Category Archives: APRIL 2016

All the posts created in APRIL 2016.

Member Interview: Vojta Ripa, by Dale Peterson

Vojta was born in the Czech Republic right after the fall of communism July 30th, 1989. When he was young he was always very active alongside his only brother and sibling Honza. They hiked almost every weekend, went bike riding with their dad, cross-country and downhill skiing etc. starting at the age of three. Vojta enrolled in gymnastics from first thru fourth grades until they moved to the U.S. with their mom. This was a fresh start for all of them.  Everything was new – language, culture, sports, environment, friends, food you name it. It was at this point that Vojta and his brother became really close.  Since they only had each other, they had to have each others back and help each other through everything. They didn’t know much English at all when Vojta came to America at the age of ten and his brother Honza was eight. Since Czech was the only language they knew it was tough to communicate with others.



Vojta didn’t do much actual running per se’ until he came to the U.S. where his first encounter was a timed run in fourth grade PE class while living in Lake Tahoe. Vojta was surprised to find himself in first place as he had never ran much before but he came to like it. It was a great way to fit in at school. Seventh grade was the first time Vojta ran as a member of an actual track team for Healdsburg Junior High. He started out as a sprinter, but the next year he wanted to challenge himself with longer distances and decided to run the 800 and 1600. Distance was tougher for Vojta given he had asthma ever since he was small child, but he found that the more he ran, the stronger his lungs became until it got to the point where he “lost” his asthma completely. Vojta was always a member of his various school’s track and cross-country programs until he graduated from Stanislaus State.  He got more and more into it every year. Even now he keeps it up because it was something he grew up with and it is still something he enjoys.  Vojta says there are a million more reasons why he likes to run.

You are involved in a lot of activities besides running –  mountain biking, kayaking, obstacle courses just to name a few.  How do you fit it all in?

Vojta: I like sports in general. I feel activities are a key part in life, whether its competitiveness, bonding/teamwork, or just getting and staying in shape and maintaining good health. Beside the previous activities I’ve mentioned, I like to try anything; but repeatedly I like mountain and roadbiking for cross training, I’ve done a few short tri’s, which are tougher for me since my swimming isn’t great, weighing me down heavily. I have even tried the Battle Frog race at Lake Sonoma which was a combination of obstacles, muddy trails and a long run over seven miles long. It was surprisingly challenging due to the emphasis on upper body strength which most of us runners lack but it was still a lot of fun!

Were you always a runner or did you experiment with other sports?

Vojta: Between fifth grade and high school I experimented with other sports, until I found running. Sports I participated in include: football, baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, karate, and wrestling.


You ran some impressive times in the 800 and 1500 when at Stanislaus, consistently below two minutes in the former and in the low fours in the latter.  Do you feel that you are natural middle-distance runner?  Why or why not?

Vojta: I started running very well my second year at the JC under coach Whitney and Pat Ryan. My marks got down to 1:55 in the 800m and 4:02 which is my current PR in the 1500m. I was in very great shape to run much faster in both events at CSU Stanislaus but come to racing I only bettered my 800m by 1 second. I feel like at the time those events were the right ones for me. I tried experimenting with the 4×4 and ran a few 49 splits, and I tried the 5k and ran in the low 16 minute range, but neither compare to my performaces in the 800m and 1500m events; Based on that I feel like I BECAME and maybe still am a natural middle distance runner. I feel that my body type shows and mimics a middle distance runners. Being a little bit more stocky than long distance runners but not to the point of most sprinters.

If you could have one race back – to run it again – what would you do differently and why?

Vojta: There are two important races that I’ve constantly looked back on. Both were in the 800m. The first was at the JC level in the NOR CAL finals. There were 8 of us in the race but only 4 made it to the state meet. I was running the race of my life and was up there with the leaders. We only had 200m to go which is usually my strongest part of the race. Unfortunately I got boxed in and then one guy cut a bunch of people off which made a few of us slowdown and lose our momentum. I tried fighting back, but finished in 5th place, missing the state meet by 1 second. If I had known and had a chance to do it all over again I would swing to the outside earlier which would have gave me a clearer path to strike with 200m left, make it to the state meet and probably PR.

The other race was the NCAA division 2 conference trials in the 800m where they postponed our race 15 minutes or so. Instead of staying warm and loose I decided to just sit there conserving energy. This may have been the cause which resulted in a total breakdown race for me where I had no energy in the most critical race of the season, fell apart and felt completely out of it most of the race. I should have stayed warm and sharp instead.

