Competitor.com http://running.competitor.com Your Online Source for Running Fri, 24 Jun 2016 23:00:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.1 Photos: Chasing Fast Times on the Track in Oregon http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/photos/photos-chasing-fast-times-on-the-track-in-portland_152322 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/photos/photos-chasing-fast-times-on-the-track-in-portland_152322#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 21:10:15 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152322

The Stumptown Twilight Track Meet on June 23 in Gresham, Ore., provided the opportunity for top-tier and up-and-coming American runners a

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The Stumptown Twilight Track Meet on June 23 in Gresham, Ore., provided the opportunity for top-tier and up-and-coming American runners a last chance to qualify for the July 1-10 U.S. Olympic Trials. Despite a light rain, the racing was fierce and emotions ran high. Here’s an inside look at how the meet played out in all of its competitive glory.

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A Day in the Life with Magdalena Boulet http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/partnerconnect/day-life-magdalena-boulet_152276 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/partnerconnect/day-life-magdalena-boulet_152276#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 19:03:53 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152276

Magdalena Boulet has been a world-class runner for more than a decade, but she's much more than that—as a typical day in her life shows.

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HOKA One One athlete Magdalena Boulet has been a world-class runner for more than a decade, but she’s so much more than that—as a typical day in her busy life shows. Family comes first—her husband, Rich, and her son, Owen, also lead busy lives—and the balance, support and integration they achieve are paramount to making it all work and the reason it’s all so worthwhile. Amid that synergy, Magdalena finds time to fit in her training and also working 9 to 5 as director of research and development for a sports nutrition company. It’s not a lifestyle everyone can pull off, but that multi-tasking commitment and relentless energy has been woven into the fabric of Magdalena’s life for a decade and certainly contributed to her making the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in the marathon and winning the 2015 Western States 100.

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2016 Summer Trail Running Shoe Review http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/shoes-and-gear/2016-summer-trail-running-shoe-review_152240 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/shoes-and-gear/2016-summer-trail-running-shoe-review_152240#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 18:10:26 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152240

The inside dirt on nine new off-road running shoes.

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Summertime means it’s time to venture off-road and explore the great outdoors, no matter if that’s at a local trail near your neighborhood or an epic route inside a national park. Running on trails offers a bit of serenity you’re not likely to find within an urban or suburban environment. But while you’re winding through forests and taking in the views, you’ll want to make sure you’re properly shod. In this review, we highlight 11 of the best trail running shoes available at running stores this spring and summer in three categories: agile cruisers, mid-range hybrids and mountain marauders.

Note: Weights listed per shoe are for men’s size 9.0 and women’s size 7.0

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Do-It-Yourself Lactate Threshold Testing http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/training/do-it-yourself-lactate-threshold-testing_152310 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/training/do-it-yourself-lactate-threshold-testing_152310#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 16:29:11 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152310

One of the best measures of running fitness is lactate threshold.

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One of the best measures of running fitness is lactate threshold (LT), which is the running speed or heart rate at which lactate—an intermediate product of aerobic metabolism in the muscles—begins to accumulate rapidly in the bloodstream. If your training program is working, two things are sure to happen. One is that you will run faster at the point where your blood lactate level spikes. The other is that your heart rate at this threshold will increase (i.e., your lactate threshold heart rate will move closer to your maximum heart rate).

In addition to being useful as a measure of running fitness, lactate threshold is also useful for establishing individual intensity zones for training. That’s because LT happens to fall at a moderate intensity level. Efforts that are more than a little faster than the pace or heart rate that corresponds to LT are defined as high intensity and offer a different set of benefits than moderate-intensity training. Efforts that are more than a little slower than the pace or heart rate that corresponds to LT count as low intensity and offer yet another set of benefits.

Establishing individual target intensity zones to use in your training requires that you know the running pace and/or heart rate that corresponds to your lactate threshold. Exercise scientists determine lactate threshold in a laboratory environment. In a typical LT test, a runner starts running at a low speed on a treadmill and is then required to run incrementally faster until the point of failure. At each step, the person leading the test takes a small blood sample from the runner’s fingertips and measures its blood lactate concentration.

After the test is completed, the collected data is used to create a graph in which the blood lactate concentration is plotted against pace and/or heart rate. Lactate threshold is pinpointed where the blood lactate concentration begins to increase rapidly. In a typical trained athlete, that point corresponds to roughly 85 percent of maximum heart rate and falls somewhere between 10K and half-marathon race pace.

The protocol just described has some obvious disadvantages. It requires special equipment and expert assistance, it’s relatively costly, and it’s invasive. For all of these reasons, it can’t easily be done with optimal frequency (once every six to eight weeks) by most runners. Fortunately, there are do-it-yourself alternatives to lab-based lactate threshold testing that work quite well. Let’s take a look at three of them.

The Time-Trial Method

The time-trial method of determining lactate threshold pace and heart rate can be done on a treadmill set at a 1 percent grade, on a running track, or on any other flat, smooth surface that’s conducive to fast running. It also requires some means of measuring time elapsed and distance covered as well as heart rate. Be sure to conduct this test on a day when you are not fatigued from recent hard training.

Begin with several minutes of easy jogging to warm up. When you’re ready, start tracking time, distance, and pace on your treadmill or watch and run for 30 minutes at the fastest pace you can sustain for that amount of time. Be careful to avoid the common mistake of starting too fast and then slowing down toward the end of the time trial due to fatigue, which will produce an inaccurate result. When you get to 10 minutes, note your heart rate.

At 30 minutes, stop and note your heart rate again. Calculate the sum of your heart rate at 10 minutes and your heart rate at 30 minutes and divide by two. That’s your LT heart rate. Your LT pace is your average pace for the entire 30-minute effort, assuming your pace was fairly steady.

A 2005 study by scientists at East Carolina University found that this method of determining LT heart rate and pace is very accurate. Its downside is that it’s hard—equivalent to running a half-hour race.

The Race Time Method

We know that a runner’s lactate threshold pace is a strong predictor of his or her race times. But it also works the other way around: Your race times can be used to estimate your pace at lactate threshold.

I often use coach Greg McMillan’s Running Calculator for this purpose. Simply enter a recent race time in the relevant field and press the “Submit” button. Near the top of the results page, you will see “vLT” with some numbers next to it. That is your approximate lactate threshold pace.

