Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ask an Ultrarunner #3

Western States Widow asks: It’s Western States training season again. That means glimpses of my husband are becoming as rare as cougar sightings. Entire weekends are consumed with training runs. And when he isn’t running, he’s sleeping on the couch instead of pulling his weight around the house. When he’s awake, he pours over stats from previous years, reads countless running blogs, and talks incessantly about training and race strategies until my eyes go crossed. While I can appreciate his passion for the race, I have grown to resent how much it impacts our lives. What should I do?

Well, my first suggestion would be to call Carly, Laurie and Shelly to compare notes. But, if you don't want to do that, perhaps you can provide your husband with a bit of counseling. Clearly, he is an obsessive/compulsive nutcase who obviously lacks meaning in his life. I mean, anybody who devotes all of his time to thinking about one seemingly meaningless event in a forgotten corner of California on a scorching hot weekend in late-June, has to be a bit off. Sure, your house is probably filled with belt buckles, old "M" race numbers, S-Caps, nasty running shoes, decade-old issues of Ultrarunning Magazine, socks with Western States moon dust in them, and cases of Gu20 powder but hey, look at the bright side, at least he's not Tiger Woods!

And, if the counseling doesn't work you can always threaten to open a yoga studio in Southern Thailand.

M@ asks: I’m a runner in my late thirties, returning to ultras after missing a year due to a torn calf and related injuries. I’m building up mileage for my 2nd hundred, this September, near a 2-bit Southern Oregon town known for cougar sightings and men in tights. My question has to do with core stability. Why does my "crew" have, at most, 2 or 3 pictures of me running, while our pc’s hard drive is full of photos of young, buff, shirtless, male ultra-runners with shaggy hair, dreamy eyes, and more ab muscles than I can count? Should I be doing some sit-ups or something?

First off, you need to pick another race. That 100 miler in Southern Oregon will likely result in a whole lotta pain. Let me suggest something more pleasant. Something like...Javelina. Who wouldn't want to run 7 loops through the desert in October? Pine to Palm? What's up with that!

And, about the abs, core strength and guys with shaggy hair. Trust me on this one, those guys on your hard drive are all models, they are not actual runners. Real ultrarunners are round in the middle, have virtually no hair, smell like they just got out of a cave and drink beer more often than water. In fact, I know this guy who has finished in the top-10 at Western States for 5 consecutive years and all he does to get ready for the race is drink beer and train like an animal (apologies to the great Rod Dixon:). It works. And, it's more fun.

This whole barefoot, core-strength, CrossFit, yoga nonsense is a silly fad and a sham as far as I'm concerned. To get ready for The Dance just run and run a lot. If you've ever seen the runners come across No Hands Bridge in the middle of the night you can see that all the core strength in the world won't help a bit when you've been on the trail for 20 hours.

Monkeyboy asks: What advice would you give for prospective parents who want to make signs to leave on the WS course such as "Dan O, the quads are evil and they must be punished. love, Mom and Dad" when doing exactly what mommy and daddy say could lead you to an extended stay in the Auburn Hospital?

This whole quad trashing debate is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Sure, the number of ER trips at Western States has increased over the years but isn't that part of the deal? I mean, come on, these guys are laying it all on the line and the race is more competitive than ever. So, isn't a little renal failure to be expected? Truth is, since the beginning of this crazy race people have been literally torturing themselves to get through the thing and if a few of them end up in the hospital is that necessarily a bad thing? Especially now that we all get free health care?

On a serious note, I do think we all need to be careful to race to the extent to which we've trained. If you train hard you can race hard, and, if not, you may pay the price. I know, on the right day, I can run 17:30 based on my training. If I'm lucky I could get close to 17 flat but to go under that, for me, would be to risk serious trouble. I know that about myself and therefore feel confident going into the race with manageable expectations and variables I can control. That's a lesson I learned way back from the late Dave Terry and one that I'll carry with me always.

And, this guy pictured below knows exactly what I'm talking about so, if you don't believe me, ask him.

To read more answers, check out the following:


Craig Thornley said...

Think it would take core strength to do a cannon ball off of No Hands during the race?

Rogue Valley Runners said...

Perhaps even when bowing down to one in victory.

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