David and Megan Roche are one of the power couples in US trail and ultra running today, with seven national championships between them. Not only that, they’re the brains behind Team SWAP and the coaches of some of the most successful athletes in the country, including recent winners of Western States, Leadville, Run Rabbit Run, and more. Not only that, they’re also the authors of The Happy Runner, a new book that just might change the way you view training, racing, and life. David joins us in the Pain Cave to talk about the importance of self-acceptance, how to “let go” of our dependence on results, the principles of his training and coaching philosophy, and much more.
We had so much fun talking with one of the fastest US women ever at 24 hours (Megan Alvarado) that we decided to do the same for the men. Pete Kostelnick is a two-time winner and the course record holder at the famed Badwater 135, as well as #5 on the all-time US 24-hour list, but he’s perhaps best known for his record-setting run across America in 2016, breaking Frank Giannino’s 36-year old record by more than four days. This summer Pete took it to a new extreme, running 5300+ miles self-supported from the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska to Key West, Florida—a diagonal crossing of the continent—in just under 100 days. I spoke with Pete about how he got into running long distances (1:30), his experiences at Badwater (10:40), racing 24 hours (16:00), his record TransAmerica run (27:30), and his amazing “Ke2Key” adventure (37:00).
The cancellation of the North Face championships meant that many of the top athletes who had been aiming to end their season in northern CA wound up journeying east for the venerable JFK 50 mile, the oldest ultramarathon in the country. The smart money was on previous winner Leah Frost (#3 all-time at JFK) or former Western States champ Kaci Lickteig for the women’s crown. But when the dust settled, it was Beast Coaster Kate Pallardy who scored a convincing win in 6:40. We welcomed Kate into the Pain Cave to talk about her background as a pro triathlete, training on the mean streets of NYC, how she balances homeschooling (and breastfeeding) her kids with training to run fast marathons and ultras, and how she found her passion in sport and in life.
In the past few years, as ultrarunning and trail racing in particular has continued to grow in popularity, there’s been a concurrent increase in the number of world-class racers exploring their limits in timed events, and the competition at these races has become fierce. This week we welcomed Altra/T-Starr Running/Drymax athlete Megan Alvarado, the newly crowned US 24-hour champion, into the Pain Cave. Megan and I spoke about balancing 24-hour racing and trail racing (6:10), training on the treadmill (10:00), how she approaches a timed event (22:50), increasing female participation in the sport (29:00), and her Desert Island Picks (39:20).
Megan’s Ultrasignup page and Instagram
How to help wildfire victims
Here’s a running-related fundraiser I donated to
Megan’s Desert Island Picks: The Brave Athlete by Dr. Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson; Spotify Motivation Mix playlist; Diet Cherry 7Up
Ultrarunner and filmmaker Sanjay Rawal joins the Pain Cave to talk about his latest documentary, 3100: Run and Become. The movie follows competitors in the 2016 Self-Transcendence Run, a 3100-mile ultramarathon around a single city blog in Queens. In exploring the secret of what drives these runners, the film journeys to a Navajo reservation in Arizona, the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa, and the Buddhist temples deep in the mountains of Japan, to discover the spirituality that underlies the reasons why we run. Sanjay and I discuss Sri Chinmoy, the guru whose teachings inspired the Self-Transcendence Run, motivation, filming, multi-day racing, and how running can help in our search for meaning.
The Legend returns to the Pain Cave to rescue you from the ultrarunning doldrums, with recaps of the insanity at Big’s Backyard (3:00), Hennepin Hundred (27:45), North Coast, Run Rabbit, and more.
This episode was recorded last week, before Javelina Jundred, which we’ll recap in our next episode.
Also, I did want to point out one error/omission from this episode. While discussing Barkley (why are we always discussing Barkley?!), we were trying to name women who have finished a “fun run” and could only come up with Beverly Anderson-Abbs. A little research revealed two other women have completed three laps on the course: Eliza McLean in 2000 and Sue Johnston in 2001. (Bev has finished two fun runs, in 2012 and 2013.) Thanks to Matt Mahoney for that data and sorry for the mistake.
Beer for this episode: Start Line Brewing Hop Load IPA
The fastest 100-mile of 2018 doesn’t come from a resident of California, Colorado, or Arizona, but from right here in upstate New York. Albany’s Jim Sweeney sits down in the Pain Cave to discuss his cool new gig at the West Kill Brewery (1:00), his background in ultrarunning and how his training has progressed heading into his breakthrough 2018 season (3:00), his early-season success at Umstead (13:00), and his astounding 13:09 at the Hennepin Hundred, one of the top 15 US times ever. We also get into his upcoming race plans (31:45), some staple workouts and training approaches (38:00), and his Desert Island Picks (42:10).
