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Let's talk about shoes, because they’re the culprits for many running issues I encounter - or at least the development of them. It’s time to realize that your shoes with the high stack height and nice cushy foam, all that “comfort” is breaking you down as a runner even as they likely advertise that they’re helping you keep from breaking down.

If you were a rock climber, would you climb in big puffy insulated winter ski gloves to protect your fingers from the rock?  Of course not.  As a climber your lifeline is your fingers, not only to feel the rock in a precise way, but also, how you use your fingers directly helps engage your forearm and shoulders for strength.  So it would be silly to use gloves, as you would not be able to grasp the rock and perform without the risk of a fall. This is very similar to how our feet stabilize our body and help activate other important muscles when running, like our glutes.  Yes, our feet dictate how well we use our glutes.  And putting on big cushion pillows as shoes has a similar effect to our running as it does climbing with gloves.  The super shoes, the cushion, the stack height, take away our foot’s ability to feel the ground and stabilize, which is our lifeline as runners. 

Our Feet Are Our Super Shoes

I’m not a barefoot and minimal running purist who believes that you should run this way twenty-four/seven.  Barefoot - or what I call natural running - has its purpose, particularly in strength exercises and run form practice - and for the purpose of this article, run strength.  Running naturally is a great way to feel how your toes and arch stabilize our feet and our body as we run.  It’s also a great way to build strength and muscle endurance that can be the most functional type of conditioning we do as runners.

But I am a coach, one who helps runners perform well in races in mountains and very long distances on road and trail.  Most runners are not strong enough to run in minimal or natural shoes for longer than 15-20 minutes before breaking down.  And it's very hard to train and perform appropriately without adequate protection for your feet.  The Tarahumara Indian runners know to wear some kind of protection while traversing their rugged terrain over hundreds of miles.  


Photo Credit: Luis Escobar

There is protection; then there is the kind of shoes that have gargantuan heels and stack height.  They might feel comfortable, but they are problematic for lots of reasons: They inhibit the natural movement of your foot; they don’t allow you to engage your foot for stability or proper muscle activation up through the leg; and they elevate the heel.  By taking away all of your proprioception and feel of the ground, the big shoes make it difficult to execute proper foot strike form, you have to almost force yourself to have a good forefoot strike, and even then, it is hard for your feet to stabilize and your calves aren’t engaged completely because your heel hits the ground too soon.  

This means you’re not getting the stability and muscle activation you need from your forefoot to your knees to the glutes.  This is a vicious cycle when tens of thousands of steps are involved in training and racing.  Equally bad, when you heel strike, the calves do not fire as they should, which translates into a loss of power, elasticity, and an overstressing of the quads.  You know the drill, tight hips flexors, tight IT Band, a speed or improvement plateau, and all the muscle tightness we have been brainwashed to think is normal - all from our inability to use our feet well.


Photo Credit: Eric Orton

Our calves act as loaded springs, storing and releasing energy as we jump or run.  The calves need to be loaded (or what I call “on stretch”) to release this energy, giving us a springy feeling.  This can’t take place in high, off the ground shoes.  With the invasion of the super foam in today’s super shoes, the shoe industry is trying to manufacture this elastic energy with the use of carbon plats and very responsive foamed midsoles. And guess what, from all indications, they work and are making runners faster. It's no mistake that these companies are putting the carbon, propulsion plates into the forefoot of the shoe - which if you don’t believe in forefoot strike run form, this should convince you, as they do not engineer them into the heel.  Records are being broken, but there is some indication that the performance gains are only real at very fast speeds.  And if you wonder what destruction they are causing to your body, checkout many of the video clips on Youtube of the elites racing in the super shoes and notice the excessive pronation that occurs. This shuts down our glutes and over-stresses the quads and hip flexors, causing all sorts of muscle tightness.  

Cushion Vs. Stability

Is there a perfect shoe? I’m not so sure, but I do know that if we begin to view our shoes as “tools” our perspective changes and that our shoe choice doesn't have to be an all or nothing approach.  Furthermore, if we embrace the idea that our run health begins with the strength of our feet (link to foot strength article), we can then use a natural shoe as a strength tool to enhance our performance, strength and health.  A natural shoe has a very thin, low to the ground sole that is flexible, with a zero drop, where there is no difference in height between the heel and toe.  This kind of “performance” shoe allows for proper forefoot engagement with the ground, awareness of form, stability through the toes and foot, and the lengthening of the calves to act as a spring.  By running in them, you foster foot strength and muscle equilibrium through the body, because you are able to use your feet and body better.

Look again at the Tarahumara runners.  They run hundreds of miles in old tire treads cut to fit their feet, nothing more securing them than a leather strap between their toes and around their ankle.  They have run this way from childhood, but you can benefit just the same by using a natural shoe as a strength based tool.  The Kenyan runners start out running barefoot as a child, that develops foundational strength in their feet and legs that is no less important as their speed development as they mature.


Photo Credit: Eric Orton

Ultra Strength

Many of my ultra running athletes use this strength approach.  I have coached Margot for almost 20 years. She was a triathlete who had some pesky injuries when we first started working together. We attacked her foundation by training her feet and infusing the use of a minimal, low to the ground, natural shoe for some of her runs.  Every step can be an opportunity for strength.

The strategy is to use a natural shoe for some runs and use a more protective shoe for longer and faster runs. And then through time, as the athletes develop more and more strength and capacity for lower to the ground shoes, they are able to run their longer runs and races in a more natural shoe, based on the protection and their tolerance needed for the terrain and distance. Ideally, this process is never ending, you just get stronger and stronger, and lower to the ground.

We know strength training is beneficial for runners. And you might also realize the importance of speed training to improve your running performance. But we don’t have to go to the gym or the track every day to achieve these benefits. The approach here is no different with a natural shoe. A little bit of running in them goes a very long way towards improving strength in a very potent way.

This was my goal for Margot.  Through our natural shoe strength development approach, she was eventually able to race the Tor des Geants 200 mile mountain race in Europe.  She went into the race much stronger and injury free, and was able to race in a low to the ground, 4mm drop shoe that gave her great performance agility and feel of the ground.  And this course was no joke, with 100,000 feet of elevation gain over the 200 miles.  As a 50 year old athlete, Margot placed 17th overall female and 2nd women US finisher.


Photo Credit: Margot Watters

Strong From The Ground Up

But if you’re still not sure, just try it.  Experiment with a zero drop, low profile shoe.  Feel how much easier it is to feel the ground and use your feet for stability and how much stronger you become as a runner.

But don’t just toss out your old shoes.  Remember the minimal shoe is a strength tool and you will have to take the transition slowly because you’ll be firing and using muscles you are not used to using - which is the point.  The shoes will feel GOOD, and that is where runners get into trouble, they do too much too soon because it feels so good.

Here are a few ways to incorporate a natural shoe into your weekly running to help with the transition:


Improve Your Natural Running

What to look for in a natural shoe:

  • Zero drop platform.  

*Not every zero drop shoe is created equal. There are some very high stack height, cushioned shoes that are zero drop but are not minimal or natural in performance.

  • Flexible Midsole/Outsole with a stack height of approx 10mm or less.


Natural Running Goal:

  • Build up to 1-2 days of short, easy natural strength running.
  • As your strength capacity improves, look to reduce the stack height and drop of your “everyday” shoe. As your feet get stronger, they will prefer more natural movement and your everyday shoe might start feeling uncomfortable, this is your signal to choose an everyday shoe that has more natural shoe qualities, like less cushion and stack height. 
  • Use a casual natural shoe for work and walking about your day. Now you are adding strength all day long.

Run strong, to run long.





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Train Speed First

Many of us run and race for the daily challenge of waking, putting two feet on the floor and heading out the door.  The daily task that gives us purpose independent of anything else in our life.  That one thing we have control over, that never disappoints.  That dopamine hit with each step that creates self-discovery and the belief that we can strive and achieve, and that challenge makes us human.  As endurance runners, challenge is our middle name and I am going to challenge what you think is important about endurance training.


Photo Credit: Eric Orton

We need more than endurance to run well for long distances. In fact, I would argue that developing speed FIRST is the ideal approach to catapulting your ability to new heights as a long distance runner or ultra marathoner.  The elite marathoners and ultra runners develop this way, whether it is Eliud Kipchoge or Jim Walsmley, both considered one of the greatest marathoners and ultra distance athletes of today.  

