Rugged Individualist. Certified USA Triathlon Coach & NASM Personal Trainer, Men's Self Improvement Coach. President of Go Farther Sports. National Ranked Triathlete & 100 Mile Grand Slam Ultrarunner, 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.

Friday, December 28, 2018

2018 - The Events and the People Who Influenced Me in a Positive Way.

Each month was eventful. The descriptions are below:

January - Sassquad Trail Running! Kim Levinsky has set up some very unique and fun events on the trails. I participated in the Frosty Fat Sass that month.

February - Rocky Raccoon 100 Miler - came in 22 hours 26 minutes, got on the podium in this USATF National Ultra event.

March - NYC Half Marathon - Anne Siglam and Lisa Kaire Lubarsky finishing their respective races in what was a very cold and windy race.

April - Rutgers Unite Half Marathon - Mitchell Mond and the RVRR crew shining in this race. NJ Marathon, Jennifer Adams Krumins getting that BQ she needed. Good luck at Boston in 2019!

May - A HUGE contingent of RVRR folks finishing the North Face 50K race. A great day all around! If I remember correctly, it was Rick Siemon and Valentina Dal Pozzo's first ultra! If there is anyone else, let me know.

June - Anne Siglam's determination has got her to the finish line of the RVRR Train Run, her first Ultra!

July - NJ State Triathlon - Jennifer Montemurro in the Olympic Distance and Toni Ann Alfieri in the sprint distance. Both have finished their first triathlon!

August - I'm finishing the Ironman Boulder 70.3 in 5:18, then finishing the USA Triathlon Nationals in Cleveland in the top third of my age group the following weekend.

September - Kenny Danielsen finishing his first triathlon of the season. Oh yeah!

October - The Raritan Valley Road Runners in general, of course.

November - Philadelphia Marathon! Bridget Hudrick getting a BQ on her first marathon! Mitchell Mond getting a 13 minute PR in front of his family who is cheering him on!

December - Naked Nick 50K - Paul Levine and Kevin Nedza finishing their first ultra.

I know there's a lot more I'm leaving out. Great job in 2018; let's make 2019 even better!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Trail Miles to Road Miles - Conversion to "Time on Feet"

I encourage every one of my athletes to get some trails in from time to time. Even for road runners, trails provide a great way to exercise your balance by developing the stabilizer muscles that come with running on uneven ground. It also promotes landing more on your center of gravity (directly under you instead of landing ahead of your knee or hip). Both developed stabilizers and center of gravity will lend towards increased economy of your running, even on the road.

 All miles are not created equal. You'll do a lot more work on the trails than on the road. "Time on feet" is more accurate on trails than miles.

Ah, but trail is more challenging than road. You say, "you assigned me 8 miles; wouldn't it be more difficult to run the 8 miles on tougher trails?" "What if I do mostly trails in one week? Would that lead to overtraining?"

Well, yes. But there is a way to make sure you don't overtrain in case you wind up mostly on trails, especially the toughest trails.

I convert everything to "time on feet." Most coaches do assign "road miles" to their athletes, so a conversion to "time on feet" is needed.

The conversion that I find that works the best is "8 miles to one hour time on feet"...or basically 15 minutes every 2 miles.

It does amount to a 7:30 minute mile pace, which is very fast for a lot of people, but it does work out nicely to everyone who normally goes slower on the roads too, because trails present a very tough challenge to not just your legs, but your core muscles as well.

So, if I assign you 8 miles of running, these are road miles. If you decide to go on tough, rugged trails instead, you run for about an hour instead. Even if you do just 4 miles on the gnarliest hilliest trails for 60 minutes, you've done the equivalent of an 8 mile run on the road. And you prevent any kind of overtraining that might occur if you try running 8 miles on those trails.

So it's a pretty simple conversion, but in the end, it prevents a lot of overtraining. Please be mindful of it in case you decide to run on the trails instead of on the road for some of your runs!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Core Training - The New Approach to Running and Triathlon

Plank with medicine ball. One of the many challenging core workouts that runners should embrace.

A lot of coaches have similar philosophy of training. It is evident that we all strive to achieve the same ends for our athletes. And, for most of us, we support each other in achieving these goals.

It is the approaches that are different.

The approaches are as different as the athletes themselves, so a good coach keeps his mind open when it comes to approaches that differ from his.

