Aug 08

Running as Therapy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Some seek the comfort of their therapist’s office, other head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.”

― Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Sometimes I get upset, frustrated, or stressed. Sometimes it’s worse and can be called depression. There are times in life when I get an anxiety attack or maybe I feel a full blown breakdown coming on (eye twitches and all).

I don’t think there’s any shame in acknowledging this. We all have our troubles. Some people manage better and for some people they are far more severe.

As we search for balance, we all choose different methods. Some people overeat when they are down. I run.

Running is one of the many tools I use to clear my head. If I have had a particularly stressful day at work, I enjoy going for a nice run and letting it all go. Sometimes I think through things during this time. Sometimes I don’t think about it at all. Either way, it helps.

If you have issues and start running, people might say, “What are you running from?” People who would say this have to be non-runners. It isn’t about getting away from anything. It’s about arriving somewhere. Not a physical destination but an emotional, mental, or even spiritual transformation.

If your runner friend is having a hard time, one way to help is to simply run with her/him.

“I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone…

When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. All I need to do is gaze at the scenery passing by. This is a part of my day I can’t do without…

I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void…

All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”

― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

For some people, their issues can be severe enough to necessitate the help of a trained medical professional. Of course, running may not work for everyone. I merely say that running is tool that works for me.

Aug 01

What do you listen to when you run?

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Music, audiobooks, nothing… or something else?

When I first began running, I would almost always listen to music. At first I used my smartphone, and then I began using the lighter iPod shuffle. Music is great for running. It can help pump me up and keep me going. I love music but as my training runs became longer and more frequent, I began to tire of listening to music.

When I started listening to audiobooks, it was a game changer. I could listen for hours and hours as long as the book was interesting. I also felt like I was accomplishing more things while I ran. I had a list of books I wanted to get through and I was completing them quickly. I remember at one ultra, I completed an entire book (7 hours long, which is short for a book). The only problem is if the book is boring because of the story or narrator. I was worried about spacing out while listening to books on a run but I slip into auto-pilot mode and enjoy the book. The first audiobook I listened to was “Born to Run” 😉

With group runs, I usually won’t listen to anything. I’ll just bring something with me in case I get separated. I prefer to interact with the other runners in the group. Yes, I can be chatty.

If I’m on a trail run (especially trying a new trail), I often won’t listen to anything. I will enjoy being out in nature and its sounds (or lack thereof).

That is generally what I do for training. Racing is different though. I usually listen to music to keep me motivated during the race. The exception would be trail ultras. For those, I’ll usually listen to nothing to enjoy the trails or an audiobook since I know I’ll be out there for a while.

What about you? What do you listen to when you run?

I have friends that will listen to podcasts or talks. I remember meeting another runner at an ultra that was listening to instructional audio on how to speak Spanish. I found it fascinating that he was learning to speak another language during his run!

Note: I had a hard time finding headphones that would stay in my ears when I ran. I started using Yurbuds and they work great!

Jul 24

Tahoe Rim Trail 50-Miler Recap by Steve

Don’t stop believin’.

Yeah, that’s a corny way to start this race report but you’ll see why (and it will still be corny).

Outside Magazine listed the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs as one of their 10 races on the “Trail Runner’s Bucket List.” After seeing the beautiful races photos, I really wanted to do it. I chose it to be (hopefully) my third ultramarathon and second 50 miler. Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) has a lottery entry system and I was fortunate enough to be chosen.

My goal for this race was simply to finish. Of course, you always want to do well, but my first 50 miler was on relatively flat terrain. This race would involve higher elevation and much more significant climbs.

The logistics for the race were smooth. We lined up at Spooner Lake to start at 6am. The national anthem was played first. It made me really appreciate being able to run this race on such a beautiful piece of this country.

We started the climb to Marlette Lake. The views did not disappoint. The first aid station, Hobart, was entertaining with a vaudeville style performer on a unicycle with a whip. В I pushed through this station quickly, just grabbing PB&J and small cup of coke. We climbed past Marlette Peak and Harlan Peak heading into the Tunnel Creek aid station. I was feeling good so I stuck with the PB&J and small cup of coke.

From there, I headed down towards the Red House aid station. There was some tough downhill on the quads, which in turn was a tough sandy climb back up. Still, I didn’t think it was that bad. The course labels this part as the “glimpse of hell” part of the course. I just pushed through. I would find my own “glimpse of hell” later on the course.

