Eric Orton's Posts (84)

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The carbon plate has become the star of the Olympic Trial build up and all of the rage in shoes these days. For good reason as it increases propulsion and energy return.

The idea behind the plate AND the new innovative mid sole foam is to create more STIFFNESS that creates more energy return. Just like our muscles, tendons, and ligaments are meant to coil energy and then release it - elastic energy!

Stiffness, tightness, force production, all of this is necessary to improve run performance AND for heathly, strong longevity in the sport.

Here is my "DON'T DO THIS, DO THIS" list to help train this way:

-> DON'T underestimate how crucial it is to train the feet. They are your foundation of stability, force production, power, and energy return.

DO train your feet as YOUR MAIN focus of strength. You are only as strong as your feet.  For those of you who have my book, The Cool Impossible, you know how potent my foot strength program is.

Using the FREO Slant Board trains the feet to engage the big toe and arch, which in turn activates the calves for superior muscle elasticity - or your body's own CARBON PLATE. HOW we train the feet, dictates how we fire our muscles and create stability at our knee and glutes/hips. And this is the holy grail for running performance and health.

-> DON'T rely on gravity or leaning when running.

DO focus on providing force into the ground to propel yourself forward.

-> DON'T continue to rely on stretching and group classes that focus on hyper mobility that deflates elastic energy, stability and strength.

DO focus on power metric drills to create more force, elastic return, and stiffness to improve health and speed.

-> DON'T focus on developing strength in the gym thru heavy and slow lifting or high rep, low weight.

DO focus on developing proper run strength by doing power metric drills, short, fast sprints, eccentric and isometric training.

-> DON'T stop focusing on foot strike and resist that their is a proper way to run.

DO be patient when transitioning to a forefoot to heel strike technique. How we use our feet and strike the ground dictates everything.

-> DON'T consistently rely on tempo and long easy runs for ongoing improvement. This is no different than relying on the above gym strength.

DO incorporate short sprints, short uphill AND downhill intervals, and VO2max workouts, regardless of the type of runner you are.


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Croakies® Teams up with Born to Run Coach, Eric Orton and a Collection of Industry-Leading Brands for a Unique October Trail Running Adventure in Jackson Hole, WY


PLAINVILLE, Mass., September 3, 2019Croakies, the original manufacturer of industry-leading outdoor retention products, today announces the launch of its biggest Not your Everyday Adventurecampaign to date. The campaign features a grand prize of a trip for two to Jackson Hole, WY to experience the trails of the Tetons with acclaimed running coach, Eric Orton and an assortment of the latest gear to inspire your fall running adventures from Croakies and partners, Smartwool, Suunto, Skinny Skis, NATIVE Eyewear, and more.



Conceptualized as a means of celebrating Croakies’ mission to utilize its best-in-class retention products as a vehicle for inspiring everyday adventure, over the course of the past two years, Croakies’ Not your Everyday Adventure campaigns have become a pivotal and recurring component of the brand’s quarterly marketing efforts.



 Croakies’ latest Not your Everyday Adventure campaign deploys today and seeks to blend a true mountain town adventure with the goal of demystifying trail running as something only the die-hard running community can enjoy. Winners will be announced the last week of September and then flown out to Jackson Hole on October 4thfor an unforgettable 3-day weekend in the mountains with Eric and Croakies.


“Through Jackson’s diverse trail system and varied mountainous terrain, alongside Eric’s unique coaching style and approach to running, we’re aiming to show just how inclusive and accessible trail running can be as a form of daily adventure, whatever your experience level” explains Chris McCullough, Croakies Director of Marketing.

 With a total prize package of over $5,000, don’t miss out on a rare opportunity to experience Jackson Hole without the crowds, decked out in the latest gear by some of the most sought-after brands, and your very own celebrity running coach and Jackson local showing you the ropes. Head over to a chance to win this unique 3-day adventure in the Tetons.


Full prize details include:


"I am often asked where my favorite place to run is in the World; my answer is always the same, ‘Jackson Hole!,’” states Born to Run Coach, Eric Orton.  “Jackson has extensive world class running, and I am extremely excited to be working with Croakies to create a one-of-a-kind, running experience right here in my hometown.”


To learn more about Croakies’ latest collection of outdoor retention products and to stay up to date on upcoming events and campaigns, please visit Complete details and guidelines for the Not Your Everyday Adventure contest can be found at



About Croakies

Often imitated but never duplicated, the original Croakies were invented in 1977 by a local ski patrolman from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming. Today, Croakies products are still proudly designed amidst the mountains of the American West, with most of its production in Bozeman, Montana. With Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as a backyard, the brand’s inspiration remains unchanged: to create best-in-class retention products that inspire everyday adventure and provide comfort, style, durability, and functionality to active people of all ages. For more information about Croakies and its latest product line, please visit or follow the brand on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter using @croakies. Croakies is part of the Hilco Vision portfolio of brands.