What are some of you short term goals?  What are you working on now and how have you adjusted your workouts to achieve them?

Vojta: Trying to run post-collegiately is definitely not easy. Finding motivation is sometimes tough to start, but after getting going it’s also hard to stop. Short term goals are staying injury free and getting in shape for the Boston Marathon and running a good race at Annadel Half Marathon. (which may be over by the time this is published).

Right now I’m just working on building up my millage and getting used to maintaining a fast pace for a longer period of time. To achieve this I do longer runs at a faster pace or longer interval training instead of short sprints. Endurance runs are something you can keep increasing so I’m finding myself pushing boundaries and testing myself on long runs in terms of increasing my distance, lately hitting 100 miles per week.

What are some of your long term goals?  What do you hope to achieve over the next decade and how do you hope to do so?

Vojta: I haven’t really planned my long term goals too much. I don’t plan ahead too much which may be a bad thing, but I like to plan maybe a few months in advance if something comes along. Running Boston was my big goal since last spring and I’m making that happen in just a few weeks. PRing in various events is always on my mind and trying out new races at various locations is fun for me. I would like to keep running as long as I can because its so good for you healthwise, and a great way to release stress and unwind. Competitive running makes this easier to do in my opinion.


Most distance runners revere the great Czech Olympian Emil Zatopek – who inspires you and why?

Vojta: Specifically, Galen Rupp has been very impressive to watch, but its anyone who keeps pushing the boundaries and working hard day in, day out. One example is Sarah Hallas who is my roommate who never seems to stop, at age 35. With a 2 year old, full time job and a fiancé, she runs as much as I do and works out 2 to 3 times a day during the week, and wins marathons on the weekends.

On the lighter side – how do you relax and unwind after a hard run, race or workout?

Vojta: Beer, food and sleep are always nice. I like going out and playing golf, going to the beach and just being outside is relaxing to me. I also like watching sporting events on TV, hang out with friends or doing numerous things on my computer, like looking at new races to run.

What is your favorite track workout?  Road workout?  Cross-Training activity?

Vojta: Being a middle distance runner I always fall back on track workouts. I start with what I know and try to switch it up in different ways. I usually fall back on 400m repeats, various rest times, speeds and quantities.

I haven’t done very many road workouts, increasing my pace every mile is what I usually find myself doing on the roads.

As for cross training I would say road biking or mountain biking.

Sports nutrition advocates run the gamut from Vegan to Paleo and everything in between.  What is your stance / advice?

Vojta: Eating healthy is definitely important but I don’t always find myself doing that. I usually try to get my protein in after workouts and get my carbs in before and during long runs. To get my fruits and veggies in I usually make salads and protein smoothies which are great. Different things work for different people. I’m sure my diet could use improvements but I don’t find myself super strict with it. I believe getting in a good amount of food to recover your body is important and starving yourself to lose weight is very unhealthy and I against that. If your exercise especially a lot such as myself you need to refuel, and yes you can afford to eat whatever you want. If I was running Pro or close to it I think I would pay more attention to my nutrition, but I’m happy were I’m at.

Lastly – is there some question you wished I had asked, or something more you would like to share?

Vojta: Maybe a good question most runners get asked is: why do you run?

There is a long list of why I run but one big reason for the last six or so years has been my brother Honza.

As mentioned in my bio, Honza and I have been very close being the only siblings, and we competed against each other in everything.  Even though he wasn’t as dedicated to running as I was, he could kill me on the golf course any day of the wee.  Just after he graduated from High School, he got into a terrible and life-changing river diving accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down.  This affected not only him but everyone around him, especially me.  Now we go golfing together on the weekends because that’s what he loved to do before the accident.  I feel his accident brought me closer to running for a number of reasons.  It gives me and out/release for my emotions, but also I feel I have to have fun for the both of us.  It made me realize that in the blink of an eye life can change and so I need to keep enjoying what I like to do while I can, and make it count.

Training the Brain, by Paul Berg

April16Berg1Maybe you’ve heard the ads targeting our over-stimulated and aging population: “Brain fitness to challenge memory and attention with scientific brain games. Used by over 70 million people”. A quick Google search will reveal dozens of companies claiming to improve memory through brain fitness schemes. Most of these programs approach the problem by devising brainteasers, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles or pattern-recognition games to “exercise” the brain as if it were some ordinary muscle. By analyzing your answers and/or reaction times, the algorithms can make the tests incrementally more challenging, theoretically improving brain fitness.

