Tips From The Top

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On Friday May 30th through Sunday June 1st some of the members of the #TrailsRoc board were given the opportunity to spend time with some of the powerhouse elites of the ultra/trail community. We participated in a weekend long adventure in Ithaca as part of the Cayuga Trails 50 –  A USATF National Championship event.

Ian Golden, the Race Director brought in a strong field of elite runners to go after his course. We camped with them, ate with, drank with them, ran with them, provided aid for, cheered for, and covered their races –

This gave us the time to ask some questions and bring real world answers on some of the big topics in the Mountain Ultra and Trail community. Read on to see what the elites had to say about some pressing topics.

Why Run Trails?

What is it about trail running that you love and why should someone consider it?

Mort Nace – “
The challenge, the scenery and the best community in running – I got involved in Race Directing because I wanted to share my favorite experiences. Rochester didn’t have anything like I had experienced so I wanted to offer that I had been to race in Michigan and Colorado, our trails are great this area deserved to race them”. Muddy Sneaker – A Goose Adventure Race was named one of the top 5 trail races you must do by Runners World Magazine. Check them out!






 jackieJACKIE PALMER – “The trails are just more interesting, I love running in the woods, I am a physical therapist, and this is so much better for your body. Biomechanically, trail running creates less injury. On top of that it is more enjoyable and everything feels like it is zipping by – No long road to stare down as you go, just trees zipping by”.

Check out her on personal page below


Why run an ultra?

The ultimate question to the elites is often how did they get here

flahertyMatt Flaherty -“Simply – it’s because I am well suited for this. Endurance was always my strong  point I ran the 10k in college at  Univeristy of Illiiois- For me the 50 mile is a nice distance – I can train for and race 5 or 6 a year and still have proper recovery. It is the distance I am best at.” As for the why?  “It really does come down to the community – The Ultra and Trail community is killer, I love it. I am surrounded by great people all the time.”

Check out Matts fun site below!




What About Recovery?

vargoChris Vargo – The Cayuga Trails 50 Champion this year.

Many of you will love this answer, but after putting in hours of training and or racing for Vargo the answer is simple.

“Eating a lot”

 On racing though he says It’s hard to do monthly back to back races. “I like down time I will take 3 days off after this and always always get in some great nutrition post race as soon as possible.” Chris suggests protein drinks and meals higher in fat for recovery. “I am actually a pescetarian I tend to lose weight easily and have found not only does this lifestyle help me with my weight but also with my recovery.”

Check out Chris’s Vargo Running below.




On Hill Work-

We are lucky in our region we can do steeps in the Rochester area – Drive an hour to Hi-Tor or a few hours to Ithaca and get in some great climbs – We all know how important this is to trail racing – but what if you live where there are not a lot of hills?

lombardiBrad Lombardi – Badwater competitor -Says he runs Bridge repeats in Florida. “I just go hour on hour back and forth. It’s tough to really simulate trails so you do the best that you can. Thefolks coming from areas with natural hills and mountains have an advantage.”He doesn’t let that bother him though and has a great outlook on the hills – Think of the mantra below next time you need to climb some monster hills.

“If its comfortable its not attactive”

I like to sign up for races that scare me – That gets me going – that helps me train harder.”

Check out Brads site below for some other great tips and information.




On Mental Prep

breeBree Lambert –

Oh how we can all benefit from some advice here – Read it, use it – Bree is a fantastic runner with a strong history of success at events like Cayuga 50.

“For me I just always break down the distance. I never ever look at it as one big chunk. I tell runners break it down into bite size pieces so its not overwhelming. My best advice during the long stretches to avoid slowing and getting negative is to get to the next aid station. Once you are there, you start over. It’s a new race, a new distance, and then you repeat.”

On handling those low points during training when your body is tired and sore and you ask yourself “why”…  “I coach runners I am a performance coach, a personal trainer, and I love to coach ultra runners, When you are having an off day, look at is an opportunity or as a way to recover. pay attention to your body. Are you over trained, are you fueling properly. Off days are a time to evaluate “whats going on” adjust if you need to, Don’t blindly follow a printed out plan.”

“Before you decide to run an ultra,  you need to realize its going to take discipline, and internal motivation to get there – It wont be easy – be patient and mentally understand that its a sport of discipline and time!”

