It has been a little over five months since my daughter was born, leading to a pretty drastic shift in my training.

For the past few years I’ve benefited from a flexible schedule. I had the freedom to run at just about anytime of the day. But with the new kid (and new responsibilities), training took a back seat.

So I made a plan, and in January I wrote a post outlining how I’d train for a 100K ultramarathon with a newborn, where I shared five strategies to get the most out of my more restricted training schedule. Read the post here.

The strategies could help — I thought — not just someone with a newborn, but anyone with a particularly busy or limited schedule (due to kids, work, travel, etc.).

So, did my plan work?

In today’s episode of Trail Talk, I evaluate the past five months of training and share what worked, what didn’t, an unexpected surprise benefit, and my plan for moving forward.

Listen to the episode here:

Click here to download the file.

Or subscribe and download on:

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Support for Today’s Episode

This episode of Trail Talk was brought to you by Discover Your Ultramarathon, the eBook system with training plans, audio interviews, and a 129-page guide to get you through your first 50K or 50 mile ultra.

Pick yours up now at rockcreekrunner.com/ultramarathon.

 

Some ultramarathons results in epic tails — overflowing with non-stop highs and lows — like the kind you’ll find in bestselling novels.

Others result in a more humble, disjointed collection of short adventures and mishaps, connected only by the trail and runner who lives it.

My 2017 UROC 100K experience was the latter, so instead of a long race report loaded with lessons or life-altering epiphanies, I take a more simplistic approach to this race report: a collection of short stories from the day.

Draw morals as you please.

11.2 Miles is a Long Way

I pride myself as being comfortable running in the mountains. I love technical descents and can seamlessly transition between a run and a power hike (I’m currently working on more run, less hike). But when doing research on the course — which as you know, I do plenty of — I didn’t anticipate how difficult this course would be.

Actually, I don’t think the organizers did either, considering the website easily low-balled the total elevation gain by a good 4,000 feet.

The first 6.8 miles to Aid Station 1 consist of paved or gravel road, and the miles go by equally smooth for us runners. After grabbing a quick bottle refill, we make a sharp turn onto an 11.2 mile stretch of insanely beautiful singletrack and drop over 1,800 feet to the next aid station. From there it’s a quick turn around and back up those same 11.2 miles from which we came.

As I make that turn, swapping race stories with another runner, only having one aid station for the next 22 miles doesn’t phase me.

“It’s early on in the race,” I think to myself.

“You’re tough. You like mountains. 11.2 miles is easy peasy,” I proudly proclaim in my head.

Well hot damn is 11.2 miles is a long way, especially on this tough trail.

I emerge back at Aid Station 1 (now Aid Station 3) a full five and a half hours later with bottles (and spirits) drained. And that’s when it hits me:

Reading a map is much easier than running a race.

Ring, Ring! Anyone There?

Somewhere around mile nine, I split from a runner (hey Terry!) I’ve spent the last hour chatting with, and start off on my own.

I like running alone. For the most part that’s how I train, and I often long for that inside-my-own-head focus I only find during a long run.

Six and a half hours later, though, I’m still running alone, and my daughter’s favorite song gets stuck playing through my head on repeat.

Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring … banana phone.

Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring … banana phoooooooooone.

It’s hard to say if she actually likes the song — at five months she reacts basically the same to all music — but for some reason we keep playing it. And in this moment, as the few lines I can remember of Bananaphone replay in my head for the 67th time, all I can think about is her.

I wonder how she did on the car ride to the race that morning, and how her mother slept after I said goodbye around 4:00 AM. I wonder if she has extra diaper cream I can use on my thighs (I was starting to chafe), and if she’s enjoying the cool mountain morning.

And that’s when it hits me:

Running alone for hours on end is magical … only when you have someone to return home to after.

Every Crew Needs a Mathematician

When it comes to crews and pacers, I’m one lucky dude. Race after race I’ve been fortune enough to rely on a passionate, supportive, and determined bunch to get me across the finish line — often the largest and most vocal at the race.

But I never realized I was missing my brother-in-law, Mike, until UROC.

Mike is a high school math teacher, runner, and all around smart guy. He likes numbers, and isn’t afraid to share it.

Earlier in the day, when it became clear I had no shot at my original goal of 13 hours, I told him I’d be disappointed if I didn’t come in under 15 hours. Fifteen hours means I’ll receive a special black belt buckle that somehow feels way cooler than the over 15 hour buckle.

Unbeknownst to me, he takes that comment to heart.