It may have been a disappointing year for many of the top Americans at UTMB, but US runners came through with podium finishes at TDS, the 121km companion race. We welcome mens’ runner-up Dylan Bowman to the Pain Cave to talk about his fantastic early season (4:45), how he prepares for big mountain races (20:15), his race at TDS (33:00), the carnage at UTMB (49:55), his plans for the rest of the year (61:15), and his Desert Island Picks (65:00).
Video of DBo’s Lost Coast Trail FKT
Finish of TDS
Desert Island Picks: Graceland by Paul Simon, ‘Til the Medicine Takes by Widespread Panic, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, New Belgium Fat Tire Ale
We hadn't planned on a UTMB recap episode, but after the craziness that transpired last weekend in Chamonix, Phil and I had to sit down for an emergency pod to discuss Killian's allergic reaction, Xavier's redemption, disappointment for the US men and women, and what this all means going forward.
Tonight's beer: Zero Gravity Grand Royal
Ultra geeks rejoice! We're joined once again by our "This Month in Ultrarunning" partner in crime, Phil Vondra, for an in-depth preview of UTMB. Phil and I recap a fantastic week in Colorado, including Leadville (2:00), Pike's Peak (15:30), and Transrockies (21:00), plus other news and results from the ultra world (24:00), before we go deep on everything happening in Chamonix, including results from TDS and our look at the contenders for OCC, CCC, and UTMB (32:45).
The Legend returns to the Cave for this month's installment of TMIU, where we quickly recap some of the major storylines from Western States (3:00) before dissecting Perrier-gate at Hardrock (11:00). We also discuss the controversy surrounding the awards at the Vermont 100 (38:00), review some results from Lavaredo and Cayuga Trails, and get into some recent FKTs.
Look, if we do these things for long enough, eventually we're likely to get injured. And those of us who have been there know the truth: just like training and racing, recovering from an injury is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. In this episode we chat with former elite mountain biker and injury recovery specialist Heidi Armstrong, founder of The Injured Athlete's Toolbox, to learn how to deal with and overcome injuries. We talked about Heidi's athletic background and how she developed an interest in recovery (1:30), the terms athletes use to describe how being injured makes us feel (9:30), the role social media can play in recovery (18:00), how an injured athlete can move towards acceptance and recovery (20:10), and how to recognize when we need help dealing with our injuries (32:55). If you're injured, or have been injured, or will get injured (hint: that's all of us!), this is a good listen.
The new King of the Catskills, Mike Siudy, visits the Pain Cave following his incredible FKT of the "Direttissima"--a continuous, 140+ mile tagging of the thirty-five 3500' peaks in the Catskill Mountains. We start with how Mike's background as a climber and hiker prepared him for a career in ultrarunning (2:35), how he became a Gridiot (11:40), Ted "Cave Dog" Keizer's pioneering route (16:25), and how it all went down on Memorial Day weekend (19:45). Plus, we chat about the Barkley Marathons (57:00) and Manitou's Revenge (which Mike co-directs with Charlie Gadol) before digging into his Desert Island Picks (1:13:15).
Mike's MPF/RNR page
Industrial Arts Brewing
The original Catskills nightmare, the Escarpment Trail Run
On becoming a Gridiot
Manitou's Revenge and Cat's Tail Trail Marathon, the brainchildren of WTF Racing
Desert Island Picks: The Games Climbers Play by Ken Wilson, Southsiders by Atmosphere, West Kill Brewing's Moonfarmer IPA
The Pain Cave journeys west to the venerable Western States 100, where I was pacing our very first podcast guest, Brian Oestrike. Since I was in town, I was able to finagle a sit-down with the great Eric Schranz of Ultrarunnerpodcast.com. As we recorded the day before the big show, Eric and I spent a few minutes discussing how we thought the day might play out (1:45), before we addressed some of the issues at the forefront of our sport, including the East Coast/West Coast divide (6:45), PEDs and TUEs (10:45), the primacy of WS100 and controversies it engenders (23:00), and the sustainability of growth in the sport (30:40).
Eric's recent interview with Jenny Jurek
The aforementioned/oft-discussed profile of Coree Woltering
Improving youth participation
Desert Island Picks: Athletic Brewing Company, Deeper Understanding by War on Drugs, Joshua Tree by U2,
It's only been two week since our last TMIU episode, but we're too excited for this weekend to wait! We welcome home the Legend, Phil Vondra, to recap his epic run at last weekend's Bighorn 100 (2:10), briefly review some recent results from Comrades, Broken Arrow, and Mount Washington (17:00), and dig deep into our Western States preview (24:00).