As I’ve reached the age where I’ve begun to worry about forgetfulness and lack of sharpness, I was intrigued by a study last week in Neurology (“the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology”). The study followed about 900 older people over the course of twenty years. The researchers judged how much exercise the people were getting, and then over the course of more than a decade, they judged their mental capabilities using memory and logic tests and MRIs.

At the end, the study showed people who intensely exercised had brains that looked and performed 10 years younger than their peers. Those people were both quicker at figuring things out and had better memories. The researchers note that it wasn’t just any exercise- the benefit came for the people who got regular moderate to intense exercise, like running or aerobics.

Exercise affects the brain on multiple fronts. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the bodily release of a plethora of hormones, all of which participate in aiding and providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.


How often have you been given the advice “sleep on it” when facing a big decision?  A better idea may be to “run on it”, as there’s nothing like a good run to clear the mind and allow you to focus your thoughts. Whenever I’ve faced a big business decision or creative challenge, if I’m able to take an hour to clear my head on a moderate trail run, the decision is often waiting for me at the end.

If you’ve been reading the Empire Runners blog for long, you know that runners are smart people, and now you have the evidence to prove it! Run happy, run smart.


Movie Review: “RACE,” Brad’s Corner

April16BradsCorner02MOVIE REVIEW:   “RACE” (2015) 134minutes.  ‘A biopic of Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics’

By Brad Zanetti

Where to start. Would I recommend this movie? And would I want to see it again? By the nature of its one word ‘double edged’ title the movie promises both a sport story about a specific race(s) and a more important story about worldwide race relations in the 1930’s. Does the movie deliver on both accounts?

The basic storyline is a couple of years in Jesse Owens career based around 2 specific events:

1- The Big Ten Meet in May 1935 where won 4 events with 4 world records(100y, 220y, 220y hurdles, Long Jump) over a 45 minute period(considered the greatest day in the history of track)

2- The1936 Berlin Olympics in August, where he got 4 gold medals(100m, 200m, LJ and 4 x100 relay) and singlehandedly refuted Hitler’s Aryan concept. There is an oblivious timeline and a number of side stories that either confuse or confound the known storyline.

During the 2 plus hour film the pace and rhythm waxed and waned. At times it moved very slowly and left one wondering where the story was going. Since the movie covered a very short specific time in Owens life I expected some great track scenes and the impact of race issues in is life. Some of the side stories were of questionable authenticity and perhaps not necessary. A fair amount of time was spent on a short term love interest of Jesse and the impact on his relationship with his future wife of 45 years. This added nothing to the story as the remainder of the movie even his relationship with his wife wasn’t very well developed. Speaking of the track scenes, I thought there were well done (thankfully no slow motion) and the athletes did look like athletes. As a runner that was appreciated. There were many scenes demonstrating racism in America from fellow student/athletes, other coaches, Avery Brundage and the Olympic coaches. These scenes were strong and impactful. I think the story of his post Olympic struggle would have made this movie more complete. A terse scene with Jesse and his wife having to use the waiter entrance to a party in his honor seemed a weak portrayal.

The section about Owen’s experiences in Berlin was pretty well done but there were still some inconsistencies. The high point was the representation of Jesse’s relationship with the German long jumper, Carl ‘Luc’ Long, which began as an athletic relationship but developed into a strong friendship. There was some questionable poetic license taken with the Leni Riefenstahl character that I find bothersome and inauthentic (hence unnecessary). And her relationship with Goebbels was questionable. Finally I think the time spent on the background of Avery Brundage and Goebbels relationship might have been better spent on Owen’s post Olympic life.

I think editing some of these mentioned problem areas could have improved the pace of the movie and by utilizing that time to clarify his post Olympic tribulations would have strengthened the racial impact of the movie. To answer my original questions; would I recommend seeing this movie. I can unequivocably say, probably. I think the running scenes are good enough to interest the hardcore runners as is the basic storyline. I would recommend this movie to the running fanatics in the group most definitely and to the rest of the readers with the caveat that some of the storyline and characters may not be accurate. That being said, after watching the movie and enjoying much of it I didn’t feel like I gained any new insight into the life of Jesse Owens so to answer the second question; would I watch it a second time? I would have to answer probably not.