I pick Mike up at mile 53 to pace me to the finish with just two hours and forty three minutes to cover 10.2 miles and a 1,800 foot climb. Might not sound like much on fresh legs, but it feels like a massive feat in the moment.

He has it calculated out to the minute.

“We can do this. I’ve worked it all out. Do you want to know what you need to do, or should I just keep that to myself?” he asks.

“Break it into sections,” I respond.

“Great, so we need to make it to the climb in … ”

Mike knows mile for mile where we need to be, and it’s just the get-up and go I need to keep moving with intention. We wade across creeks, blast up one steep mountain, and pick off multiple runners along the way. I grunt. I moan. I gnaw on expired citrus CLIF Blocks.

He monitors the clock, silently processing numbers in his head.

And that’s when it hits me:

Math is hard at mile 54. Always have a mathematician on hand.

That Section with like 20 Creek Crossings

Sometime around the 38th mile, as I slowly climb my way up to Bald Mountain for the first time, I’m stopped by a 50K runner about to finish her race. She’s a reader and sounds excited to say hi. I’ve never stopped mid-run before to chat with a stranger, but what the hell, at this point I’m happy to have any distraction (or person other than myself to talk to), and love to hear from readers. We introduce ourselves.

“This course is legit!” As the words come from my mouth, something feels off, but it seems like an appropriate thing to say.

“Yeah, especially those creek crossings!” She responds.

“Creek crossings?”

“That section with like 20 creek crossings!”

I have no idea what she was talking about, and in what I can only imagine is a simultaneous epiphany, we both realize we’ve been running for nearly eight hours but on two totally different courses.

Duh.

The 100K joins with the 50K course around the halfway point, meaning I’m just starting the route she’s a few miles from finishing. Without acknowledging my stupidity, I congratulate her and continue on in the opposite direction.

Not three minutes later, it dawns on me I should have asked the important and totally relevant question of which section had all those creek crossings. But alas, it’s too late, and for the next several hours I keep anticipating that maybe this would be the section.

It wasn’t that one, so it must be this section, right?

Or this one?

Hmm …

Maybe she was exaggerating, delirious, or got lost and there is no section with countless creek crossings?

Turns out the section comes right after I pick up Mike at mile 54, and no shit, there are like twenty, ragging, knee deep creek crossings, with muddy scrambles up the bank and unsure footing.

It’s rugged, wild, and generally badass (and side note, an x-factor in Mike’s careful calculations. Luckily, he padded the numbers anticipating any unforeseen x-factors. Mathematicians win again!).

And that’s when it hits me:

When someone who knows the course offers advice, ask questions.

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That Time I Stole My Wife’s First Mother’s Day

The day after race day is Mother’s Day — a special day to honor the love and sacrifice selfishly given each day by mothers around the world. Or more specifically, a day to celebrate our mothers and the mothers of our children.

The day after race day is my wife’s first Mother’s Day … and she spends it in the car next to a man with swollen feet and a baby who wants to be anywhere but in that car. Unintentionally, I stole my wife’s first Mother’s Day and made the whole weekend about me.

But she never once complains, or even mentions it.

As I lay sprawled out in the back next to the car seat while she drives us home, I realize I did her wrong.

And that’s when it hits me:

Running is one of the most important parts of my life, but it comes nowhere close to the importance of my family.

Can you imagine visiting all 59 US national parks in the span of just over a year?

Now how about running a full marathon in each one of them?

When I first heard about Bill Sycalik’s Running the Parks project, where he will run 59 marathons in 59 national parks, I knew he was the kind of guy I’d want to talk to.

Bill set off last June to run in each national park in the United States. Eleven months later and he’s already checked off 41 marathons.

In today’s episode of Trail Talk, Bill shares the motivation behind his project, how to logistically plan such a massive trip, and what all that running has taught him about gear, locating trails, safety, and rapid recovery.

Follow Bill here:

Listen to the episode here:

Click here to download the file.

Or subscribe and download on:

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Support for Today’s Episode

This episode of Trail Talk was brought to you by Discover Your Ultramarathon, the eBook system with training plans, audio interviews, and a 129-page guide to get you through your first 50K or 50 mile ultra.

Pick yours up now at rockcreekrunner.com/ultramarathon.

 

In a sport where the laid back, just ‘run for the love of it’ approach is celebrated, detailed planning ahead of race day isn’t always considered a priority.

Which blows my mind.

When I dedicate months to long miles, tough trails, and physical and mental fatigue throughout training, I’ll take any advantage I can find going into race day.