To determine your LT heat rate, warm up and then accelerate to your LT pace on a flat, smooth surface. Wait for your heart rate to plateau and note it. That number is your LT heat rate.

The High-Tech Method

A new option for do-it-yourself lactate threshold has emerged recently. It entails using LED lights to noninvasively read the concentration of lactate in the blood. The sensor is contained in a sleeve worn around the calf. A smartphone app guides the runner through a traditional LT test workout protocol (i.e., starting at a slow pace and accelerating every few minutes until exhaustion). When the workout is complete, the app uses the data collected from the sensor to calculate lactate threshold pace and heart rate as well as appropriate training zones.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported that this new method exhibited a high degree of accuracy when compared against the laboratory method. In my own testing, I found that the LED light method closely matched the result that I got from the race time method.

What’s Your Lactate Threshold?

Do you know your lactate threshold pace and heart rate? You should. Fortunately, getting accurate measurements without expert help (or blood!) has never been easier. Choose your preferred DIY method and start tracking your fitness and training more effectively today.

RELATED: The Physiological Differences Between Male and Female Runners

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Q&A: Nick Symmonds on the Olympics, Doping and Parties http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/interviews/qa-nick-symmonds-on-the-olympics-doping-parties_152296 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/interviews/qa-nick-symmonds-on-the-olympics-doping-parties_152296#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 22:56:10 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152296

Photo: Courtesy of Brooks Running

Two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds shares his thoughts about the state of the sport, how elites party, and the difference between running and

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Photo: Courtesy of Brooks Running

Whether it’s about doping, the hypocrisy of amateurism in sports, Nike’s outsized influence, or human rights, six-time American 800-meter champion, two-time Olympian and serial entrepreneur Nick Symmonds never holds back. Ahead of the 32-year-old’s bid to make his third Olympics on July 4 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., Symmonds shares his thoughts about the state of the sport, how elites party, and the difference between running and training.

What’s an Olympic year like for you in terms of your focus and state of mind?

It doesn’t change a lot for me as a competitor. It changes a lot as a businessman. Because people wake up and start caring about what I’m doing. Most of the world doesn’t really care what I do for three years, but during an Olympic year everyone wants an interview and sponsors want to be a part of what you’re doing. It’s an exciting year in that you get to work harder off the track.

If you could be czar of track and field, what would you do?

I would do everything possible to separate track and field from the Olympic movement. The Olympics are a great entity but they are so steeped in amateurism that we just can’t have a full-fledged professional sport as long as the Super Bowl for us is the Olympics every four years. I’m really impressed with what tennis did back in the ’70s and ’80s, the way the athletes came together and fought for their rights—and having a Grand Slam model, three to four events each year that paid millions of dollars and everybody in the world would stop and take note. I gotta be honest, nobody cares what happens at a Diamond League event. No one’s gonna remember these races in six months, let alone years from now. I’d even argue the IAAF World Championships is kind of a watered-down competition.

Why should joggers and casual runners care about track and field as a sport?

Right now I don’t think that they should care. The average person probably believes or has heard how filthy our sport is. These are things that make me not wanna follow the sport. And I’m in the sport!

What is it that makes an athlete like yourself suspect a fellow athlete of doping?

All I can speak to is the stuff that I’ve seen around me and though I haven’t witnessed an athlete injecting themselves, I’ve seen what’s happened with the Russians, what’s happened with the Ethiopians, Kenyans, Jamaicans. The lack of testing that takes place outside the United States is laughable to be honest.

Are there telltale signs that make you suspect a certain person, for example?

I’ll go on record of saying that I’m the kind of person that wants to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I’m a short, stocky white kid that managed to run 1:45 clean. I’m by far not the quintessential body type for running fast 800s. So I look at David Rudisha, a 6-foot-3 Masai warrior Kenyan that was raised at altitude, yeah he should probably run two seconds faster than me over 800 meters. So it’s very easy for me to give him the benefit of the doubt and say ‘yeah of course he was clean.’ But again, I’m not necessarily pointing fingers or naming names, I’m just saying if you look at the math, there’s only one way it adds up, and it’s that some of the people we’re competing with are dirty.

You’re known for being able to get into top shape quickly. How do you do it?

I typically carry an extra 5 to 10 pounds on me most of the year. It’s very easy for me to lose that weight, but I get sick or I get injured if I try to run too light, too soon. So I was racing in China last week at 167, which is 7 pounds higher than I’d like to race at USAs. So over the next seven weeks I’ll shed a pound a week with the intention of racing at 160 at USAs. Coach Danny Mackey and I like to call it my weight vest. I carry my training vest around with me for 11 months out of the year and then I take my weight vest off right before USAs and sure enough that helps a lot believe it or not.

RELATED: Cross-Train Like Olympian Nick Symmonds

Through combination of diet and training? Or more one than the other?

More diet. I’m the kind of guy that’s always believed that if the furnace is hot enough it’ll burn anything—and I’m running 10 miles a day, so I’ll eat whatever I feel like eating. With just a tiny little bit of focus on my diet, maybe having one beer instead of two at night, maybe having popcorn instead of potato chips with my sandwich at lunch, little tiny tweaks like that I can just shed pounds without thinking about it almost.

What was it like starting a company while still training as an elite runner?

It was kind of a lifesaver in 2014 when I was injured and had a season-ending injury. It was really the first time I’d had to deal with season-ending injures since I turned pro, and I didn’t handle it well. The only way that I could deal with it mentally was the idea of turning lemons into lemonade. And coach Sam [Lapray] and I, we’re kind of serial entrepreneurs. We said let’s view this not as a forced break in my career, but just a bit of a sabbatical that would allow us to do what we’d always wanted to do, and that was start a consumer-goods business basically around the sport of running. I’d had the idea for Run Gum for close to a decade. I estimate I probably lost $100,000 in earnings that summer by not being able to race, but we have recouped that many times over in the creation and success of Run Gum. So it was kind of a blessing in disguise when you look at it that way.

How hard do elites party overall compared to the general populace?

I think they party equally as hard, just not as frequently. I have a lot of friends from college that were never athletes and lived normal lives and they partied a lot, maybe two to three times a week they’re going out. Elite athletes might only go out once a month but when they do they go out harder than anybody. And it’s because they need to blow off that steam.