Rating:       3.75 out of 5

I took steroids – by Catherine DuBay

I watched the Olympic Marathon Trials and was so impressed by Galen Rupp’s performance and then was so deflated listening to Kara Goucher’s claim that his success is due to Performance Enhancing Drugs. This accusation led me to the BBC special on this subject-focusing on Alberto Salazar and his Oregon Project and their purported use of PED’s. The whole thing makes me sad. Sad for the athletes, sad for the amateurs and sad for the sport of long distance running.

I am not a professional athlete. Far from it. I have never had a sponsor or paid a coach. Sure I earned a few bucks in the PA cross country series and one time won a race sponsored by Chevy’s and got free Chevy’s meals for a year. But even as an amateur I can understand how a professional might be tempted to partake in PED’s. Running is very hard. Training day in and day out, often twice a day, can be grueling. To keep this up over a long training cycle likely will result in injury, burnout or both. If a trusted coach suggests a pill or injection to aid your recovery and boost your workouts without compromising your promise to stay clean, I think we would all be tempted.

I was on steroids before and can attest to their power. I am going to sound like Maria Sharapova, Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong and a host of other professional athletes, when I tell you that I was “prescribed these drugs for a medical condition and had no idea that they were banned”. The difference is that unlike these athletes, I am not a professional and my steroids were NOT for athletic performance but were given for anti-nausea prior to chemotherapy infusions. And man, were they powerful! I took the drugs the 3 days leading up to my infusion and I would get so fired up (some may say wound up) these 3 days that despite the ill effects of chemo I was able to run, swim and/or cycle and feel pretty darn good.

So yes, I can understand how professional athletes who are relying on speedy recoveries from increasing mileage or demanding workouts would be drawn to the power of these drugs. But it makes me so sad to know our sport is tainted by cheaters. I wanted to believe that running was so pure and required such discipline that those capable of this could not stoop so low. I should have known from professional cycling that no sport was immune.

I would like to believe that the cheaters are the exception. Please pro’s, help me believe this. As we enter this Olympic season I want to watch you all glide around the track and through the streets of Rio with the confidence that you are clean and have earned your way to Rio through hard work, smart coaching and sacrifices alone. I will cheer for you and celebrate with you and sadly now have to question you.

Run on my friends.

Come Up And Play With Us!

Editor’s note: It seems like every week brings a new race to Sonoma county, and training groups are sprouting everywhere, from Empire Runners and all the local running stores. Some are informal meet-ups, others are expos with demos from shoe vendors, some are paid groups targeting a specific type of running with a goal race to work towards. This all bodes well for our local, vibrant community.

In the first installment of an ongoing series, we are highlighting some of the options from Healdsburg Running Company. In coming months we’ll hear from other running stores about their training offerings, plus an expanded roster of fun events from Empire Runners.

Come Up And Play With Us!: 1970’s Empire Runners Values Are Healdsburg Running Company’s Founding Principles

A number of new running shops are turning back the clock and using the guiding principles that stem from running clubs and shops from the 1970’s. From Frank Shorter’s win in the Olympics, to women starting to run, to trail running, and other events that spurred on the start of Empire Runners club still holds true for specialty running stores and running clubs today.

40 years later, the resurgence of running is a re-creation of some of the same values that Empire was founded on. At Healdsburg Running Company (HRC) we call these values the 4 C’s: Community Building, Charity, Commerce Everywhere, and Camps & Tours.

Community Building

One of the oldest practices of community building is creating a welcoming environment and tapping into a common interest like trail running. HRC has community runs every night, but the shop focuses on three weekly runs: “Ladies Night”, “Family Night” and the Saturday “Trail Runs.” All of which start at HRC and end at a favorite winery, brewery, restaurant, yoga studio or community center.

Every week has a different locale or theme. Ladies Night gathers 80+ women to run every Tuesday in a fun and safe environment. Family night of over 100 runners focuses on the kids and dogs joining the run and has themes like “running for gelato” while ending at a family-friendly bar or restaurant. HRC Trail Runs center on amazing places and parks – like Lake Sonoma, Armstrong Woods, Riverfront Park, or on private trails in the vineyards – with beer and food to follow at a community breakfast spot. To keep the runs open to all paces and types of runners, there is as much focus on the food and drink as much as the pace!


