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By Damian Stoy

I use to suffer from many chronic running injuries and had several doctors and physical therapists tell me:

“Give up running.”       “Running is bad for you.”      “You aren’t designed to run.”

I sure am glad I didn’t listen to them. Since then, I have run over 30 ultra marathons and even won 8 of them.

But a much greater accomplishment is the fact that I have been injury-free for the past 10 years. Yep, not a single major running injury in over 10 years even as a competitive ultra runner. Sure, I have minor tweaks and pain after running 100 miles in the mountains. But I do specific things that prevent serious injury which would cause me to go back to the days when I was injured and couldn’t run. I never want to go back to those dark days.10500512_10154308742355584_8044031842047266675_n

Shin splints, runner’s knee, IT band pain, muscle strains and foot pain were just some of the injuries I use to suffer from. Worst of all, I had patellar tendonitis in both knees for two years when I was in college. I was in pain all the time and some days I could barely walk. I went to some of the best doctors and physical therapists in New England and nothing seemed to help so I gave up running completely.

Two years of not running led to depression and a decline in health. I decided there had to be a solution, a better way. I did some research, read lots of books and found out that if I modified and practiced my running technique, I could maybe run again. It sounded unbelievable and I was very skeptical. But I went out and modified my running technique, running for the first time in over 2 years. To my surprise I was able to run with minimal pain. As the days went past, I was able to run more and more with less and less pain. I was hooked.

That was over 10 years ago and since then I have learned extensively about how to run injury-free as well as increase performance. I have experimented with many concepts and lots of trial and error. Now being a competitive ultra runner and injury-free for over 10 years, I have found what what works really well for me and my passion is sharing it with others.

My top tips for injury-free running and greater performance:

1. Listen to your body

Yes, I have minor tweaks and pains when I train and after 50 or 100 mile races. The important thing is to not let these become injuries that stop you from running. The key is listening to your body. Do NOT ignore these pains. They are a signal from your body that you need to back off, rest or correct something such as your running technique. Do not be afraid to take a couple days or more completely off.

2. Improve your running technique

The major factor that allowed me to overcome chronic injuries was modifying my running technique. In the past I was inefficient and ran with a high impact technique that beat up my body, though at the time I did not know. For you to correctly modify your technique, do lots of your own research and try different concepts. I highly recommend seeking out a technique specialist to help you with your technique. At a minimum, video yourself running so you can see exactly how you run. Too many runners tell me they don’t heel strike, don’t have imbalances or misalignment issues but most often they do.DSC_0630

highly recommend seeking out a running technique specialist such as myself (not just a shoe store employee or even a physical therapist). Altra’s Run Better page can get you started on technique tips. But remember, a specialist is the best way to truly improve your technique.

3. Improve your nutrition

What I eat greatly enhances my overall health, keeps my energy levels very high and helps me to recover incredibly fast. Again, the key is listening to your body and finding out what works best for you. I have tried just about everything out there and the ‘diet’ that works best for ME for performance, recovery and increased energy is a whole foods, plant-based diet (WFPB).

A great place to get started for those interested in a WFPB is Forks Over Knives. I also recommend seeking out a nutritional coach like Lindsey at Wholicious Living who can get you great results and is an elite runner (she’s also my girlfriend, in the picture above).

4. Train smarter, not harder

I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. Training with this philosophy can prevent burn out, decrease injuries and running will be more enjoyable. You will also be more likely to reach your long term goals. Every run you do should have a purpose. Get rid of the junk miles that do not serve a purpose. Cyclic and periodization training are very valuable for reaching long term goals.

There are many good training programs out there. However, most do not focus on injury prevention. I highly recommend looking for a running coach (like myself of course) that specifically focuses on injury prevention as well as performance.

5. Other important factors

Cross training and runner specific strength training are beneficial but in my opinion NOT as important as the factors I discuss above. Your foundation should be overall health, an efficient technique and proper training. Strength and cross training will build upon your foundation but too many runners rely on them exclusively for injury prevention. Watch this video for 8 exercises that can be beneficial for runners.