Before Eliud began his marathon career, he specialized in the 5,000 meter distance, winning gold at the 2003 World Championship.  Jim got his start at the 1,500 meter distance with a 3:48 PR.  Jim often races on road and trail, which helps him keep his speed and leg turnover for longer trail races.  This variety is important.

Kilian Jornet, considered the greatest ultra athlete of all time has won some of the most challenging 100 mile mountain races AND has won the World Championships at the much shorter vertical kilometer distance that takes just under 30 minutes to complete.  Kilian would not be the athlete he is at the ultra distance without his short course ability.  In 2020, Kilian set out to improve his 10k road time and then went on to have his best ultra running season.  I do not think this was a coincidence, he improved his speed to help his mountain running and long distance abilities.


Photo Credit: Eric Orton

Let's take these examples to the typical path a collegiate distance runner might take, where they start in high school with track and cross country. In track, they might build up to running the 2 mile and in cross country the 4-5k distance.  This speed development prepares them for college where they might continue to compete at these distances or bump up to the 10,000 meter distance. Eventually, some of these runners will have post collegiate running careers that might lead to the marathon distance as they reach their late twenties and early thirties. 

 With the growing popularity and career opportunities in ultra running, we are seeing more and more of these collegiate speedsters take the speed they have developed since high school and apply it to the ultra distance races, starting out with a 50k and incrementally building in ultra race distance through time.  The point being, they are developing speed first, and then applying this to racing longer later.  It is this speed that is directing their potential and ability for running longer, well.  

I’ve already written a lot about how the Tarahumara (link to first article) Indian’s lifestyle helps them to be the natural-born ultramarathon runners they are.  What is a mystery to many - how to train to maximize our running ability and performance - the Tarahumara do as part of their daily life.  Yes, they have great strength and form (link to form article), but they also have a lifestyle from childhood forward that gives them a natural base of speed.  


Photo Credit: Luis Escobar

From the time Tarahumara children take their first steps, they’re walking a lot, all of the time, up and down hills. No horses, no cars, no buses, no bikes.  If they want to get somewhere, they hoof it.  If you had to call one thing they do the “secret weapon” of their culture, it would have to be the game rarajipari.  Children play as soon as they can (though at shorter distances than adults).  Here’s the game: Take eight to ten players per team and an agreed-upon distance for the race, usually 5-10k for their kids on an out-and-back course (so the villagers can watch).  

The object is to be the first team to kick and flip a baseball-size wooden ball over the race distance.  Some players carry a short stick to roll the ball on top of their foot to flick  it really high, but otherwise it's a ball and some very fast feet moving all the time over hilly, uneven terrain. With short, fast runs up and down the canyons, chasing after a ball, Tarahumara children develop incredible speed and have fun doing it.


Photo Credit: Luis Escobar

By adulthood, the Tarahumara easily transition to the longer fifty-to-a-hundred-mile version of the game.  At this point, they need very little, if any, additional training to compete at the much advanced adult race distance.

Speed dictates your potential!

With the growth and popularity of ultras marathons, many runners are jumping right to these longer trail races, without this speed development or much racing at shorter distances. This is great, but if their raw speed is not fast enough, they will not have the ability to run easily enough at an appropriate pace for the distance, missing race cutoffs. In other words, their appropriate pace for an ultra distance is hiking.  And then the common mistake is to add in longer and longer runs and increase total volume in an effort to improve, when they actually need to improve their “raw” speed and potential first, and then apply it to endurance training to truly improve their endurance ability.  

Let me tell you what I consider raw speed: the time it takes you to run one mile. This raw speed dictates your ability, potential, and is a great race predictor.  The faster your one mile, the faster you’ll be across the board in race distances.  

A few years back, I began coaching a female ultra runner who had hit a plateau and wanted my coaching help.  I told her that for her to improve and reach her goal of becoming a professional ultra runner, we need to improve her speed and spend more time on the track to improve her speed endurance in the mountains.  

One of her greatest abilities was trusting the process and being coachable in what might sound like a counter-intuitive approach.  Once we attacked her speed, she had a breakout year, placing second at the UTMB TDS ultra in Chamonix France, which helped her obtain sponsorship and become a full time ultra runner.


Photo Credit: Eric Orton

It's a little easier to describe this with marathon racing. If the one mile time is a great marathon predictor, to run a 3 hour marathon, your one mile time needs to be well under 6 minutes for you to have the ability to consider training to run 26.2 miles at a 6:51 minutes per mile pace that is required for a 3 hour race time.  If you want to break the 4 hour marathon barrier, look to improve your one mile time to approximately 7:00.


The keys to improving your one mile time:

  1. Carve out a period of time in the early season that you can devote to this specific training without worrying you need to be running a lot higher volume. 
  2. Perform a One Mile test: A timed one-mile run, executed as fast and as steady as you can. 
  3. The test is best done on a track for consistency.
  4. Record your time to measure improvement and to use for training.


6-8 Week Training Schedule:

Day 1 = Easy run at 65% of your one mile test pace.

Day 2 = *5-10 X 90 second intervals at your one mile test pace.

Day 3 = Recovery run at 60% of your one mile test pace or Day Off.

Day 4 = *4-6 X 2-3 minute intervals at 95% of your one mile test pace.

Day 5 = *5-10 X 30 second intervals at 105% of your one mile test pace.

Day 6 = Easy run at 65% of your one mile test pace.

Day 7 = Off Day

*Increase the number of intervals each week based on your ability and experience.

Run Fast, To Run Long.




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Our Feet Are Our Super Shoes


The majority of runners do not have the strength they need to become the runners they want to be.  They have been brainwashed into thinking muscle tightness, poor mobility, pain and discomfort are just “part” of being a runner. The more we run, the more we hurt.  I was recently at a 2-day run relay event and the longest line at the race expo led to the injury management tent.

This is the norm, but it doesn’t have to be this way and what you are about to read could transform your running, if you let it.   

But let me first tell you a story.


I stood at the starting line of a fifty-mile race, the culmination of a week-long dream journey for me as a runner and a coach. Save for my shirt and shorts, my hydration backpack and fuel in my pockets, this was no ordinary race. Far, far from it. First, I was in the tiny remote village of Urique, tucked between steep cliffs and a river, in the Copper Canyons of northwestern Mexico. There was no grand race gate, no timer microchip on my shoes, no firing of a gun, and no massed swell of athletes tripping over each other to get ahead. In fact, we had to recite the words ‘lost and die’ as a possibility, that would be “my own damn fault.”

There were only a couple dozen runners, a simple, foot drawn mark on the dirt road in the center of town to indicate a starting point, and a tall, sun-bleached blond American nicknamed Caballo Blanco to shout ‘Go!’.

The runners that day were not my usual competitors either, and that was the point, really. This was a race to bring together two cultures, one old, one new, both with a devout love of running, and running at the extreme, over very long distances. In today’s race, we faced 50 miles in the stark, hilly landscape of the Copper Canyons. Those of the new culture were among America’s best ultramarathoners, including the dynamos Scott Jurek and Jenn Shelton. Those of the older culture were the Tarahumara Indians. Dark and tawny-skinned, their legs rippling with muscle, they wore loincloths and brightly-colored, long sleeve shirts that billowed when they ran. Their shoes, or more appropriately huaraches, were simply a flattened, foot-shaped cut-out of tire tread lashed to their feet with leather straps. 


Photo Credit: Luis Escobar

The Tarahumara, whose true name was the Raramuri (or, “Running People”), came from a collection of isolated, secret tribes who lived in the Copper Canyons, surviving not much differently than they had for hundreds of years. They were known, most of all, for their amazing feats of endurance running, able to seemingly journey forever over parched and rocky trails amid some of the most forbidding landscape on Earth. I had known of their legendary feats for over a decade, but to be with them in the flesh, as I had been for several days now, remained a wonder.

While in Urique the days before the Copper Canyon race, I spent every possible moment watching and interacting with the Tarahumara.  I wanted to know how they’d become such amazing endurance runners. What gave them the ability to run a hundred miles, more, in a single day over such extreme terrain, into their fifties, sixties, seventies. 

I found their special, secret “sauce.” It’s not some extra muscle or anatomical advantage.  It’s many ingredients blended together: running early and a lot as children, their diet, their terrain, their shoes, the games they play running, a whole lifestyle built around movement.  But this sauce isn’t magical or surprising.  Much of what I observed in the Tarahumara I had already come to learn was essential for my athletes and something YOU can have too.  Rather than being revelatory, my time in Mexico that became part of the best selling book Born To Run, was more affirming of the new “sauce” I had developed in my own coaching.  In the field of coaching runners, one that is both an art and a science, affirmation is a beautiful thing.