Check out Brees’ site below for more tips and advice

 On Nutrition

iainIan Ridgeway –

“You can recover fine on most foods – I think every runner out here will say that there is nothing special to it. You just eat a lot, on hot days eat more salts – Eliminate all processed foods and you will feel better and be healthier.  My wife is a med student and is up on all current health matters but this is pretty simple advice. I don’t perscribe to one diet – Vegetarian, raw, paleo, I just eat clean and it works.”

I am on strava and have a website


On Gear

davejamesDAVE JAMES

2 silver medals in US Trail Championships 2011 and 2012 and 2 time USATF 100 Mile Champion – Believes a lot of runners are using too much gear. It is simple he says to the runners he coaches “Be prepared for the weather you will face, and if you need to, carry a hydration pack. I suggest duct tape in your pack as it fixes pretty much anything”

For shoes – especially on the trails Dave says again it’s simple – “Something with a little grip and something that you personally are comfortable with – I am not in bed with any one brand, there are lot’s of great choices out there, find one that works for you.”

Check out Daves awesome site below



On Fastest Known Times

– The newest boom in running where runners try to run a segment faster than anyone has before and log it here: FKTs –

Great explanation of the concept here here –

benBen Nephew is one of the most well know FKT guys out there right now and we sat down to discuss it– “The draw to to it for me is simple.  It fits in my schedule  and those trails always offer me a competitive venue. I can’t always be at a race, but I can schedule my own FKT attempt. It’s actually hard to go back to a standard race venue. I can do a FKT attempt anywhere – Especially in places that would never give out a race permit – For example the Presidential Traverse in the White mountains will never have a race, this way we can still race each other there.”

You have to post your times and talk about them in order for the FKT to count, Ben wishes more folks would start doing this.

“I wish people were more active about posting it, that is what makes it the fastest KNOWN time” –

Ben is looking to get back his FKT in the Great Range Traverse to take a run  then the hut traverse  in New Hampshire-

As for how he does it ?

“inov8 been good to me – mountain peak fitness is amazing -I have coaching duties there –


On records

 jordanJordan McDougal –

“Thats why we race – Anyone of us can go out and sit in the pack and we can try to out kick each other – The records though, that takes guts, that takes carnage off of the front pack – That takes throwing caution to the wind. It’s way more exciting and that’s why I do what I do”

Check out Jordan on Twitter – @JJMCDOUGALER


On fame/lack of it in the ultra community

In what other sport can the best in the world walk around and not many people know who they are? We got to camp and hang with these guys – To some of us a big deal, back home people don’t get it. We asked cassieCassie Scanlon what that’s like.

“I don’t think of it as being famous I guess. The reason I come to races is a reunion a lot of times. If people dont recognize us that doesn’t bother me, It can actually be kind of nice. -Most don’t get our sport, but it has  great support, even being injured i feel like people  around me care –

Cassie isn’t currently running a website – but she does want us to plug some sponsors which we would love to do – Check out her crew

Drymax – Hammer – Justinsnutbutter – Julbo – rocky mountain runners place – and of course Salomon

On doing Ultra and having a family

Jordan McDougal – As a father of a 7 month old baby Jordan  has some great advice.

“You have to schedule everything. I can tell you as a parent of a newborn, when I was tired – If I did not have everything planned out, it didn’t happen. Sometimes my long runs change. I would have to hit roads and push the stroller, which is something that was new to me.”

On his biggest advice to new parents? Trust your legs, and schedule your training. Sometimes it’s early. Sometimes it’s late. Be there for your spouse – and don’t lose focus on family –

I think we can all give that a try.

So there you have it – Of the crew we met, they were down to earth folks who remembered names and just happen to be able to run incredibly fast. We encourage you to check out their websites – twitter pages – facebook pages etc. It’s through YOU all that the sport grows, and through them we can watch some amazing performances.

Oh and almost all of these guys stuck around in cheered in finishers HOURS after they had finished – If you have never done that – Try it sometime, it’s extremely rewarding.

See you on the trails!

One thought on “Tips From The Top

    smallperson14 said:
    June 5, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Great read, but one major spelling correction: Iain Ridgway. Blog spelling is .


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