Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Top Ten

I've been taking some heat lately about the lack of provocative posts on my blog. Folks have accused me of going soft or perhaps just trying too hard to be politically correct. So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I'd throw some thoughts out there in preparation for the Big Dance on June 28th.

I call it:

"The Top-Ten Mistakes Being Made Right Now to Ruin Dreams of Western States Glory":

10. Too Many Miles -- In April you need to focus on quality not quantity. Those people out there who are going 30% over their average weekly miles are simply killing themselves. Go hard uphill and down, get in the miles, and let the rest take care of itself.

9. Racing -- You need to get your butt kicked in the spring to win in the summer. Winning 50K races in April and May might be fun and feel good but it sets you back when the Big Time comes. All those people who've won the spring classics have mixed results at the Big Dance. You need to conserve. It's hard. Look it up!

8. Running into the race -- As much as I respect those folks who gain entry into the race with fast runs at Cool, American River and Miwok be careful about leaving too much on the course. Hammering those races can easily kick your ass especially during the last 20 miles of WS when all the Dogs get really hungry. Take a look at the results in places 7-15 over the past 10 years. It's a bloodbath! And it should be.

7. Injury Phobia -- Taking it too easy to avoid injury now will really sabotage the day. A Big April followed by an injured May can work wonders for WS success. Just ask Tim and Ann. Don't be afraid to go hard now.

6. Specificity -- This is important in late-May and early June (especially this year with a June 28th date) but don't bother with it now. Get in the miles that build strength and speed and let the rest take care of itself. It doesn't take much to teach the body waht it needs to learn. Too much now wil make you complacent, bored, burned out, ot, worst of all, overtrained.

5. Nutrition -- The heat, hills, pressure and general mystique of WS take their toll on even the most hardy souls. If you don't have your nutrition plan worked out by now you should probably just do the "Fun Run" because stomachs will turn everywhere.

4. Thinking about the other people -- Nobody has ever won WS running the other guys' race. In fact, those who do, rarely finish. Figure out your own plan and stick to it. If it works great, if not, sign up for Rio.

3. The Marathon Myth -- Again, look it up, but the odds favor the 2:35-2:50 marathoners over the super fast road guys. With the exception of Tom Johnson the race is not kind to those speedsters. My advice, slow down and enjoy the view.

2. Not enough downhills -- Everybody works hard on the climbing and the fear of the canyons and the heat but the true essence of the race finds its home in the downhills. If you're not pounding out downhill repaeats at this time of year your screwing yourself and, I mean, literally, screwing yourself.

1. Disrespecting experience -- Just look at the results. If you've been there before and proven you have what it takes you can win. If not, it's tough. Not impossible, but downright tough. As much as I'm thrilled to see Wardian, Braje, Krupicka, Meltzer and many other first timers at the Big Dance my "fear list" still starts with Koerner, Skaden and Cooper. Look it up!

Now, let me have it!



Grae Van Hooser said...


Your 10 seems pretty right on. Speed does seem to kill at States.History says if your a 50k speedster, your kind of cursed in a way. It's all about the quads and parceling out the upper leg strength. It looks like Cooper will be dangerous this year as he only ran a 4:23 at WTC. But Krupika could break the mold if he can keep his body glued together by June. He seems to put in so many miles at such a fast pace. And Meltzer can't be counted out by any means. The dude is such a freak of nature.He just seems to have a "gift" for the distance. Like it's a weekend fun run or something. And his recovery is unbelievable, like it doesn't take anything out of him. I think the one to watch is Skaden. He has all the tools in the right amount. He's definitely due!

Anonymous said...

Word, A Jizzle Wizzle.


Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

That's great insight, AJ! I will refer back to it once I move up to 100s (in a few years, that is).

I enjoy your blog...including its lack of "controversial" posts or statements!

AnthonyP said...

Welcome back to the posting world. Excellent return post !