In order to remain authentic and keeping with 1970’s running roots that started Empire Runners, charity work is needed to reaffirm and provide a sense of community. This also creates social capital to capture some more common interests beyond the running activity itself like changing lives. In a year of hosting film screenings, fun-runs, and participating in numerous fundraising events, HRC has raised nearly $14,000 for a few specific charities that club runners chose. This has included Wear Blue for Fallen Soldiers, Girls On The Run, Vineyard Workers Scholarships and Russian RiverKeeper, along with many local fundraisers for kids track teams and events.

Commerce Everywhere

 Similar to many running clubs, retail activity is not the sole focused at the retail store or club itself. Having a running lounge and meeting spot emphasizes the sense of community and education. Running shoes, apparel and nutrition are, of course, sold, but the focus is bringing the running store or elements of it out to all the events we are sponsoring, hosting or running. In a 24/7 online world, all new running stores sell in a multi-channel environment. Running store products today are sold online as well as at alternative partner retail locations like wineries and bars that sell co-branded HRC running gear. The new emphasis is on integration along with education and awareness, not selling. Amazon sells, but specialty local shops educate!

Camp & Tours

Being forward-looking and capitalizing on Ultra running and Sonoma County wine growth, HRC intends to host more “Running Camps.” Healdsburg Running Camps are four multi-day running vacations starting this fall along with two-day versions for the weekend visitors from the Bay Area. As America’s wineiest running store the camp’s focus is on running but also includes four different professionals runners, sponsored athletes, chefs, winemakers, and other local running guides. For example, a camp will include runners from Hoka One One, a chef from the famous Spoonbar Café, the California winemaker of the year, along with our top local Ultra runner who —–all will run with our campers.

We plan to show these running campers the unparalleled beautiful trails, amazing food, award winning wine and charm of our small town with a quaint stay —all centered around the trail run. It is the run, food, wine and stay of your life!




Getting Back to Business, by Bob Shebest

(Reposted by permission from Bob Shebest. The original post can be found at

Getting Back to Business

North Face Endurance Challenge – Dec 2015. Photo Credit: Let’s Wander Photography
North Face Endurance Challenge – Dec 2015. Photo Credit: Let’s Wander Photography

As runners, it’s tough not to run. And when something’s hurting (and it’s not going away) it weighs heavy on our minds. Denial can sometimes be stretched out for weeks, even months. After dealing with an injury a year ago, however, I was a bit wiser this time around, and recognized the need to get some help with my issue, rather than procrastinate as I’d done before, just increasing the time it took me to come back to healthy, happy running. The hardest part was taking the first step, before things really got outta hand.


At the end of Jan, an x-ray and MRI at Kaiser revealed I had some nasty stuff going on inside my left knee (likely my right too but not as severe). Here’s the blog-post about it with MRI results. Now of all times, this was an especially shitty time to have an “injury” to deal with, since, for the first time, I’m entered in this year’s Western States 100, held at the end of June. But as happens with many ultrarunners, we tend to run ourselves into the ground. And living in the Bay Area, man it’s not hard to do since there’s such a wealth of wonderful trail running events. Peer pressure and supporting sponsors are contributing factors as well. Well that, and racing is fun! So yeah, at the end of 2015, I ran myself into the ground, but mind you, for what I perceived as an essential reason (see previous post for more on that).

So the knee was really pissed at me and I now knew exactly why. The next step was to visit Dave Townsend at Santa Rosa Physical Therapy. Whenever I feel it’s the “beginning of the end” [of my running], Dave gives me hope, and that leads to [patiently] bringing my running back to life, and with renewed gratitude.

Kaiser suggested I take 8 weeks off with no running or cycling. That made me really nervous because I knew two months away could really put me in a hole, out of which would take some time to recapture the fitness I wanted to have in the bank by June. I wasn’t prepared to think about running Western States in any other form but excellent. I need confidence to be high, for this, my eight 100mi trail run, and one that’s on a pretty big stage. I might not get another opportunity to run this bad boy. I need to make this one count!

Dave did a thorough assessment of my situation, and we discussed how and why my left side was dealing with yet another stress-related injury, now two in the last 16 months. After this assessment, Dave and I went to work on creating a rehab routine that included a variety of stretching and strengthening exercises. I’ve done them religiously since our meeting back at the start of Feb. I’ll be 42 this year, and what I’ve learned—the hard way—-is that if I want to keep running at a high level, I have to be increasingly vigilant about giving my body more TLC in the form of foam-rolling, yoga, the use of Trigger Point balls, cycling, strength training etc. Yet again, my run training needed a face-lift. I needed to evolve and I had plenty of time in Feb to think about how I wanted Mar-Jun to roll out, in order to give myself the best chance of running well at States on 6/25.