I am also an advocate of sports massage, yoga, physical therapy and other techniques to help enhance recovery and overall health. But again, do NOT rely exclusively on these for injury-prevention.

I hope these tips help you run happier, healthier and injury-free. Please feel free to ask me any questions by emailing me here . Also, if this blog was helpful, please share it and ‘like’ my Wholistic Running Facebook page for more tips.

Damian Stoy is a running coach, biomechanics specialist, nutritional consultant and founder of Wholistic Running. He offers online coaching, workshops, private lessons and nutritional consultations for runners all around the world.

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The holidays have arrived, and chances are you may still be looking for creative gifts for the runner in your life. We’ve gathered a list and checked it twice, we even asked our Ambassadors what gifts would be nice! Here are our favorite gift picks for runners:

1. The Homemade Gift: This idea comes from Ambassador Ras Vaughan: Get a thumb drive (or create a podcast playlist) and upload lots of running/trail/ultra/hiking/adventure podcasts, they’re especially great for long runs. We like these: UltraRunner Podcast Another Mother Runner Radio, Runner Academy

2. Happy Feet: The gift that keeps on giving? New shoes! May we suggest the One² for your road runner, and the Superior 2.0 for the trail junkies.

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3: Warm Clothing: Anything wool, socks, compression gear and running tights are all in high demand for the cold weather. Here are our picks:

Altra Compression Socks

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Gore Running Tights

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Anything from Smartwool

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4. Tech Gear: One Word: Headlamp. It gets dark earlier in the winter, so for those long outdoor runs a good headlamp is an invaluable piece of equipment! Go for Petzl’s TIKKA® RXP

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5. Massages: Foam Rollers and Massage Certificates are the perfect feel-good gift. Check out Trigger Point’s GRID Roller

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6. The Stocking Stuffer: Nutrition Goodies. For marathoners and trail runners alike, there are a lot of nutrition options out there! Get sample sizes of a few different options of gels, bars, gummies, drinks, etc. Your runner can mix and match to their hearts content! Our favorite picks include: Vfuel Tailwind Gu Justin’s Nut Butter

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7. The Fan Favorite: The most requested gift on our Ambassador’s lists? Coaching!

 

What’s on your holiday wish list? Comment below and tell us!

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The Superior 2.0 is built for a rocky relationship. Start clawing your way to the top November 26th.

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Tough trails call for a tough tread. The new Superior 2.0 features an impressive TrailClaw™ outsole and StoneGuard™ rock protection system designed to help you tackle the toughest terrain. The FootShape™ toe box lets your relax and spread out naturally in uphill and downhill conditions.

Featuring:

  • TRAILCLAW™
  • STONEGUARD™
  • GAITER TRAP™
  • FOOTSHAPE™
  • ZERO DROP™
  • A-BOUND™

Available online November 26th.

Take your everyday adventures to new heights and comfort with the Instinct Everyday.

 

Using the original Instinct midsole and outsole, the Instinct Everyday™ dresses up the fit and feel you love. Enjoy the comfort, stability and injury-reducing benefits of a cushioned-Zero Drop™ platform and FootShape™ toe box whether you’re at the office or exploring on vacation.

Shop Men’s
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By Altra Athlete Jacob Puzey

When it comes to race day nutrition just keep it simple.

If your race is less than 90 minutes, you probably don’t need to eat on the run.  If it is hot and/or humid you can drink some water or electrolyte drink along the course, but proper training, a balanced breakfast a few hours before the start, and regular hydration leading up to the event should get you through a 15 to 90 minute run or race without the need for additional aid.

After 90 minutes of continuous aerobic activity, your body runs out of glycogen stores (carbohydrates – sugars & starches) and starts relying on available fat and protein to fuel itself.  The reason people hit the wall or bonk between 90 and 120 minutes into an aerobic effort is because they have run out of glycogen (sugars & starches) and/or electrolytes (salt, potassium, etc.).  The body is trying, but not as efficient at using fats and proteins as its primary fuel source.  Essentially, the body is feeding off itself which is why it doesn’t feel good and why your ability to perform diminishes.

