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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Frosty Fat Sass 3 Hour Race Report!

 I finally had time today to write up a short race report for the race I did this weekend, the Frosty Fat Sass 3 Hour Trail Race.

This race was on Saturday at South Mountain Reservation. There were three options for this race, the 5K race, the 3 hour race, and the 6 hour race. I opted to do the 3 hour race for a couple of reasons, the first being that I did have my club's Award Banquet that night, and needed to save my energy for that night. Secondly, it was early in the year and didn't want to overextend myself running the 6 hour race.

The race course is a 5k loop on the trails of South Mountain Reservation near the Turtleback Zoo. My goal was to try to get in 6 laps, but it was called into question as there was a good amount of ice on the course which would slow me down. The course also had some decent sized hills in the back end of the course. I would need to complete each of these loops in 30 minutes or less; it would be quite the challenge to do!

I decided to take up the challenge. I really wanted to see how fit I was, so this course would push me to the limits. So even if the wheels started to fall off and was forced to slow down, I would definitely know how fit I was at this time.

Staying under the 30 minute mark also meant not stopping at the aid station after each loop. I was to mark down my completed lap, and then immediately push off on a new lap.

The temps were about 25 degrees at the start. Since I didn't want to stop to change clothes or shed layers, I had to make sure that the clothes I was wearing was adequate for the entire 3 hour run.

At 9AM, we were off and running. And started pushing the pace.

The first lap was a little slow as I was in with a crowd of people. I finished the first lap a little over 29 minutes. The hills and the ice did indeed slow me down and I knew then that I needed a huge effort to keep under 30 minutes for each lap.

Second lap wasn't as crowded as the first, so I finished the course a little over 28 minutes. I felt strong after the second loop.

The third loop was also very strong. I was starting to lap some of the slower people at this point. The day was warming up, but I did choose the right amount of clothing. No issues with food or drink either. I finished over 28 minutes for this loop.

The fourth loop I started to get tired climbing the hills in the back end. Still I was fighting hard. I had my first of two falls on the ice towards the end of the loop, but I landed on my butt and was fine. I got up and immediately resumed running. I took more time to climb the hills. The time of the 4th lap was 30 minutes exactly.

I knew my energy was waning when I hit the fifth loop. I still kept competitive as I descended the hills in the front half of the loop, but when it came to climbing the hills in the back, I had little left. Matt, a friend from my running club who is quite fast on the trails, passed me in the last half mile of the loop and decided to go for the 6.

I actually was quite surprised I was ahead of him all this time!

When I got to the line, I was debating whether I had time to try for that last lap. I completed the fifth loop in 33 minutes. I would need 31 minutes to complete the last loop. I decided to stop it there, knowing I was not going to make the last loop.

Matt did finish his 6th loop with only 20 seconds to spare. I knew that it would have been impossible to stay with him, so there wasn't a chance that I would finish 6 loops.

Still, I was quite pleased with my performance. I held a very aggressive pace for 15.5 miles.

I will need to go even faster, but this was a promising start to the year. The trend toward faster runs is there; I just need to continue the training and hard work to make it happen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Keep Training Through The Ups and Downs of Life!

Training for races is never a simple endeavor. Just like life, training has its ups and downs. The trick is to try to expand on the ups and minimize on the downs. And I say "minimize" because in most cases the downs cannot be prevented, such as a family emergency, or a viral bug, or some stress at work. We need to make sure we can manage them in the best way possible without much interruption in your normal routine...and your training.

Remember that training should be the backbone of your schedule and that some form of it needs to be done. Even if it needs to be reduced due to some emergency, that's a lot better than cutting it out entirely.

If you can just run one mile, or you can only have 15 minutes to do core training in your house or apartment, it's a heck of a lot better than doing nothing. Trust me on this. Get those 15 minutes in! Because when the emergency passes at least you'll still have some momentum to keep the training going.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Frosty Fat Sass Strategy

My first race of 2019 is upon me. It comes in the form of a 3 hour trail run, called the Frosty Fat Sass.

As you can see, it's a free race. We just have to contribute food for the aid station and donate a tidy amount to the park's conservancy, which I feel is a great deal!

I've done this race last year, but I only did the 5k version since I had the Rocky Raccoon 100 the following week. Since I have no Rocky Raccoon 100 this year, I'm free to up the distance a little, to 3 hours.