Logistical planning is one such advantage.

The Prepared Runner’s Advantage

I’m not going to lie, this is probably the least sexy topic I could write about. Big mountain days, speed work, fancy gear … all sexy.

A preparedness checklist? Not so much.

But there are real advantages to showing up on race day with your shit in order:

  1. You can relax the night before, rather than scramble to pack your bags.
  2. On race morning, you can focus on the race itself and not last minute items.
  3. You can anticipate tough sections of the course.
  4. You can prepare for long stretches without aid, and know how to take advantage of frequent aid stations.
  5. You can rely on your crew to be where they need to be, when they need to be there, with what they need to have ready.

When you’re scrambling at the last minute, or running blind with no idea of what the course will throw your way, there’s an underlying level of stress that’s hard to shake — even after the gun goes off.

The prepared runner, however goes in confident and at ease (at least when it comes to logistics).

Enter my race-week checklist.

The Pre-Ultramarathon Checklist

With just over a week before the UROC 100K, I’ve switched from training to taper and full-on prep mode. Maps are printed, charts created, and I’ve begun to think through gear and nutrition.

Plus, this is the first non-local race my daughter will be attending, and I don’t want to embarrass her. (That’s code for, “Holy shit there’s a lot of stuff we need to bring to keep her happy for a six hour road trip, full day in the mountains with her mom, and sleeping outside the house.)

To keep make sure I cover all my bases, I rely on my pre-race checklist (download for free below), which covers everything I need to think through ahead of race day.

1. Know the Course

Trail ultramarathons vary wildly depending on the terrain and elevation profile. Even if I’m familiar with the distance, the first thing I do to prepare for a race is get to know the course.

Ideally I’ll actually get out on the trails to run sections of the course, but when that’s not an option, I do the next best thing:

I print out the map and elevation profile, and walk through the course with my finger.

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Pre Thunder Rock 100 planning last spring.

It’s a simple practice that allows you to visualize how the course is designed and what race day will look and feel like. You can place yourself on the big climbs, and mentally run through an aid station. Seems a bit silly, I know, but it’s a powerful practice.

What to consider:

  • Where are the biggest climbs?
  • What’s the longest stretch without aid?
  • Are there out and back sections that might be mentally taxing?
  • Are there obvious ways to break up the course mentally?
  • What does the last quarter of the race look like?

2. Know the Aid Stations

Unless it’s a self-supported race, aid stations are your lifeline. They’re where you refuel, rest, and meet your crew.

But unlike road marathons, where you can count on a water station every two-ish miles, ultramarathon aid stations may be anywhere from three to fifteen miles apart … or even longer. They could come with a massive buffet of options, or just water.

Knowing as much as you can ahead of time means you aren’t stuck without your fuel.

What to consider:

  • Where are they — aka, how far apart are they? This may dictate your gear choices. If they’re every five miles apart you may need to carry a lot less than if they’re every ten miles apart.
  • What will they supply? If you have any dietary restrictions or rely on a certain gel/drink/snack, it’s good to know what to expect in advance.
  • Do they allow dropbags?
  • Do they allow crew and pacers? For longer races where you have a crew and/or pacer, this is going to be the most important of the four.

Armed with this information, you can start gear, dropbag, and crew preparations.

3. Think Through Gear

For me, this is the fun part.

Gear decisions come down to weather, trail conditions, distance, crews, and level of support. A well supported, flat 50K requires a lot less gear than a mountain 100-miler, for example.

Start by making a list based of what you know you’ll need, then add the “just in case” gear you want on hand (either with the crew or in a dropbag), depending on the weather.

What to consider:

  • Pre-race clothing — What do I need to stay comfortable before the race?
  • Post-race clothing — What do I need to for after the race?
  • What’s the basic gear I’ll want to carry for the entire race?
  • Do I need to carry required gear?
  • How should I split gear up for dropbags?
  • What’s the best way for me to keep gear organized for both crew and myself?
  • Any weather specific items I should have in a “just in case” bag?

Start with your list, then lay it all out so you can see what you have. From there it’s easy to pack and stay organized for yourself and crew.

4. Prepare Your Crew

If you have a crew coming to support you, they will become your savior. I can’t emphasize enough how crucial crew and pacers have been for me over the years, and I often owe my entire race to their hard work.

But in order for a crew to be effective, they need to also be prepared. Which means you need to be prepared.

It’s your responsibility as the runner to inform them of what you need.

