ultrarunning mistakes podcast episode

Common Ultrarunning Training And Racing Mistakes

Topics Covered In This Episode:

  • Where athletes go wrong in planning their season
  • Avoiding needless suffering in ultras
  • How to approach B and C priority races
  • Common mistakes with tapers and rest days
  • Falling into the trap of more


CTS Ultrarunning Coaches Ryne Anderson and Nicole Rasmussen join Corrine Malcolm in today’s episode.

Guest Links:

Ryne Anderson: https://trainright.com/coaches/ryne-anderson/

Nicole Rasmussen: https://trainright.com/coaches/nicole-rasmussen/


Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform

Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Corrine Malcolm (00:06):

My guest today. That’s right. Plural, our CTS coaches, Nicole Rasmussen, and Ryan Anderson. Nicole has a master’s degree in exercise physiology, and actually worked as a collegiate strength and conditioning coach before really falling head over heels into the world of trail and ultra running her insights from all that time, I think are really interesting. And then there’s Ryan before turning to coaching full time. Ryan worked as a middle school, PE health and social studies teacher, meaning that his approach to coaching really highlights the need for individualized training approach, the same way he brought that to all of the students. I really, really appreciate his introspective thoughts on this. I wanted to have Bo Nicole and Ryan on because of their thoughtful insights into the hurdles. We all face in training and racing. So today we’re gonna dive into all the common mistakes we make as athletes and coaches throughout the entire year. And I hope that you can glean a little advice here and there to apply that to your own training and racing mishaps. Hi, welcome back once again, I am joined today by two phenomenal coaches on our running team at CTS Nicole and Ryan. Thank you both so much for joining me today.

Nicole Rasmussen (01:18):

Happy to be here. Happy to be here. Thanks for having us.

Corrine Malcolm (01:22):

Yeah. And so I think both your voice should be fairly familiar to our listening audience. You both have been on with Jason coop on the co cast. Um, so hopefully names and voices, um, are familiar ring a bell for folks, but, um, I’m gonna ask Nicole you first and then Ryan to introduce yourself to the audience. Um, give us a little snapshot of who you are. I, um, maybe even how you got into coaching or why, why, you know, why you’ve gravitated towards this and then we’ll kind of roll into our topic for today. So Nicole intro, introduce yourself for everyone.

Nicole Rasmussen (01:55):

Yeah. Perfect. Um, I’m Nicole Rasmusson, um, I’m a exercise science nerd, a mountain athlete, um, a mother of three little ones and probably most important to our conversation today. I’m a trail and ultra running coach with CTS. Um, yeah, I, I think I got into coaching. Uh, just always had a passion for teaching in general. Um, but just really enjoy the pro of working with athletes who have big goals, who, um, just enjoy pushing the boundaries of what their bodies are capable and of and what they can do. So, yeah.

Corrine Malcolm (02:40):

Yeah. And you have an interesting background too, cuz you come to us from an athletic, like in a strength and conditioning coach kind of almost athletic a training background, correct?

Nicole Rasmussen (02:49):

Yeah. Yeah. So the majority of my coaching professional experience is, uh, collegiate strength and conditioning. So, but yeah, found caught the bug early with endurance sports and love of the mountains and kind of, kind of switched gears more recently into the ultra running realm. And it’s been great.

Corrine Malcolm (03:08):

Yeah. Well we’re, we’re particularly happy to have you at CTS. I think it’s, you’re a great addition to our team. It’s been really fun to bring a bunch of new coaches on over the past couple years and really round out everyone that we’re working with. It’s it’s, I feel BI I’m always biased, but I feel pretty fortunate to have so many brilliant people in our corner, Ryan. Um, tell us a little bit about yourself, give everyone a little bit of your background and kind of how and why your coaching trail and all triathletes.