Media Contact:

Chris McCullough

(206) 450-7028

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The Trails Are Open. But how's your IT Band?

What goes up, must come down. And for the most part, run form should not change relative to speed, or in my case today, terrain. Especially footstrike.
It is fairly easy to have goog forefoot to heel strike going up, and challenging to have good foot placement coming down, as gravity will try to pull you into mistakes.


Every Spring I get calls from local athletes complaining of IT Band issues. Because as the trails open, more and more runners are doing more and more descending.
Poor footstrike places a lot of stress on the quads and a huge demand for stability that is hard to have with bad form.
This all can create IT Band issues, and eventually tight hip flexors.

The simple, long term remedy is to use the early season to develop eccentric loading strength and stability. This is done by slowing down on the descents so you can have ideal forefoot to flat foot strike under you.
The key is to be patient with your speed and practice "good" so you can have good muscle equilibrium and the ability to go faster later. This all goes in concert with the foot/leg strength program you are doing in my book.
More is not better, better is better.

Today's Session:
MS1: 1,000 ft climb at threshold watts.
MS2: downhill easy for foot strike practice and strength.

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Downhills Are GOOD For You - Strength Running


Too many strength programs focus soley on building concentric strength, with full range of motion exercises.
These movements are loaded and usually too slow to be very functional for running. And target building muscle fiber MASS/DENSITY rather than utilizing MORE muscle fibers. More fiber mass just requires more oxygen and energy - not efficient. Creating more muscle fibers allows you to use more mitochondria, which is the muscles energy powerhouse!

And most times these slow, heavy, massive range of motion exercises do not target tendon strength, elastic rebound, and the stretch shorting cycling in the running gait.

In running, the range of motion is not very great and therefore tendon strength and stability come into play, and why the strength program in The Cool Impossible focuses so much on foot, leg, glute isometric and stabilization strength. It's not sexy, but very potent and works very quickly.

Bottom line, if your concentric strength over powers your eccentric strength and isometric transition, your running will suffer in many ways.

Today's Second Run Session after morning track:
WU: 10' easy.
5 X 60" fast downhills with a focus on good foot strike, quick knee drive and relaxed propeltion downhill.
After each, a very easy 90" run back up with a focus on forefoot strike and very quick cadence.

》Downhills = train my eccentric and isometric abilities, the landing. This is tremendous strength training BUT foot strike must be a focus.
》Uphills = this trains my elastic properties in my arch creating a better "spring or rubber band" to help propel me forward.

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How Sprinting Can Improve Your Endurance


Spring time. Sprint time.

Sprinting plays a tremendous roll in endurance development for ALL distances.

Here's how:
- improves isometric strength, one of the key strength factors in cadence and forward propeltion.
- trains precise and efficient use of the reflex muscle tension during eccentric landing. This helps your down hill and prevents injury.
- improves economy, helping your cruising speed feel much easier.
- increases your ability to store and release elastic energy in your muscles. This improves endurance efficiency.

- trains absolute strength which actually improves your ability to run well for a prolonged period.
- improves tendon health and strength, due to the short range of motion during the concentric running movement. Squats are not functional, running is your strength and resistance training!

Today's set:
MS1: 5 X 100m building
MS2: 2 X (400/300/200)
MS3: 5 X 100m descending

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Speed Up Your Race Pace


Spring is in my step.

The great Grete Waitz ran 19 marathons in her career, winning 13 of them.
She was the first woman to break the 2:30 barrier, eventually lowering the world record to 2:25:42.
She believed that speed training was imparative for all runners of all distances and abilities.
Her marathon training reflected that of her 3,000 - 10,000 meter race training.

Many marathoners and ultra runners do not have the requisite raw speed to match their desired race pace speed, yet they continue to try and train their race pace speed and endurance.

Speed dictates endurance capability and potential.

Here is one of my Raw Speed practices on a soccer or football field:


WU: 10' easy.
Drills: quick feet, quick skip, skip for height/distance, one leg hop, standing jump, one leg high hop. (Watch Drills)
MS1: 10 X 15" moderate sprints.
MS2: 20 yards longer than MS1 - 10 sprints faster than 15".
MS3: 10 diagonals at 4:30 pace, (run what is fast for you) with easy jog on horizontals.
CD: easy

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Kick for Gold or Stumble to Fourth


Sometimes you have to HOLD YOURSELF BACK:
Today was a recovery run. After taking the day off yesterday to heal a mild cough in the lungs, my legs felt great!
I stayed patient, with my sights on the upcoming week.