 

Sugars

Carbohydrates consist of simple sugars and complex starches which basically means that one digests faster than the other.  Common sources of sugar while on the run are non-diet electrolyte drinks (sugar-free options defeat the purpose and will inevitably lead to an epic bonk), fruit (bananas, oranges, watermelon), gels, honey, chews, blocks, chomps, gummy bears, hard candy, etc.  Sugar sources vary from fructose, to sucrose, glucose/dextrose, and maltodextrin, but many pre-packaged products and mixes include a combination of a variety of sugars.

 

Starches

Common sources of starches while on the run are potatoes, potato chips, breads, bananas (both starches and sugars), and granola bars, etc.  Some people pre-make rice balls and other light, starchy items like oatmeal cookies or homemade energy bars to fuel their runs, but such items are not always found at aid stations.

 

Salt

In addition to carbohydrates, electrolytes play an essential role in your body’s performance.  The combination and concentration of electrolytes vary from product to product, but one essential electrolyte that works as the spark plug to keep your muscles firing is sodium (i.e. salt).  Some companies claim that we already have enough salt in our diets and that we don’t need to add extra salt while exercising, but if you’ve ever found yourself cramping up in your calf or hamstring and seen how almost instantaneously the consumption of salt eliminated the cramp, it’s pretty hard to argue with its efficacy.   Common electrolyte sources while on the run can be found in electrolyte drinks, gels, salt caps, and broth.  Some races may have potatoes with salt and salty potato chips on course as well.

 

I have found that the longer the race, the more I need to focus on nutrition early on.  When the race is less than 2:00 I typically stick to water and possibly the electrolyte drink on course.  If the race is between 2:00 and 3:00 I might add a salt cap or a gel or two.  When the race is longer than 3:00, it typically means I will be carrying at least some of my fuel with me, so I focus on sipping an electrolyte drink every 15 minutes, and consuming 200 calories every 30 minutes, and taking a salt cap every hour.

 

The races in which I have been meticulous about nutrition are the ones in which I have raced the best, particularly in the second half.  On the other hand, when I have allowed myself to get caught up in a race too early and neglected regular nutrition, I haven’t had anything left toward the end of the race.

 

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(Photo Credit: Deborah Booker Honololulu Advertiser)                                        (Photo Credit: Animal Athletics)

 

The pictures above show the difference in performance between fueling poorly and fueling adequately.  In the one on the left, as a newbie marathoner, I felt strong through the first two hours, but I didn’t start fueling until my body started telling me it needed it (about mile 22).  My hamstring locked up going over the final climb and the last few miles were a death march.  Conversely, the picture on the right shows the finish of a 40 mile trail race.  After over four hours and 40 miles of regular fueling, I felt good enough to sprint the last 400m around the track and leap over a hurdle that obstructed my way to the finish.

 

Pre-Race Nutrition

 

When I run a marathon or shorter, I like to eat something light like oatmeal, toast or granola bars with nut butter, with a banana and orange juice three to four hours before I race.  When the race is early enough that I won’t naturally be up hours before the race, I usually bypass a fibrous breakfast, opt for more sleep, and down a tube of Trail Butter on my way to the start.

 

In races beyond 3:00, I aim to sip an electrolyte drink at least every 15 minutes.  If it’s hot outside I will do it naturally, but sometimes when it’s cool I need a reminder so I am that annoying guy with a timer on his watch that sounds every 15 minutes.  Lately, I’ve been using a First Endurance prototype cucumber flavored EFS drink which has more electrolytes than any other drink on the market and isn’t overly sweet.  I also try to down a flask (400 calories) of First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot every 60 to 90 minutes.  I use the timer on my watch to remind me when to nurse the flask.  I also take one Salt Stick cap per hour to assure I’m getting what I need.  If I feel my muscles cramping up or buckling, I increase my salt intake.  If I enter an aid station and something looks good I eat it.  While I wouldn’t recommend most race foods as part of a regular diet, the reason they work so well during long races is that the nutrients are so refined that they get right into your blood stream, notifying your liver, brain, and muscles that you can keep going at a fast clip because you have enough fuel to get you to the next aid station.