Brad Mitchell said...

While I won't be at the Dance, it's great advice for the years to come.

Anonymous said...

My prediction:

(1) Krupicka (15-16 hour range)
(2) Meltzer (16-17 hour range)
(3) Wardian (17-18 hour range)
(4) AJW (18-19 hour range)
(5) Koerner/Cooper/Skaden (18-19)

If Tony K stays healthy, he'll challenge the course record. Meltzer showed at Coyote that he's ready to rock it. Wardian has been crushing people on the East (50K record, JFK 50 in 5:50, back-to-back 2:25/2:30 marathons in one weekend), and will surprise. And AJW will waltz in at 4th place, another great finish.

Anonymous said...

opinions are like ass holes
everybody has one.

Anonymous said...

krupicka is not entered in western states and his participation is not a "done deal". you still have to run the race and the field for his "attempt" is no slouch. a lot can happen over 50 miles of racing.

WynnMan said...

I too believe you or Skaden are due.

Experience and intimate course knowledge are undeniable.

AJW said...

Thanks for all the comments. A couple thoughts...

1. I know AR is not a done deal for Tony yet. Who is in the field who could threaten his spot aside from Skaden?

2. I agree that Karl will be super-strong. The only hope for us mere mortals is the net downhill effect, the heat, and the lack of course knowledge.

3. Thanks for the kind words. I'd like to go sub-17 thi year. Well see.

Anonymous said...

Now this is the AJW that I know. Great Post!

Only thing I don't agree with is training so hard in April at the expense of being injured in May. Just like we look at the whole 100 miles as the distance of the race, I think it prudent to look at all the days in April and May (and first part of June) as important training days.

We'll see you on May 3 for the Ice Cream Sandwich Run.


crowther said...

What do you mean by specificity (#6)? To me, it has several components when applied to a race like Western States: adapting to the surface (trails), adapting to the hills (both up and down), adapting to the heat, adapting to the overall distance and the nutritional requirements thereof, and adapting to running at one's goal pace. I'd think that people focusing on Western States would want to spend months on these things, rather than just a few weeks. (Heat adaptation could probably be delayed until the last month before the race.)

Anyway, in light of all these issues, it will be very interesting to see how Michael Wardian fares. He has tremendous speed and a very resilient body, so I hesitate to bet against him. Nevertheless, he looked very tentative on the Appalachian Trail portion of JFK last year. If he's been working on his trail technique since then, he should perform well; if not, ... ???

--Greg (possibly guilty of #9, #8, #5, #3, #2, and/or #1 last year)

Anonymous said...

It's official! AJW is now sponsored by or has run for...everybody.


I think you may now have more sponsors than Karl. You may now start speaking in 3rd person.


Derek said...

AJW said:
"1. I know AR is not a done deal for Tony yet. Who is in the field who could threaten his spot aside from Skaden?"

He may not have any trail legs, but Oz Pearlman is a 2:30 marathoner. He did Finish well behind you at Vermont though (22:46).

Love your blog.


Donald said...

Hi - I found your blog from a link my friend Angie sent me. This is a great list. I'm a first time WS runner this year, so I'll be eager to read more of your advice in the future.

Good luck with your training for this year's race.

Anonymous said...

Oz Pearlman ran the fastest 50 mile time last year....5:31 It was flat/roads...but still AR is Flat....He could very well go right around 6 flat. I talked with him over the net and he is tapering and gearing for this race!

Anonymous said...

There is uphill and trail in the second half of AR. Lewis Taylor will be chasing down those who ran too fast on the pavement.

Hey, is this a record number of comments for the AJW blog?

Bedrock said...


Very good post with lots of valuable inforamtion. I agree that experience will likely win most of the time. Look forward to seeing it all unfold in June.

Krissy said...

Way to get people fired up! Fun posts... I hope to get to watch the dance this year.

Andy said...


Great post! Thanks for the great insight once again.