Like a work-hard, play-hard sort of thing for elite athletes?

Exactly. I remember when I was 22 or 23 and fresh out of college and coach Gags [former Oregon Track Club coach Frank Gagliano] is telling me to make sure I’m in bed by 9:30. It would just anger me. I hated the lifestyle so much when I saw my friends traveling the world and partying, living this carefree lifestyle. Now I’m 32, when most of them are in jobs that they hate and mortgages and families, they would give anything to be in bed by 9:30 and I’m in bed, sleeping peacefully for 12 hours a night. There was kind of this switch in my late 20s/early 30s where the lifestyle went from something I thought was holding me back to something that was probably the best part of the whole job.

Do elite runners enjoy running more than everyone else, or do they sometimes dread going for a run just like the rest of us?

I know for a fact that a lot of elite runners dread going for a run. I love running. I love everything about it. But I always say I hate training. Running is waking up, putting your shoes on and just spending some time alone in nature or with some friends, connecting with the world around you, and it’s beautiful. Training is about doing whatever’s on the paper whether you feel like it or not. Training is sacrifice, it’s time away from family, it’s time away from friends. It’s a 24/7 job.

Is it easy to get focused for the Olympic Trials when you’re in Eugene? What’s it like for you?

It still feels like home. I lived there for eight years and I still have a house there and a business there, so I’m back to Eugene quite a bit. [Symmonds now lives in Seattle.] It’s easy, I just go back and kick my feet up. I would say the huge advantage is that I still have a good following there, and I wanna put on a show for that crowd. And I’m hoping, and I’ll need it this year certainly more than ever, that when I step on that starting line on July 4 and the Eugene crowd goes crazy, that feeling of meaning and that feeling of ‘hey, I really want this’ will allow my legs to get it done one more time and put me on that third Olympic team.

VIDEO: Why I Run: Nick Symmonds

 

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Gear We Love: June 2016 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/photos/gear-we-love-june-2016_152288 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/photos/gear-we-love-june-2016_152288#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 18:44:24 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152288

From cozy socks to fast shoes to socially conscious running shorts, our picks for the month.

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What are we into as the summer months get started? Check out our gear picks from all the editors:

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Dathan Ritzenhein Won’t Compete at U.S. Olympic Track Trials http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/news/dathan-ritzenhein-will-miss-olympics_152270 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/news/dathan-ritzenhein-will-miss-olympics_152270#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 17:02:47 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152270

Dathan Ritzenhein has been an American distance-running fixture at the Olympic Games, competing in the 10,000m in 2004 and 2012, and in the

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Dathan Ritzenhein has been an American distance-running fixture at the Olympic Games, competing in the 10,000m in 2004 and 2012, and in the marathon in 2008.

However, he won’t be in Rio this summer for the 2016 Olympics. Ritzenhein dropped out of the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon in February with leg cramps, and he informed MLive.com that he won’t be in Eugene, Oregon next week for the Olympic Trials for track. He had considered competing in the 10,000m.

Ritzenhein told MLive that he had some nagging injuries this spring and was unable to find a 10,000m qualifying race to coincide with his health and fitness. With that, he will sit out this Olympic cycle.

“I’ve just tried to move past it,” Ritzenhein told MLive. “One of the things for a while was the battle with myself with wanting to do it with closing the book knowing I wasn’t in condition to do it. I’ve come to terms with that now. I just want to move to the next thing.”

Ritzenhein placed 9th in the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing, the highest among American finishers in the race. He also earned a bronze medal at the 2009 World Half Marathon Championships.

The next thing for Ritzenhein is actually this weekend. He will be part of the elite field at the B.A.A. 10K on Sunday, his first race since the Trials marathon. Ritzenhein will be joined by several high-profile Americans, including Shalane Flanagan, Amy Cragg and Abdi Abdirahman.

They will be competing against a strong international field that includes Geoffrey Mutai, Mary Wacera and Atsede Baysa.

Ritzenhein, 33, was adament that his Olympic quest isn’t over—it’s just taking a break in 2016.

MORE: MLive.com

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Out There: Doublespeak http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/out-there/out-there-doublespeak_152265 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/out-there/out-there-doublespeak_152265#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 06:56:13 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152265

What runners say and what runners mean are two different things.

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What runners say and what runners mean are two different things.

Runners are the biggest liars around. It’s not that we intend to lie, mind you – but what comes out of our mouths usually doesn’t reflect the truth. Sometimes it’s because of good intentions, sometimes delusion – but most of the time, it’s because runners just live in an alternate reality. What we say versus what we actually mean are two different things.

 

What runners say: “I’m going to do my run at 4 A.M.”

What runners mean: “My snooze button is about to get quite the workout.”

 

What runners say: “It’s not a very long run.”

What runners mean: “We may cross state lines.”

 

What runners say: “Let’s take it easy today.”

What runners mean: “Runners, take your mark…get set…”

 

What runners say: “Hold on, my shoe is untied.”

What runners mean: “I gotta catch my breath, dude.”

 

What runners say: “Good running shoes are an investment, you know?”

What runners mean: “Please don’t tell my spouse how much money I spent on this pair.”

 

What runners say: “I have a healthy appetite.”

What runners mean: “This is my third breakfast today.”

 

What runners say: “I’m just going to do a quick run.”

What runners mean: “See you in two hours.”

 

What runners say: “I think I’ll wear leggings to work today.”

What runners mean: “There is chafing in unspeakable places.”

 

What runners say: “Eew, look at that gross thing over there!”

What runners mean: “Please look away while I blow a snot rocket.”

 

What runners say: “It’s a technical trail.”

What runners mean: “You have health insurance, right?”

 

What runners say: “I read somewhere that active recovery is better than rest, actually.”

What runners mean: “I will run with this injury until it goes away and/or requires amputation.”

 

What runners say: “Oh, I’m just doing this race as a training day.”

What runners mean: “I haven’t run in four weeks.”

 

What runners say: “I’m going to do a quick warm-up jog over there.”

What runners mean: “Be right back, gonna take a leak in the bushes.”

 

What runners say: “It’s a rolling course.”

What runners mean: “We’re doing hill repeats up a ski jump.”