Patience + Practice = Performance

At the 1972 Olympics, all of the pre-game buzz was on rock star USA 5,000m runner Steve Prefontaine. The anticipation was high to see how he would do against an international field. Would his front running style hold up?

And then there was the 800m race, featuring American Dave Wottle. Recently married he was written off as having got "soft" in his training build up and wedding bells.

Well, since I am writing this you can guess what happened. Prefontaine faided, stumbling to 4th.
Wottle was in last for most of the 1st lap, and then out kicked everyone for Gold.

Running Takes Patience

This weekend I have several athletes racing: La Marathon, 6 hour ultra, and a training run 5k.

Their race strategies employ being patient to perform.
》the marathoners are looking to stay patient during the first 20 and then "race" the last 10k.
》The 6 hour ultra strategy is to run in zone 1-2 for the first 4 hours and then run trail marathon pace for the last 2 hours.
》the 5k strategy is to hold back the 1st mile about 15 seconds slower than 5k pace to avoid going too fast, and then building to the finish. 

I believe there is always a way to improve our running, regardless of age, experience, ability, and goals. And this path to improvement usually includes patience and practicing something new.

Run Strong and demand the impossible.


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Home Grown Adventure: Cache Peak

10059098875?profile=originalWith Teton National Park 30 minutes up the road from my house, this usually gets most of my attention for running.  But this Fall I decided to change things up and look to create some run projects that are even closer to home and focus on exploring more vertical gain, peaks, and off-trail ridge line link ups (My Training).  So I have spent the last month exploring to develop some of these adventures for the future, either leaving directly from home or after a very short drive approach.

My first reconnaissance project was to run Cache Peak.  The trail head is a five mile drive from home, with a 5 mile dirt road/double track trail approach to the Gros Ventre Wilderness Boundary.  So I decided to ride my snow bike up this 5 mile, 1,000 ft elevation gain, section and ditch the bike at the start of the Wilderness line that marks the beginning of the climb to Cache Peak.

I am very blessed to live here in the Jackson Hole area, but it is a choice and more importantly, I feel adventures begin with a mindset and rely on originality and creativity.

creative: characterized by originality and imagination.

creator: one that creates.

We all have this ability, regardless of where we live.  Any location can provide stimulus for doing something different and creating something original for your running. 

Here is my adventure, Five Mile Drive from Home.  What can you create, five miles from your home?


Ditching the bike at The Gros Ventre Wilderness Boundary


Cache Peak in the distance: The Start of the Run 


Heading towards the Divide Looking back at the trail 

10059100296?profile=originalCache Peak Approach: right side ridge

10059100901?profile=originalThe Ridge line Route to Cache Peak - 10,167 ft


Western view of Jackson Hole heading up the Ridge

10059101664?profile=originalView from south end of Cache Peak Summit: looking at the next project


Date - October 25, 2014

Mtn Bike Ride Approach/return - 10 miles total, 994 ft elevation gain, 80 min total

Run Moving time - 2:30

Run Distance - 8.7 miles

Run Elevation Gain - 2,992 ft


Shorts/shirt - Marmot

Shoes - older pair of La Sportiva X Country.  Great sticky rubber good for rock scramble.

Snow Bike - Surley Pugsley 

Compression Socks - CEP

Hydration Pack - Marmot Kompressor

Hydration - 1 bottle SOS Hydration + 1 bottle water

Fuel -  Coconut Taos Mountain Energy Bar

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10059102696?profile=originalI stood high on this peak during the Fall season in the Tetons, enjoying the reward of magnificent views that come from 6,000+ feet of running and climbing.  I took the below winter photo during a ten mile run.  These two photos grasp the beauty of the Tetons in different ways, BUT also show the SAME peak in both shots.  Two ways of looking at the same thing - two different perspectives.

You could agrue that they are both stunning in their own right, and maybe even the winter landscape is more beautiful in many eyes.  It depends on your perspective.  To look at the first photo, you get a dramatic look at the rough, jagged rock, and an intimate feel.  But the second landscape photo actually brings the first photo into perspective and gives the context of the effort required to be on top of one of those peaks in the distance.  Both photos, independent of each other, are beautiful, but you need both of the photos to put the experience and effort into perspective.

Many times, our running represents just one photo.  We get stuck doing what we always do, running that same route or loop each morning.  Or, our long run sub-consciously has morphed into always 12 miles, or one long hill is enough.  

But what if you start creating another photo and challenge your personal perspective - giving way to an elevated sense of ability and performance.  All of a sudden with two photos, you experience things differently.  You "up" the ante and set a new bar for yourself that creates new motivation and ultimately you begin to see that you are capable of much more than you think.