 

Post-Race Nutrition

 

Post-Race nutrition is equally important to long-term success.  Post-race refreshments vary, but soup is rather common and it helps me warm up while settling my stomach.  Many longer races serve some sort of post-race protein in the form of burritos, quesadillas, burgers, or sandwiches.  Regardless of your diet, get some protein in within 30 minutes after your race.  This will aid in muscle repair and will decrease the amount of time off post-race.  I typically mix up a quart of Ultragen that I sip on after the race to begin repairing muscles as a decide what else to eat.

In addition to protein, be sure to hydrate.  Water is always good, but if your stomach is struggling to digest the water, I suggest carbonated water or ginger ale until your stomach settles down.

 

Practice fueling before the race

 

Like most things in life, race day nutrition is a very individual thing.  It requires practice in training and racing and the willingness to experiment to find what works best for you.  My advice – keep it simple.  Find the combination of sugars, starches, and salts that works best for you.

 

Jacob Puzey is a professional runner & USATF certified coach for McMillan Running Company residing in Flagstaff, Arizona.  To learn more about training and racing, check out the other articles Jacob has written on his personal blog www.jacobpuzey.com.  To begin working with Jacob as a coach visit McMillan Running Company and sign up for personal coaching.

 

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By Athlete Nick Clark

Less Could be More: How Much to Eat During an Ultramarathon?

 

Figuring out the nutritional side of ultramarathoning has been an ongoing enigma for me over the years, as it is and has been for many others in the sport. When I first started competing in long distance running events, the conventional wisdom that was passed down to me was that one should attempt to consume at least 200-300 calories per hour in order to maintain a decent level of performance.

“Eat early, eat often,” was always the mantra.

Personally, I’ve always struggled to get that much in and have run through many races over the years on much less, usually after trying to cram calories early when my stomach feels fine and then suffering later in the race with nausea.

But my gut’s ability to digest calories while running hard in the latter stages of, say, a 100-mile race has really headed south over the last couple of years. Prior to my most recent 100-miler in September, in beautiful Steamboat Springs, CO, I had emptied the contents of my stomach at least once in the last four attempts at the distance. At Leadville and Wasatch in 2013 I still managed to pull off a podium finish and a win, but at Mount Fuji and then Western States this year the nausea cost me hours and I was thoroughly disappointed with both results.

So much so in fact that I was seriously considering giving up on the 100-mile distance, where I typically perform the most competitively, in favor of much less racing and much more exploring. I still maintain that desire to use my fitness and talents to explore more on foot and focus less on racing, but my joy in the 100-mile distance was rekindled enough at Steamboat that I’m now looking forward to competing in future events, even if more selectively.

The turnaround came as a result of a serious rethinking of my nutrition strategy. The first rule of the new fueling plan was to teach and convince myself that nausea late in races didn’t have to be inevitable. Working closely with local dietician and accomplished ultrarunner Abby McQueeney Penamonte I was able to develop an in-race fueling strategy based on metabolic testing.

After a half hour treadmill test conducted at 100-mile effort, we were able to ascertain a caloric range for what my in-race fueling needs were likely to be. Considerably less than the 200 – 300 calories per hour I’d been trying to cram down my throat in previous races, as it turns out. The results suggested that I burn fat efficiently and as such don’t need much more than 100 calories an hour to maintain respectable energy levels while performing at 100-mile effort.

That’s the equivalent of one gel an hour. Conventional ultrarunning wisdom says to get one of those puppies in every 20 to 30 minutes.  For my fueling needs at Steamboat, I used a starch-based carbohydrate product diluted in water, rather than of gels. The taste of the product I was using was fairly benign – far from the sickly sweetness of most gels – with one bottle being equal to about 80 calories.

The other part of the puzzle of the nutrition strategy was to keep effort levels firmly under control. There is a direct correlation between effort level and the amount of blood that is getting to your gut to aid in processing fuel. My gut apparently is more sensitive to effort levels than might be the case for runners less likely to lose their lunch over the course of a long race, so I definitely feel like I have to err on the side of ‘less is more.’