 

What runners say: “Those were some monster hills!”

What runners mean: “I had a bad race and need something to blame.”

 

What runners say: “I started my taper yesterday.”

What runners mean: “Don’t talk. Just leave the pizza and walk away.”

 

What runners say: “I’m carb-loading.”

What runners mean: “I had three donuts for an afternoon snack.”

 

What runners say: “I am never doing that again.”

What runners mean: “Ask me again in two days.”

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). Susan lives and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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Q&A: Ex-MLB Star Eric Byrnes to Take on Western States 100 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/trail-running/career-change-eric-byrnes-goes-from-pro-baseball-to-competitive-ultrarunning_152217 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/trail-running/career-change-eric-byrnes-goes-from-pro-baseball-to-competitive-ultrarunning_152217#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 18:33:49 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152217

Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

Six years after retiring from a professional sport, Eric Byrnes has reached the pinnacle of an amateur sport—the Western States 100-Mile

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Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

Six years after retiring from a professional sport, Eric Byrnes has reached the pinnacle of an amateur sport—the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.

Byrnes, 40, an outfielder who played for five teams in an 11-year major league career that ended in 2010, will be a first-time entrant in the run from Squaw Valley to Auburn, Calif.. The country’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile event will begin at 5 a.m. Saturday from the base of the Squaw Valley ski resort and advance to the track at Placer High School. Byrnes will be supported by a team that includes former pro cyclist Lance Armstrong, who will pace the final 22 miles of the race with Byrnes.

Although many professional endurance athletes have competed in Western States, Byrnes, who lives in Half Moon Bay, Calif., with his wife and three children, is believed to be the first former professional team sports athlete to participate in the historic trail race that typically has a field of about 365 runners.

Now a broadcaster for MLB Network, Byrnes has completed eight Ironman triathlons in the past five years. He’s also finished six ultras, including the Miwok 100K twice. (He placed 25th out of 288 finishers at this year’s Miwok race in 11:01:48.)

We talked to Byrnes about his transition from baseball and what endurance sports means to him:

You come from baseball where you run onto the field from a dugout and you might hear cheering or booing from 40,000 fans. But in trail running, you might not see anyone or hear anything other than the sounds you hear in nature. What are your thoughts transitioning from one kind of sport to another?

One of the things that drew me to ultrarunning was the community aspect. It was the idea that it felt like a team sport. That’s something obviously you don’t get generally in endurance sports. As much as I love triathlon, you don’t get that there, either. To see how real the people are on the trails is unbelievable.

Can you compare endurance sports to baseball in other ways?

Without trying to stereotype ultrarunners too much, it’s like a bunch of hippies out there running with a real sneaky competitive edge. It’s a community and it seems to be a team sport, but there’s also some fiery people out there who love running and love pushing the limits.

How has your body changed from your days in the major leagues to becoming an endurance athlete?

It changes a lot. The biggest changes came when I did my first couple of Ironman races. I came into this thing at 6-foot-2 and solid 210 pounds. I’d been training anaerobically. I’d never run more than four miles. I’d never swam more than 25 yards and I’d never been on a bike other than a BMX bike or a beach cruiser. It was dramatic. I’m now between 180-190 pounds depending upon if you ask me after a long run or a big meal.

People will ask me, ‘Are you in the best shape of your life?’ I just say it’s a much different sort of shape. I was training to be a thoroughbred horse. Everything was just short, quick burst of energy. This is the exact opposite. I was sitting there with 80-90 percent fast-twitch muscle and now I’ve come full circle. I’m now probably 80-90 percent slow-twitch muscle.

What was your first competitive experience like in endurance sports?

I got into it on a dare from three junior high school friends. They were going down to do the Pacific Grove’s sprint triathlon. Basically, they dared me to show up and do it. I showed up with my surfing wetsuit, my beach cruiser and wearing board shorts. I went out there and completely got my ass kicked by 14-year-old girls. That was a big eye-opener.

You lost your father at a young age, just when you started to get into triathlons, and a few years before that, your friend Pat Tillman (the former NFL player) was killed as a soldier in Afghanistan. You carried Tillman’s jersey across finish line at your first Ironman. What was the reason for doing that?

Training and exercise, that was my therapy. That was my way to cope and get through it, the loss of my father and Pat. Without it, I would have had a lot more difficulty. That was kind of the idea of wanting to do Western States this year. My father achieved an advance martial arts level at age 40. With Pat, it’s an opportunity to teach another generation of kids about Pat Tillman.  If it didn’t happen this year, no big deal. I would have moved on and tried to get in on whatever process it took for next year. But it’s pretty cool. I can’t tell you how excited I am.

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Photos: Fast Moms with Olympic Track Aspirations http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/photos/photos-fast-moms-on-the-road-to-rio_151728 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/photos/photos-fast-moms-on-the-road-to-rio_151728#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 16:16:30 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=151728

These fast women are on their way to the Olympic Trials and they all have young children in tow.

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These fast women are on their way to the U.S. Olympic Trials track championships, and they all have young children in tow. While most of us will never experience the thrill of running at such a high level, pregnancy, childbirth and the busy daily schedule of being a mom and a runner are infinitely more relatable. Combining the two is hard to fathom, but it’s doable, and, as middle-distance runner Alysia Montaño said in a recent interview, “you have to work hard for what’s important to you.”

RELATED: Professional Mother Runners of the U.S. Olympic Trials

The ladies in this gallery, and many more, are showing what it means to be a working mom as a professional runner with Olympic aspirations. The U.S. Olympic Trials will be held July 1-10 in Eugene, Ore., and the top three finishers in each event will earn a spot on the U.S. team competing at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.

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Professional Mother Runners of the U.S. Olympic Trials http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/olympic-trials/professional-mother-runners-of-the-olympic-trials_151719 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/olympic-trials/professional-mother-runners-of-the-olympic-trials_151719#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 16:15:43 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=151719

Kellyn Taylor (left), Sara Slattery (center) and Alysia Montano have juggled motherhood with successful running careers. Photos: PhotoRun.net

Pro runners Alysia Montano, Sara Slattery and Kellyn Taylor prove it's possible to give birth and still train for the 2016 U.S. Olympic

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Kellyn Taylor (left), Sara Slattery (center) and Alysia Montano have juggled motherhood with successful running careers. Photos: PhotoRun.net

From the appropriate amount of weight to gain, to how much running (and how fast) is OK, to when women return to their workouts, there are no easy answers when it comes to pregnancy and running. As challenging as the endless criticizing is for moms who run for fitness, imagine what it’s like for professional runners who also give birth.