In terms of strength, the Tarahumara have it in all the right ways for endurance running.  This first became clear to me when Manuel Luna, who was kind of the grandfather of the tribe of indians, offered to make Barefoot Ted his own pair of huaraches.  In his late fifties, sporting a Yankees baseball cap over his jet-black hair, Manuel had run in the first Leadville 100 ultra race featuring the Tarahumara.

While making Ted’s pair of huaraches, he remained in a squat on the side of the main street in Urique.  With his butt sitting low, almost touching the ground, he sawed away at the old tire tread with his knife that would soon become the sole of Ted’s huaraches. Not a big deal, you say.  Attempt a simple deep squat on your own; see how close you can bring your butt to the floor in a squat without your knees going inward.  Or maybe your squat is more of a lean at the waist.  Manuel’s ability to remain in a squat for close to an hour while working with his hands demonstrates remarkable stability, mobility, and muscle equilibrium. 


Photo Credit: Luis Escobar

In the following days, as we ran the same trails that Manuel and the other Tarahumara ran, there was no doubt where he had developed this strength, stability - muscle equilibrium - and it reinforces the central role our feet play in running health and performance.


Stop. Reach down and take your shoes and socks off and balance on one foot.  Not too hard, yeah, but notice how hard your big toe and arch has to work to just stabilize your balance.  Now try lifting your heel slightly off the ground and stabilize on your forefoot only. Not so easy, actually very challenging, yet every running step we take we are asking our leg and foot to be stable in this position.  An amateur runner will take between 1,500-2,500 steps per mile. That is 39,300-65,000 steps for a marathon.  Foot strength is the ‘true strength’ we need.

How we use our feet directly relates to how we stabilize and use our running muscles.  Simply put, we are only as strong as our feet.  Yes, your feet.  It’s rare for people to talk about endurance runners needing to be athletic - and the strength that comes with that.  It’s rarer still for foot strength to be in the conversation.  Bizarre, really, since the design of our feet, from toes, to arch, to heel, is integral to our ability to run.  You could argue that they are our lifeline as runners, just like finger strength is a rock climber’s lifeline. Climbers train their finger strength all of the time, why don’t runners train their feet with the same vigor?


Photo Credit: Luis Escobar

Our feet, with their many bones, joints and muscles, tendons, and ligaments, are key to run strength and equilibrium.  Most runners don't think - it’s simply not in our consciousness - that we can train our feet, but we can, and we should think about doing so with the same level of purposefulness that we pay to “the core.”  For runners, the feet are more than a key part of our strength. Everything starts with them.  They set the stage, good or bad, for the whole leg, and we want to set a very, very good stage.

A lack of foot strength reduces our stability, and stability is the foundation you need to propel yourself forward efficiently and in a healthy way.  Without it, you are no different from a house with a weak structure with a welcome mat inviting in IT Band syndrome, tight hip flexors, achilles issues, shin splints, and general aches and tightness.  Overtime, things will collapse and this points to how foot strength sets the stage for everything else.  It does so because of its interconnectedness to the rest of your lower body, from ankles, calves, and knees to your glutes.  


Photo Credit: Dillon Deloge

As runners, this interconnectedness makes it impossible to separate foot strength from leg strength and stability.  Utilizing the foot properly helps you activate and fire muscles all the way up your body that helps create muscle equilibrium and takes away the tug and pull of dominant and weaker muscles that cause tightness and dysfunction that lead to a parade of problems that most runners deal with and lead to standing in the injury management line at the race. 

This is not a function of being a runner, but a function of not using your body well.  It doesn’t have to be this way and using your body well, starts at the feet.

Here are a few simple but POTENT foot core exercises to help you get started and rebuild your foundation from the ground up.  


One-Leg Barefoot Balance:

  • Balance barefoot on one foot on a hard surface with your heel a little elevated off the floor to stabilize only with your forefoot.
  • Use a chair or poles or the wall to help you stabilize when needed. 
  • How Many: 2-4 sets of 30-90 seconds per foot or until fatigue.  2-3 times per week and/or done as a run warm up before you head out the door.
  • Awareness: You will feel it where you need it. Some might struggle with strength in their feet, others might be stronger in their feet and feel more fatigue in their calves and glutes. 
  • Note: This is not a calf raise exercise, with up and down movement of the foot. There is no movement, just stabilization.
  • Video: Watch Eric’s coaching demonstration.   

One-Leg Side Lift:

  • Balance barefoot on your right forefoot using a chair, poles, or wall to help stabilize. DO NOT try and do it without this balancing help.
  • Keep your right leg straight, raise your left leg sideways.
  • Raise your left leg only as high as you can while maintaining level hips, and then go back to start position.
  • How Many: 2-4 sets of 15-20 reps with both legs or until fatigue. 2-3 times per week and/or done as a run warm up before you head out the door.
  • Awareness: This is a stabilizing exercise for the stance leg, not a range-of-motion exercise for the moving leg.
  • Video: Watch Eric’s coaching demonstration.

One-Leg Knee Lift:

  • Balance barefoot on your right forefoot using a chair, poles, or wall to help stabilize. DO NOT try and do it without this balancing help.
  • Keep your right leg straight, lift your left knee in front of you as high as you can, and then back to the start position.  Keep your movements slow and controlled.
  • How Many: 2-4 sets of 15-20 reps with both legs or until fatigue.  2-3 times per week and/or done as a run warm up before you head out the door.
  • Awareness: This is a stabilizing exercise for the stance leg, not a range-of-motion exercise for the moving leg.
  • Video: Watch Eric’s coaching demonstration.

Run Strong to Run Free!




