If you’re anything like me, you probably spent too much time watching the live stream at the Black Canyon 100k this past weekend! I have never sat down in front of a live stream before, but I totally get it now. How could ultrarunning possibly be an enjoyable spectator sport?! Additionally, I’ve always been hesitant to adopt the ‘professionalization’ of trail running. It is one of my absolute favorite things to do and I’ve always wondered how turning it into an income source vs. just a fun hobby would change my perspective with the activity. Watching the live stream and seeing what running looks like as a spectator sport definitely made me more interested in what trail running could be one day and that’s rather exciting!
The story at the start of the race was to watch out for the ‘carnage’ that this course is known for. People often run a 50k PB into the halfway point and fall off dramatically or drop before getting to the finish. The announcers of the live stream (who all did an amazing job) heavily emphasized this point and were quietly critical of the front runners of both the men’s and women’s fields as they didn’t anticipate they would end up on the podium, or even the finish line.
However, if you watched the race to the finish (yes…watching 9+ hours of racing footage) you know that both Dominika Stelmach and Truhart Brown finished the days with Golden Tickets after running hard from the gun and dispelling the myth that you can’t have a good day on the course if you run too quickly from the start.
Truhart and Dominika may both be superhumans, but I think there’s a valuable lesson for the rest of us. As I heard David Roche say recently…’scared money don’t make money’ and this approach to running applies to runners of all abilities in my ‘opinion’ (which is about the same as an educated guess).
Many of you have asked my thoughts on Nick Coury’s approach to negative splitting races. First, Nick is an incredible runner and his results by themselves make a very compelling argument for this approach to racing. Unfortunately, I think this approach is somewhat specific to Nick and his physiology/psychology and doesn’t transfer as well to the rest of us.
You may have heard some rumblings of the idea of ‘fatigue resistance’ in the world of ultra-running coaching recently and this is essentially the idea that you can hold onto, or close to, your original pace in later stages of the race if you have a ‘high’ fatigue resistance. Nick likely has a very high fatigue resistance (Tyler Green and Clare Gallagher are great examples of other runners with this same quality).
Jim and Courtney may have high scores as well, but their strengths likely lie in their relative running efficiency/economy and you don’t win on the biggest stages or have your best performances with the idea of ‘negative splitting’ a race. I think we saw examples of this last weekend. Sure…Clare ended up winning the race (and I’m pretty much her biggest fan), but Dominika still put together a badass performance and snagged a Golden Ticket. Similarly, Truhart fell off of his pace a bit, but still ran an incredible run.
A negative split is certainly a more comfortable approach to a race and it holds more consistent with the ‘old-timers’ advice to pacing races; go out too slow and try not to slow down much. It’s not about what your fastest mile is, but about what your slowest mile is. This probably makes the race experience more enjoyable as you don’t have to hold on despite feeling terrible in the final miles, but I’d guess Tyler and Nick would be able to go out at a slightly faster pace and still hold on to the finish with faster overall times!
This is a long-winded way of saying, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there on race day. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable when we’re pushing our limits and if it feels ‘awesome’ through the finish line, we likely left a little bit/or ‘a lot of bit’ out there. We still want to pace intelligently and I’m not calling for us to red-line from the start, but getting really fit in training, fueling well, and taking risks is the only way to get the best out of ourselves on race day!
This past weekend was a great weekend of racing for the crew as well!
Lizzie S. WON Rocky Racoon 50 Miler and crashed the overall podium (only finishing 30 minutes back of the men’s winner)! Lizzie is such an incredible person who has pushed through so much these past couple of years and is truly just getting started! I have a feeling this is the first of many amazing performances to come this year!
In the 50k, Anthony L. overcame some major GI discomfort to get to the finish line on a hard fought day! The day didn’t stop there and I know Anthony was dealing with some major food poisoning after the event and I’m just happy he survived the experience! Anthony is new to long distance running and has some big goals this coming year, which I can’t wait to help him swing for!
Bryce R. completed the O.U.C.H. Trail Half Marathon as a fun group run/training run, but still worth mentioning and celebrating!
Judd L. took 20th overall at the very stacked, Black Canyon 60k yesterday! Judd and I just started to work together recently and I admittedly didn’t add too much ‘structure’ beyond what he was already doing…and he took 20th with a strong freaking time! There’s more to come this year and I can’t wait to see what Judd can do!
Mike R. completed the Yakoff 6 Hour Orienteering Race this past weekend and absolutely crushed it! I’m always so impressed with any physical activity that requires a mentally engaging component (as I know I like to zone out HARD during races)! Mike has really strung together some incredibly patient training and it’s 100% paying off!
Jennifer T. was 4th female at The Rattlesnake Ramble Half Marathon this past weekend! Jennifer has been racing and training a lot (usually with her 4-legged friends), but getting out solo and ripping some trails leads to some pretty incredible results for her! I think that’s just a testament to the great training partners that she has :)!