My approach has definitely evolved over the years. And I'm not alone on this either. Many other good coaches, when given new data, have modified their approaches when new data has come out.

Take strength training, for example. It used to be that traditional weightlifting was the way to go. Get in the gym, throw some weight around, isolate the key muscle groups, and that should be good to get runners better.

Well, I religiously did that for two years in my personal triathlon training and it did nothing for me. And in recent years, science has proven my point.

Now it's functional fitness and core training. And this differs from traditional weightlifting in that you're NOT isolating muscles. Instead, you're recruiting a multitude of muscles to achieve an overall efficient movement.

You know, like running, swimming, and cycling!

Exercise is VERY specific. You isolate muscles in certain movements, and they'll do just that...and not recruit other muscles in the process. This doesn't achieve any goals when it comes to running and triathlon. Not at all.

But if you teach these muscles to help one another out, the result is greater than any individual muscle can achieve on its own.

I started doing functional fitness last year and I've seen gains like I haven't seen with traditional weightlifting. Now, for my 2019 training, I've upped the ante. My core does need a bit more work, so I've started training it three times per week.

A Google search for core training for running yields a plethora of information. Functional core training has seen many good returns!

And I got many of my athletes to embrace it. I'm already seeing gains from them.

And I think through these strength sessions, we're all going to do awfully well in our respective races in 2019!

Friday, December 14, 2018

My Week 1 of Core Training - Getting It Done!!!

Sometimes we all forget how critical core training is to an endurance training regimen. I'm no exception!

 The side planks are hurting just after 30 seconds. I want to bump this up to 2 minutes by spring.

If you're looking to do well in any races, especially races over 2 hours, the core HAS to be strong if you are to have any shot at a decent result in that race.

Back extension machine. If I don't do this my back gives out. No bueno.

First week of training for my 2019 season, I just finished the third session at the South Shore Y. I'm surprised how weak my core is after starting this back up!

 You can turn just about any exercise into a real hard exercise when the Swiss Ball is included. You add the challenge of balance and your stabilizer muscles into the mix!

I'll update you periodically on how it does throughout the winter and spring leading up to my competitive 2019 season!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Registered for the Secret Mystery Trail Run!

UTMB - Serious race. Check.
Ironman Ireland - Serious race. Check.
USA Triathlon Nationals - Serious race. Check.

Secret Mystery Trail Run - Serious race - wait, what?

I found out the hard way that training should have some fun elements to it. And this run does just that.

This is the PERFECT way to start the year! Registered for the Secret Mystery Trail Run on January 5, a hash run that is anything but fashionable...and that goes for the alcohol they bring too. If what you drink can double as something you can degrease engines with, then it's perfect for this run.

 Nothing fashionable about us in the 2018 Secret Mystery Trail Run earlier this year.

Link is here if you want to join in on the fun. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

McDowell Mountain Frenzy Race Report

I did it for the points! 😂

But I also found out the source of my recent ultra problems, and it's quite the doozy.

With my DNF at Grindstone I found myself lacking the UTMB points, and the desire, to run other ultras, particularly 100 milers. I publicly swore off ultras while while I was concentrating on making the podium at triathlons.
But somehow in the back of my mind I was going to want to attempt UTMB again, at least one more time, get to that finish line, and put this race in my rear view mirror for the rest of my life.

The problem is getting in. Some ultras are "UTMB Points races", meaning they register with the International Trail Running Association (ITRA). The longest and most mountainous races are 6 points, flatter 100 milers are 5 points, some 50 milers and 100k races are 4 points, etc. And UTMB requires 15 of these points over 3 races in order to get into the lottery.

These points expire after 2 years. So postponing this race to a later date means I would have to race 3 ultras to gain all 15 points needed to get into the lottery.

A daunting task.

Looking at my present situation, however, I already have 11 points. I received 6 points from Zion 100 last year and 5 points from Rocky Raccoon 100 this year. And... I'm a second year entrant! I was rejected last year, which means I get *two* ballots.That should give me a decent 75% chance to get in!

So all I needed was 4 points for the UTMB lottery.

Looking at the remaining qualifiers, the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50 miler was the only race left to get those points.

But it's in Arizona. Can I take a quick trip out there, do the race, then come back? Do it on the cheap?

