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Miwok 100k Training

There’s a lot that goes into racing an ultra distance race. Training takes time, money, and social sacrifices. If you’re not a paid professional runner married or dating another professional runner, then all those things I mentioned are a strain to the person running and to those close to them.

Preparing for Miwok hasn’t been consistent. I didn’t hit my long mileage goals, but I’m happy with the work I did during all of my runs. In the 11 weeks following Sean O’Brien I averaged 61 miles, 12-20 hours of running, and 12,000+ft. of climbing weekly. There was a period of seven days where I didn’t run, otherwise I kept to a six-day run week with Mondays being a complete rest day.

I’m in awe of people to work full-time and manage quality training weeks. To put into perspective what my typical training day is, I wake up two hours before a run to eat and prep. When possible I take two hours to rest and recuperate after a run. This includes eating, stretching, and napping. What happens more often is I have to rush off to work without proper nutrition and recovery. I hate running at night, so when I’m pressed for time in the morning, I often cut my run short to have time after for a light meal and commute time. I’m constantly rushed to get to work where I try to recover. Never a successful endeavor. So, when I say I run so-and-so hours in a day there’s actually more time beyond “time-on-feet.”

One thing that has been consistent have been the kind of trails I’ve chosen to run. I prefer to keep a consistent running pace so I prefer to run less technical trails. I run Mt. Wilson Toll Rd. at least once a week, running to Idlehour trail or to the top rather than the more Instagram scenic Old Mt. Wilson trail where it’s more crowded and rugged. I feel the 10 mile downhill runs have helped toughened my legs more than the uphill sections. Although I’m still slow on the descents, I can consistently run long downhill sections.

I’ve also lifted a lot more weights. I go to the gym twice a week and I can feel the difference in how I’ve been able to handle fatigue during long runs and the pain-free day afters. Since I started lifting heavy eight weeks ago, I’ve managed to get pretty close to my four-rep. maxs. When I paddled my four-rep maxs were: 70lbs dumble bench, 185lbs barbell bench, 225lbs squat, 275lbs dead lifts. Just last week I lifted 55lbs dumble bench and 185lbs squat. I’m a gallon jug of water and 2 scoops of protein away from becoming a bro.

Well, all that to say I’ll most likely have an average day out on the trails this weekend. My goal was a top ten finish, now I’m aiming for a sub 12-hour finish. My training frustrates me because I know the work that needs to be put in to run a competitive ultra race. I know 70-mile weeks aren’t enough for a 62-mile race. I know the value of a 25+ mile run and the need for recovery, but I can’t put it all together. I know a race is determined long before the start. It’s determined in the preparation. One of these races I’ll have my act together and be able to compete as I know I’m capable of.

…btw.

Trying out Altra Lone Peak 2.0 for the first time since the Inov8 Ultra Race 290 were too stiff and opposite of cushioned. After two runs in the Altras I’m digging the design and concept of a cushioned zero drop shoe.

If you care to follow my decline (bib #46)…http://www.ultralive.net/miwok/webcast.php


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Undertrained Yet Overjoyed: Bulldog 50k Post Race Thoughts/Review

I thought I was being realistic about a top 10 finish even considering my weekly mileage leading up to the race was minimal, but I was wrong. I ended up running a 4:44:09, 13th overall. After I crossed the finish line I was just glad to have ran without injuring myself and having run a race I was proud of.

Bulldog Garmin Race Profile

Before the race I made the decision to put myself in a position to compete for a podium spot by running with the lead pack for the first loop. This was a crazy strategy, but made a lot of sense at the time. I figured one never knows when it may be the day for a breakout performance until you put yourself in the position to do great things. Can’t be scared about running up front! (Note that this strategy only works with proper training:-)

The first few miles were spent waking up the legs to get ready for the climb ahead. This course is great because the first three or so miles are relatively flat so there’s ample time to prepare the body for the heavy climb and steep descent.

I managed to consistently run 4th-6th place for the first lap. I ran a personal record of 1:56:xx for the first lap (previous PR was 2:02:xx at Malibu Creek 25k race). I was just starting to feel some cramping after stopping to refill my water bottles and tried to hang on for a mile before having to walk. At this point I decided I wouldn’t be able to maintain any kind of competitive pace and decided finishing healthy would be the best thing to do. New strategy: power walk the climbs and controlled running downhill. The new strategy led to a 2:46:xx lap. My lungs were fine, but the legs just couldn’t hang. Now I’m excited to race Bulldog next year and run to my potential.