After a fat- and protein-based breakfast of bacon and eggs two hours before the race, I held off on consuming until I was two hours into the race. From there, I pretty much kept things at one bottle – or 80 calories – an hour on the liquid fuel I was using, supplemented by additional water in a second bottle and occasional shots of coke or small bowls of ramen.

The seven hour mark, give or take an hour or two, has traditionally been the tipping point for my stomach in long races (making the 50-mile distance so appealing); the point where nausea typically starts kicking in. Seven hours and 40 miles into Steamboat and my gut was still in great shape, although it must be said that my energy levels were just respectable and not through the roof.

I did end up suffering through a one-hour bout of nausea in the middle of the night after eating too much ramen at an aid station, but was able to turn it around after dropping the effort and staying focused. At the toasty Summit Lake aid station, some 85 miles into the race I was back to consuming and able to maintain a decent clip into the finish, good for fifth overall against a tough field.

By no means was this a perfect race for me, but it was something of a revelation to buck the puking trend of my previous four races. There is tweaking to be done for sure, but I now feel good about the baseline nutrition plan, and look forward to refining it further, perhaps pushing the target to 120 calories per hour to offer the furnace that little extra bit of fuel to burn without overdoing it and losing my gut.

If you’ve suffered through repeated nausea issues during endurance events, give some thought to the amount of calories you are trying to get in and perhaps look to cut it back. Figuring out the balance between caloric intake and your stomach’s ability to process those calories is likely a multi-race proposition but hopefully one that leads to a future of nausea-free racing.

 

To see Nick’s full Steamboat 100 report and other nuggets related to training and competing in long-distance running events, check out his blog: www.irunmountains.blogspot.com

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James Ironman World RecordWhat a year it was. In 2010 I set out to raise funds and awareness for a local non profit called in Our Own Quiet way. Along the way I ended up breaking the world record for the most 70.3 (half Ironman) triathlons completed in one year. I completed 22 events in 30 weeks landing me in the Guinness book of world records for the first time. The year was a success and we ended up building a few Dam in Africa which will affect the lives of the people there for generations.

My journey continued in 2012 with a new World record attempt but this time in the Full Triathlon distance more commonly known as The Ironman – a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 marathon run. I knew 30 official events in 2012 through 11 countries would be a huge task to complete. I had so many high and lows on the year but the highs way over shadowed the lows. My journey started in January with a win in Naples Florida and concluded with a celebration race at the HITS Championships in Palm Springs California. My journey took me around the world where I got to experience many new people and cultures. I went through Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico and the United States.

A few of my highlights had to be biking and running in the Pyrenees in France and also having the opportunity to pull a boy named Dayton with Cerebral Palsy through an Ironman in Lake Havasu Arizona on my 27th Ironman event of the year. I will cherish this experience for as long a I live. Thank you Dayton for letting me be apart of your day.

Altra shoes saw and supported my vision from day one and all 30 Ironman races were raced in Altra shoes. Although the goal was to just cross 30 finish lines, I managed two Iron Distance victories and 5 second place finishes. When I started this journey I was told “No way you can do this” and “You will get injured”. Well I am happy to announce that I did do it and that I never got injured. One of my biggest fears at the start was a small foot injury or stress fracture which would have halted my journey and ultimately would have ended the quest for my second world record. No foot foot injuries… no foot pain…. no blisters. Pure genius – Thank you Altra!