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Above pic: Me on left and Alison Miller on right just before the start.
Considering I only made it 21 miles on the course, this should be brief, but you know me better than that by now. Todd was supposed to join me on this adventure, but last minute need to be there for our Tribe had him pull the plug, literally as we were checking bags at the gate. It felt like I had been punched in the gut. I’ve never not had him there, crewing me through my most challenging races. I knew he needed to stay behind, that having him come would leave me feeling guilty throughout the trip, and I didn’t need that. We kissed goodbye. This would also be the 1st anniversary in 28 years that I can recall us not being together on that date.
Bad news aside, good news was that I had 2 amazing pacers on tap along with my dad, aunt, and cousin. I had all the love and support I needed. It was nice to have complete confidence in them. I slept fabulous the 2 nights before the race and woke up race morning feeling amazing. Got a couple of waffles and some bacon and coffee down and headed to the race start.
Said Hi to running friends I only see once a year at most, but feel so connected to. Also spotted one of the fastest ultra runners in the world, Jim Walmsley. He would be there pacing and crewing another runner. I knew the medical staff as well, as I had worked with them when I volunteered at Moab last year. Everywhere I turned there were runners, pacers, crew, and event staff that I knew, somewhat like a family reuinion.
We started at 8am sharp and I settled in to a comfortable jog until we hit the first significant incline. All of the climbing would be hiking with poles. The average feet gain per mile climbing was 800 to over 1,000 feet per mile. There was 42,000 feet of climbing on this course and near the same descending. My goal was to take it at an all-day effort and stay comfortable climbing. I would focus on the downhill and flatter segments to be efficient and fast, but not stupid quad blowing on the descending. I knew I would be in the back half of the pack for at least the 1st half of the race. I knew the carnage would be huge on this course, and as long as I stayed steady, efficient, patient, and mindful of everything I had control over, I could end up doing quite well overall.
This is a pic of Silver Basin, the first climb of the course
I had packed all of the required gear, and then some, knowing how wicked the weather can get and how quickly the temps can drop and wind and rain/hail can cut. I wanted to be prepared for anything as best I could, I wanted this race to be a success. For me a success was a finish. I knew I would be close to the cutoffs the first 50 miles. That hurt my ego a bit, but I knew If I tried to keep pace with the girls ahead of me, I would ruin my race. I knew this race would not forgive going out a little too hard. The first climb out to Silver Basin was hot. The sun was out and the temps felt close to 80 or more. There was little breeze and we were climbing. We came back down and then up to Richmond aid station. I was eating and drinking well, going between pb&Js and Spring gels for calories and water to drink. One of the aid station workers I knew, Vale Hurt, wished me good luck and told me I was looking great. I felt great.
Leaving that aid station at a little over 10,000ft, I hit the point where the course splits between 2 out and back segments. Initially we were to go to “Chicago Tunnel” a shorter out and back. I headed up, and somehow unknowingly missed a turn and kept going to a dead end. It seemed short, but I knew this segment was short anyway so I thought that was it and I headed back down to hit the other out and back to Ft. Peabody.
Ft Peabody sits at 13,000ft. This would be a much longer, more significant climb, and the highest point on the course. Below and to the right is the view from Ft. Peabody (a picture from a more fair-weather day when I did training runs)10059111494?profile=original
As I ascended, I started seeing people that I knew should be well ahead of me. I realized at this point I had not done the full out and back to Chicago Tunnel. I decided to go ahead and complete this segment and go back and pick up what I missed on the other arm once I got back down.
As we started to ascend Ft. Peabody, the clouds came in and rain began to fall. No lightening close by, but thunder in the distance. As soon as I hit the peak, the clouds descended and it began to hail… hard. I pulled my water proof jacket and gloves on and descended. Within a mile, pea size hail covered the jeep road. Another mile down and the hail turned back to rain. I went back and picked up Chicago Tunnel arm and headed back to Richmond aid station.
The rain was light there, and at the aid station I scarfed some chips and cola and filled my water bottles.
The next segment would take me up over Richmond Pass at around 12,500ft and then down the other side into Ironton, which is where my crew would meet me. I was still feeling very well. Within a mile of climbing from the aid station stronger storms moved in. From Richmond aid, we would ascend another 1.5 miles in the trees. At this point it opens up to a bowel with mountain peaks surrounding on 3 sides and Richmond Pass up the middle. Howie Stern was in front of me. As we crossed scree fields he pulled ahead maybe 200 meters. We were making our way up out of the bowl, surrounded by tall peaks and passes on 3 sides. We were about a half mile or more above tree line when the thunder increased the first lightning strike that I saw hit near the pass. Howie continued to climb, while I stopped and started a couple of times trying to decide whether to risk it and go or run back down into the trees.
I was on scree at this point and a good half mile up out of the trees on solid rock. I knew even climbing hard and fast, I would not get over the pass in less than 20-30 minutes, and there would be a good 20-30 minutes of descending before I would hit the tree line on the other side. The clouds were thick and dark and rain was heavy. Lightening was coming every 1-2 minutes. I decided to turn back. I ran down and passed 3 other runners. They opted to join me. We hunkered down under tree cover for about 10 minutes. I tried to tell which way the storm was blowing. I was hoping that enough of the storm was passing, that the lightning would just be on the leading edge. I convinced myself that the lightening was easing up and I could go ahead and attempt to climb. I was hoping that it was a single storm and that it was now moving ahead of me. All 3 of us headed up. Sure enough, as soon as we hit the scree there was a bright flash of lightening right ahead of us. No one had to say a word, we all turned and bolted back into the trees. As we did I saw a huge strike not far into the tree line where we were headed. Below is a pic of Richmond Pass, Ironton side (again, fair weather day in training pic, not race day, lol!).
Regardless, I knew this would still be the safest place, but now I knew the lightening was not just ahead and to the sides of us, but behind us as well. We were surrounded. Another female runner came down and joined us. We each had our kids on our minds. None of us wanted to risk abandoning them because of a stupid decision. We hunkered again. By this point I had pulled out my puffy jacket and put it on under my rain shell, added a layer of gloves under the waterproof mittens, and donned my waterproof pants. I was very cold, we all were. We waited maybe 10 more minutes and again convinced ourselves one more time that the lightening was moving ahead. This time it didn’t take but 100 meters to be met with more lightning just ahead and to the side. By this point there were 3 other runners coming down. They had gone just over the pass when one of them had a strike within 100 feet on the other side. He said is was worse on the other side of the pass and ran back over and down to us.
I had tacked on more than 2 extra miles of running up and down attempting to get up and over the pass. By this point I knew I was not going to make it to ironton before 8-8:30pm. The hard cutoff to continue the race was 7:50pm. I was out of time and not willing to risk it. None of the other runners were either. We all made our way back to Richmond aid station. We were now another mile and a half down, and the weather was tamer. Since we were only about 7-8 miles from Ouray and we were now down out of danger, several of us decided to go ahead and run back to the start/finish instead of hitching a ride. It gave me time to decompress and go over my decisions. I was so utterly frustrated and hearbroken. Physically I was feeling so well. I had zero altitude issues, was fueling perfectly, it was the best I had ever felt that high up with over 10 hours to a race. I was solid. I just ran out of precious time.
I go back and wonder if I had pushed harder those first 20 miles, maybe I would have beat the lightening and made it over. But in reality, I knew I was truly moving as fast as I could those 10 hours. I made an error that cost me about 20 minutes, but that was it. I moved in and out of the aid stations quickly. I never sat. I wasted no time. I stayed focused and always made sure I was moving as quickly as I could without a negative return on energy spent. I never “took it easy” and I never pushed too hard. I was vigilant. I was well fueled and well hydrated. I could not blame anything. Everything was clicking. I just wish that vigilance equaled a faster pace. If I had made it to Ironton, would I have finished the race, would I have beat all of the cutoffs? I have no idea. And I’m stuck with that. Even doing the math pre-race, I knew I would only have a 30 min-1 hour buffer with the cutoffs based on my training times. There was just not enough margin of error time-wise to afford me waiting that particular storm out.
Waiting out or being willing to take the risk of going over a pass with lightening is inevitable in the San Juans over 2 full days and 14 peaks. I am quite sure I could not have moved much if any faster over the preceding 21 miles, and a year from now I will not likely be any faster than I am now. I know that I am not willing to go forward into lightening. Many did, and no one got hurt. I just never want to Todd to have to explain to my kids why their mom was gone. I only completed about 22 miles of the course, but with the up and downs I did trying to get over Richmond, and the run back to start/finish, I managed 34 miles. I ate a burger and drank a beer and went to bed.
The next morning, Saturday, I got up with my pacers and we did what would’ve been the next segment of the course, the Ironton-Corkscrew-Ironton loop. My legs were hardly sore. We got to see where the road washed out/slid from the storms the night before. I heard that road was like a river.
Sunday morning, we headed up to Bridge of Heaven. We got to encourage the final runners as they were making their way to the finish. I got to see julie Tertin, who I trained with just a few weeks earlier. I was so proud and thrilled for her finish. I grabbed her and hugged her and told her how thrilled I was for her, and of course what a badass she was! She cried and hugged back. I cannot fathom the emotions after 45 hours and 14 peaks through wind, rain, hail, lightening, mud slides with zero rest. Every runner out there conquered so much to reach that finish line. I was elated for each of them. 110 started this race, 34 finished. 
I cant say thank you enough to my family and friends who made this possible. Thanks especially to James Reeves and Justin McCune who took time away from their families and careers to crew me. And of course coach Eric Orton who helps me dare great things....and back it up with the work! His experience and instinct have helped me accomplish more than my dreams.
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Bryce 50 Mile Race Report

"To give anything lest than your best is to sacrifice the gift" ~Steve Prefontane


She looks nothing like a champion.  Exhausted, depleted, dehydrated.  You could probably tip her over with 1 finger. But she's a beast. She battled mountains and monsters and finished with a full heart and a hunger within....not a metaphorical hunger, the very real get me a burger and a beer hunger!

We arrived on Thursday before Saturday's race. We decided to stay in Springdale, Utah instead of Bryce. We had been to Bryce before, but had never seen Zion. Springdale is essentially at the mouth of Zion Canyon. This put us at about a 90 min drive from the race start. 

The Plan was for the boys to crew me...meeting me at the aid stations that allowed crews. The only problem was that the race started at 5:30am. That would mean they would have to get up at 3am for a really long day to catch a few minutes here or there with me at designated aid stations. 

I decided they would have way more fun enjoying another day of Zion together. This would also keep me from worrying about them and feeling bad for making them go through the rigors of crewing. It is actually harder for me to "race" with crew in many cases. Often, the benefit of having someone help me is negated by my empathy for their plight. This course had frequent aid stations, good course markings, and the weather, while anticipated hot, would not be particularly dangerous for a prepared runner.

We ate like kings Thursday and Friday before the race. On the course I would regret the richness of my diet and the particularly creamy, over the top margarita cheesecake desert that was sent straight from heaven to my table the night before the race.

