50 Miles: the ultimate playlist

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Music is an incredibly personal choice. Finding a beat or lyrics that motivate and make you momentarily forget about how badly your legs are burning can be the difference between fading out or pushing just a little bit harder. Science even says so. 

I don’t listen to music when I race. I never have, and most road races discourage headphones due to safety reasons. On the road I’m usually pushing myself hard enough that if I take my focus away from my pace, I start to slow. Ultras are a different beast. Pace is much slower and totally varied based on terrain. There’s a good chance you will be the only person around for miles on end. It can get pretty lonely, and after running for 6 hours my brain starts to run out of things to think about. I can only talk to so many bunnies before I begin questioning my sanity. Continue reading

Anatomy of a PR

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The Personal Record. That elusive, arbitrary time goal runners chase. It haunts us, often missed by seconds. But sometimes it is crushed, setting a new benchmark to attain. Most of us will never win a race, so we race ourselves instead. That number is a motivator, helping us dig just a little deeper when the wheels are about to come off late in a race.

What makes a PR? Well, the training, obviously. Stress, recover, repeat. The basic formula is simple, yet so easy to screw up. There are no magic workouts that will guarantee a faster time, but the most important thing you gain from proper training is confidence. You need to believe that running a PR is possible, because if you don’t, who will?

Let’s analyze two PRs I fought for this year. The first came at the Boston Marathon, where I dropped from a 3:07 to a 3:04, and the second is from the Humboldt Redwoods half marathon, where I knocked 6 minutes off my best to run a 1:24. Continue reading