When peak physical fitness is a job requirement, some may wonder if it’s possible to have it all. The resounding answer is “Yes!” The key comes in paying attention to your body. Some women are able to run up until giving birth, and return to fitness with seeming ease. Other athletes look at being pregnant as a time to give their body a break from the rigors of training. Sara Slattery, Kellyn Taylor and Alysia Montaño took different approaches to pregnancies, but these three speedster moms are all on their way to the U.S. Olympic Trials which will be held July 1-10 in Eugene, Ore.

PHOTOS: Fast Moms on the Road to Rio

Time to Reboot

Sara Slattery, 34, was a two-time NCAA champion while at the University of Colorado, before winning the Bolder Boulder 10K in 2006 (the last American woman to do so). After placing fourth in the 5,000m at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, Slattery began battling injuries and overtraining issues. She and her husband Steve, a former elite steeplechaser, eventually moved from Colorado back to Slattery’s hometown of Phoenix to start a family. Slattery now has two children, ages 1 and 3 and is a distance coach at Grand Canyon University. As it turns out, pregnancy was just what she needed to look at running in a new light—something she does for the joy of it, not just the job.

“I looked at my pregnancies as a mental and physical break from years of intense training,” says Slattery who ran through month four of each pregnancy, and walked or rode the ElliptiGO to stay active as her pregnancies progressed. “I also had two C-sections, so I had to wait an additional six weeks after each of my children were born before running.”

The break gave Slattery an opportunity to realize how much she loved running. Not only did she enjoy both of her pregnancies, she’s also enjoyed the process of coming back and seeing huge improvements each week. Running is Slattery’s “me time.” Instead of putting so much pressure on individual workouts, she now looks at her training as more of an accumulation.

“I take advantage of the time I have to run. I no longer have the time to overthink things,” says Slattery who credits her coaching job as helping her to rediscover her passion for the sport. “I’m still very competitive, but after a run, I put on my mom hat or coach hat. It’s not the only thing in my life anymore and it takes the stress off a bit.”

According to husband Steve Slattery, who is also Sara’s coach, the biggest shift for her since having children is that she now trains because she wants to and is having fun. It’s almost as if she’s returned to having a high school mentality about her running.

“I give her the workouts, she gets them done and she moves on to the next thing,” Slattery says. “She’s a high achiever and such a talented athlete, but she isn’t worried about it. She wants to win as much as the next person, but she’s turned off so much of the pressure she used to put on herself.”

Day by Day

Kellyn Taylor finished third in the mile at the 2009 NCAA indoor championships when she was running for Wichita State. In 2012, she ran the 10,000m and 5,000m at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, finishing tenth and fourteenth respectively. During the intervening years between being a college athlete and an elite runner, Taylor had a daughter.

“I was fresh out of college and wasn’t training for anything so I just took it day by day,” says Taylor, a personal trainer at the time, of her pregnancy.

Her casual attitude towards running meant she did it just for her, and she ended up running four to six, easy to moderate miles on most days of her pregnancy. “I had a very easy pregnancy and birth but I still took my time getting back into shape.’

The new mom had the added challenge of her husband being deployed to Afghanistan for the first six months after their daughter was born. Managing motherhood, running and now training to become a firefighter has forced Taylor to become more organized.

“I like to get my stuff done and go,” says Taylor, who often logs her second workout of the day at night on the treadmill. “After workouts my teammates like to go to brunch, coffee, or just hang out a bit longer but I like to get home so that I have more time with my daughter.”

Taylor also noticed she’s become a faster runner since having her daughter, something she thinks, in part, stemmed from the extra strength training of hauling a 10-pound baby around all day.

“Once I started training again I saw significant improvements,” says Taylor whose daughter is now 6. “I race to prove to myself and my daughter that anything is possible with hard work.”

But the Olympic contender, who ran a personal best of 31:40 in the 10,000m in May, says it’s impossible to balance it all. And while she tries to make family her first priority, sometimes she misses “a game, field trip or quality time” due to training schedules and races.

“I’m just trying to keep my head above water and be the best mother and runner I can be.”

Running (and Racing) Through

When pregnant with her daughter, Olympian and six-time U.S. 800m champion Alysia Montaño, 30, had the obvious goals of having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. She also believed that staying active was key to making both of those goals realities and decided to run as long as she could without pushing it.

She listened to her body and took the different phases in stride, managing four runs a week during the first trimester, daily runs during the second, and about two runs a week for the final stretch. One of those runs just happened to be at the 2014 U.S. Championships, which she ran while 34 weeks pregnant. She finished last, but wanted to show what it meant for a professional runner to be a working mom. Montaño even went on a 5-mile run the same day she had her baby.

“I breastfed my daughter for the first year of her life,” Montaño says. “My running wasn’t snappy, but it was quick enough and I was careful about loading and speed because my ligaments and joints were still loose.”

Even while breastfeeding, Montaño had impressive finishes, including silver in the 800m and gold in the 4x400m relay at the 2015 Pan American Games, and earning the 2015 U.S. titles for indoor 600m and outdoor 800m. She says returning to full strength has been a metaphorical rebirth of her “fire and desire” for hard work.

“For me sports, life and family all tie in together, with one teaching you something about the next,” says Montaño, who wants to show her daughter the importance of working towards goals. “Being competitive is personality-based for me, but you have to recognize the purpose and enjoy your life.”

The takeaway from these three is that they are moms and they are professional runners. And, when it comes to the upcoming Trials, they have a job to do.

RELATED: 5 Tips for Running While Pregnant

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Shoe of the Week: Topo Hydroventure http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/shoes-and-gear/shoe-of-the-week-topo-hydroventure_151802 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/shoes-and-gear/shoe-of-the-week-topo-hydroventure_151802#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 05:29:08 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=151802

The Topo Hydroventure is the lightest waterproof trail running shoe on the market. Photo: Ed Grant

A softly cushioned trail runner that offers protection from both rocky terrain and wet conditions.