So, no crew, no big deal. I'd bring my drop bags so I could have the type of gel (Spring Energy) and snacks that I knew would sit well on my tummy during the race. I Checked the race website... how early do I need to get up to get my drop bags in place for the race?

Typically, you have to have drop bags at the check in by about an hour pre race. With this race the drop bags had to be left at the race start the night 8pm. Well shit, that wasn't going to happen. Oh well, I knew they would have snacks and gels at each aid, and while not my preferred, it would be ok. My stomach can tolerate many aid station options.

I made it to the start feeling great. Oatmeal and coffee in and ready to GO!

I had no clue my race would go south so fast, literally. Within the first or second mile my gut was cramping and I was deciding which tree to go hide behind.  Ok back on track. Got that over with and out of the way.....Then 2 miles later...again, off trail. This went on every 2-3 miles to the first full aid at 9-10 miles. Fortunately, I wasn't nauseated or feeling "sick" per se. My gut was just in overdrive, likely from the richness and excessive dairy the night before.

Here are views of heading up the canyon to the top of the plateau. 10059108898?profile=original

At mile 9-10 aid station, I took a little extra time to sort myself out, take inventory of what I would need for the next 10 mile stretch, and of course spend more time in the potty. Grateful for hand sanitizer and wipes! I ate 2 cups full of potato chips while filling my water bottles and grabbing gels. I downed 2 dixie cups of cola as well. Pulled my hat out for the next more exposed segment.

Miles 10-20 were no better. I was grateful for the sage brush and few trees to hide myself. Mentally this was a tough segment. I was losing several minutes every 2 miles to time spent communing with mother nature. 

I decided not to spend time thinking about the time I was losing. It would not help anything. Instead, I focused on drinking plenty of water and minimum 200 calories of gel per hour. "Don't sacrifice anything" became my mantra.

That meant don't sacrifice mental energy on things I couldn't control or any would've, should've, could'ves. It meant don't sacrifice calories. Eat, take in gels, drink sport drink, whatever it would take to get minimum 200calories per hour in. I knew if I dipped under 200  with the losses I was experiencing, it could end my race. It meant don't sacrifice any physical energy. Make it efficient and make it count. Always asking, can you move a little faster here? Can you move more efficiently? No checking out mentally. Engage in the moment, the people, the scenery, soak it in.10059109259?profile=original

At mi 19-20 I pulled into the next full aid station. I took a couple of electrolyte capsules, and again took stock of where I was at and what i needed. I ate probably 200 calories at the aid station, consisting of chips and pb&j wraps cut up in pieces.

Mi 20-25 my calves and hamstrings started to ache and feel like they wanted to cramp on climbing. I continued go as fast as I could without seizing up. 

At mi 25 they had real bathrooms, it was a campground. I was so happy. I ate more chips and cola and loaded up with gels. It was now getting hot and we were going to be hitting the most exposed sections of the course. 

This next segment would also be one 

10059109655?profile=originalof the most scenic. I would trade places with runners, passing on the downs, and being passed on the ups. 

My gut had eased up, and I was able to make it 5-8miles without having to hit a potty or bush. But now, my climbing really sucked. Any moderate effort took me to feeling like I was floating, like rising above my body. A weird bonky feeling. I still had energy unlike with a typical bonk, I just couldn't expend it without that floaty, out of body feeling. This was dangerous as a fall could be life threatening, so I kept my effort while climbing just sub-floaty.

Fortunately, when I went down, the floaty feeling disappeared and I could run hard down with good focus. I figured I would cramp and have more diarrhea running hard down, but it was the ups and associated increased effort and body temp that made me look for bushes.


Miles 32-38 were relentless steep up and downs.


Coming down into mi 38ish my quads started feel quite tenderized. Unusual for me this early, even on courses with more elevation change and longer descents. I suspected it was a combination of being a bit depleted and running quite a bit harder on the downs to make up for the slow climbing.

At mile 38 I ate Ramen and more cola and grabbed more gels to get me across the next segment. With the heat, getting 200 calories in became a challenge. No way solids would stay down at this point. So 1 gel every 30 minutes had to be downed. I was not having any problem drinking enough. I was extremely thirsty and was taking in enough water despite my losses, I just likely was not getting enough electrolytes. I was swelling some. Very typical and fairly mild for me at altitude.

The Battle to get gels down was comical. The conversation in my brain.."ok, start that next gel packet", my mouth, my stomach, my everything saying "nope" like a toddler with lips pursed, arms crossed. My brain, "just open the packet, you have 5 minutes to take one sip". I tried to take a sip every 5 minutes, but sometimes at 25 minutes with 3/4 pack of gel left, and negotiating no longer working, my brain just said "times up, get it down". There were a few occasional gags and 1 real heave but all the gels down, every 30 minutes for the next 3-4 hours.

The last significant climb was 47ish to 50.


The course turned out to be a little long, closer to 52 miles. At the last aid station, they had bacon. It sounded amazing. I ate half a slice of bacon and dumped the rest of my gels in the trash, giddy that I didn't have to eat another gel. The last 2 miles were down all the way to the finish. Quads still tenderized I managed a couple 11 min miles.

I milked everything I had out of myself the whole day. I never let up on making sure I did everything possible to create the best race with what I had on that day. I took nothing for granted and never relented. Everything was a conscious choice, even giving myself grace when necessary to catch my breath, settle my gut, bring myself back into my body. Never a moment of "I just got lazy" or "I just wasn't paying attention".

The whole way I was assessing what I could do to make sure I stayed in this race, what I needed, what I was taking in, how it was helping  or hurting and maintaining the max effort I could expend without negative returns. 

I loved the problem solving and it really kept my head in the right space and out of self pity.

As I came close to the finish, I could hear all the cheering. I was a little sad that my ending would not be met by anyone I knew, that I would get my stuff and leave knowing no one. Now I was feeling sorry for myself. I just wanted a hug.  I had never finished a big race with no one there.

As soon as I crossed the finish, a familiar face appeared and said "hey Lori, great job!" It was Don Sims, a friend for years. His wife was still on the course. He gave me a big hug, or more likely, I grabbed him and hugged him. It was the first really big hug I've given to  non-household member in over a year. It felt so good.  Poor Don, I surely stunk. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I started getting that out of body, floaty feeling again. I went over to medical and explained my situation and desire to get horizontal on my own volition rather than involuntarily. I knew I was fine. All of the blood vessels that had been constricted trying to take care of the essentials during racing were now dilating, and gravity was not helping. My blood was rushing to my feet.

It didn't take long for me to regroup and call Todd and Ethan. They were anxious to hear of my finish and gather together for a big ole meal..... minus the margarita cheese cake! 

I am so so grateful to my family, and my coach Eric Orton. They have helped me accomplish the Cool Impossible over and over again.

To coach....the guidance you gave to "stay on it" every mile was critical to my finish. Your coaching guiding me through the difficulties of this course was critical.   


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I have the Book COOL IMPOSSIBLE.  I just cannot thank Eric for the foot strength exercises, especially, the Slant board.  I started  running at the age of 58 with some seriousness. I felt very awkward to be in the Group where the Team had to wait for me to catch up with them. In fact I was dragging the team.  Slant board for 2 months as mentioned in the Book and Lo!  the position had reversed- Literally.  The ease, the push and the style- all too impressive for the inconspicuous & easily dismissed "little" exercises.   Thanks Eric once again.   

I do not need to over emphasize the benefits.  Check it out yourselves.

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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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Orton Hall

I'm a 1984 grad of Ohio State. At the center of campus is the "oval," which is every hour treated to the clock chimes emanating from Orton Hall. I cycled down to campus today and the chimes just happened to sound while I was shooting this video. Not to do with the subject of this site, but I thought Eric might like it anyway.


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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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Cruel Jewel 100 race report part 3 - Day 2:

My watch died before midnight, so I had no idea what time it was. The moon had disappeared somewhere behind the canopy of trees and I was now heading down what seemed like a long steep trail to the Weaver Creek Aid station. I was still being attacked intermittently by gnats. I felt like I was descending into the depths of the earth....or possibly hell. It felt surreal to be going down, down, down in the dark depths of the forest. This was some of the trail, only now it was pitch black....10059113477?profile=original

My spirits and energy were still up, I just took note, as I would have to climb back out once I hit the aid station at mile 64. As I returned back up the trail I had the sense that dawn was coming. I popped 2 more caffeine gums and drank and ate, readying myself for the hardest part of the the race...a full 12-15 hours ahead of hiking and running. Yesterday, I only had to experience the sun and heat for 6-8 hours, in fresh legs. I was thinking, “Ok, soon we get to find out if I was patient enough, if my training was enough”.