What to consider:

  • Crew sheets, gear list, food list — create them.
  • Do they know where to go and when to expect me?
  • Do they know what I’ll likely need at different stages of the race?
  • Discuss expectations with my pacer?
  • What extra food and drink will my crew enjoy?

No matter how tired, hungry, or sore you are, never forget that your crew gave up an entire day (or more, sometimes much more) to help you out. The least you can do is help keep them comfortable and informed.

Start Planning (Free Download)

For most of us planning and list creating isn’t much fun. It takes trail running, where running wild is a key ingredient, and puts it in a box.

But it’s exactly that restraint and structure that allows you to execute your best race (and in turn, race wild). I’ve never heard of anyone who regretted showing up to a race prepared, but the same can’t be said for the unprepared.

To help you out, I’ve put this list above into a quick one-page checklist. It can become your go-to reference ahead of race day, as it is mine.

Download a free copy of the Ultrarunner’s Pre-Race Checklist here:

Get the Checklist

Last week I packed up a bag, said goodbye to my wife and daughter (for the first time, sad-face), and took off to California for the Mendocino Coast 50K directed by my buddy Sid Garza-Hillman.

It was to be my second time running the course, and after having so much fun last year, this time I decided to bring my camera along to document the trip.

Watch that story, including awesome footage of the trails (and burritos), here:

Or watch and subscribe directly on YouTube here.

The fitness world loves to share expensive stuff — exotic races, the latest gadget — but the truth is, most of what keeps us running day in and day out isn’t that expensive.

It’s the little items that make us more comfortable on the trail and help fight off injury.

So today I want to focus on a few of those … the un-sexy, un-exotic, inexpensive little things. Here are three of my favorite items, all under $25:

1. A Good Pair of Socks

Socks. The thing we dread getting each Christmas. But socks … they matter.

As someone who has dealt with more foot issues than anything else, I’m the first to admit that if your feet go, so does your run. No matter how good of shape your legs and mind might be in, blistered and bruised toenails can be a goal-ender.

Which is why a good pair of socks that helps prevent blisters instead of causing them can make all the difference in the world.

My go-to? Injinji toe socks, trail midweight. They’re durable and built for the trail, and the individual toe pockets have significantly reduced blistering. But whether you’re into Swiftwick, Balega, or any other company, it’s always worth investing in a good pair of socks.

Get some socks — Injinji, Trail Midweight — $16

2. Running Shoe Gaiters

Along the same, anything-to-save-my-feet line, I’m a big fan of running shoe gaiters. I don’t wear them every day, or even every race, but when I’m expecting a lot of mud, sand, snow, or debris, they’ve proven to be a run-savor.

Just slip a pair over your shoes to help prevent all the junk from creeping it’s way inside your shoe and causing discomfort or blisters.

It’s such a help that some companies like Altra and Inov 8 have built in clips to make it easier, but you can find a pair that will work with just about any shoe.

Get a pair of gaitersAltra Trail Gaiters — $24.95

3. Training Essentials for Ultrarunning by Jason Koop

Want to dive deeper into the science behind your training? Check out Jason Koops training book, Training Essentials for Ultrarunning.

I own just about every ultramarathon manual out there, I’ve even written my own, and most are geared towards beginners. Jason takes a different approach, sharing his know-how for experienced ultrarunners to step it up a notch.

Get the book — Training Essentials for Ultrarunning — $12

Bonus: Next Level Runner

I know, I know … I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to make a quick plug.

The Next Level Runner program is a membership program devoted to taking your training to the next level by focusing on one specific aspect of running each month. You’ll immediately gain access to a library of training plans, loads of resources, coaching calls, and most importantly, a community of runners.

Join here — Next Level Runner — $24


What I’m Digging this Month: April, 2017

Mendocino Coast 50K

Tomorrow morning I’ll toe the line of the Mendocino Coast 50K. This is my second year running the race, and I’m beyond stoked to get back out on this beautiful course.

Yesterday I helped RD Sid load up the truck with aid station supplies, and today I’m crewing him while he runs the entire course to check for markings.

It’s going to be a blast.

Think You Can Break the Appalachian Trail Speed Record?

Karl Meltzer thought he could, and while it took three attempts, he made it happen.

Red Bull, one of his sponsors, was around to document the effort.

Watch it here.

Rickey’s TransAmericana Run


Running across America is nothing new. In fact, just last year the speed record went down.

But when Rickey Gates announced after last year’s surprise presidential election that he felt called to run cross-country, it stood out as something different. His intention is to better get to know this country, and the people and communities that make it up.