The course is a 5k loop at South Mountain Reservation, so we have to complete as many 5k loops as we can in the 3 hour time frame. if the conditions are okay, I should be able to make 6 laps, or 18.6 miles. These are trails, but they are not too technical, so I'm hoping I can cover each loop in 30 minutes. We did have rain yesterday, so it's a possibility that the conditions might be a little slower. I'll see when I get there.

My training has been very good of late, so I think I have those 6 laps in me. I know that might entail very little time at the aid station, but that's okay; I'll spend more time at the aid station once my 3 hours are up and the race is over.

I have a good amount of friends doing this race, so there is a lot of moral support. And I will be able to cheer on the friends running for 6 hours afterwards also!

Temperatures should be seasonably cool, so at least we have the weather in our favor. I want to rock this; wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

No excuses!

No excuses!

I have an opportunity of a lifetime. There are no obstacles on my road ahead.

If it all comes together, the training, the mental focus, the physical fortitude, my diet, and my will to succeed, I think I can excel as a national caliber athlete.

I know exactly what needs to be done. It's all about the execution.This past month has served me well. I can already see the huge gains when everything is executed the right way.

There is a bit of transcendence too. And not making excuses.

It's 11 degrees out? Add an extra layer, get out there and run?

Is it raining? I'll head out the door with my bike in hand anyway.

An appointment came up? I have 23 other hours to fit the workout in. If it's dark when I start, I'll bring a lamp.

Taking full responsibility is a tough task. But those who succeed in taking responsibility are the ones who succeed.

Tomorrow, I take the next step. It'll be raining hard tomorrow morning. Guess what I'll be doing? 🌧🚴‍♂️🌧

No excuses.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Descending Ladders Workout

Descending ladders are a good all-around workout designed to sustain a good red-line pace. As you tire, the intervals grow shorter. Which means you have no excuse to slow down!

These are great in workouts are short as a half marathon and as long as a marathon. Some even say it's good for distances beyond the marathon too. Works well with the swim and the bike in a triathlon as well.

Let's get some iterations of the Descending Ladders set and what it targets.

Target #1: Half Marathon

1) 2 Miles (3200m) at (Half Marathon Pace - 15 seconds), 3 minutes (or 400 easy jog) for recovery.
2) 1 Mile (1600m) at (Half Marathon Pace - 20 seconds), 2 minutes (or 200 easy jog) for recovery.
3) 800m at (Half Marathon Pace - 25 seconds), 1 minute (or 100 easy jog) for recovery.
4) 400m sprint to the finish!

Target #2: Marathon

1) 1x2 Miles (3200m) at (Half Marathon Pace), 3 minutes (or 400 easy jog) for recovery.
2) 2xMile (1600m) at (Half Marathon Pace - 5 seconds), 2 minutes (or 200 easy jog) for recovery.
3) 3x800m at (Half Marathon Pace - 10 seconds), 2 minutes (or 200 easy jog) for recovery.
4) 4x400m at (Half Marathon Pace - 15 seconds), 1 minute (or 100 easy jog) for recovery.

Descending Sets can be rigged for ultrarunning too! The pace is a bit different though, and these can be done on trails as well as the track; that is why intervals are based on time instead of distance. Here is one for a trail 50K:

1) 1x 20 minutes - perceived effort of 6 (aerobic but not quite red-line pace). 5 minutes walk for rest.
2) 1x 15 minutes - perceived effort of 7 (approaching red-line pace). 4 minutes walk for rest.
3) 1x10 minutes - perceived effort of 7-8 (red-line pace). 3 minutes walk for rest
4) 2x5 minutes - perceived effort of 8 (touching on anaerobic). 2 minutes walk for rest.

Here are some triathlon related descending sets:


1) 1x 30 minutes at 300 Watts (or perceived effort of 7). 5 minutes easy spin for recovery.
2) 1x15 minutes at 320 watts (perceived effort of 8). 4 minutes easy spin for recovery.
3) 1x10 minutes at 330 Watts (perceived effort of 9). 3 minutes easy spin for recovery.
4) 1x 5 minutes all out sprint (perceived effort of 10)!


1) 1x500m at perceived effort of 6. 1 minute rest.
2) 1x400m at perceived effort of 7. 45 seconds rest.
3) 1x300m at perceived effort of 7-8. 30 seconds rest.
4) 1x200m at perceived effort of 8. 20 seconds rest.
5) 1x100m all out!

There are so many ways to incorporate these into your training, and they work very well with a lot of the targeted endurance races you're looking to excel at this year.