Dawn broke and the birds sang and the biting gnat attacks subsided. I hit the paved/dirt road section early enough in the morning to avoid the heat. I was very grateful. After the road segment came Wilscot Gap aid at mile 81.10059112856?profile=original

I was climbing slower as it was heating up, well after 10am, and my low back was starting to ache on the climbs. You can see it in my face in this picture. I used my poles to help myself on the climbs. It was good to see Dad again. He helped me with my pack and I refueled.10059113268?profile=original

I picked up my other watch so I could have time, miles, and pace again. He again offered a chair, I again declined. I never sat down, only because I knew the pain of getting up would not be worth it. I had moved from 59th position to 27th through the night. I knew I was in good position among the women, but not sure if 3rd or 4th. My goal at this point was to not get caught by any women, and hopefully continue move up.

The last segment would be “The Dragon’s Spine”. Aptly named for it’s jagged, quite steep, up/down sawtooth terrain. It was also way more technical and narrow through this section. I knew it would be this way for the next 15-20 miles. Funny thing is, we did this once already on miles 1-20. I’ts amazing how perspective changes after 80 miles. I would have sworn it was a different trail. Mile 80-97 were just painful. My low back restricted my uphill speed to a seeming crawl. My quads 

were really starting to feel tenderized going down. I just tried to stay focused, move as fast as my legs would allow. I accepted the pain and tried to relax with it, instead of tending up. I continued to push calories and water to keep my energy up. I controlled everything I could to make the most of what I had left and mitigate the discomfort. I thought about friends and family supporting me, about Kevin Rolf and his battle, about the #lovehopestrength we share.

I used my bandana and filled it with ice at every aid, wrapping it around my neck to try and cool myself. I managed to pass a few more guys, no girls. One or two guys reclaimed their spots on the climbs ahead.

Darkness came in the last 3 miles. I finally hit the paved road leading into the finish. I looked at my watch with 1 mile left to go. 32:49. Any neurotic runner will understand what I was thinking. “If I run hard, I can finish in under 33 hours”. Why it mattered at that point, after 106 miles whether I finished in 32:59 or 33:05, God only knows. But, I wanted to see 32, not 33 on the clock. Damnit, I started to run harder. A 10min mile on fresh legs is not a tall order. A 10 minute mile after 106 miles feels darn near impossible. So here comes this stinky, bug eaten, quad ripped, back aching, runner blazing (not really, but it felt blazing) a sub 10 minute mile to hit the finish line at 32:58. I immediately sat down next to the 3rd place female in a heap. 4th female and 24th overall. I couldn’t be happier with how I did, with how I ran my race.


Now a bit of rest and back to training…. I have a date with a 238 mile race in Moab, UT in October! Onward and upward.

I can't give enough kudos to Coach Eric. He knows how to dial in to what I personally need to become a better athlete year by year. His coaching is individual, always taking into account where I am at and where I want to be. He is very strategic, but intuitive. He sees the forest, but pays attention to the individual trees in my training, and adapts and adjusts my training based on how my body and mind respond, helping me jump from one level to the next. I feel like this race was a jump to a whole new level, a level I needed to hit before Moab. Thank you coach.

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10059104862?profile=originalMy goals for the night: Stay steady, get in and out of aid quick. Eat more food, use caffeine at dusk and dawn. As the sun began to set I began to feel a little lazy. I popped 2 pieces of caffeinated gum and continued to eat bites of sandwich and drink water. The thick green canopy was starting to glow with the sunset, and the bright orange orb was visible intermittently as we crested knobs in the ridgeline. I contemplated the difference between knobs and gaps and peaks and valleys. It was still very warm and humid. I started rethinking my strategy. I was planning on really conserving all night long and making a hard all-day push the next day to the finish. But considering how hot it would be tomorrow, I decided I would make the night really count. I knew if I tried to push hard 12-14 hours tomorrow, I would die in the heat. I would need to conserve some in the midday heat. So my new goal was to maximize my focus and effort in the dark.

The trail would be a little less technical throughout most the night. The caffeine perked me up, and with the heat pulling back, I sped up without increasing my effort much if at all. I turned my waist light on. I was glad to not contend with a headlamp for 2 reasons. First the strap always gives me a headache after several hours and bugs. The bugs were thick and they flew straight to the light...which on my head would’ve meant my face. I came into Wilscot Gap a little after 9pm in 59th position. I had moved up 58 spots from 117 earlier in the afternoon. I suspected quite a few people had dropped out due the heat/terrain. I sure didn’t remember passing that many people. There was a group of guys that we traded positions all evening. They would pass me on the ups and I would pass them on the downs. We did this virtually all evening. Once it was dark I was mostly solo, seeing people only at aid stations or a few as I passed on the trail.

The moon was almost full and super bright. In Cherokee, as with most Native American cultures, the moon is masculine. I think it was former Chief Wilma Mankiller that joked, reasoning the moon is the man is because the woman is always the constant stable factor, like the sun, the sustainer of life, taking care of her children. The moon just shows up when he wants to and usually isn’t all there. I was also seeing more wildlife. A few deer, a hoot owl, small snake, occasional field mice crossing the trail, and some sort of bigger brown furry animal the size of a mole. It moved so quickly, I couldn’t tell exactly what it was. Then a red-tail hawk, a few lizards, and a turtle. I listened to the frogs sing. It reminded me of a Cherokee story about the animals and birds that I’ll share at the end of this looong post.

I kept myself at ease, but focused. No laziness through the night. I made sure I was getting a steady stream of calories and water. I wanted to be primed for the sun that would drain me the next day. Every runnable uphill I ran, every downhill I ran, relaxed and fast and smooth as possible, no quad banging, no overheating. I was a bit disappointed that there was no coolness to come that night. We soon hit the 5 mile paved/dirt road segment. I ran all but a small steep portion. I remained focused, It was around 11pm and mile 33. I would hit this same stretch on the return, around mile 70. I wanted to hit that exposed road section before late morning to avoid the heat. That would really suck late morning or midday.

I made it to Camp Morgonton, mi 52 around 2:45am. I decided I would allow myself up to 10 minutes here to deal with any issues and really get good food in. The volunteer handed me my drop bag. I immediately opened it and grabbed the vaseline and asked “where’s the restroom?”. He looked puzzled for only a second, then grinned and nodded as I said, “I need some personal time”. Anyone who has run more than a few miles in the heat and humidity knows that there is “chafing”. Before leaving. I ate several squares of grilled cheese and headed back out. My only issue through the night was intermittent attacks by swarming biting gnats. All of a sudden, my ankles and lower legs would light up on fire. The only remedy was to keep running and rub my ankles and legs so vigorously as to kill the little bastards. This usually took about 30 minutes of running and rubbing. I would be in peace for another hour or so and get attacked again. This happened over and over through the night. One of my race goals was to remain as positive as possible. As soon as my brain started to lead me down a negative path I would intervene. “The gnat attacks are keeping me awake and alert and moving at least”, and “At least the attacks are intermittent, not constant”. And so ends part 2 of Cruel Jewel 100.

Now that I’m home, I can tell the Cherokee story I had in my head better by abbreviating an excerpt from Meditations with The Cherokee by J.T. Garrett. The full exerpt can be found at","domain_specifier":"","CCList":";{}","displayURL":"";}">

 The animals challenged the birds to a game of ball. The birds discussed the challenge, and finally decided though they were smaller, they were swift and agile, and the animals were slow and awkward, so they figured they had a chance. The animals boasted that they were strong. The bigger animals were proud and boastful, they told the small animals to get out of their way so they would not be stomped. 2 little field mice scrambled up a tree to sit by the little birds watching. Eagle saw them and asked why they were not with the animals. The 2 mice explained that they were asked to leave and that the animals made fun of them because they were so small. The Great Eagle told the mice they could join them and the birds made them wings out of the leather and string used on the ceremonial drum.

The game began, and the ball was thrown in the air. Hawk caught the ball. He threw it to the field mice. One caught it and glided into the air to the next tree. To this day, he is called bat. He passed the ball to another mouse with wings, who flew into another tree. To this day he is called flying squirrel. The birds ultimately won. So through this story the young Cherokee are taught to never boast about what they can do based on size or strength, but be humble true to their family, their clan.