I found out it was quite feasible! So I decided to do it. One last attempt to qualify for UTMB.

I flew out the day before the race, and toed the starting line at 7AM. The race promptly started, and off I went!

The first few miles were awesome! I found running in the desert to be such an experience! I did take note of the sunrise over the cacti as we made our way North and west to the Sonoran preserve at mile 12. At some point it became a steady gentle climb, so I backed off a little to accommodate the ascent. I didn't care what time I came in; I just needed those 4 points.

The 6 mile loop around the Sonoran Preserve was quite strong. I got back to the 18 mile aid station in good shape. I knew the next two stretches were the most difficult parts of the race, so I decided to take the couple of extra minutes to hydrate and prepare for those stretches.

The first difficult section was a long 10.5 mile section with some tough hills, according to my elevation charts. The second difficult section was the 2.5 mile assault on Thompson Peak, a 2500 foot climb.

Going out into the 10.5 section, I was quite methodical, but I knew the hills we're lurking in this section. I just didn't know where. I got 6 miles into the stretch before we finally got to the hills.

The hill turned out to be a heck of a climb, around 1000 feet.
I found myself in a lot of difficulty. The legs were getting heavy, the breathing was getting labored, and all of a sudden I was having negative thoughts.
"Here I go again", I thought.

With 2 miles to go in this section (26 miles in) I even thought of quitting. What was going on?

Then I discovered it.

Looking at my Garmin, I was discovering that I was going 10 min mile pace up a steep hill. What the...?

I realized that I was unconsciously sabotaging my race by justifying the suffering by running too hard! I couldn't believe it! By pushing the pace to an unreasonable level, my mind can then give the excuse to bow out of the race and quit the suffering altogether.

This was a stunning revelation. But I finally realized it. I immediately slowed down the pace and forced myself to think in the present. I was no longer looking at the 24 miles remaining in the race. I was only thinking about the 2 miles I needed to get to the aid station. Then I can make sound decisions there for the next section.

The running was immediately bearable again. I promptly emerged from the trails to that aid station. I was in need of nutrition and electrolytes.
And I found that with the 2500 foot climb up to the top of Thompson Peak ahead of me, now was a good time to take in a lot of food and drink. I was going to be walking most of the way up; it was the perfect place to digest a lot of food!

 Thompson Peak - 2500 ft climb of pure suffering

Finally satisfied with my refueling, I gazed at the mountain ahead of me and started my climb. I started pretty slowly, making sure I was digesting my food. The climbs got a lot steeper, but I started feeling a bit stronger. The climb was relentless; it was Mt. Beacon on steroids! But I only stopped once, just to take a picture of the fantastic scenery that was unfolding below me. I rounded the final bend and got to the top.

A couple of guys were jotting down the bib numbers at the top there. As they were writing my number down I joked to them about every ultrarunner having this mountain in his backyard. I turned around and headed back down the mountain again to the aid station.

And I had new life!

At this point my mind and my body were clicking as one, only focusing on the present, on the ups and downs of the trails, on the task at hand. I got back to the start/finish area at mile 42. We 50 milers just had an 8 mile section on the "competitive loop" to go before we actually finish. I only took about 2 minutes at the aid station before starting off in the last section.

The only question was not "if" but "when" I was going to finish. I was ticking off 11-12 minute miles and was wondering if I can finish before the sun went down. I didn't want to reach into my pack to get my headlamp. I got to mile 48.5 before I had to take it out.

In the shadows of dusk, I strongly finished the race at 10 hours 51 minutes. That was good for 37th place out of 105 people (99 finishers) and 4th in my age group.
 37th place overall, and my finisher's item for the race

And I got my 4 UTMB points

And the best part is that I think I realized why I was having these recent problems in ultras. In various ways, I was physically making it hard so that my mind can justify withdrawing from the race. It almost happened at Zion last year. It happened at Vermont 100 last year (by running hard). It happened at Grindstone this year (purposely shuffling and tripping over every rock to make the trails more difficult than they seemed), and now this.

Now that I realize what is happening, I should be able to remedy this in future races when it pops up!

The mind is a fickle thing. It has to be on your side for it to be your strongest Ally. For if it isn't, it can turn into your greatest enemy.

 Overall course on my Garmin. It was a good race.