Back to Tunnel Creek, I kept the same eating routine. I was moving through the aid stations quickly and feeling good. I was wearing the Ultimate Direction SJ vest with two 20oz bottles but was advised to take extra water on the next part. I picked up my handheld and brought it with me for the next section.

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We climbed up past the Bull Wheel aid station and descended down to Diamond Peak Lodge. At this point, I felt good. I didn’t have highs or lows. I was just grinding along. At Diamond Peak, fueled up quite a bit, dipped my bandana in cold water, re-applied sunscreen and anti-chafe stuff, and  I was ready to go rather quickly.

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Next up was the brutal climb up to Diamond Peak. I turned on my music (I hadn’t listened to anything all race because I was enjoying the environment so much) and started hiking up the ski hill. It was the hottest part of the day and lots of sun exposure with only a tree for shade every once in a while. The hill was sandy too. It was a tough climb. I should have drunk more while walking because by the time I got to the top, I was cooked. I felt tired and dehydrated. I was so frustrated it felt like the wheels were falling off when I had been moving so steady.

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Then, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” started playing in my headphones. The corniness of the moment made me smile. I told myself I would just push through and finish no matter what. I gathered myself, grabbed some aid from the Bull Wheel aid station and headed out slowly.

I was trying to balance getting more fluid into a sloshy and upset stomach. After a little while, I was able to pick up the pace. Ouch. Cramps. I had taken some S-Caps early and made a mental note to take more at the next aid station.

I caught up to a couple of guys doing the 100 miler.

They said, “Hey, it’s him!”

Me: “It’s me?”

“Yeah! You! You did NOT look good at that last aid station. You’re looking better now.”

“So, I looked as bad as I felt?”

(Pretty much).

I moved along with a sensitive stomach, cramps, pain the feet, pain in the legs, pain in the hips…

Then, it started to rain.

At first it was the nice gentle cooling rain. Then, it started pouring.

I rolled into the Tunnel Creek aid station in the pouring rain. I took the time to regroup. I grabbed a whole can of coke and ate a gingersnap honey stinger waffle (hoping the ginger would help my stomach). I grabbed some S-Caps too. I repacked my bag, putting all the electronics in ziplock bags. I was worn out but I felt bad feeling down on myself as I saw another runner in the medical tent receiving an IV. The volunteers were amazing. They kept asking me things like, “What do you need?” “Are you eating enough?” “Feeling okay?” I really appreciated it and couldn’t thank them enough. A gentleman took my bandana dipped it in water, filled it with ice, and put it around my neck. AH! Shocking and refreshing. I refilled my bottles and was ready to head out into the rain. I touched my forehead then asked the volunteer filling my bottles, “Where’s my bandana?!”

“It’s around your neck.”

“Oh.”

We both laughed and he said, “It’s that point of the race, huh?”

(Pretty much).

I was feeling more recovered as I headed out into the rain and climbed back towards Hobart. On the way, I saw an older looking trail runner with a “pacer” bib pass by heading the opposite direction. He said, “Hey there!” as he passed and I did a double take. Gordy Ainsleigh, the first to run the course of the Western States 100 just ran by.

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From Hobart, I started heading up toward Snow Valley Peak. The course continues to be so beautiful. The storm clouds rolled in and it started sprinkling. I saw a small herd of deer seeking shelter (this should have been a good warning). The rain became worse and I started hearing more lightning strikes. I was near the top, completely exposed when suddenly I felt something hit me in the head. Ouch!

Ouch again!

It started hailing.

There were no trees to prevent the pea-sized hail from pelting me. I ran with my head down until I reach the Snow Valley aid station. What now? Do I wait out the hail?

More lightning strikes.

I looked at the supports to the aid station structure and they are all metal poles. Here I am, on Snow Valley Peak, in a thunderstorm surrounded by metal poles and it’s hailing outside. What to do?

В The super-volunteer at the aid station let some of us shelter in his truck (at least that would be grounded). After sitting in the truck a while, the hail stopped and we headed out in the rain. It had gotten colder but adrenaline pushed me down towards the tree line.

I ran down the long single track towards Spooner Lake. I ran past the last aid station without stopping into the aspen grove and ultimately to the finish line. Some of the folks near the finish line cheered and said things like, “You went through a lot out there,” and “You survived the wrath of God!”

I received my finisher’s plaque and cup. I was glad to finish. Of course, I wish I had done better. Some things were within my control and some things were completely out of my control. As always, I learned a lot. It was an amazing experience in such a beautiful place.