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The Topo Hydroventure is the lightest waterproof trail running shoe on the market. Photo: Ed Grant

This relatively new brand continues to offer innovative and unique running shoes built off of modern minimalist design constructs like a low-to-the-ground feel and a roomy toe box. The Hydroventure is a softly cushioned trail runner that offers protection from both rocky terrain and wet conditions. It has a single-layer eVent laminate upper, making it the lightest fully waterproof trail runner on the market. (As with any waterproof shoe, this one gets warm (and leads to sweaty feet) in hot, sunny weather. Unlike most waterproof trail running shoes that have stiff uppers, this one is extremely supple and flexible.) It also has a flexible rock plate, a reinforced toe bumper and thin but durable overlays along the sidewalls for optimal trail protection. Our wear-testers liked this shoe’s versatility and suggested it was optimal for trail running, hiking, peak bagging and light backpacking. We’ve loved it on longer run/hike adventures in Colorado’s high country—including a test session of 14,065-foot Mt. Bierstadt and trails in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area—where the snowmelt runoff often trickles down trails.

This is the shoe for you if … you’re looking for a do-everything shoe for summer trail or mountain activities.

Price: $130
Weights: 9.7 oz. (men’s), 8.0 oz. (women’s)
Heel-Toe Offset: 3mm; 23mm (heel), 20mm (forefoot)
Info: TopoAthletic.com

RELATED: Shoe of the Week—New Balance Vazee Summit

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Workout of the Week: 200-200-400 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/training/workout-week-200-200-400_120071 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/training/workout-week-200-200-400_120071#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 04:02:39 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=120071

The only way to lose your speed is by forgetting ago stay in touch with it in the first place. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Don't lose touch with your speed when training for longer distances.

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The only way to lose your speed is by forgetting ago stay in touch with it in the first place. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Don’t lose touch with your speed when training for longer distances. 

One of the biggest fears troubling many runners who are thinking about training for a longer race such as a half marathon, marathon or even an ultra is that they’ll lose their speed amid a steady diet of long runs, bulky workouts and high weekly mileage.

A simple, surefire way to quell those concerns, however, is by not losing touch with shorter speed workouts such as 200 and 400-meter intervals run faster than your 5K race pace. While not a key session for long-distance racers, an occasional set of short, speedy repetitions is an essential ingredient of a well-rounded training program.

RELATED: Don’t Let Marathon Training Steal Your Speed

“We are primarily a long distance group so we don’t do a ton of workouts like this, but they’re important,” says coach Ben Rosario of the Flagstaff-based Northern Arizona Elite team. “Touching some speedier work now and again keeps us from getting stale and keeps our form snappy.”

At least once during a training segment, Rosario has his marathoners do three to four sets of 200 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters at 1-mile race pace with an equal amount of jogging recovery after each repetition. If you’ve never raced a mile or are unsure of what you could run one in right now, the McMillan calculator is a handy tool that uses a recent race result to calculate equivalent race times at other distances.

“[The 200-200-400 workout] works well to plug it in somewhere between a lot of long, hard workouts as a change of pace…literally!” says Rosario.

This workout is best done on a track, but it can easily be performed on a measured stretch of road, a treadmill or just about anywhere with some assistance from a GPS watch. Regardless of where you do it, the key is to keep your wheels spinning so they don’t go flat on you. The only way to lose your speed is by forgetting to stay in touch with it in the first place.

RELATED: Speed Workouts During Marathon Training?

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Why Negative Splits are Ideal on Race Day http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/training/why-negative-splits-are-ideal-on-race-day_152209 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/training/why-negative-splits-are-ideal-on-race-day_152209#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 17:33:59 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152209

How do you make sure the second half of your race is faster than the first?

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In almost every racing scenario, negative splits are the ideal pacing strategy.

But first, let’s define our terms: a negative split is when the second half of a race is faster than the first half. For example, if you race a 10K with 5K splits of 25:30 and 24:30 for a 50:00 10K finish time, you’ve just ran a negative split.

It may seem more difficult to run negative splits on race day, but in fact it can be easier. It takes 1-2 miles to properly warm up during a race. Then, your joints are fully lubricated, adrenaline and other performance-boosting hormones are peaking, and muscles are primed to work at their most efficient capacity.

In short, you’re not ready to run at your best until the middle of the race—making a negative split easier to attain than most think.

When the opposite happens (running the first half faster than the second), the runner is not allowing the body to be properly warmed up nor is she taking advantage of the hormones that make racing fast a bit easier. I’m sure you’ve had experience of starting a race fast only to flounder and pull up short in the later miles.

Are there examples of this strategy benefiting runners at the highest levels? How can we put these lessons into practice on race day? Let’s find out.

Negative Splits and World Records

At the elite level, most world records above 800m have been set with negative splits. If you look at the recent history of marathon world records, you’ll see this strategy used effectively to consistently lower the world record performance.

When Dennis Kimetto set the marathon world record to 2:02:57 in 2014 at the Berlin Marthon, he ran the first half in 61:45 and the second half in 61:12.

Haile Gebrselassie ran a similar strategy in 2007 when he ran the WR of 2:04:26 with a spread of 62:29 and 61:57. The next year, when he broke 2:04, he had half marathon splits of 62:05 and 61:54.

This strategy extends beyond the marathon, however. When Kenenisa Bekele ran the 10,000m world record of 26:17:53, his 5K splits were 13:09:19 and 13:08:34.

Galen Rupp had a fantastic negative split performance when he set the American record in the indoor 5K of 13:01.26. His mile splits were 4:14, 4:12, and 4:04 with a final 200m split of 30.36.

Top coaches like Jay Johnson (coach to three national champions) also believe negative splits are ideal for both elite and recreational runners.

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Runner Attacked By Black Bear During Trail Marathon http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/news/runner-attacked-black-bear-trail-marathon_152201 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/news/runner-attacked-black-bear-trail-marathon_152201#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 17:10:59 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152201

Valles Caldera National Preserve (Photo: Shutterstock)

During the Valles Caldera Runs Marathon this past weekend in New Mexico, a 53-year-old runner was attacked by a black bear at about mile

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Valles Caldera National Preserve (Photo: Shutterstock)

During the Valles Caldera Runs Marathon this past weekend in New Mexico, a 53-year-old runner was attacked by a black bear at about mile 23, according to numerous reports.