Here are some references to more ladders:

There are a lot more on the web. Just Google "descending ladders" and either bike, swim, run, or triathlon, and you'll get plenty of good workouts for the distance you're looking for. Good luck!!!

Friday, January 11, 2019

UTMB in 2019, And...Ironman Training?

So, I got into UTMB.

Yep, that race with Europe, the mountains, running for days and nights and all that.

Uh oh...

I'm not sure if fate was smiling at me or having a practical joke at my expense. Hopefully I won't end up like that guy above.

I think I would have to be standing most of the time to make progress to the finish, right?

At least the race is a bit out of my way of my triathlon season. UTMB is in late August. Ironman Ireland is in June, and the USA Triathlon Nationals are in the beginning of August. I can fill July with some local triathlons too.


Training? Will still be the same. Sort of.

Then again...

Seriously though, I think only two or three trips to Mt. Tammany might be the way to go here. I need to be a fast road runner for triathlons, so I have to primarily practice my speed on the roads.

I will do a lot more local trails though, for general all-around off-road fitness. I figure some loops at Sourland Mountain with some of the guys at the club gearing up for Naked Bavarian and Bear Mountain will help. And then there's some new additions:

Sassquad Racing and Running

Fueled by Doughnuts - Wayne Pacconi

Both of these groups seem to have some nice local trail runs each week, which is nice.


Truly though, training won't change that much. There is a plan here, and I know I can do very well in each one of the big races that I do, including UTMB.

Off for a 6 mile run now. On roads. Hasta La Vista!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

I'm Going to UTMB!!!

I won the lottery! Third time is the charm. I'm glad the Fates have given me this one more opportunity! I'll be training hard for this one!

Wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Triathlon Has Tier Pricing, Ultrarunning Has Lotteries

I dabble in both ultrarunning and triathlon, probably in equal amounts now. Both sports are quite different in nature; their origins, the attitude, the atmosphere...

And the entries.

And this poses a problem for planning both types of races. My triathlon season is already set for 2019, including the big Ironman in Ireland. Ultrarunning? Well, we're finally at the eve of my fate in the UTMB lottery, and the results might finally get me to complete my schedule on the ultrarunning side...or it might not.

Let me explain. A lot of big triathlons have what they call tiered pricing. They have about 3 or 4 tiers of prices depending on how soon one enters the race. Each tier closes when a set number of athletes are registered, and then the next tier (and a more expensive price) is opened. So, if the registration opens up for Ironman Lake Placid on August 1 and I jump in a few seconds after it opens, I can probably get the Tier 1 pricing, which is the lowest price. If I wait several hours, I most likely will register under Tier 2 (probably $40 more than Tier 1). If I wait a couple of months, then it would probably be Tier 3 or even Tier 4, their most expensive price.

You can see the prices for each tier in a triathlon. But you can easily register and plan around the race because you know you're in.

Ironman embraces the tier pricing. Other triathlons have come to embrace the tier pricing system too. If it sells out, then I can easily find another race. My racing schedule can be completed quickly.

Ultrarunning, on the other hand, uses lotteries before one can register. Some of the races have a very low number of people that can enter because the course is run in sensitive environmental areas and the rangers that operate the parks set a strict limit of people for that race. Other ultras tend to embrace the lottery to try to equalize distribution in their international field. Whatever the case, large ultras tend to use the lottery to pick who enters that race.

The Western States lottery is one of the most well known. Everyone needs to wait until the first weekend of December before they know they're in or not.

And this poses a bit of a problem for one who does both triathlon and ultras. I can easily plan triathlons a year in advance, but I cannot finish the overall schedule until the ultra lotteries are drawn.

I am in the UTMB lottery that will be drawn tomorrow morning. This race happens in August, and I cannot place any other race around August or September until this lottery is settled.

If I am lucky tomorrow? Then I finally finish out my 2019 racing schedule. If not, well, I need a race to satisfy UTMB for the following year (2020), and the race that I'm looking at, the Superior another lottery. And wait and see again.

The lotteries can be maddening, and I'm currently getting to the point that I might not enter races anymore that involve a lottery. I know that ultras are getting more and more popular, so more ultras resort to the lottery system to pick their athletes.

So be it, but my patience is wearing thin. In the coming years, I know that I'll probably be reducing my exposure to these lotteries in the future. Which is sad because I really do love the sport.

But, I guess, on the optimistic side, it might make me choose a more local ultra to a large-scale ultra. So at least there is that.

