Half Ass, Fat Ass Builds Confidence

Trail running

This is not one of my crazy, dramatic, intense stories.

No pacing.

No suffering.

No whiny excuses.

For the first time since I started running ultramarathons, I actually trained like a runner.

Not a weightlifter. Not a Crossfitter. Not a less-is-more, pathetic rationalizer; but, a real runner.

Someone who actually runs.

A lot.

And low and behold, it works.

I ran the best 16.2 miles of my running life today at the GUTS Fat Ass event to cap off a 30 mile weekend, and 62-mile week. This is just the confidence I needed to feel pumped and ready for the Ghost Town race in New Mexico January 16th, 2011.

I’m lighter, faster and stronger than I have ever been before.

This is how I got there…

Step 1: lose the weight, fatty

Ok, so I’m no Kena or Kate or Bickelhaupt, but from November to January,  I got serious about my training and stopped eating garbage and giant portions of food.

I lost 30 pounds.

I stopped eating to fullness.

I stopped snacking.

I limited carbohydrates significantly.

And, I stopped eating too much during long runs.

I eliminated soda, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.

I started eating only live food …or food that was recently alive.

Nothing out of boxes…

And lots of water.

With each morsel of food, I paused and asked myself every single time, “what will this piece of food do for me?” – I didn’t always like the answer, but I paid attention.

Step 2: run, run, run

Ran trails.

Ran streets.

Ran long.

Ran fast.

Ran slow.

Ran barefoot.

Ran with fast people. Better people. More experienced people.

Trained with faster-than-me, serious people who also wanted to get better.

Mixed it up, gauged progress, and tried to be better the next week.

Didn’t miss workouts. Didn’t shortcut them either. Didn’t bail for the short route or the easier day.

Pushed past the point of comfort.


Step 3: swim, swim, swim

Lane Vogel once told me, “swimming is the poor man’s massage.”

It’s true.

It’s too bad I gotta gun for him at the Keys 100.

For recovery, I swam slow and steady for the stretch and therapeutic effects.

For training, I swam the Masters workouts as fast and as well as I could.

I learned good form, and practiced it often.

Sometimes it sucked, but I got stronger.

Swimming contributes to better running.

For me, anyway. Your mileage may vary. (I hate that line)

Now prove it.

None of it matters without improved performance.

Ghost Town 38.5 in the Gila National Wilderness is the venue for me to prove it, and I’m shooting for a top 10 finish. Period.

6:30:20 for 38.5 miles was good enough for top 10 last year, so I’m striving for that finishing time this year.

That’s a solid, 10:00/mile which sounds easy, but not on that terrain; and not with ~5,000 ft. of elevation.

click to see the Ghost Town course map

click the image to see the full Ghost Town 38.5 course map and elevation profile

The majority of the run takes place between 6,000 and 7,000 feet, so while its more elevation than I’m used to, it shouldn’t be crazy.

From the Race Director:

As for the climbs and the descents – their locations – there is really no flat stretch in this course. Maybe 10-50 ft. here and there, but for the most part plan on either climbing or heading downhill. The lowest point is at my place – just around a mile high. You will be just under 7,000 ft. a couple of times. For the most part the run takes place in the 6,000-7,000 ft. range.

I’ll like this.

Really fast people always smoke me on the flats, but I like running up and down hills, so bring it!

This is it.

No more excuses.

I put in the training.

I set my goals.

I’m gonna taper for reals…

…well, kinda.

The first race of 2011 is going to be my race.

I’m giving it all I have.

Once I’m actually in the high desert, no cell phone access, no Facebook updates, no texting.

Just me and the mountains and the runners and the course.

Please wish me luck.

*** 1/17/2011 update: I finished the Ghost Town 38.5 in 9th place at 6:44. While I really wanted a 6:30, and believe I had it in me, I’m more-than excited with 6:44 and pleased with the top ten result. Further proof that hard work pays off, and I’m not about to stop now. GET SOME!

(special huge giant “Thanks” to my wife, J. Hearns, L.Hill, A.Massey and Zombie Runner)

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[...] myself. I mean, c’mon. This is a blog, not a diary. I follow Christian’s blog and his post really struck a cord with me. Especially the part about training like a runner. Losing 30 pounds, [...]

[...] of the most exciting, and frightening, things about wearing your life on your sleeve, is the risk of public [...]

Christian, I love reading your reports, but have to say this one just motivated me. It was simple and well said and just what i needed to read. Thank you! Look forward to the next time I see you out on the trail.

throw up your HOODS and raise your HANDS up high!

the desert awaits…

Kick it in the freaking teeth!

LUCK!! Great post. It takes balls to put yourself out there like that – to declare your goal so solidly – and it takes dedication and hard work to see it through.

The best of luck to you this weekend. We will be rooting for you… and listening to what you learn.

Sah-weeeeeet! Good luck CG!

…”With each morsel of food, I paused and asked myself every single time, “what will this piece of food do for me?” – I didn’t always like the answer, but I paid attention.”

Best line ever! If more people did this they would be so much healthier.

Congrats on your accomplishments and best to you at Ghost Town.

Christian – great post! I hope to get to meet you at Ghost Town!

Great job on the training and good luck Christian!

Training for my first 24-hour race in October 2011 in Oklahoma City and I found your blog while googing ultra running. Good writing and awesome stories. Way to go and keep it up!

@Michael: I would say EMPHATICALLY (((NO))) …less-is-more did not work for me at all. Maybe for some people it does, but not for me. I strongly believe, after trying both approaches, that more running makes a better runner. I will continue to supplement with core strength work including push-ups, pullups and thursters, but the crux of my training will always be faster, longer running.

I assume you’re gunning for the Keys 100 this year then?

Did you quit all heavy lifting, xfit, etc? Or just use it to supplement?

I’ve gone back and forth wondering the legitimacy of “less is more” mentality.
It seems, anyways, the best way to train for 100 milers is to run…as you said, a lot.

Go tear it up, Christian! Amazing job on the weight loss and fitness plan.

Man, you are going to rock this race! Good Luck! …and know that we are pulling for you!

Go get ‘em, Christian.

Don’t go too lite on the water you carry. Good Luck!

I heard you were kicking butt out there! Congrats!

Good luck! I’m sure you are going to have a fantastic race.

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