It took us two tries to get this episode up. I recorded the first version with Joe in person. For some reason the audio got screwed up and the sound skipped every couple of seconds. It was a great conversation but ultimately unlistenable. Version two was recorded over the phone; while we had no such glitches, we didn't have a great connection, and I'm going to blame Joe holding the phone too far away from his mouth for some of the inconsistent volume. But again, we had a really fun conversation.
Joe is one of the most influential people in the last twenty years of my life. I first met him while I was a medical student in the late '90s; his store, the Haddonfield Running Company, was like a second home to me in those days, and we've been good friends ever since. Joe is an accomplished coach at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels; he's also an author and a lifelong learner. A true renaissance man.
The occasion for this episode is the release of the second edition of Running Anatomy, which Joe co-authored with Patrick Milroy. We spent some time talking about Joe's experience writing the book initially (8:00), what the impetus was for the second edition (11:15), the idea of functional versus general strength (17:20), why coaching remains such an important part of his life (26:15), his work with Jorge Maravilla (33:30), and why distance runners are such prolific drinkers (45:45)...and of course, Joe's Desert Island Picks (56:00). Hope you enjoy this one despite the sound issues, it really is a worthwhile conversation.
Despite--or due to--engaging a bit too aggressively in the Avery Collins training plan, I had a blast recording the most recent installment of TMIU (a.k.a. FOR ULTRA GEEKS ONLY) with the Legend himself, Phil Vondra. (I did need to edit out a three-minute spasm of giggles about 35 minutes in.) We chatted about Phil's prep for Bighorn, the first of two 100s on the schedule for him this summer (4:20), before we discuss some recent race results (9:00), Mike Siudy's epic Catskill FKT (25:00), and the races and storylines we'll be keeping an eye on in the next few weeks (39:00).
As we delve back into the science of running, we've noticed that there are a lot of terms and shorthand we use that may not be familiar to everyone out there. Most of us have heard the terms "VO2 max" and "lactate threshold," but do we understand what those things really mean, or how they relate to our endurance pursuits? For this episode we decided to get back to basics with one of the most knowledgeable exercise physiologists and running coaches in the country, Dr. Jason Karp. Dr. Karp is the author of over 400 articles and eight books on running, and he is the perfect guest to help us develop a deeper understanding of the physiologic parameters that govern performance.
We start out by defining the major parameters: VO2max, lactate threshold, and running economy (9:30), and examine what these parameters actually mean for our physiology (17:00). Then, we discuss the different types of training that we can use to target each of these parameters (19:00), before examining the utility of repeat physiologic testing (29:30) and how these parameters factor into the brain's regulation of performance (33:00).
We're getting back to the science stuff next week, but today we've got another episode for ultra geeks. Spurred by Trail Runner magazine's recent profile on Coree Woltering, teammate Rich Heffron joins the show to discuss the current state of ultrarunning media. We tackle the question of whether there is a West Coast bias in ultra coverage (7:00), whether media organizations in the sport have an obligation to cover certain events (26:00), why USATF championship races aren't a bigger deal (31:30), and the geographic distribution of Western States qualifiers (51:30). We also name-check some non-West Coast ultrarunners who deserve more respect (55:35) before we get Rich's Desert Island Picks (1:03:50).
Links: Rich's MPF/RNR bio page
The aforementioned Coree Woltering profile in Trail Runner
My beer for the episode: Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA
We're starting something new in the Pain Cave this week. We love delving into the science of sport, but sometimes we just want to kick back with a couple of beers and be geeky ultra fans. We're going to try to dedicate an episode each month to the stories and athletes making headlines in our sport, recapping the big races, examining the storylines that are intriguing us, and looking forward to upcoming races we're excited about. For this project I've recruited my good friend, training partner, and beer aficionado Phil Vondra.
As this is the first one of these, we've got a lot of ground to cover. We start by recapping the Golden Ticket season, including Lake Sonoma (4:30), some under-the-radar stories from the GT series (12:30), and the performances that surprised us the most (16:00). After that, we discuss many of the biggest stories from the first few months of the season, including US runners dominating Tarawera (26:30), a disappointing Barkley Marathons (37:30), the "Kenyafornia" project (44:15), Camille Herron's early season (46:45), and some ultrarunners tackling a tough Boston Marathon (52:00), before we quickly preview some of the upcoming races we're excited about in the next month (54:45).