10059104885?profile=originalAlthough not representative of this story, here is a picture of one of Murv Jacob's paintings. He is one of my favorite artists, and I think of his work often as I encounter nature and think of the animal stories I have heard. Although not Cherokee, he was recognized as a Master Artist by the Five Civilized Tribes. Much of his art brings to life the fables and stories told through animals in Cherokee tradition. He lived in my home of Tahlequah, Oklahoma and had an art studio down town. Of course he also has quite a bit of street cred for designing posters for the Grateful Dead. 

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Cruel Jewel 100 race report part 1:


I chose this race for the sole purpose of getting another Hardrock qualifier. This was definitely the hardest qualifier I have done. We started at noon on Friday. The temps were already in teh low 80s with high humidity and almost no breeze. My goals for the first day, 1. Keep heart rate down and feel “too good” at the top of the climbs 2. Run the downhills easy, steady, no tension. 3. Eat a variety of real food. On the first long climb, I was passed and passed and passed some more. “This is where you have to behave”. I knew the keeping my heart rate down would be a challenge. It seemed too easy. By 8 miles I was in 145th place. I just kept thinking, “you are going to have to do this ALL day tomorrow in the heat”. “Don’t destroy your ability to perform tomorrow”. I pulled out my bandana and soaked it in every stream and wrapped it around my neck to cool me. Conserve and Perform.

Dad came with me, my only crew. No pacers. These are the mountains where my Cherokee family lived. Everything there had Cherokee names. The trails, lakes, streams, towns, all had Cherokee names, but there was an abject absence of Cherokee people. They were all moved to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. Gold was discovered at Dahlonega. The name itself is the Cherokee word for yellow. That was the final nail in the coffin for the Cherokee people. They were forced to leave under the Indian Removal Act.


The lands were seized by the State of Georgia, without a treaty, and divided among white settlers in a lottery fashion. 4,000 Cherokee men, women, children died en-route. 4,000. They were not allowed time to gather their belongings, and as they left, their homes were looted. Many of the people bought into the land lottery for a chance of getting a lot with gold or other profitable resources. Once most realized their lots were not profitable, they sold or abandoned them and moved away.

After 25miles up and down the mountains on technical, single track trail, I entered Skeenah Gap aid station in 117th position. I had moved up almost 40 positions. It was getting evening and it was good to see Dad. He tried to offer a chair, “would you like to sit for a few minutes?”. I proceeded to shake my finger no, as I stuffed piece after piece of watermelon in my mouth and moved on to grilled cheese sandwiches.10059104282?profile=original

I was trying to get as many calories in as possible. One of the lead male runners had cramped up on the side of the trail, and someone was going back to help him down. I caught the conversation between the aid station captain and a younger volunteer. The younger, “Well, it’s early, we can get him back up and going again”. The captain adjusted his cap and said, “yes, but the price has been paid, he went out to hard and now he’s going to suffer”. That’s exactly what I had hoped I was going to avoid. “Don’t write checks your body can’t cash”, I told myself. I gave dad a kiss and headed off for the night.

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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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Ouachita Trail 50 mile race report


This race is directed by Chrissy Ferguson. Need I say more? She is a powerhouse and puts on top notch events. The MANY volunteers were awesome. The weather was extremely challenging, with almost constant rain, very heavy at times, wind, and temps in the low 50s. I don’t know how they kept from freezing to death waiting on us for hours at aid stations.

Advanced warning...this is the long version. This helps me go back and pick through my thinking and what I did so I can be better prepared for the next race. I try to do this quickly after my races so my thoughts aren’t modified by time and the ability to process and change how I perceive my race. It’s amazing how quickly those first thoughts are modified by time and reasoning. I can also remember details of what I did better, and the devil is often in the details.

This was a “train through” race. No planned taper, not much recovery post race. I had done longish runs the previous saturday and sunday with hard long intervals.  I also did intervals and speedwork this week. This left me with tender quads through Wednesday. Thursday was my only really easy run this week and Friday no running.  Race strategy was to keep things very easy and controlled for 30 miles, then race with constant focus for the last 20 miles. My goal race this year is Moab 240, a 238 mile race in October. We’ve been working on speed early this season to get the legs accustomed to “faster feeling easier”. The focus will shift later this season to translating that “faster feels easier” to “faster feels easier LONGER” in other words speed endurance.  

With the predicted weather, I packed my 2 drop bags with dry long sleeve tech shirts, dry light, but waterproof, jackets and some caffeinated chocolate and various snacks I might decide I want. I knew from experience that even with a totally waterproof light jacket, with sustained wind and heavy rain, water would eek it’s way in over the hours around my head and neck, and along with sweat, gradually saturate me from the inside out. A heavier shell would keep the water out, but I would suffocate and sweat more. I wore shorts, as wet leggings are no fun.  With the temps, rain pants would also suffocate me. If I could keep my chest and arms warm, I would stay warm.

Race start was 6am, so headlamps on, we headed out of the park’s shelter into the rain and onto the road. Fortunately, we had a couple miles of road to warm up and spread out a little before hitting the rocky, rooty, muddy, wet trails. Initially, the trails were saturated. There were frequent pools of mud and water, some stretching several meters. We crossed some small streams and made our way over to Pinnacle Hill. We climbed a little, but were restricted to the base due to the weather. The dogwoods, blooming shrubs, and other trees were on full display. The bright green leaves were almost glowing in the early dawn. My mood was good, but not particularly “happy”. I knew the nature of what lie ahead….50 miles of rocky, rooty, muddy trails and cold rain. My mind was not excited. The race strategy, which seemed like it would be nice and “ez” (compared to most of my 50 mile races), was actually going to be challenging. I knew I would be in this mode for the next 20 miles... not racing, but not dilly dallying. Being in this place still required focus or laziness sets in. I felt decent energy was, but knew I was not rested, and I wondered how that would play out over the long haul.

I was tolerating solid food and water very very well. I started with pb&js i had stashed in ziplock baggies. I was probably taking in 200-300 calories or even more per hour, due to pace and effort, my stomach was absorbing it well. Normally on a 50 miler, max caloric intake for me is closer to 200 calories, and usually in the form of gels. By 10 miles I was starting to realize this would be the scene for the next 40 miles. Rocks, roots, water, mud, wind, rain. I had to pull my jacket hood on which limited my view to my feet and about 10 feet around me. It also limited my hearing to only the wind and rain. It was somewhat like being in a sensory deprivation chamber. Normally, at races you have the varying terrain, the changing views, the noises of birds, animals, leaves, and the chatter of runners to distract the mind. Not today. The scene unchanging. Everyone dead silent. Only 2-5 word exchanges here or there between runners. My body felt fine, my mind not so much. I was amazed and frustrated by how limited my senses were wrapped up in my jacket and hood.

By mile 13, I was calculating how many more hours of the same shit. 8? 10? It’s always a bad idea to calculate how much farther/longer one has to go this early in a race. Not only that, but I had to return on the same damn trail. The nasty shit I was treading, I would be treading again. I typically shoot for courses that are point to point and mountainous, so this was a huge shift for me. Quite frankly, I was being a baby. I thought about how many people would love to have the ability to be on a trail for 5 minutes, and at that moment, I realized I didn’t care. Normally, that thought sets my head straight. That’s when I knew I was facing the biggest challenge of the own damn candy-ass mind set. I knew it was off…. and I was wallering in it, thank-you-very-much. I knew at 16ish miles I could make the decision to drop to the 50k, that is where we would split off from them. Go left, day done early, go right and it’s the whole enchilada. I knew i just had to get my ass past 16 miles so I would no longer have a choice. As time went on and my head did not clear, I was actually nervous I might just take the 50k turn. Fortunately I passed it.

At 18 miles I hit an aid station and was informed I was now in 2nd place. The 1st female runner was dropping and I was about 5-10 minutes behind the second. I knew this was a good sign, and very possible for me to catch her if she was going at a less conservative effort than me. I knew the cold and the rain would catch up and slow everyone down, and that most people were probably exerting a little higher effort to stay warm and get done as quickly as possible. I also knew that the next female was probably 20 years younger than me. Youthful legs count, but so does age and experience. And today’s course and conditions lent itself to experienced legs. So I was cautiously optimistic. Unfortunately, this knowledge did not lift my mind/spirits.