What’s next? Lots of slower miles and lots of climbing. Simple, but effective for me.

Major thanks to:
My wife Cristina and sister Pureza for coming out and cheering me on. Nancy Shura-Dervin for putting on a festive and very well organized race. Nuun for adding some pizzaz to my water. Mark from Mizuno for the pair of Wave Kazans. The Kazan enabled me safely bomb the fire roads down without fear of slipping and with firmer cushioning under-foot to help dissipate shock. A Runner’s Circle for their support of my running. Very lucky to be working for a company that understands my passion and enables me to spread my love of running to others.

Finally, pictures! (Thanks to Rony Sanche, Becky Galland, and Deo)
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Serving the Runner: A “Specialist’s” Perspective

shoewall Having worked as a “Running Specialist” at a big box sporting goods chain I can tell you that not much thought goes into properly serving the runner. For one thing, you’ll be lucky to be helped by someone who actually runs and knows what you’re talking about. As a devoted runner and fan of the sport I always felt guilty working for this place. I support specialty running stores and preferred to work in one, but timing was bad and I settled for what I thought would be a position where I could utilize my skills and knowledge as a competitive runner to help others. What I found myself doing was everything but what I had envisioned.

Big box chains are at a disadvantage because the lack enthusiasm for the sport of running. Sure, you’ll see merchandising of running products, but there is no commitment to serve and understand the runner. This is where specialty run stores have the advantage. They take the time to understand the needs of the runner and offer options, whereas chain store staff have multiple sport focus (baseball season, football season, etc.) and are limited in variety based on inventory suggested by software programs rather than an understanding of the demographic.

During the course of my time at the store I suggested a few things to management that would increase customer satisfaction and sales. I suggested a winter run seminar at the store. My idea was to invite new and veteran runners to the store so we can discuss winter running essentials; from proper clothing and nutrition to how to properly run in snow. This would have been a good time for the store to partner with brand reps to highlight winter running apparel, accessories, and shoes. After the idea was relayed to the Community Marketing Manager, the idea was nixed because of liability issues (and a general lack of enthusiasm and support by upper management, I suspect).

Another time, I suggested a dry erase board be placed in the footwear department counting down the weeks/days left to the Monumental Marathon with training and nutritional tips for the runner. Along with the tips, I wanted to include a product recommendation (a hydration belt or socks); something to help the runner and increase our “unit-per-transaction.” My suggestion was not taken and the store missed a great opportunity to leverage the Monumental Marathon excitement and build their client base.

Given a second opportunity to leverage race events, the Mini Marathon, the store has not taken advantage of race events. A simple conversation with anyone looking to buy quality running shoes will reveal they are preparing to run their first Mini. The same customers looking for new shoes also have many questions regarding training, nutrition, and clothing. One woman complained of blisters  and was in the store to buy compression socks because a friend suggested it would help. Her shoe was the right size and she was putting up minimal mileage, so I saved her a lot of money by pointing her to some good pair of socks instead of the 2XU. She wrote an email a few days later thanking me and outlining the service that was provided. A printout was then hung in the company lunchroom with the manager writing “Good for you Choy.” I was ticked. Instead of using that email as a teachable moment for recognizing the needs of a customer, it was reduced to being a piece of paper that no one cared about. That letter should have been validation that focused customer service for runners is needed. Nothing I did at the store was for the sake of getting mentioned in a survey, it was to help the runner enjoy the sport. The store puts itself in an unfortunate circumstance as runners are the main sales drivers yet are often neglected.

At the store where I previously worked,  “completely satisfied” customers were the goal and I thought services such as the winter running seminar  and dry erase boards went above and beyond in satisfying customer expectations from a big box store. The thoughtfulness of the proposed ideas would have done much to elevate the stores standing among runners as well as potentially cultivating loyal customers.

Big chain stores have a lot to gain by following the model set out by their smaller competitors. Treating the running footwear and apparel departments as their own stores within the store will project to the customer a feeling of specialized, thoughtful, and genuine service.

Not to worry small running retailers, the big box stores are too rigid and out of focus to implement anything worth threatening your unparalleled customer service, just don’t slack off in that regard and you’ll always be the runner’s preference.

My favorite running stores:
A Runner’s Circle (Los Angeles)
Big Island Running Company (Kailua-Kona)
Runners Forum (Indianapolis)
Running Room (Honolulu)

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Brian getting specialized and attentive service from a specialty running store.