Monday, March 8, 2010

Lessons from Scott Jurek

Last Thursday I went to see Scott Jurek give a presentation at Jack Rabbit Sports in Manhattan. I also got to speak with him after the presentation. Scott Jurek can fairly be described as the best American ultramarathoner ever. I had to restrain myself from bowing down to the floor and chanting "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy". He won the Western States 100 mile race seven times in a row, and Badwater (135 miles in Death Valley in July) twice in row. He is also a really nice, down to earth guy. And he is a vegan. He shared with us some of his running wisdom. Here are a few of the things I learned:

1. He never runs more than 35 miles in a single training run, even for races at or over 100 miles. He does run back to back runs of 35 miles each. He runs a lot of hills. He runs 100-120 miles a week.

2. He does recovery runs really, really slowly. He described how Kenyan runners do recovery runs at a 10 minute pace, while running hard at a 5:30 pace. (This means I should be doing my recovery runs *a lot* slower.)

3. He says that long runs should be done at or near goal pace. You can't expect to hit a goal pace for an ultra if you don't train to run long at that pace.

4. He suggested we check out Jack Daniel's book "Daniels' Running Formula" for training advice.

5. He recommends speed work, such as mile repeats, even for ultras.

6. He recommends Green Magma, an organic barley grass juice extract. This seems to be the only food supplement he takes. I have been trying it out as a replacement for my first coffee in the morning. Despite the powder being a luminous green, it has not yet had any effect on my poo.

7. While Scott believes barefoot running has something to offer as part of a training program, he does think it is better to wear something on the feet (he refers to the Tarahumara not going barefoot in "Born to Run").

Many thanks to Scott for taking the time to visit us in New York, and to Jack Rabbit Sports and Brooks for making this visit possible.

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