For those who don’t know, what is an ultra-marathon?
An ultra-marathon is technically any distance over the 26.2 marathon distance, however the standard ultra distances are 50K, 50 miles, 100K, and 100 miles. There are also a few races over the 100-mile distance.
How did you get started?
I started running in the fall of 2014 with no real goals in mind. I read a book by one of the top ultra-runners and thought it would be fun to get outside and run on a regular basis. At the time I had never run farther than a mile or two so it never occurred to me that I would try to run an ultra in the future.
After a few months of running I ran in the Thanksgiving Day 10K in Cincinnati and had fun, so I decided to sign up for the Flying Pig Marathon that coming May, 2015. After signing up I found a training plan online and started building miles while reading everything I could find about distance running. I ran the Pig and decided to switch to trail running and sign up for a 50K.
What did you try next?
I chose the Cloudsplitter 50K (October 2015) in southeast Kentucky due to the terrain and mountaintop views along the trail. I trained all summer, doing my Saturday long runs in Mt. Airy Forest. The Cloudsplitter 50K went really well. I had a great time, finished in the top ten, and couldn’t wait to do another distance trail run in the mountains. A few days later I signed up for the Rough Trail 50K in the Red River Gorge, which was the next month, November 2015. That also went really well and was a blast.
This year I ran the Yamacraw 50K (KY, April 2016), Bear Mountain 50K (NY, April 2016), went back to Cloudsplitter and ran the 100K (KY, October 2016), the Feral Hog 50K (OH, October 2016), and went back and ran the Rough Trail 50K again (KY, November 2016).
In 2017 I’m running the Yamacraw 50K, the Big Turtle 50 mile in Kentucky, the Cloudsplitter 100 mile (the first 100 mile run I’m hoping to survive) and the Rough Trail 50K.
How do you typically train for these long runs?
I run six days a week (Mon. – Sat.). When I’m not training for anything I average 40-50 miles a week. When I am training I top out around 60-70 miles a week. On weekdays before work I run around Covington and Cincinnati. On Saturdays I do most of my long runs in Mt. Airy Forest.
What do you like most about running?
I’m not really sure why I got into running in my mid 30s. I was never a runner and didn’t play sports in middle school, high school, or college. Maybe this is my mid-life crisis. (Ha!) I honestly just love getting to see 30+ miles of beautiful trails in the mountains in a day when I do races. I also love the daily routine of running before work and on Saturday mornings. It’s addictive to the point that now I don’t feel right if I don’t run in the morning. It’s also very simple. You don’t need much so you can do it anywhere. I wish I had discovered running earlier in life, although it might not have “taken” at another time.
What advice can you offer to anyone interested in training for a long-distance run?
My advice to anyone who is thinking about getting into running or distance running is to build distance slowly and patiently, run outside as often as possible, and don’t worry about pace. The ultimate goal is to have fun and enjoy it. I never enjoyed running until I started running outside and slowed down. If you very slowly add to your weekly distance and long run, with lower mileage rest weeks built in every other or every three weeks, you will be amazed by what you are able to accomplish.