And more importantly, you begin to seek more photos and more perspectives that allow you to understand that we now have an infinite process and way to improve.


Get up earlier and do two loops, do that long hill 2 or 3 times.  Add more miles to your week by doing some night running and make it an adventure.  Run twice a day to get in more miles or get a group together and run to breakfast and continue running until it is time for lunch.  

Create your own personal challenges and adventures using a bit of creativity or  what I call a home grown adventure.  Go run the Grand Canyon and experience what it is like to run DOWN first, and then UP, after a long day.

Our minds have a tendency to get stale, that gives way to a comfortable sense of belief and truth that is just an illusion and our worse enemy.  Don't believe your thoughts, believe your experiences!  Reality is not how you look at it, reality is how you see it.

We don't need mountains, everyone has the potential for new perspectives and new ways to improve, regardless of location, age or ability.

BONUS: Using the second photo, who can guess which peak I am on the summit of in the first photo?  Let me know below.

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Time Chart for Improving your Marathon Potential

In this Vlog post, I discuss how to improve your marathon time and the importance of getting faster at a One Mile time trial.  Here is a simple chart to help you compare your One Mile test time with an equivalent marathon potential time.

Your Cool Impossible Marathon speed training zone is SP Zone 2.

One Mile Test Time          Marathon Potential Time              

          5:15                                         2:45      

          5:45                                         3:00

          6:13                                         3:15

          6:40                                         3:30

          7:10                                         3:45

          7:38                                         4:00

          8:06                                         4:15

          8:35                                         4:30

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How Balanced Are You: Speed vs. Endurance

10059108655?profile=originalHow Balanced Are You?

When I start working with a new athlete, I analyze how balanced they are between their speed and endurance. 

Just like the program in The Cool Impossible, at start up, I have my athletes perform two field tests:

  • 1 mile test
  • 20 min test.

This helps me design their speed and Heart Rate training zones for their coaching program, AND helps me detect strengths and weaknesses that will become a target in their training.  

For example:

one of my new runners from London clocked a 5:15 mile test and held an average pace of 5:50 for his 20 min test.  I then compare the two.

For a good balance between speed and endurance, based on his mile time, I would like to see his 20 min avg pace between 5:30-5:40 pace or approximately 92-95% of the one mile test time.

So he is almost there and a great starting point for us to improve on this with coaching.

November is a good time to check where your balance is.  

You are coming off the year fit, and now going into maybe some recovery before 2018.  So doing your field tests now will allow you to take advantage of all the run fitness you have built up thru the year, and also give you a benchmark for 2018 training.

Bring on a balanced 2018!

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Knee Pain and Hip Tightness: Leg Extension

10059106660?profile=originalIf you are experiencing "runners Knee" with discomfort on top of knee, under knee, or on the medial side of the knee, you might be keeping your legs too bent.

If your legs remain too bent throughout the running gait, you are prone to stressing your quads too much and 'turning off' or not using crucial muscles very well - all leading to a vicious cycle of dysfunction:

  • Tight quads
  • Tight IT band
  • Over used bio flexor (psoas)
  • Under used glutes (medius)


Common knee issues can result, due to the tight quads pulling on the knee, causing poor tracking - the pain!

This also causes the hip flexors to over work, causing tightness and the inability to utilize your glutes for strength AND stability. You can be the strongest in the weight room, but if you are not firing and using muscles appropriately, this strength goes for not and will continue to cause imbalances.


We have been brainwashed into thinking the more we run the tighter we get or the more unhealthy it is. This is wrong.  As runners, we do not have to be chronically tight, with aches and pains.  Every running step "can be" an opportunity for strength and health.


One way to help turn this around is to include short, steep, powerful hill repeats into your weekly program. These intervals should be no longer than one minute, so you can maintain a strong and powerful gait.

I call this "strength running." The key is to focus on getting good leg extension with your stance leg like I have in the photo above.

If you do not have access to a steep hill, improvise by using a set of stairs, skipping every other step or even every two steps to get power and extension. Or simply use a treadmill and jack up the incline.


To help with the knee discomfort while you are working on the solution, foam roll or preferably do some self-massage on your quads.  Then lightly stretch the quads, holding for 1-2 minutes at a time.  Remember, this will only help relieve the pain, but will not rectify the problem.


  • 10 X 1 min repeats at 15% grade at Snow King Resort.
  • My rest interval was long, 2-3min, which is very important. The rest allows you to recover well, so you can run each one well. This is NOT a cardiovascular workout, so take the rest.

