Episode 21 - For Ultra Geeks Only: UTMB preview with Phil Vondra

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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).

Tonight's beer: the Other Half Nelson + Mosaic
Koop's Leadville writeup
Mountain Peak Fitness' photos and videos from Leadville
irunfar's UTMB mens' and womens' previews

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 20 - This Month in Ultrarunning with Phil Vondra

photo: irunfar.com

photo: irunfar.com

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.

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 19 - Overcoming Injuries with Heidi Armstrong


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 Injured Athlete's Toolbox
Contact Heidi by email
EMDR therapy
Desert Island Picks: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, Woodface by Crowded House

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 18 - The Catskill 35 FKT with Mike Siudy

(L-R) Mike and pacer extraordinaire Jay Lemos

(L-R) Mike and pacer extraordinaire Jay Lemos

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
Cave Dog
The Direttissima
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

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 17 - State of the Sport with Eric Schranz


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,

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 16 - For Ultra Geeks Only: Bighorn Recap and WS100 Preview


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).

Black Tooth Brewing Hot Streak IPA
AJW's recent post on avoiding DNFs

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 15 - Joe Puleo

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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.  

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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.

Running Anatomy, Second Edition
Joe's old store, Haddonfield Running Company
Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Hopes and Fears, Keane
21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon

Intro: "What We Need" by Bannister Effect
Outtro: "Flaw in My Design" by Bannister Effect

Episode 14 - This Month in Ultrarunning with Phil Vondra

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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).

Links:  Hudson Valley Brewery Empyrium
Burial Beer Company Gang of Blades
Zach Miller's recap of the IAU World Trail Championships
Mike Siudy's FKT report
Where is Harvey?

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 13 - Exercise Science 101 with Dr. Jason Karp

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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).

Links:  Dr. Karp's website
Revolution Running

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 12 - Ultrarunning Media and Bias with Rich Heffron

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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

Rich's Desert Island Picks: Currents by Tame impala, Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich, Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 11 - This Month in Ultrarunning with Phil Vondra

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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).

Links:  The beer we drank during this episode
Phil's guest post on my blog last year

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 10 - Laura Kline

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We welcome back Unived and Altra athlete Laura Kline to the program in the wake of her runner-up performance at the national 50K championships.  Laura talks about her athletic background, how she got into ultras, recaps her recent race at Caumsett, and gives us the lowdown on how she succeeds as a vegan, gluten-free athlete.

Laura's website

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 09 - Exploring the Limits of Endurance with Alex Hutchinson

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Author, physicist (?), journalist, and world-class miler Alex Hutchinson calls in from the Great White North to discuss his recently released book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.  We discuss the role the mind plays in endurance performance (2:30), the work of Tim Noakes and the various ways it informs our understanding of exercise physiology (10:15), why positive emotions enhance your performance (21:30), and techniques we can use to improve our mental outlook (28:30).  Plus, in a new segment, Alex tells us what he's bringing to a desert island (36:30).  This is one of the best books on running I've ever read; you don't want to miss the episode.  (And buy the book, it's awesome!)

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Alex's Website

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 08 - Dr. Zubair Jafar on Sports Cardiology and the Athlete's Heart

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Dr. Zubair Jafar, the head of the Sports Cardiology program at the Heart Center, joins us in the Pain Cave to talk about the athlete's heart.  This is an important episode for anyone with cardiac concerns or risk factors, or anyone who is curious about safely beginning an exercise regimen.  We discuss the importance of exercise in maintaining good health, the benefits of hight-intensity training, some potential cardiac complications of long-term aerobic exercise, the utility of different cardiovascular tests, the need for cardiac screening, and the potential for performance improvement.  

Heart Center Sports Cardiology Program

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 07 - Heat Training for the HURT 100 with Brian Oestrike

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It's a bit early to start repeating guests, but we couldn't ignore the performance of our inaugural guest, Brian Oestrike, at the famous HURT 100 mile earlier this month.  Brian sits down with a couple of awesome double IPAs to discuss how he prepared for a race in Hawaii while training in New York in December, what separates HURT from some of the other legendary trail 100s, his early-race mental struggles, the differences between multi-loop and point-to-point races, and more. 

If you haven't already, make sure to go back to episode 01 for lots of fun stuff with Brian, including the Bighorn 100, mountaineering/ultrarunning crossover, altitude training, and lots more beer talk.


Brian's heat adaptation protocol

Brian's business, Hypoxico

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters

Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 06 - Debating the UROY Ballot with Laura Kline

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In our year-end, non-science-related episode, we delve into the ballot for Ultrarunner of the Year.  I welcome in my good friend Laura Kline to debate who should make the mens' and womens' top 10 ultrarunners of the year, and the five best male and female performances of the year.  We also discuss whether DNFs should count more than DNSs, why we grade certain runners on a curve, the importance of big international races, and our toughest omissions.

Thanks to Ultrarunning magazine for sponsoring this episode.

Links: Laura's webpage

Ultrarunning Magazine

Intro Music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters

Outro Music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 05 - Playing the Mental Game with Courtney Edwards

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Counselor, lecturer, mom, and runner Courtney Edwards visits the Pain Cave to address the mental side of the sport...but maybe not in the way you've heard it before.  We cover a lot of ground: the emotional benefits of running and exercise, the biochemical basis behind these emotions, addictive behaviors, eating disorders, the impact of running on psychology, mindfulness and gratitude, how to tackle periods of low motivation, and the pros and cons of goal setting.

Link: Courtney's awesome blog

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 04 - Dr. Artie Smith

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I go back to my Ithaca roots for a conversation with my old Cornell teammate, Artie Smith, recently named the Alan B. '53 and Elizabeth Heekin Harris Head Coach of Women's Track and Field/Cross Country at our alma mater.  We reminisce a bit about our days as students on the Hill, the history of the Cornell track program, the differences between coaching men and women, and some of the health challenges that can affect young female endurance athletes.  Hopefully people who didn't happen to run track for the Big Red can enjoy this episode as much as we did!

Link: Cornell Track and Field

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 03 - Ian Golden

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Ithaca's Ian Golden sits down to talk about his run for US Congress in NY District 23.  We chat about the running specialty industry (6:00), race directing (9:00), and PEDs (18:00), before Ian fills us in on why he chose to run for Congress (21:25), stepping into politics for the first time (25:00), his unusual campaign tour (26:00), the basics of his platform (27:50), and the need for compromise in this era of polarization and division (31:15).


Finger Lakes Running Company

Red Newt Racing

Golden for Congress

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale

Episode 02 - Understanding Pain with Greg Cecere

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Physical therapist Greg Cecere joins the show to deconstruct how we experience pain.  We talk about his background (1:30) before delving into what it means when we feel pain (7:30), the anatomy of the nervous system experience of pain and response to injury (14:00), chronic vs. acute injuries (20:00), the neurologic basis behind chronic injury (23:45), and how our understanding of pain can help us approach treating and recovering from injury (28:00).  We also briefly discuss dry needling and acupuncture (34:45).

Greg's website, Momentum Physical Therapy

Intro music: "Fine Line" by the Bloodletters
Outro music: "When I Was Still Young" by Yard Sale