is a big struggle for me because I've always been a volume guy. Plus, how do you really know when your base has reached that critical point? Since taking up serious running in 2004, I've put in over 35,000 miles. That's probably a super solid base....

3) There is something to fat adaptation.... If your body has 20,000-30,000 fat calories and only 2,000 sugar calories stored, it makes sense that burning fat is the way to go. Plus, if you can burn fat efficiently, that means fewer stomach-bombing gels during the race--a good thing.

4) Masters runners are the guys and gals who made it through their 20s and 30s, avoiding running-related burnout and injuries, and that's why they're now so damned tough and competitive--they're the last badasses standing. It is amazing to me how quality the masters field is in most races. I'm proud to still be going strong at age 41.

5) Always ask yourself why you're doing a certain race. My feeling is that many of us do zillions of races a year to prove something that isn't healthy--like maybe impressing others or trying to compensate for personal insecurities. With races, it's quality, not quantity. If you over-race, you won't get to #4 above.


  1. How about this: do both PPM and Leadville? Straight up competition and we can talk smack all year.

    1. I'd rather cheer you on at Leadville! You're dipping yourself in a huge vat of epicness, GZ.

    2. I am not sure it is epicness but there is plenty of room in the vat.

    3. Bighorn will deliver tons of epicness. A few people have told me it'll be a good race for me.