February – No Running. Weeks in ascending order chronologically. Source:
February – No Running. Weeks in ascending order chronologically. Source:

As you can see I was really into the cross-training during the work-week starting out in early Feb. Intuition (and a little ego) told me it’d be okay to do a long ride on Sunday, which I felt was necessary to at least break even with my fitness once I returned in March. That first Sunday I hit 100mi, which I found was me trying to show myself I was still strong and could do a bike workout that felt similar to my standard Sunday long run. The knee didn’t hurt but the notion that I really needed to use this month wisely, to really recover, started to sink in, through my thick, stubborn skull. Thus, I just focused on morning TLC sessions, doing my SRPT routine mixed in with some yoga. I walked to work a lot as well. The weather in Feb was dry so I was lucky to be able to consistently get out on Sunday for long rides. I focused on hitting long, sustained climbs in my Zone 2 (ultrarunning HR zone).

My wife, Amanda, also helped nurse my knee back to health with a variety of remedies including mixing up some Essential Oil blends as well as having a friend of hers make me some amazing bone broth (I drank a cup every morning and night for a few weeks. Amanda also researched and got me a variety of supplements that I’m still taking, more out of fear at this point than anything. I’m grateful how smart and proactive she is, dealing with her unreasonable, grumpy-when-injured, ultrarunning husband.

Ease back into running. Weeks in ascending order. Source:
Ease back into running. Weeks in ascending order. Source:

March 1st couldn’t come fast enough, and my patience was indeed wearing thin. I was itching to run. Coming back, I knew I had to continue exercising restraint. There’s just too much on the line this year, to take unwarranted risks. So, I figured running every 72hrs (3 days) starting back would allow my knee to continue strengthening while easing back into run training. Those first few runs were pretty wonky. I wasn’t confident at all my knee was ready to come back to the stress of running. By the weekend, however, things felt a lot better. The following Monday, I felt I was ready for a quality session. And since it was my downhill running that overtaxed the knee, I felt an [up]hill session was a wise choice for the first quality session back. That went well and so, encouraged, I did a tempo run 72 hours later followed by a Sunday long run 3 days after the tempo run. It felt so good to run up at Lake Sonoma, even if I did get tangled up in a bunch of briars while swimming across a flooded section of trail from recent heavy rains. I’ll take it!

According to plan, I just wanted to get my feet back under me, build a bit of fitness, then take the next 5 days or so to really recover and absorb those initial quality sessions. This time off preceded my Spring Break from teaching, which, including weekends would be ten days in duration (3/19 – 3/28). With all that time off I could easily over do it…

Spring Break Training – 3/19 – 3/28 (10 days). Weeks in ascending order. Source:
Spring Break Training – 3/19 – 3/28 (10 days). Weeks in ascending order. Source:

I love hilly long runs. Naturally, this is why I gravitate to long, hilly ultrarunning events. They speak to my heart and soul. Thus, I planned it out to conduct four long runs over the 10 day spring break. Where once I would’ve done a long run every other day (and more heavily accumulate fatigue) I decided it best to stick to my 72-hour rule, which had been working well since I started back running. The plan was to hit the first long run that first day off, which coincided with the Lake Sonoma 50mi Training Runs anyway, and Lake Sonoma doesn’t have the long, steep descents that I find at Hood Mountain & Sugarloaf Ridge. Essentially, Lake Sonoma would be a little friendlier to my knee for this first “official” long run back.

My long runs were then scheduled as follows: Saturday, Tuesday, Friday, and Monday. The day after the long run would be a non-running day where I’d get out and ride the bike, easy, for a few hours, just spinning the legs. The day before the long run, I decided to do double days. But, running twice in a day didn’t seem like a wise decision considering my knee, so I decided to make the morning session a pretty easy fast-hike wearing my 20lb weight vest. I get a kick out of this session because I’m killing two birds with one stone, i.e., practicing a skill—fast-hiking—that’s important in ultrarunning while getting some strength stimulus from the vest. I soon started listening to podcasts during this session as well. Eventually I’m going to integrate minimalist shoes since the session’s only an hour, I’m not running, and stress on the legs is minimal. Seems to me a cool place to get my feet even more in touch with the trail. Hoka’s got some very light, more minimalist style shoes that’ll work well for this particular session.