He’s been running (and paddle boarding) for a few months now, and documents the trip on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s unlike any running project I’ve seen before, and look forward to each new mini-story he shares.

Ultrarunner Podcast also just shared a great interview with Rickey.

As with most things in life, hindsight is 20/20.

If only I had known this …

If only I had done it this way instead of that way …

And when looking back my first experiences running and racing on the trail, there are a number of things I wish someone had told me before I hit the dirt. Lessons or advice that could have saved me a lot of time, energy, and frustration.

In today’s podcast, I share four such lessons, so you don’t make the same silly mistakes I did.

Listen to the episode here:

Click here to download the file.

Or subscribe and download on:

PodcastiTunesButton copystitcher

Support for Today’s Episode

This episode of Trail Talk was brought to you by Discover Your Ultramarathon, the eBook system with training plans, audio interviews, and a 129-page guide to get you through your first 50K or 50 mile ultra.

Pick yours up now at rockcreekrunner.com/ultramarathon.

And by the Next Level Runner program, a monthly membership site devoted to taking your training to the next level. Learn more: rockcreekrunner.com/next-level.

 

I’m not very comfortable with kids. I like them, and always want them to like me back, but my experience level is so low that interactions typically end in me feeling like a dumbass and the kid thinking I’m a weirdo.

Now, before you ask, yes, I do have a kid of my own. But she’s only four months old, and she’s learning how to be a baby at the same rate I’m learning to parent one.

Kids older than four months? I haven’t gotten that far.

So when my cousin — a runner and third grade teacher — asked if I’d come speak to his class about goal setting, I was more anxious than confident.

“Third graders?” I thought to myself. “They’re what, five or six and just learning to read, right?”

It turns out most in his class are nine years old, and have been reading for the past two grade levels.

With no clue how to talk to third graders, I did the only thing I could think of …

I kept it simple.

A Goal Setting Strategy, Simplified

Goal setting has become a hot topic of late. There are countless books, blogs, podcasts, and worksheets devoted solely to the topic.

They get down to the nitty gritty by formulating strategies, establishing habits, and tricking your mind to believe things you doubt are possible.

It has become this massive industry with gurus preaching their own twist on a complex formula.

But here’s the thing:

At it’s core, setting a big goal is incredibly easy. And with some very minor planning, the path to reach your goal should be just as simple.

You don’t need gurus. You don’t need a library of motivation books. You just need to:

  1. Dream big.
  2. Make a plan.
  3. Take action.

It’s that’s simple.

3 Steps to Achieving Your Ambitious Running Goal

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Under the advice of my cousin, I decided to put together a short slide presentation using my first 100 mile ultramarathon goal as an example of how to set — and follow through with — a big goal.

He said, “Use pictures. Kids like pictures.”

So I did, and kept the words to a minimum. Using the three steps above, this is what I explained, only for the purposes of this post I’m sticking exclusively to running examples:

Step 1: Dream Big

What’s the massive, scary, out there goal that you’d love to achieve? The one goal that sends shivers down your back with both excitement and nerves?

For me it was to run 100 miles through the mountains. But for you it may be:

  • Run a marathon or ultramarathon
  • Qualify for Boston
  • Go sub-twenty minutes for a 5K
  • Run an epic trail route at your favorite national park
  • Make it into the Western States or Hardrock 100 lotteries
  • Fastpack your way down a trail

The options are endless, and motivations unique to you alone.

The key is to think big. A goal that may feel out there now, but over time — maybe even years — you can make it happen.

Most of us know what that goal is, whether we’ve admitted it out loud or not.

Step 2: Make a plan using stepping stone goals

What are the medium sized steps it will take to get there?

Before I could run a mountainous 100 mile ultra, I need to be comfortable running in the mountains. I needed to train up to the 50 mile distance, then the 100K distance, and learn to run in the dark.

Before you can qualify for Boston, you need to train up to a half marathon, then marathon, then work on speed for a faster marathon.

All of these are stepping stone goals, and once determined, become your roadmap that gradually leads you towards that big, ambitious goal.

Step 3: Take action today

What’s the one action you can do today that will help you work towards those stepping stone goals?

My first step was to find and start a training plan.

Yours might be the same, or to find a coach, sign up for a race, or even simpler, to get back into the routine of regular running.

This is my favorite step because it makes that lofty goal feel more tangible. More real.

But unfortunately, it’s where most people get stuck. They set a big running goal, then never take the first step to start.

They get hung up on excuses — not the right time, don’t have the right gear, no one to run with — when in reality we’re just scared.