Hope this helps - E

Author of The Cool Impossible

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Fall in Love With Digging Dirt

10059066475?profile=originalThere is this misconception out there that if you want to pursue your dreams and cool impossibles, you have to know exactly what you’re doing. Just look around at all those other, more successful people out there. They move through life with a crisp smile and no body fat, and you ask them, “how’s it going”, they always say the same thing, “GREAT!” It’s actually kind of nauseating.

But the truth is that none of us ever fully know what we’re doing. We make projections, lists, and plans, but things seldom go as we wish. Life is unfortunately unplannable; it is a fluid, random conglomeration of stuff, people, conditions, attitudes, needs, ideas, and circumstances that careens down the trail like an overloaded ultra runner, ready to mow down anything in its path. So you have to be ready to leap out of its way at any time and pull your dream to safety along with you.

That’s when you wind up by the side of the trail, licking your wounds and cursing your decision to have a dream in the first place. Then you remember how little you know and there is stuff that YOU DON’T KNOW YOU DON’T KNOW!!

And then you think about how much all those other people seem to know. Finally, you remember how insecure this whole situation feels. And then, well hell, why not just quit? After all, if you want to realize your dreams, you have to know what you are doing. Right?

Absolutely, categorically, unequivocally wrong.

The very nature of creating your cool impossible is that you almost NEVER know what you’re doing. Sure, you know most of the steps involved. That’s the easy part. But the real meat of the creative process, the inspiration that will set your dream on a path of its own, is far more complex and elusive than that.

The popular belief is that inspiration “strikes” us like a lightning bolt from the sky. Actually, it’s the other way around. In reality, we strike inspiration much the way miners strike gold. By ceaselessly working, reworking and reworking the old territory, sooner or later we’ll run into a little nugget of something wonderful, something better. The more we dig, the more we’ll find until – if we are patient and very persistent – we hit the mother load. In reality, creating dreams is no different from swinging a pick. For every day of incredible divine intervention, there are probably ten spent sifting through dirt.

This is the bad, boring news about going after what you want: just like any job, there are many times when the work is unexceptional, difficult, and downright demanding. Yet these are also the days when you hunker down and keep on going because there simply isn’t any other way to get where you’re going. And herein lies the difference between the average dreamer and the person who goes after their dreams. The successful person is willing to put up with the hard work because inside of it he/she finds a joy like nothing else on earth. But the average dreamer does not know this joy yet. The average dreamer finds his/her joy in tangible rewards (results) and gets stopped when he/she realizes all that hard work may ultimately “be for nothing.”

When you set out to undertake the work of your dreams, it is critical that you must understand something: the reason so many people abandon there dreams is because they EXPECTED it to be perpetually fun and EASY. “But this is my dream!” they think lustily. “It has to be fun.” Then the minute the dream gets challenging, which it inevitably does, they quit, as if it suddenly turned into the wrong dream, or more likely, as if there were something wrong with them – some weird defect all those other, more successful people going to happy hour never, ever suffer from. In fact, there isn’t a thing in the world wrong with any of these people; it’s just that they don’t understand that pursuing your dream takes effort and discipline. And just because it takes effort and discipline is no reason to abandon it.

Each day spent digging puts you that much closer to the gold. And over time, if you keep at it, a curious thing happens: you begin to love sifting through the dirt. Some of your happiest moments can come during the 20th mile of a long training run, when you are reinventing your character through a major BONK!! Happiness can come in the smallest forms, like being ok with someone passing you on your easy day, because you know tomorrow you will be running harder than anyone or just simply heading out the door when you don’t want to while everyone else is hung over. You head out and your stride becomes as smooth as silk and you begin the feel the rightness of what you set out to do. Finally, you can understand all those curious twists and turns you took and see the larger, greater picture that they form. And this is when all your doubts about your goal begins to blow away like so much dust in the winds.

This is also the point when you come close to sensing the divine in your dream. It does not arrive heralded by trumpet-blowing fan fare, or even in a seamless blast of nonstop inspiration. Rather, the divine steals over you in the small, humdrum hours of your undertaking – during the checking, evaluating, and refining. The divine creeps in during yet another unexceptional night in your dream world, exactly when you least expect it.

As you climb inside the fantastic nautilus of your dream, you begin to understand why Zen masters spend entire lifetimes perfecting the tea ceremony. It is the sheer poetry of creating something from nothing and working on it until it is truly and absolutely right that ultimately keeps you coming back.

This is the magic that can only be born of hard work, of digging dirt, and this, ultimately, is realizing your dream and living your Cool Impossible!

Demand the Impossible - E

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Born To Run - 10 Years On

Hi Everyone,

I hope your running is going strong and well.  This year marked the 10 year anniversary of my Born To Run adventure to the Copper Canyon.  In honor of this, I was invited to visit Oaxaca Mexico this past August for a 3 day run adventure.  The purpose of this was to explore the Oaxaca region, running from town to town.  This is a lawless state that operates independent of the Mexican government, with a focus on eco-tourism and harmony.