Another point of note: now two days removed from the long run, I was feeling the effects of the long run and felt validated in the decision to run long every three days versus every other day. We feel the effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) most two days after a hard session. With the extra day of recovery, I feel we can not only arrive more fresh to the next quality session, but increase the duration of that session, deriving even more quality from it. Because most of us are slaves to the 7-day work-week, we can’t take full  advantage of this 10-day training cycle that a lot of pro endurance athletes use. If/when life presents the opportunity to employ it, I highly recommend trying it out! Quality sessions are more fun when the body (and mind!) are fresh. Weekly training volume is what it is.

The PM session—opposite the weight vest session—is what I now refer to as the “Easy. Light. Smooth,” or “ESL” run, whose name I stole from Chris McDougall’s book, Born to Run, documenting how the Tarahumara Indian tribe runs—Easy, light, and smooth. Recall, this session is my first actual run since the long run two days prior so I want to use it to gauge how I’m coming off the long run before I ask my body to do another one. As it turned out, the method turned out to be very effective. Endurance sports training 101: Keep the easy days easy so the hard days can actually be hard. And in a long run, the quality comes from duration not intensity.

For the subsequent three long runs, I wanted to get out to my fave place to train here locally—Hood/Sugarloaf, where I spend much of the time just going uphill, which is great for me ’cause that’s my limiter in ultra racing. And all the low-impact uphill work didn’t affect my knee. Over the whole spring break I was very reasonable and controlled with my descending (my strength), which unfortunately places incredible demands on the knees, especially in races that last 7-19 hours! Anyway, I really enjoyed these last three 5+ hour runs with around 8000′ of climb each. The streams are flowing and everything’s green. The temps were down and I could easily get around my loop on one 300cal bottle of Vitargo for hydration. That will not be the case as the season heats up!

Spring Break Running Totals: 147mi w/ 36,000′ of elevation gain/loss

Thus my spring break served its purpose—establish a strong foundation moving forward with training and get some very specific work for the 16,000′ of elevation gain/loss at Canyons 100k on May 7th. I’ll hope to have this wonderful opportunity to race on the Western States 100 course, but also get to compete one more time whilst I’m still 41 (I turn 42 just two days later). I love getting to race on or near my actual birthday. Provides some extra incentive! I will, however, have to keep my eyes on the prize and listen to my body during Canyons. If the knee’s really talkin’ to me, I might have to make a tough decision and drop in order to, as I tell athletes I coach, “preserve the future.” I do anticipate racing strong from start to finish but given that Canyons is only 7 weeks out from States, I just have to be careful. There’s a big difference between doing an easy 5-hour long run and racing a demanding 100k. My plan is to arrive to the starting line of Canyons very fit and fresh so I can not only race effectively but also recover very well in time to get back to a training block for States, which I’m very excited to do!

Psyched and super grateful to back on board with HOKA ONE ONE this year. Lots of great new models to try out and keep me running strong. It’s gonna be another awesome season!!
Psyched and super grateful to back on board with HOKA ONE ONE this year. Lots of great new models to try out and keep me running strong. It’s gonna be another awesome season!!
Equally psyched to back on board with the fastest muscle fuel out there—VitargoS2. And by the way, the new watermelon flavor is the!!
Equally psyched to back on board with the fastest muscle fuel out there—VitargoS2. And by the way, the new watermelon flavor is the!!

Faster than Twitter, thanks to my beautiful, loving, and highly supportive wife Amanda for her thankless job [even from afar] as “First Responder.”  |  Thank you to Julbo Eyewear for the beautiful, functional, and comfortable sunglasses. It’s GREAT to be working with you!  |  Thank you to Hoka One One for your continued support and producing the best shoes out there—#LetsGoHoka!  |  Thanks to Inside Trail Racing for offering so many fantastic races in great places.  |  Thanks to Vitargo for the steady energy and SIMPLIFYING my nutrition.  |  Thank you Healdsburg Running Company for all the wonderful support. HRC rocks! | Victory Sportdesign produces the best drop-bags in the biz! | Thanks to Dave Townsend at Santa Rosa Physical Therapy for helping me keep the dream alive!