A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Can East Coasters Have Success in Leadville? Yes they Can!

The Leadville 100 course is extremely tough on everyone entered. Historically, more people have dropped out of the race than finished it. It's that hard.

Runners trudging up Hope Pass in the Leadville 100.


The high altitude, the big mountain pass, and ESPECIALLY the aggressive cutoff times (you only have 30 hours to complete it) serve to make this race one of the toughest in the world.

I saw some good friends of mine attempt the race this year. Some have finished it but a good many did not. They deserve an A+ for effort, that is for sure. 

West coast runners have a bit more success at this race because, well, most have these huge mountains there in their back yard.

That gives east coast ultrarunners a bit of a disadvantage. How can east coast runners have success in a race  when they cannot train in those conditions that the race is in?

After barely surviving this race last year and looking at what people I know do the race this year, I think I can probably put a handle on what *might* be needed to have a great race in Leadville.

First, there is the altitude problem. That is a problem for east coasters since we really don't have regions here that are at 10,000 ft. I mean, we east coasters skydive from that altitude, but that's about it.

The way to counteract that is to be in the best shape possible. A body that is at its fittest can definitely handle itself better with less oxygen. If an east coaster is looking to run Leadville, they need to understand that he or she is going to have to put in the hours of training to get into peak shape.

But peak shape alone still won't make east coast runners get to the finish line. There are also the mountains to consider.

Again, east coasters don't have huge mountains in their back yard. What I think is needed to get strong mountain legs is a power and strength regimen for the legs and core.

That means hitting the gym. Hard!

Explosive plyometric sets involving squats, jumps, leg curls, legs and back extensions are probably the best way to go about it. Running a lot of miles will help you gain the endurance, but power is also needed to get up Hope Pass. A powerful core, especially glutes and quads, will help the cause a lot better, making the climbs a lot easier on east coast runners. Crossfit might also help. I am familiar with the basics of Crossfit's high intensity programs. I haven't looked deeply into the program, but I know a couple of people who swear by Crossfit. And they have successfully finished Leadville, so there is definitely a merit there.

Squats are probably the most effective way of strengthening up the core muscles and should definitely included in the Leadville training regimen.


Last year, along with weight training and running, I also complemented my running with a lot of cycling. Cycling definitely helps the quads and glutes and did factor in nicely to my success at Leadville last year, so it's definitely worth looking at.

These are all suggestions for those considering Leadville. If you're an east coast ultrarunner and considering Leadville, don't just run a lot of miles. Chances are, you'll be very disappointed come race day. You'll need a lot of strength training; make sure you make this a critical part of your training.


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