Karen Williams suffered several injuries, including a broken orbital bone, ripped tear duct, puncture wounds and more. She is expected to recover.

The Santa Fe New Mexican spoke to Williams, who harbored no resentment.

“I was just being an ultrarunner, and she was just being a bear,” Williams told the New Mexican. “It was unfortunate that we met.”

The black bear was a mother and her cubs were nearby. She attacked Williams when the runner crested a hill, unaware of what she was about to run into.

According to the New Mexican, it was 30 minutes before another runner found her. One runner stayed with Williams, while another rushed to an aid station to get help. She was eventually flown by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital.

The marathon takes place within Valles Caldera National Preserve in Jemez Springs, N.M. The preserve superintendent Jorge Silva-Banuelos released a statement on social media on Monday.

“A participant in a permitted running event on Valles Caldera National Preserve was attacked by a female American black bear when the individual came upon the bear’s cubs along a backcountry road being used as the event route. The incident occurred in the southwest corner of the preserve, known as Banco Bonito, approximately seven miles away from the Valle Grande.

“Our deepest thoughts and sympathies are with the individual during their recovery from injuries.”

MORE: Santa Fe New Mexican

RELATED: The Do’s and Dont’s of Wildlife Encounters on the Trail 

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6 Strategies For Safe Summer Running http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/training/summer-running-safety-strategies_11194 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/training/summer-running-safety-strategies_11194#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 17:05:08 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=11194

Keep your cool and beat the heat this summer with these suggestions.

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Keep your cool and beat the heat this summer with these suggestions.

Don’t forget, it can be hazardous to your health to hit the streets when the mercury starts heading north of 90 degrees on the thermometer.

Don’t let the scorching summer sun deter you from trying to maintain your mileage, however. Overbearing heat and humidity are far from ideal training conditions, but they’re not impossible obstacles to overcome if you take the proper precautions. Employ these six strategies to ensure that you run safely under the sun for the remainder of the summer.

Related: The Running Doc’s Warm-Weather Racing Tips

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Your PR Could Earn You $250 at Tracksmith http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/news/your-personal-record-could-earn-you-250_152116 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/news/your-personal-record-could-earn-you-250_152116#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 10:11:00 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152116

Courtesy of Tracksmith

This summer Tracksmith is motivating you to run your fastest time. The small startup running brand based out of Wellesley, Mass., founded

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Courtesy of Tracksmith

This summer Tracksmith is motivating you to run your fastest time. The small startup running brand based out of Wellesley, Mass., founded in 2014 announced the launch of the Personal Record Bonus, a program that rewards everyday runners $250 in store credit for achieving a personal record between June 21 and Aug. 31 wearing Tracksmith gear.

This isn’t the first rewards program implemented by a brand to generate revenue for the company, but it may be the first to make you literally run for it—which could make it all that more rewarding.

“Professional runners are often rewarded for breaking records,” said Tracksmith founder and CEO, Matt Taylor in a press release. “And internally, we’ve long had a cash bonus for any employee who runs a PR. So with the PR Bonus we wanted to extend this tradition to the wider running community, challenging and rewarding those who are willing to chase personal excellence. Pursuing a PR takes dedication, grit and a lot of hard work. We think that is an effort and achievement worth incentivizing.”

In order to be eligible for the reward, the PR must be achieved in an organized race of 800 meters or farther with a race photo (in Tracksmith gear) and published results that must be submitted as evidence on the Tracksmith website.

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Ryan Hall is Retired, But He’s Not Done Running http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/news/ryan-hall-is-retired-but-hes-not-done-running_152162 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/news/ryan-hall-is-retired-but-hes-not-done-running_152162#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 02:08:38 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152162

Retired two-time Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall says is interested in pursuing some unique adventure running events.

The recently retired Hall talks about his future in running.

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Retired two-time Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall says is interested in pursuing some unique adventure running events.

Much has been made about Ryan Hall’s post-retirement muscle-building routine, but the two-time Olympic runner is not done running.

After battling chronic fatigue for the final four years of his professional running career, Hall, 33, retired last year and started to rebuild his body through consistent weight training and an increase in daily protein intake. Now he’s started to add some casual running to his weekly regimen, both training with his professional runner wife, Sara, who will be competing in the 10,000-meter run on July 2 at the U.S. Olympic Trials, but also training for some new running-related endeavors of his own.

But, just to end any rumors or speculation, he’s not going to train to run a fast marathon again.

Lately, he’s gone back to his roots, running long trail runs in the mountains in preparation for the June 21 ASICS Beat the Sun event, a 140K six-person relay race around Mont Blanc in France, Switzerland and Italy. While there will be a fierce competition among the eight teams in the race, the primary goal for every team is make sure they reach the finish line in less than 21 hours, 35 minutes—the time between the sunrise and sunset in Chamonix, France, as a way of celebrating the summer solstice.

Hall says he’s been running modest mileage as of late, but he admits he’s not close to the fitness level that helped him run several fast half marathons and marathons in his prime, including his 2:04:58 PR at the 2011 Boston Marathon.

“I took several months off from running and didn’t run at all, but now I’m lacing up my shoes and going out and doing runs that I want to do,” Hall said Monday in Chamonix, where the Beat the Sun event begins and ends. “Trail running and being in the mountains is fun, and I’m to a point where I’m pushing myself out there because I want to push myself. It’s been a long time since I felt like that. It’s definitely rekindled my passion for running.”

Having grown up in Big Bear Lake, Calif., and trained on trails from time to time in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., Hall knows the unique challenges that running on mountain trails can present. He’ll run two of the hardest sections of the Beat the Sun event. His first leg will be a 13K section that crosses a massive snowfield between Trient and Champex, Switerzland, and has 4,500 feet of vertical climbing and descending. Later in the day, he’ll run a 19K mountain section that will send him over two 8,000-foot peaks and down a massive trail descent.

“I’ll run hard, because that’s what I like to do, but it will be fun,” Hall said. “I’ll be looking around and checking out the scenery of this amazing place.”