In part, I believe, precisely because it makes that lofty goal real, and no longer just an idea.

Be Fearless … Like a Nine-Year-Old

After I made it through my ten minute presentation, the kids broke into small groups, each armed with a single page and pencil. The page listed the three steps, along with a number of blank lines for them to fill in their thoughts.

I wasn’t sure how this exercise would go …

… What they understand the concept?

… Would they feel inspired to set a big goal?

… Would they think I’m too big of a weirdo to take seriously?

What happened, though, was beautiful.

The kids furiously sketched out their big goals, along with what they needed to achieve first in order to reach them. Goals like, play in the Wisconsin Marching Band, become a pro soccer player, start a smoothie shop (I like this kid), and become a judge.

And then came my favorite part of this entire experience. We sat in a circle, each sharing the action they were going to take today to begin the journey of making that goal a reality.

They weren’t scared. They didn’t list excuses. They didn’t hide behind a complicated goal setting process, only to never start in the first place.

They were both ambitious dreamers and fearless action takers.

And just like those nine-year-old kids, you can be too.

Welcome to the Rock Creek Roundup, a monthly series featuring trail and running commentary, and a selection of articles, videos, products, and stories I’m into this month. Check out previous Roundups here.

Adventure.

What does that even mean?

I hear people throw around words like adventure and epic on a daily basis. Hell, I do it myself.

But if we’re being real … how often is your (or my) daily run truly an epic adventure. Or even an adventure at all.

Google defines adventure as, “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.”

My go-to trail routes — even long runs — may be exciting, but they’re rarely hazardous and by definition not unusual. So am I wrong to often refer to a run as an adventure?

I don’t think so. And while I may roll my eyes when I see someone label an hour-long outing as something epic, I get it.

This past weekend I joined Andrew, a RCR member from Indiana, for a nearly twelve hour thru-run of the Art Loeb Trail. We started around 5:30am, in the rain and cold, and slowly made our way from the foothills to the mountains.

The rain continued as the sun came up and for nearly five hours, until we took a rest on the summit of Pilot Mountain. Almost as if it knew we had arrived, a huge gust of wind roared up the side of the mountain, pushing the clouds away. It was our first real glimpse of the layers of peaks and valleys that surrounded us.

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Before long the sun came out, views opened, and soggy miles ticked by.

And as I huffed up the many mountains, splashing down the other side, I couldn’t help but smile and be grateful.

Adventure is something we trail runners crave.

Just the thought of it makes hours spent at our desks, in front of a computer, more manageable. And the anticipation of a future adventure will keep us up at night, and wake us up early to train the next morning.

We’re not the do-nothing crowd.

We like mountains. Trails. Uncertainty. And thrill.

And by God, even if our weekly runs aren’t what they write novels about, they’re still another important chapter — no matter how long or short — in our own grand, amazing, beautiful adventure.

An adventure of epic proportions.


What I’m Digging this Month: March, 2017

Protecting Our Public Lands

With proposals to sell off public land and major cuts to the EPA and Department of the Interior, the future of public lands and parks are in question. As a citizen who uses and relies on these protected spaces daily, I feel it’s my duty to stay engaged and involved with their protection. The question then is, what’s the best way to do that?

A group of trail runners found their solution by founding an initiative called Run Wild. Here’s their story.

In other public land news, Former Patagonia CEO donates 1 million acres of parkland to Chile.

Maps: They’re Important (and now free)

I love topo maps. Especially when they’re free.

National Geographic now has a tool that lets you download any 7.5 minute topo in the continental U.S.A., and it’s awesome.

Learn more and start downloading maps here.

And if you’re curious, here’s a map of my home trails.

Goal Setting with 3rd Graders

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Yesterday I had the honor of speaking to an an elementary classroom about lofty goal setting, using my experience with running goals as an example. It was not only an out-of-my-comfort-zone experience (I know very little about interacting with kids unless they’re three months old and birthed by my wife), but also an incredibly inspiring experience.

The kids set goals to become musicians, athletes, judges, and smoothie shop owners, and more importantly, they established actions they can take today to start working towards those goals.

Now it’s time for me to dream big again as well.

Life in a Day by Billy Yang

This was a good month for trail running films, starting with Life in a Day, a film by Billy Yang following four women vying for a Western States 100 win.

A Decade On by Ginger Runner

Then there’s A Decade On, which shares Brian Morrison’s Western States journey and redemption. If you don’t know Brian’s story, it’s fascinating.