My fate for UTMB will be determined tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Prioritize Your Upcoming Race Season!

Rule of thumb while planning your racing season...if you have a lot of races you're planning to participate in, don't try to excel in all of them. You're most likely not going to succeed. Yeah, you're human after all. Here's why!
A definition of priority levels of your races ("A", "B", or "C").

Your season should have at least one "A" race and no more than 3. You are training for those particular races, so the focus of the training will be for those races. Your training builds up to these important races, then you do a legitimate taper for these races, hopefully excel in the race, and then have at least a good week of recovery afterwards. The reason why "A" races should be only a few for the year is that it presents a huge disruption in the training if you have many "A" races. The taper and the recovery are easier weeks that can break up the flow of training from one race to another, so it's best to save these for the races you want to truly focus on.

 UTMB would definitely be an "A" race. So is Ironman. These long distance races will be the priority of 98% of the athletes that participate in these races.You want to be at your absolute best for these races, so a good taper is needed to be completely rested for the race and a good, complete recovery is needed after putting out your best effort in these races.

"B" Races! These are races you don't really focus on but would like to get some good intermediate goals leading up to your "A" race. The "B" race doesn't have much of a taper (maybe 2-3 days beforehand) and should be such that your recovery should be close to complete 2-3 days afterwards. You get a good workout in without much of a disruption of your training. Who knows? If you play the cards right or if the planets align, you could still possibly get a PR here, but don't expect it.

"B" races! Given my schedule, the NJ Marathon in April would be my "B" race. I would love to qualify for Boston in this race, but I do not want to interrupt my training for Ironman Ireland in June, so the taper for this race will only be 3 days, not 2 weeks. If I get the BQ, that would be great, but would be okay if I don't. This ultimately serves as support for Ironman Ireland; I have bigger fish to fry.
"C" races. Basically local, fun races that you can completely train through on with absolutely no taper and recovery. If you have a 5 mile race in your neighborhood, you can run this as a tempo run that satisfies your training schedule. You don't need a taper and you'll be ready for another fast workout in a couple of days.

 I'll be supporting my club's teams running the Cherry Blosson 10K race as well as get in a good tempo run for my Ironman training. This is one of my "C" races. I don't need to taper for this race and should be completely recovered 2 days after the race.

Ideally, you should only have 1-3 "A" races, have up to around 6 "B" races in your season, and many "C" races (as long as they fit right into the training schedule). This is the reason why trying to excel at every race on your schedule is folly. Pick the 3 races you truly decide to excel, and that is it. The other races that you have should be in support of your training towards those "A" races.

Good luck planning your season; let's have an epic 2019!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2019 - Strength Training Requirement for Athletes

Triathletes and runners need to be approached very differently in terms of strength training. I want to make sure people do understand what each needs and how both can go about training successfully.

Triathletes deal with three different disciplines. They swim and cycle as well as run. So they naturally do a great deal of cross-training for their workouts. What is even better for triathletes is that the swim and the bike are non-impact exercises. So a triathlete can really pour on the mileage in both the bike and the swim and not worry about "overuse" injuries. They also train more of their muscles, as well as train the same muscles in different ways. This leads to a more balanced regimen.

Runners, on the other hand, mostly train in only one discipline. And that discipline is of a high impact nature. So it is imperative that they need to complement their running with other forms of training to make sure all of their muscles, especially those of the core, are strong enough to tackle the miles on the run. This can done by either adopting the disciplines of the triathlete, the bike and the swim...or they adopt a core strength training program along with their running.

Triathletes also can benefit from a core strengthening program as well, but it's absolutely critical that runners adopt this program or they run the risk of getting injured. There are a number of good routines that runners can use on the website as well as plenty of other sources for core training and functional fitness. For 2019 I will be requiring all runners and some triathletes to get into a strength training program that works with their training. And all athletes who adopt me as a coach will *have to* show me their progress through the Training Tilt app. This is a requirement because I've seen a lot of people, near and far, knocked out by overuse injuries and I want to do my part in preventing these injuries from happening. This is absolutely mandatory as a condition of my coaching, so please, if I tell you that you need core strengthening, accept it as a fact that I do not want to see you sidelined at all.
Of course, if athletes have any questions about the strength training that they receive, go ahead and ask them. I'm always here to help. But please make the strength training as important as your running, because I will treat it the same way.

Here's to a healthy and injury-free 2019!