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The Duel Trail Race

The Long Run Book Club: The Science of Running

lhoward-artMy reading has consisted of children’s books for most of the last six years, and while books like Everybody Poops and Harold and the Purple Crayon have important messages, I’ve been desperate to find a way to bring grown-up literature back into my life. I knew it’d never happen if I just waited around for quiet free time, so I asked David Hanenburg if I could write a series of book reviews for Endurance Buzz. I suggested some of the recent books on running (‘cuz I’m a running geek and because it’ll be another six years before I find a way to justify time for fiction). I told him I wouldn’t be writing formal critical reviews exactly. They’d be something more along the lines of conversations you might have on the trail about books you’ve just read.

“Hey, I just read this Science of Running book. The author is this fellow who is the Head Cross Country coach at the University of Houston. He’s a speedy runner himself, and, anyway, he says that it’s good to do some fasted long runs because it helps the body adapt to dealing with low glycogen during a race.”

“That sounds idiotic and miserable.”

“I know. But he says….”

The conversation topics will be geared towards things that will be useful to ultrarunners (and TALON runners in particular whenever possible). These conversations won’t be exhaustive, comprehensive, or thorough treatments of the books– we’re supposed to be talking while we run afterall. Hopefully, they’ll pique your interest though, and leave you with some fodder for your next run. I’m hoping the “reviews” will also generate some good discussion in the comments.

So without further ado:

The Science of Running: How to find your limit and train to maximize your performance by Steve Magness (Origin Press, 2014.)


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EB25: Wesley Hunt – Enjoyment of the Process, 40 Mile Treadmill Runs, Winning the Arkansas Traveller 100

Wesley Hunt Of Arkansas loves the goal race, the commitment, the disciplined training cycle, and the opportunity to bring it all together on race day and “give it your best shot.” 

Wesley may also now love 40 mile training runs…on the treadmill, after his recent win and third fastest time in race history at the Arkansas Traveller 100.

Wesley Hunt leading the way at the AT100. (Credit: Mark Mccaslin)

Wesley Hunt leading the way at the AT100. (Credit: Mark Mccaslin)

A running journey that began less than a handful of years ago after finishing law school and starting a family. Wesley wanted to recommit to a more healthy lifestyle and running seemed like the perfect hobby and became his place of solace, a home for reflection, quiet time with self, and some good old fashion stress relief.

With a focus on the roads and enjoyment of the longer distances including 10 marathon finishes, Wesley wanted to keep it interesting and try something different. His brother, a passionate trail runner on the east coast, became the seed that led to his first trail race and ultra in 2013, the Arkansas Traveller 100. This adventure led to a second place finish and exciting race with 22 year old Brock Hime (2013 AT100 interview with Brock).

One year later, Wesley was back at the AT100 start line with greater fitness, more experience, and a renewed focus to give it his best shot.

Enjoy as Wesley and I chat about:

  • his running background and reintroduction into the active lifestyle
  • interest in the longer run distances
  • enjoyment of the training process
  • 3 favorite trail running books that inspired and helped supply his trail running tool-box.
  • Lessons learned after the 2013 Arkansas Traveller 100
  • Pushing the pace with PoDog Vogler at Mt. Nebo
  • two key training sessions in prep for the 2014 AT100
  • mental approach to the ultra distances
  • this year’s AT100 adventure and win in 15:59:12
  • tips to run your first 100

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Racing Goals: How to Define, Follow Through, and Expand Your Experience Beyond the Clock

Whether we run on roads, trails or track, short, long, or anything in-between, one thing is clear – if we sign up for races, some kind of goals are always on our mind. Goals are something that drives us to excel, to do something beyond plodding along the serpentine path wherever it takes us.

We runners are a driven bunch. It is almost  mandatory that we set goals, talk about them, dwell on failing at them – and do it all over again. At the same time, the range of goals, the outline, the formulation of them differs greatly. And each of our goals has to come from within, from what is important to us as individuals, and not what others view necessary to achieve the end result.


Time Goals

Let’s first talk about a simple set of goals. That finite end result for which we strive and what we mention when talk about a race afterwards in our first sentence. Time.