We ran 100k within the 3 day adventure and I wanted to share this short film documenting our run.


Secondly, I wanted to share this great podcast from Ultrarunner Podcast, interviewing one of my athletes Meredith Edwards AKA Merejune.  She came in second at UTMB - TDS.  This is one of the better podcasts I have heard and sheds light into Merejune's training and life here in Jackson Hole, and her pursuit of her Cool Impossible.

Mierejune Podcast - Skimo, Trail Running, and Massive Amounts of Vert

I hope you enjoy.



Author of The Cool Impossible

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10059084877?profile=originalI put in a nice and easy 10 miles today.  The trails and mountain canyons are still packed with snow, so this time of year we get days like today, snow, rain, hail, sleet, sunshine, calm, wind, etc.  So I used the radar to pick the best weather window and hit the bike path south of town and ran along the snake river for a while.

This is a fairly hilly course and the purpose of my run today was to get in a very easy "strength" run to build efficiency.  I kept my heart rate well within zone 1-3.  After a fun and fast SP5 run yesterday, my HR was really responsive today, so really needed to be aware to keep my effort in check.  I call this a strength run because I used the most natural platform shoes I could, focusing on really good form so every foot step is strength building.  My easy effort on all of the hills helps me develop crucial efficiency to prepare me for the mountains in the Summer and Fall.  

I need to be able to run long mountain climbs, like the above photo, as efficiently as I can.  Native American runners of the past would train this way by running up a hill and back with a mouth full of water.  The challenge was to arrive back at the start with the water still in their mouth, forcing them to be as efficient as possible running up the hill.  


Keeping my HR in check today accomplished the same thing over a long period of time over many hills.  This will improve my overall efficiency, bump up my speed endurance across the board, and allow me to better manage my efforts in the mountains.  This gives way to fatigue resistance and better energy and fueling efficiency on the really long runs.

Efficiency is the holy grail for ultra running - running faster, easier!

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Peak Fitness - Being Your Best

10059095864?profile=originalIf your run fitness was a one of these mountains, which one would you rather it be?  Either can have a good foundation, but one is very distinct - it draws you in.  You imagine what it is like at the top.  In some ways it looks impossible to climb, but if you look long and hard, you begin to see possible routes and a way to the top.

The other mountain can be much easier to get to and climb, as many people do.  Less preparation is involved, with less unknown.  And, it comes with a plateau.


The other, more impressive looking one is much more elusive and challenging, where most people observe from the base, snapping pictures, but very few attempt to take a "selfie" at the top.  To summit, it requires knowledge, a progressive plan, and an extreme enjoyment for the process.  A burning desire every morning, to wake while every one is still asleep, to train for the summit.

There is not enough room at the summit for everyone, but sometimes that is why we attempt to climb.  After all, we soon realize it is the process of becoming our best that we ultimately fall in love with, and that ultimately becomes the joy of running.

Being your best is just a choice, which mountain do you chose?


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Today's Thoughts: Real Performance

10059087652?profile=originalToday's Thoughts: Running Ultras is all about performing when everything goes wrong.

It is easy to perform when things are going well, but just like in life, 'real' performance is about how we act after we think, being aware, and continuing to perform when things "seem" to be wrong.

But in reality, the only thing that is wrong is this flawed thinking in the moment.

Can you perform when your thinking goes south?  

Can you be aware when thinking goes wrong?  

Can your mind perform when you want the current situation to be different?

What Can You Do?

I believe most of our thinking is just fear, and once we can understand this and have awareness of these thoughts, we can break the cycle, fear stops, and we can then create better thoughts to keep moving forward and perform extraordinary.

Race on!

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We Are All Ultra Runners

By Katie Rosenbrock for The Active Times


What if someone dared you to sign up for a 100K ultra marathon right now? Would you take on the challenge or completely dismiss the idea?

I would tell that someone they were crazy. “I’ve never even completed a marathon. How could I possibly cover more than double the distance?” I would say. Heck, I’ll run my first marathon this year, but even after that I’m still not sure I’d be able to wrap my mind around the idea of finishing an ultra.

Eric Orton believes otherwise; for me, for you and for all runners everywhere. And he mostly has me convinced.

You may know Orton as the coach from Christopher McDougall’s widely popular book about running, Born to Run. Or you may know him as the author of his own book The Cool Impossible. I know Orton as an enthusiastic coach who believes in adventures and following your dreams.