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Gear: Ultimate Direction SJ Vest, Hoka One One Trail Stinson shoes, Pearl Izumi Infinity shorts, and Injinji 2.0 trail socks

Jul 11

100 Mile Ultramarathons Starting on Fridays

Unless you’re an elite ultramarathoner like Rob Krar, Timothy Olsen, or Anton Krupicka, your 100 mile ultramarathon may cross into two days. Most 100 milers start on Saturday and finish on Sunday. In the spirit of Saturday marathons, here is a list of 100 mile (or more) ultramarathons that start on Friday:

Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance RunВ – Utah – September “100 Miles of Heaven and Hell”

The Bear 100 Mile Endurance RunВ – Utah – September “36 Hours of Indian Summer”

Hardrock 100В – Colorado – July “Wild & Tough”

Kodiak 100 Mile UltramarathonВ – California – September

Badger Mountain ChallengeВ – Washington – March

Zion 100 Trail RunВ – Utah – April

Monument ValleyВ В Utah – March

Grand Canyon UltrasВ – Utah – May

Bryce Canyon UltrasВ – Utah – June

Capitol Reef 100В – Utah – June

Note: Zion, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon are all done by Ultra Adventures.

Salt Flats 100 Mile Endurance RunВ – Utah – April

Pickled Feet Ultra RunningВ – Idaho – March

Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail RunВ – Wyoming – June

Pony Express Trail 100В – Utah – October “Running in the Hoofprints of History”

Antelope Island Buffalo RunВ – Utah – March “Run Where the Buffalo Roam”

 

These two 135 mile ultramarathons start on Monday but do involve some Sunday activities like race check-in:

Badwater 135В – California – July “The World’s Toughest Foot Race”

Arrowhead 135В – Minnesota – January

 

Do you know of any other 100 mile ultramarathons that start on Friday? Please let us know!

Jun 25

FlipBelt Gear Review by Steve

At the Utah Valley Marathon expo, I saw a product called the FlipBelt. After the race, I went home and did more research on the product. Additionally, someone at my local running store told me about this product. I have a few frustrations with my Nathan pack and have been looking for something better.I decided to check it out and I am glad I did.
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FlipBelt and Nathan’s pack
I will use a product like this when I am out for mid-range run. This is a run where I need to bring some gels and a handheld, but I don’t need to bring a full hydration vest.I also use it on long supported runs like a road marathon with plenty of aid stations. I pack the gels that I know my body does well with in case the race doesn’t have the type of gels I prefer. This ensures I’m covered in case I need a gel between stations or if the race doesn’t have enough.
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Running with Nathan’s pack at the Utah Valley marathon. I didn’t realize the pack was sticking out, looking like a fanny pack. How embarrassing.
I have been using a shadow pack by Nathan. It is a pack that you buckle on and tighten with straps. Nathan’s shadow pack (I hate to call it a fanny pack 😉 is small and fits about five gels when fully loaded. It fits keys no problem. I can only fit my iPhone in it if I remove the case. With only a couple gels, it fits small and snug against my body. However, when I pack it with five gels, it sticks out quite a bit (see below) and is a bit bulky. This bulkiness can cause it to jostle on runs. It is annoying to have to adjust it on runs. There are some harder edges on the pack you have to be careful with so they don’t rub or irritate you on a long run. Also, the tightening straps on mine are getting old. I have to tighten them quite a bit then I have a bunch of extra strap I need to wrap around somewhere. Overall, it has been a decent pack. It has served me well despite my few complaints.
Enter the FlipBelt.
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It is a belt with no buckle. You step into it to put it on. I am often the guy that is between sizes. I was worried I would end up with one too big or too small. However, it fits me just right. It’s tight enough to be snug without being too tight and it isn’t too loose. It hugs my waist nicely. When I run, it doesn’t move at all. No bounce. It easily fits five gels and can fit more. You insert the gels into opening on the sides of the belt. Then you flip the belt around so the openings are against your body. The FlipBelt does not have any hard edges to rub. It is quite seamless and smooth. The material is actually quite soft. The FlipBelt easily fits my iPhone with the case still on. It also fits keys and has a little clip to help with this or anything else you might want to clip to the belt. It should really fit most items you would want to bring with you on a run. I think the FlipBelt looks better on than the other bulky fanny-esque pack. It looks like it’s part of your running outfit. I’m excited about this product and looking forward to continuing to use it. I will update this review if any issues come up as I use it.Picture
You can check out the FlipBelt website for some of their videos on the product. They also have sizing information and a FAQ section. The belt also comes in a number of colors. As pictured, I went with the black one.Feel free to post any questions or comments about this product below.