James Lawrence – aka the IronCowboy
www.facebook.com/ironcowboy
www.triandgiveadam.com
www.quietway.org

Jan 8, 2012 – HITS Naples (1st overall)
Feb 19, 2012 – HITS Corpus Christi (2nd overall)
Mar 3, 2012 – Ironman New Zealand (changed to 70.3)
Mar 25, 2012 – Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship
Apr 15, 2012 – HITS Napa Valley (2nd overall)
Mar 25, 2012 – Ironman South Africa
Apr 29, 2012 – HITS Marble Falls
May 5, 2012 – Ironman St. George
May 19, 2012 – Ironman Texas
May 27, 2012 – Ironman Brazil
Jun 10, 2012 – HITS Hunter Mtn (2nd overall)
Jun 17, 2012 – Ironman Regensburg
Jun 24, 2012 – Ironman Coeur d’Alene
Jul 1, 2012 – Ironman Austria
Jul 7, 2012 – Altriman France
Jul 15, 2012 – Ironman Switzerland
Jul 22, 2012 – Ironman Lake Placid
Jul 29, 2012 – HITS Sterling (2nd overall)
Aug 11, 2012 – Ironman U.S. Championship
Aug 19, 2012 – Ironman Mont-Tremblant
Aug 26, 2012 – Ironman Louisville
Sep 1, 2012 – The Canadian
Sep 9, 2012 – Rev3 Cedar Point
Sep 15, 2012 – The Grand Columbian (first place)
Sep 23, 2012 – HITS Hunter Mtn (top 10)
Oct 20, 2012 – The Great Floridian (top 10)
Nov 3, 2012 – Ironman Florida
Nov 11, 2012 – HITS Lake Havasu – pull cerabal palsy (Dayton)
Nov 18, 2012 – Ironman Arizona
Nov 25, 2012 – Iornman Cozumel
Dec 2, 2012 – HITS National Championships Palm Springs

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    I started running 2 1/2 years ago at the age of 60 and 1/2 when my friend and now running partner decided she wanted to run the Ogden half. You have to understand she was overweight, and had never run, and I was always active but more in the way of dance, and had never run either. We got on line and ran a training program. We loved the experience and did our first half in just over 3 hours. We were hooked. We added three other half marathons and a 10K that year, and continued to add new goals. We know for us we have to have a goal to shoot for, or we could find all kinds of excuses not to train.

    The following year we did half marathons, a 30K (Red Mountain) in Ivans… our first trail experience (sort of, it was the road part of the Red Mt. 50K). We loved it, and crazy Deanna talked me into doing the Provo marathon just two weeks later. She said, ” we just did 19, what’s 7 more miles”! In October Dee and I ran the a trail 10K in Corner canyon.. Our first time running a trail. WOW. We loved it. It was then we truly became trail runners. I went right out and bought my first pair of Altras. I love the Lone peaks. We have run in mud, slush, snow, rocks and whatever and never felt like I didn’t have great foot support. I then had to get my first Intuitions, so we could winter train on the road. They are so comfortable. We did the Ivans run again this spring. I wore my Intuitions, and boy what a difference in performance, and comfort from the shoes I had worn the year before. 

    A few weeks before the Ivans run this spring, we ran the Buffalo run 25K on Antelope Island. Again, great comfort and wear from my Lone Peaks. We have registered for the Little Grand Canyon marathon in September, and are waiting for the registration to open for the Antelope Island 50K. I know. I keep thinking… what are we thinking? I am now 63 and love being up on the mountains. It has become a family thing, as my sons Craig and  Brent are so good to run with their slow mom. We all did Ivans together this year.

    I have shared my shoe stories with my sisters who both have knee and IT band issues and are not runners, but they both have bought Intuitions just to wear. They have told me that the shoes have made a huge difference in their walking and standing. My younger sister bought a pair of Lone Peaks to wear on Trek this week. I will be anxious to hear how they performed for her. She said they would have lots of rocky terrain and up hills.

    We are a family of Altra wearers.

     

    Share your thoughts:

    When did you truly become a runner?

     

    We’d love to hear your story. Learn how to share it here.

     

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      I will never forget my first “run” – February 1, 2010.  A Jillian Michaels iFit program greeted me, where “Jillian” is in control of your speed and incline, adjusting one or the other (or both) every minute. It was a meager 30 minutes of jogging and a lot of walking, with the incline changing throughout. While I never manually slowed it down or decreased the incline, a good part of that first run was spent holding on to the sides, and I think I even had to step off onto the rails a time or two. My breathing was heavy, I could feel my heart trying to leap from my chest as sweat poured down my face…it was near torture, but I had made a commitment to myself that today was the day everything would change. When the 30 minute program I was complete I looked down at the distance – a meager 1.65 miles!! I might as well have run 100. I was wrecked. I literally crawled up the stairs from my basement and laid on the floor in my family room until I could actually breath (and move). While this is probably not the “doctor recommended” way to start a workout program, it made me decide then and there that I didn’t want to feel like this ever again.