Orton has an impressive background as a running coach and fitness expert. He is the former fitness director for the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and works with dozens of athletes from recreational runners to elite ultra-marathoners. He’s helped countless athletes reach feats they never dreamed possible, but his real dream is to create a larger, lasting impact.

Enter, the Jackson Hole Running Camp; a three-day, running-intensive camp set in Jackson Hole, Wyo. amidst the breathtaking terrain of the Tetons with Orton as your coach.

“I’ve always wanted to do this camp,” Orton told me. “Timing is everything and the timing just seemed right. With my book The Cool Impossible and with Born to Run, these last four years I’ve heard from people all around the world who wanted to come and train with me. This camp will really allow me to affect a lot of runners globally.”

The camp is designed for experienced runners who want to push their potential to the next level. Although Orton requires that you must be able to run continuously for two to three hours upon arrival at the camp, he emphasizes the fact that it’s meant for runners of all abilities.

“It’s important to get across that even though we will be running a lot and people need to be running two to three hours up to that point, that this is a camp for all abilities. Experienced runners of all abilities,” he said. “It’s not an elite camp. It’s a camp for runners who have a good foundation and who have the ambition to find the next big goal for themselves.”

In all that I discussed about the camp with Orton, he seemed most excited to be able to share the exquisite scenery of Jackson Hole (where he currently resides) with his new student athletes.

“I think this is an opportunity for people to come and use the mountains as a way to challenge themselves within their own abilities,” he said. “The mountains provide a natural challenge that is above and beyond anything anywhere else. It’s like ‘nature’s classroom,’ when they walk away from this three days later… The point is to walk away thinking, ‘Wow there’s something more possible for me.’”

That’s a lot to learn about running and your own potential in just three days. So I asked Orton how he trains athletes to conquer the mental aspect of training, which is arguably the most difficult part of the battle to overcome.

He says it’s all about understanding effort.

“Most people have the ability but they don’t understand the effort. We’re all ultra runners. It’s just understanding how effort works and how we manage that. You have to be efficient,” he said.

In fact, Orton told me that it’s his passion to help his athlete’s morph the physical and the mental aspects of athleticism together. “They’re so important and go hand in hand,” he said.

But how exactly does one go about better understanding effort? And probably more importantly, what does that really mean?

“That’s where heart rate training comes in,” he said. “That learning will take place and how they use the heart rate monitor will help them understand what proper effort is based on what they’re doing, how to really manage their effort so they can run four or five hours every day. That’s the key… to understand what running at 160 beats per minute means for you. Work interval, rest interval and distance all go together to form this understanding.”

So, maybe in terms of running experience you’re more towards the beginner end of the spectrum, if that’s we’re you’re at what can you do right now to improve your performance? I asked Orton to share some of his best running advice.

“If you’re looking to train and get better you really have to have purpose. My number one tip is to set a goal,” he said.

He also said that he always reminds his athletes to never confuse difficulty with failure. “It’s supposed to be difficult and we have to view that as part of the process,” he said.

And for runners like me who are somewhere in the middle (say, about to start training for their first marathon), Orton reiterated the following advice.

“Understand what effort is. What is my marathon pace? What should my interval pace be? Many people don’t get to have that understanding,” he said. “Understand what’s appropriate for you based on where you’re at, that will allow you to run more without breaking down. The more we can run well the better.”

At the end of the day, Orton says that accomplishing your goals is about eliminating any fear you might have.

“People are dealing with fear, they don’t know what they can do. When they leave my camp and go back home they might think, ‘I don’t know if I can do 100 miles, but I know can try.’”

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Peaking For Your Peak Race

10059068899?profile=originalI believe an effective “peak” in fitness first starts with a well thought out training plan and more importantly, a prioritized race schedule.  This all sets the stage for the peak process, making your run fitness as race specific as possible. Peaking is a mysterious art and for many reasons, it is just not easy to achieve one’s highest possible level of performance on the day of a major goal race or peak part of the season, despite all the effort and care that goes into planning and training to produce peak results.

I see it all the time, athletes to race very well early in the competitive season and fall flat toward the end of the season, when they should hit their peak.  The reason, I believe, is that they start to do race specific training too early in the season and do too much cardiovascular conditioning in preparation for early season races.  I have mentioned in previous posts that the development of endurance is associated with the functional specialization of the skeletal muscles, particularly the enhancement of their strength and neuromuscular qualities, rather than the improvement of prolonged cardiovascular ability.  And to experience great gains in strength and speed endurance, one should aim to eliminate the disparity between the anaerobic and aerobic abilities of the muscles.  If this is not the focus early in the season and carried out to some extent all season, there is a tendency to do too much endurance or cardiovascular training and peaking too soon or plateauing, which many times cause runners to over train.  To drive this home, here are some points to ponder:

  • Why do athletes with equivalent VO2 max levels perform different results?
  • Why do VO2 max results in elite athletes stabilize as results continue to improve?
  • Why is there a decreasing correlation between VO2 max and improved times?