While Hall admits he doesn’t have the fitness he once had, he now tips the scales at 165 pounds—about 28 pounds heavier than his former racing weight. That’s because he’s doubled the amount of protein in his diet while also greatly reducing his carb intake. He loves the added strength he’s gained, especially in his hamstrings and glutes, and wonders if his career might have lasted longer had he not avoided weight training so much.

Hall says if he had to do it all over again, he’d focus on one fall marathon per year and spend the spring racing on the track and building strength and explosive power in his legs.

Still, he’s fine with what he accomplished and happy to be retired.

“It’s definitely easier mentally now because I’m not going through all of the disappointments I was going through,” Hall said. “I feel more stable now, whereas when I was trying to make a go of it I would start to get fit and get to about 80 percent and I would just crash into a long, gradual stretch of feeling terrible and not being able to finish runs. It’s nice to not have that going on any more. I feel good on my runs now. Now if I’m running a 7-minute pace or a 7:30 pace or an 8-minute pace, it doesn’t matter. It’s nice not to have to worry about it being perfect.”

RELATED: Ryan Hall on Retirement, His Career and Training

Hall says he’s been a little bit intrigued by ultrarunning, but he doesn’t necessarily envision himself getting into a situation where he’ll be racing ultras. However, he says he’s intrigued by adventure runs like the Grand Canyon and he’s always been curious about the 90K Comrades Marathon in South Africa. He’s also rumored to be involved in a charity-based multi-location marathon challenge that will be announced soon.

“It would have to be something very compelling like Comrades,” Hall said. “For me, it’s all about unique challenges. An event that has unique aspects to it, like this one, where I’ll be wearing crampons and a helmet and using trekking poles on my first leg over the snowfield. It’s a different kind of challenge, and it’s exciting.”

Hall is the captain of Team Americas 2 and is teamed up with three-time Olympian Deena Kastor and Brazillian runner Iaza Feitoza, along with age-groupers Mariana Brugger (Brazil), Kelsey Landrum (U.S.) and Sarah Brown (U.S.). Team Americas 1 is led by U.S. trail running star Megan Kimmel, Canadian trail running/snowshoeing champion David Le Porho and Argentina elite runner Manuel Mendez, along with amateurs Benjamin Farrell (U.S.), Bill Steinburg (Canada) and Maria Florencia Pollola (Argentina).

“I feel a lot healthier now. My energy is good again,” Hall says. “When I was struggling with fatigue, I wouldn’t have energy for anything else during the day. I would run, eat and sleep and that was it. Now being a father of four, it’s nice to have energy to do other things. You have to be pretty selfish and self-absorbed when you’re a professional athlete, so it’s nice to be able to step back from that and enjoy life a little bit more.”

PHOTOS: Ryan Hall’s Career Highlights

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How Nike+ Run Clubs Appeal to “Non-Runners” http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/features/how-nike-run-clubs-appeal-to-non-runners_152136 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/features/how-nike-run-clubs-appeal-to-non-runners_152136#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 23:40:46 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152136

A scene from a typical Nike+ Run Club event in New York City.

Part of a larger industry trend, Nike+ Run Clubs are making running fun, welcoming and appealing for new and novice runners.

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A scene from a typical Nike+ Run Club event in New York City.


On a Tuesday night in April, 60 or so runners gather around a coach on the edge of a track in Portland, Ore., sweaty and spent, basking in the endorphin rush after a hard workout. They’ve just completed 18 repeats of 200 meters at their mile race pace, interspersed with four 400-meter loops at 10K pace. The coach, Chris Bennett, is waxing eloquent.

“That was a legit workout, and you owned it!” Bennett says. “You showed up. You stepped up to the line each time. That’s what we celebrate! You don’t get many chances in a day to be a badass. You were badasses tonight!”

He sounds like a high school coach motivating his young, fast athletes. But the group here at the Nike+ Run Club (NRC) Portland Speed Run are not all young, or even fast.

Some zipped off the 200s in close to 30 seconds; others took 50 or more seconds. A few are ropy-muscled masters runners in racing singlets and shorts, but the majority are 20- or 30-somethings, entirely new to running, and in cotton T-shirts, basketball shorts, stocking caps or yoga-style apparel.

“I can’t even remember the last time I ran on a track,” says Starbuck Ballner, 29, a Coast Guard corpsman stationed nearby who has been running by himself on rural roads. “I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to stick with the fastest group.”

Ballner, like many others, is buzzing from the experience. “The community of runners cheering each other on, giving out high-fives, pushing their times lower by a second or two—and cracking jokes the whole time—was even better than I had hoped for,” he says. “It was only a Tuesday night speed workout, but I felt like it was the Olympic Trials.”

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New York City’s First Lady of Running http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/features/nycs-first-lady-of-running_152160 http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/features/nycs-first-lady-of-running_152160#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 23:40:36 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=152160

Jessie Zapo leads Girls Run NYC across the Williamsburg Bridge. Photo: Sue Kwon

Jessica Zapotechne has been at the epicenter of NYC's run-crew scene for more than a decade and her latest project, Girls Run NYC, brings

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Jessie Zapo leads Girls Run NYC across the Williamsburg Bridge. Photo: Sue Kwon


Every Wednesday at McCarren Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., a couple dozen women gather at 6:30 p.m. sharp for their weekly track workout, although few of them have ever run competitive track in their life.

Many have been to a Girls Run NYC track session before, but first-timers need only check the group’s Instagram feed for its artfully styled weekly flyers disclosing the practice’s time and place, adorned with a certain type of female icon. One week it’s Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon; other weeks it’ll feature Frida Kahlo, Joan Jett or Beyoncé.

Trackside, the tall lady with short blond hair and a big smile at the center of it all (including the Instagram account) calmly calls for a bit of stretching to start things off. One of the group’s longtime members who dutifully acts as her megaphone then echoes her, shouting, “OK, time for dynamic stretching!”

Girls Run NYC’s leader may speak softly but she carries a big reputation: Her given name is Jessica Zapotechne, except nobody ever seems to call her that. Ask nearly any regular group-run participant in New York City about “Jessie Zapo,” however, and they’ll all know her. There’s even a good chance that she introduced them to one of the many proliferating running groups known as run crews that are popping up in nearly every neighborhood in the Big Apple. For others, this 37-year-old art therapist who’s sometimes nicknamed “the First Lady” might have been the reason they came out in the first place.

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