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EB24: Gia Madole – From First 5km to Complete and Win the Tahoe 200

“You got to start. Just get out there and do whatever you can do. Take that first step.”  – Gia Madole

Two years ago, Gia Madole of Oklahoma along with a few friends decided to participate in a Warrior Dash event. This 5km-ish length run plus obstacles, required a bit of focused run training and is the spark that started Gia’s running journey.

Gia really enjoyed the simple act of running.

Gia really enjoyed the people involved with the sport.

Her passion and drive to challenge herself, led to the trails and the Lake McMurtry 25km in northern Oklahoma.

The friendly people. The amazing and supportive camaraderie that all runners had with each other – even the ones you are competing against. Gia was all-in to explore this sport further.

This positive experience led to bigger challenges, bigger adventures, including signing up for the Tahoe 200 before she had even finished her first 100 miler.

Her strong mental attitude and desire and ability to do-the-work added two 100 mile finishes in her still shiny ultra tool-box before the Tahoe 200 start.

Gia Madole at the start line of the Tahoe 200.

Gia Madole at the start line of the Tahoe 200. (credit: Jill Collins)

Enjoy as Gia and I chat about:

  • her rapid progression through the trail running distances
  • favorite type of cross training
  • Tahoe 200 training prep that included lots of miles and flights of stairs
  • the 75:76:00 adventure around lake Tahoe which saw her first female across the line…along with a few bonus miles as she neared the finish!

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Rachel Adamson – Transforming her life with Running – Conquering the Crown at the Rough Creek Trail Run

“If you really want it, you just have to go for it.” – Rachel Adamson

In 2010 Rachel Adamson of Texas was inactive and 272 pounds. After an emotional conversation with her son, she was determined to make a change in her lifestyle.


After a short period of taking weight loss pills suggested by her doctor, Rachel would quickly determine it “wasn’t a good situation.”

She felt she had to be more involved with this desired change.

Running became the pill of choice.

Over the next couple years Rachel progressively worked on her running, often secretly, before running her first race in 2012.

“It was the most glorious feeling in the world.”

Since then she has raced on both the road and trail with her most recent and longest race finish to date, the 40 miler at the Rough Creek Trail Run in north Texas.


Enjoy as we chat about Rachel’s journey to start running, the strong community vibe at her first trail race, and the 40 mile adventure at Rough Creek.

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Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultra Running Book Review

bretto_artAnyone with a passing familiarity to the ultra-running scene has heard of Hal Koerner. As one of the most consistent performers in the sport for more than a decade, Hal has won almost every major 100 mile race at some point in his career.

Ask any ultrarunner whether they learned more from a DNF or a perfect race, and they will most likely say the DNF. Clearly Hal is no exception to this, because instead of using the book to describe the incredible amount of ultras that he has won, he gives specific examples of his failures and mistakes in order to highlight the key points in each chapter. (His anecdote about painful chafing at his first UTMB is particularly amusing).

Prior to this book, the only pure training manual for ultrarunners was Relentless Forward Progress (EB review of RFP) by Bryon Powell. That and a runner’s own endless trial and error. That begs the question…

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Sydney Pitt – 168km of Beauty, Pain, and a Glass of Wine at UTMB

“Maybe you should try track instead of basketball.” – 7th grade basketball coach

These unexpected words shared with the youthful Texan, Sydney Pitt, transitioned her to a love of running, a love of beautiful natural environments, and a love to challenge herself with good friends and glass (or two) of good wine.

After exploring the triathlon scene for a few years, she ran her first trail race, the highly popular (now extinct) Sunmart 50km back in 2007 on the pine needle covered trails of Huntsville State Park (home of Rocky Raccoon 100), just north of Houston, Texas. As for most of us, your first trail race and first ultra, is one heck of a learning opportunity.

After overcoming projectile vomiting and “this is the dumbest thing I have ever done”, Sydney learned from this experience and the subsequent trail finishes up through the 100 mile distance.

After a couple friends planted the seed of trying to get into UTMB, a 168 km along the Mont Blanc mountain range that guides runners through France, Switzerland, and Italy – all three were packing their bags to lace them up with 2400 adventure seekers.


Credit: Chrisophe Lepage

Enjoy as we chat about Sydney’s early running days, first 100 miler, and her sights, sounds, and reflections from being one of 114 woman to finish the 2014 UTMB.

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