      To assist with the overall determination to make a change in my life and get myself in healthier, happier shape – A friend had convinced me to sign up for a Sprint Triathlon at the beginning of the summer. After a few weeks of training I had made up my mind that the longest distance anyone should ever concern themselves with running was a 5K. I couldn’t think of any reason why anyone would need to run farther than that. I continued with my iFit program which in turn continued to kick my butt every single time. With the addition of swimming and biking, I noticed that I was quickly getting stronger. The programs were getting harder, but I was able to do them. With each drop of sweat the pounds seemed to melt right off my body. Where I had previously been too embarrassed to run outside, I started taking my runs to the outdoors with the friend who had wrangled me into this triathlon to begin with.

      I was also lucky enough to be working with a friend (and fellow Altramaniac, Craig Lloyd) who had started running the year before, and was quite a bit further along in his journey. He would often go running 10 miles for his daily run. 10 miles! I just couldn’t understand how you could run that far – and keep running! When he came into work talking about his first 50K, it  simply blew my mind. I had honestly never thought about the possibility of running distances like that. I filed that away as something that is cool but something that *I* would probably never be able to do. But the seed had been planted.

      My runs started to get longer and longer, I found myself saying “well, if you can run 3 miles, you can run 4…If you can run 4 miles, you can run 5…” I can remember each “First” distance as if it was yesterday, but the first time I ran 7 miles really sticks out. I jumped from 5 miles to 7 (and had gone out only planned on running 5) – but I was feeling so good that I just kept going…and it felt great! I was actually enjoying myself! I ran into Craig’s office with a grin on my face – I now understood (or at least was beginning to) why people do this!

      My running took a whole new turn when I was training for a ‘mud run’ and my friend and I decided to head for the mountains to get some ‘harder’ training in. We climbed up part of a mountainside and then came across a trail which we decided we would use to take back down. I hit the trail and took off. All of the sudden I felt like I was home. I had spent my childhood playing in these mountains, and it seemed to strike a chord within me. I stopped and turned to share my elation with my buddy, but he was no where to be seen! A minute or two later he came into view, carefully running down the trail. I bounded off like a deer again and drank in every second on the trail. I was hooked. I immediately signed up for “Utahs toughest 10K” a ‘trail’ 10K that supposedly put all others to shame.

      As my mileage increased, I started to notice slight issues in various parts of my body, but mostly my knees. I learned all of the IT band stretches and had a pair of minimal shoes…but would still feel that IT band flare up on my longer runs. When the toughest 10K came around, I laced up the latest and greatest trail shoe and was on my way. By road race terms this race is a beast, 600 feet of elevation gain and an endless supply of ups and downs throughout. Near the end of the race my knees were screaming at me, and afterwards I could barely walk. Going downstairs was a chore for at least the next week. I became extremely discouraged and had decided that maybe I just wasn’t built for running. Several people gave me the “I told you so” that running ruins your knees.

      I, however, just couldn’t let it go. I started researching every possible way to improve my situation. I was running more and more with Craig, and through research and lots of discussion, I narrowed in on my running form. I ended up spending several months changing it – literally relearning how to run – getting my body used to using the muscles it should be using to run and not straining the ones that it shouldn’t be. Once I was able to get that dialed in that was it. I was hooked. My mileage started increasing by leaps and bounds. I was running almost exclusively on trails and before I knew it, I was signing up for a 50K – the Antelope Island Buffalo Run! Ten times the distance that I thought I would ever run, and here I was paying money to do it – and just barely a year from when I had started! The 50K was a great learning experience, and I had an amazing time, and even beat the goals that I had set for it.