This could indicate that VO2 max or cardiovascular efficiency on its own is no guarantee of an outstanding performance and that a runners body can only progressively adapt to race specific training for a few weeks until a limit is reached. For this reason, I assign about 6 weeks of race specific training leading up to the athlete’s seasonal peak or race occurs.  Once the athlete hits the peak phase, they are now ready for a heavy dose of hard intervals.  These hard intervals heighten neuromuscular coordination and enhance economy, in concert with the easier overall weekly volume for recovery.  As coordination and efficiency at high speed improve from these hard intervals, the athlete’s previous race pace is now faster, because the oxygen cost of running at that speed has fallen. Thus, one reaches VO2 max at a higher speed than previously, and might explain why there is a decreasing correlation between VO2 max results and peak performance.

Merely regulating or limiting the duration of your race specific or peak phase of training will not guarantee a successful peak, however.  There are a few tricks you can use to reliably increase the odds of peaking successfully.  As mentioned above, your peak phase should include some hard intervals once or twice a week.  If you feel you are peaking too soon or need to extend your peak longer than a 3-4 week period, integrate some tempo runs to ‘massage’ your form and prolong it for the duration required.  If you are in your peak time of year, your heart rate should be very responsive, elevate quickly, and be higher than during your heavy training phase.  If  you notice this is not the case and your heart rate is low and slow to respond, be sure to take 2-4 days of recovery running or reduce you peak training volume even more.  Your legs need the recovery and a lower heart rate is NOT an indication of peak fitness.

And finally, you should taper not just before your big races but on a monthly basis. After all, since tapering is such a great thing, why reserve it for just a couple of times a year? If you taper for the last five to seven days of each month, you'll find that your fitness will move upward in sizable jumps, instead of just creeping up a little or - worse yet - stagnating at the same level.

Hope this helps - E

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The Way of the Cool Impossible


I coach because I love to help athletes explore their own potential and the rewarding part of this for me is witnessing the self-discovery that my athletes experience throughout the process.  Writing my book, The Cool Impossible, was the culmination of a life long dream and a way for me to continue to help more and more runners.  And, just like with my coaching, the most rewarding piece of writing a book is hearing from all of the  readers around the world about how their running has hit new levels and how stoked they are to embrace their Cool Impossible.

Here is a quick story I received from a runner just this week after just two weeks of his Cool Impossible training.


Just a note to update you on progress - I finished the Cool Impossible book and will re-read it from time to time.

I'm now into my new training program - workouts 6 days a week, including hills and sprints. I actually laughed at the thought of doing sprints at my age (61 in two weeks), but then I tried it and it was like turning the clock back!

So I did my first serious 6-miler with the new technique this morning, a low Level 6 workout. My best previous time on the course was a 9:16 pace - today it was 8:48! Form was good, with a bit of a sprint at the end. When the book talks about the kind of Cool Impossible that makes you get goose bumps, I knew what that was for me ... qualifying for Boston in my age group. Now that I understand how to get there, I'm excited to start the journey.  

Thanks again and just wanted you to know what a difference Cool Impossible has made for me, physically and mentally.

SIP (Strong, Interconnected, Persistent)
The proof that The Cool Impossible works keeps rolling in. 20 min HR test gone from 4.63km at 170 bpm to 5.30km at 170bpm.
That's the equivalent of going from a 21m35s 5k to an 18m50s 5k. Hard work works.
Thanks - Andrew
This is what is it about.  We can all get better no matter who we are.  Whether it is thru better form, bomber foot strength, proper run training, clean eating, or approaching a new way to think.
Bob's mantra is Strong, Interconnected, Persistent.  This drives his Cool Impossible, just like it drives Chris Sharma's cool impossible way of life and climbing.  Everything is a project and the goal is to make it a game, a game to see how close you can get to impossible.
In The Cool Impossible, I use Chris as an example:

Be Chris Sharma. Heard the name? He’s one of the world’s best climbers. On one route in Spain, he made one hundred unsuccessful tries before reaching the top. One hundred attempts, one route, no ropes, and every time he failed he would fall thirty to forty feet into deep water below. Chris fell in love with seeing how far along the route he could get each time. He fell in love with what climbers call the “project,” the present effort. Think Chris Sharma whenever the fear of finishing a race or training session comes into your mind. Think of Chris, and refocus on your foot hitting the ground for your next step.  - The Cool Impossible

Here is Chris in action and words.  I have started A Cool Impossible Group for those interested in sharing their stories and their own Way of the Cool Impossible.



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