At 18 miles my mind was struggling, but I was doing nothing to help it. “Well, that’s just dumb” I thought. If my belly is grumbling, or my feet are hurting, or I’m cold, I’m going to try and help myself right? You would do something to try and alleviate those problems, right Lori? You would be stupid not to. My mind was hurting, no different than my feet or my belly….so what was I doing? Throwing salt on that wound. Beating myself up for having a bad head game.  Soon, I remembered that research shows that just talking optimistically to yourself actually boosts performance. This was shown in repeat studies to boost performance by 6-10%. That translates to speed. So just like calories make you faster, taking care of your mind makes you faster. I was at a loss for positive thoughts. “You’re doing really well….”. I laughed…. “is that the best you can really come up with?” Then I started thinking, what is the goofiest, silliest thing you can think of….and (don’t judge)...King Julien from Madagascar came to mind. The fuzzy, self absorbed, ignorant to the world around him, lemur. He is totally oblivious to his own ignorance and he dances. I visualized him dancing and talking in front of me, oblivious to the miserable conditions. The song he dances to in the movie?..… “Move It”. So I was singing, “I like to move it, move it” and following King Julien. I was not dancing, but it worked to put a little salve on my wounded brain. Then, I got out of myself enough to visualize how Todd would treat me at the end of my 100 mile races. He almost always paces me the last 10 miles. Always in front of me, with his black calf sleeves and black shorts. Making silly moves, shrugging his shoulders when I’d whine, saying “meh, you got this” Totally chill, totally confident. Just shake it off and lets go. Then thoughts drifted to my kids, oh man….I would not want them to feel defeated. One of my mantras in parenting, “show em how to be”. So, even though they couldn’t see me, I straightened up as if they were watching, to show em how to be, persist, be strong in adversity, finish what you start. By 24-25 miles I was back. I only had 5 more miles before I could “race”. I knew I could “race”. I was already passing people steadily and I knew I had a nice physical reserve just waiting.

Fortunately, I had restocked/refueled my mental tank over the past 5 miles as well. I ran in to good friend James Reeves as he was coming back. He looked great. I was worried about him as he did not wear a jacket, no vest. Shorts, long sleeve tech shirt and 2 handheld cold water bottles. He’s tall and lanky.  I was afraid he was going to freeze to death, so I was really relieved to see how fresh and good he looked. This also boosted me. Damn, if he can feel that good/look that good, so can I.

About 2 minutes from the turnaround I met the lead female. She looked to be feeling really good and moving well. I just hoped I was moving and feeling better. I took my time at the turnaround and downed a full cup of warm noodles and a square of pb&J. I did not feel the need to change even though I was completely soaked. I was comfortably cool, and thinking my effort would increase, was worried I would actually get hot if I added layers. I also didn’t want to take the time to change, knowing where the lead female was. In 15 miles I would have another opportunity to hit my drop bag with fresh clothes, so I took off. I still had 4 miles before I was to “race”, but with the lead female not far off, and a small road section and easier trail, I picked things up just a little and ran more focused. My heart rate didn’t go up much if any, but I felt like I was moving a little faster and definitely more efficiently.

The new focus really helped as well. I was focusing on my effort, increasing it enough to be steady and strong and not fade. My only concern was my heart rate. It was not going up despite my higher effort and perceived faster pace. I knew it wasn’t lack of calories or dehydration. I knew it was likely the cold, even though I wasn’t “cold”. I was cool. I kinda let go of the concern about heart rate and just focused on the effort, calories, water. I added some salt stick and started picking some saltier crackers from the aid stations.  I caught and passed the lead female around mile 29. We exchanged a few words of encouragement. I stopped looking at my watch so much, as I was noticing the awareness of my heart rate was making me too nervous. I just focused on effort, calories, water, not getting cold. I hit the aid station where our final drop bags were around mile 32. Here was my mistake. I was still not “cold” and the rain had let up just a little. I did not change jackets or shirts. I left in my saturated self. I knew I was soaked under my thin rainproof jacket. I had no gloves and I was really just completely soaked. I saw everyone else the same way, so I lulled myself into thinking I didn’t need anything more, I didn’t need anything more to sustain. But sustaining and performing are 2 different things. IMPORTANT. Sustaining and PERFORMING are 2 different things.  I needed more, dry clothes, dry jacket to PERFORM better. The problem was, I was ok, but I could have been much better. And, later I would find out that I did truly NEED that dry shirt and jacket.

The weather deteriorated even further. The wind picked up and the rain become a more sustained downpour.  There is definitely a significant difference between a steady rain and a steady downpour. The trail also changed. What was wet, rocky, rooty, muddy, frequent extended areas of water to ankles, was now a river. A muddy, rocky, rooty 3-6 inch river, with few exceptions of ankle deep mud where there weren’t rocks. The numerous stream crossings were now calf to upper thigh (on me) deep swift moving water. It was like cold immersion torture. I could feel my body temperature drop with each deeper immersion, which was literally every ¼-1/2 mile. This next stretch between aid stations was 8 miles.

At about mile 36 (halfway between aid stations) I ran up on a slender, 20 something, fast looking kid.  He was weaving and had a very distant look in his eyes. I asked, “are you ok?” Shivering uncontrollably, he shook his head “no”. He was shivering so hard and uncontrollable he was groaning with each really hard chill. I gave him my most stern motherly look and said, “ok, this is going to suck and it is going to hurt, but you have to get on my heels and run with me”. “We have to get your heart rate up, that is the only way. If we get your heart rate up, you will get warm”. I made him eat 2 of my sacred oreos to try and ignite his engine...or cause him to vomit. Either way, the calories or the vomiting would increase his heart rate, I thought sadistically. “We are going to run hard for 4 miles, that’s it, just 4 miles to the next aid station and then you get heat” I reassured him, “You are way faster than me, you can do this, but you HAVE to focus!”. He shook his head yes and I took off. It hurt. And, concerningly, my heart rate was still going up only slightly. My legs were now cold and gelling. My mind was fine, I was full of energy, but my legs were rigging. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to run hard enough to get his heart rate up enough to get him out of danger. I could hear him dry heaving and groaning behind me. He faltered and fell back a few times at first, but after about 10 minutes he was doing a little better. I knew we had a good 40-50 minutes to the next aid station. He continued to groan and heave.

I was working hard and trying to navigate the very slick terrain. I didn’t feel like I had time to slow enough to dig out food for myself or drink.  I did manage to get a few nibbles and sips though, as 2 hypothermic runners would not be of any use. At what I thought was about 2.5 miles left, I told him, “ok, less than a 5k, you got this, a hard painful 5k and it’s over”. About that time we passed another runner. He said “only a little over 3 miles to the next aid”. I was like, “shut the f up!, i told him less than a 5k several minutes ago”. Finally, we made it to the aid station around mile 42. Got him fixed up and grabbed a large zip-lock and threw a bunch of cookies in.

Filled my water bottles and took off. Time to get fueled back up and hydrated. That 4-5 miles of hard running was good, in that it gave me focus, but it was scary and hard. Hard enough that I needed to recover, I slowed down, telling myself, “just long enough to get your breath back and calm your screaming tired quads” The slowing gelled my legs even further and my pace was set. I couldn’t will my legs any faster and my heart rate dropped more. I got cold. Not dangerously cold, just miserably cold. But, I could see the barn. 8 miles left. I continued to stuff food in and water and ran as steady hard as I knew I could sustain without falling apart. Falling apart would mean walking, walking meant uncomfortably cold would become dangerously cold. I was so grateful to hit the last 2.5-3 miles of road. My feet and quads were not. The asphalt hurt. A lot. My legs were rigged, my feet on fire and my big toes screaming. I finished 10:27, first female 10th overall. I found out my hypothermic friend John was fine. He was pulled from the race and warm. I was so amazed at all of the runners. Like 180 people out there, amazed that most everyone did ok, amazed at the hikers. Amazed at the volunteers that endured those conditions to hand us food and drink and go above and beyond, taking my bottles, asking before I was finished with one cup of noodles if I wanted more and even asking, ”is the temperature of the noodles ok?” Seriously? You are freezing your ass off handing me noodles and worried that I might not like the temperature?! I was humbled….and so grateful. I learned much that I will unpack over the next weeks of training and reinforced things I already know. But King Julien? Really? I may have to watch Madagascar again. Hopefully I will have some pictures from the race to show how nuts the course was.

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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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