      What was next? Well what else? I set my sights on 50 miles, and signed up for and completed the Pony Express Trail 50 later that year (2011), and loved every mile of it (even the hard ones…). I continued hitting the trails, now running to the tops of mountains and in places that again, made me feel right at home. I had also picked up a pair of Altra Instincts, practically the day they came out. I had high hopes for the shoe, and they didn’t disappoint – becoming my only source of running footwear. I had an amazing group of friends that provided great support and entertainment. We were running in Zion National Park, all over the Wasatch range, the Uintas and more. I was able to take part in 100 mile races by pacing Craig and others as they complete the beastly distance.

      As I continue to run and grow and find that I now actually enjoy that exhausted feeling that once so frightened me. I have the amazing support of family and friends that continue to inspire me and keep me going. I am surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains that I can now enjoy for more than just their visual beauty, but for the challenge and adventure they offer. This coming year I’ve got my eye on a few races/runs, including the Buffalo Run 50 (peer pressure may get me into the 100), Kings Peak, Bairgutsman, Pony Express Tail Race, Zion and the Grand Canyon – to name but a few.

      The best part is, this journey is more than just running – I meet new people, see new places and hopefully, reach new heights and farther distances!

      Share your thoughts:

      What are your biggest motivators to keep you running?

      Have you ever shattered the limits you set on your body? How did it feel?

       

      We’d love to hear your story. Learn how to share it here.

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        Earlier this year Braden Thompson began his journey from O to marathon. You can read his earlier entry here. Check out his report after months of hard work and training:

         

        A few weeks ago I was lying on the couch watching college football feeling like absolute crap hardly able to even walk. I knew I needed to eat but that was the last thing my stomach wanted to do. This was my post race celebration. I had just finished the Top of Utah marathon.

         

        When I set out to run a marathon, that’s not anywhere near what I pictured the outcome to be. At first, lying there in pain, I was a little disappointed that reaching my accomplishment was so anticlimactic. After I let it all sink in for a couple days I realized that the race was only a small part of my accomplishment. My real accomplishment was making it through the journey that led up to it.

         

        When I first decided to run a marathon, I had no running shoes. I figured I needed to get a pair if I was serious about this. The shoes I was lucky enough to get my hands on were Altra Instincts. Little did I know they would become some of my best friends over the next five months.

         

        On any hard journey, it’s always better if you have a friend. My Altra Instincts proved to be the friends I needed to make this journey more bearable. I took those little guys everywhere! We ran 50+ miles in the mountains of Logan canyon together. When I tripped on a rock they were the ones whispering, “don’t let that freakin’ rock push you around, you get up and finish your run!” When I would hit the snooze on the alarm clock at 5:30 AM they were right there, looking me in the eye, telling me to quit being a pansy and suck it up. When I was dropped off all alone up a canyon far away from home they were right there with me every step of the way to make sure I got back without dying. When a large rabid dog on mile 10 of 12 in a strange neighborhood attacked me, they were there to kick its mouth and give me an extra burst of speed to get away. On multiple family vacations they were the best behaved of anyone on the trip and even after hours and hours of driving they never once asked if we were there yet.

         

        Not only were they my friends because they motivated me and gave me awesome pep talks, they were comfortable. I never thought I could run in slippers, these guys proved me wrong. Most comfortable pair of running shoes I’ve worn. I owe a lot to those little guys.

         

        Ya, running 26.2 miles is really hard. Comparatively speaking, however, basically getting a part time job training for five months was MUCH more difficult. My goal in running a marathon was to push the limits of what I thought I was capable of. I did it, and I’m glad I did. It was awesome.

         

        When Altra says “Zero Limits”, they’re not kidding. Anything you want to do, you can do it if you set your mind to it. If you want to run a marathon, half-marathon, or any distance for that matter, grab a pair of Altras and make them your two best friends. When you convince yourself that you really have no limits, you’ll be amazed what you can do.

         

         

        Share your thoughts:

        Do you train on vacation? What are some other obstacles that might throw off your training?

        What was the most memorable part of your journey training for a race?

         

        We’d love to hear your story. Learn how to share it here.