Ryne Anderson (03:35):

Yeah. So my name’s Ryan Anderson. I live in Knoxville, Tennessee. I’m one of the few you east coast trail, ultra running coaches at CTS. Um, and yeah, growing up, I played team sports, baseball, football, even played football in college division three small school, um, had too many concussions had to stop. I was like, well, what am I gonna do? I’ll run. And then slowly got into tr ultra running. And um, just growing up, I always knew I wanted to get into coaching. I loved the athletic side of things. I loved the interpersonal things of how coaches connected with their players, knew how to get the most out of them and then just geeking out on whatever sport it was. So, um, all those passions fed perfectly, um, and to getting into running all running. Um, and I was a middle school teacher for nine years before turning to coaching ultra runners. Full-time taught health, physical education coach across country, uh, wanted to make the jump to coaching ultra runners. Full-time joined CTS last summer and absolutely love it.

Corrine Malcolm (04:38):

I’ve got so many friends who worked in that outdoor ed or kind of elementary school and middle school education. And they’re some of the best people in the world in part, because I think they can diffuse any situation. They can communicate anything that needs to be communicated. Um, they’re my favorite people to go into the mountains with for that very reason. So, um, very sought after I feel like, and maybe underappreciated skill. Um, so what, why I reached out to both of you, why I wanted to bring you on today was we’re kind of rolling into the 20, 22 season, like in a real way now, like yes, you know, we’ve, we’ve way, we’re way past January, but I feel like the 2022 season is picking up, we’ve got athletes doing, maybe they’re getting closer to their first a races. We definitely have athletes have who their kind of first training races or building races if that’s something that they’re, they are doing this year.

Corrine Malcolm (05:27):

And I feel like there’s a lot of little mistakes that we all make little hiccups, um, little terrain traps we fall into. I know personally I just did one of my, my first race in almost two years, only a couple weeks ago. And I sure as heck made some mistakes on my way to the start line and during the race itself. So I wanted to kind of, you know, just have a round, like a round table discussion today with the two of you about, about these things. And we’re gonna start chronologically. We’re gonna kind of go preseason even to the off season. And we’re just gonna kind of bounce this around. I want you to ask questions and we’ll kind of see where the conversation takes us a little bit. So where do things go awry? Where can we, where do we have little hiccups along the way? So Nicole, I’m gonna ask you to, to lead us off, if there’s a, an off season thing that you see people do, or even that you yourself have fallen into this trap as far as like what’s that first mistake or first oopsy look like,

Nicole Rasmussen (06:21):

Oh yeah. The off season transition season. Um, well, I mean, I will say as a, as coaches, we see this really big influx of athletes that come in about this time of year, right? January, February, March, um, and, and our athletes, they come from all walks of life, right. And fitness levels and experience levels. And a lot of ’em kind of come to us and they’re, they’re ready to jump right into training. Um, but I, I’m seeing so many athletes right now this, and then always this time of year that, that come to coaching or, or come to this point in the year in a little bit of a panic, um, right. Where, where maybe they have this race on the horizon, um, maybe this ultra in the summer or fall. Um, and they, they suddenly realize they did not take advantage of the off season or the winter training, um, in the way that they should have.

Nicole Rasmussen (07:22):

Right. And they’re looking in their rear view mirror realizing, um, where is my fitness. Right. Um, and, and so I think, you know, as we look at the hiccups of the off season, a lot of the problems that can, can be prevented if you set a tone going into your off season. Um, and it doesn’t have to be of like high pressure or high volume, you know, but in general, just setting kind of a tone of progression instead of having to spend the spring, getting back into and getting back into the shape, getting into shape. Um, and so a lot of ways that we can kind of prevent that is, um, first with planning, right? I think if you approach your off season with a little bit of planning and laying out a strategy in a long range plan of terms of, in terms of, um, making sure, you know, early in the year, what events you’re gonna target and anchoring those events into your calendar, um, that can give you a lot of framework for how you approach that off season and for what you want to accomplish in that time.

Nicole Rasmussen (08:36):

Um, one thing I think is super beneficial in the off season to take a, uh, an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Um, I know that a lot of times an athlete can list off, you know, their weaknesses really easily. Um, but what I found is it’s, it’s a, it’s a really difficult thing sometime to work on those weaknesses right before your event, right. That’s usually when your volumes really high, you’re putting in a lot of hours. Um, and so in the off season though, when your volumes a lot lower and the time that you’re spending out on the, on, on your runs is a lot lower, it’s, it’s a lot easier.

Nicole Rasmussen (09:19):

It’s, it’s a much, it’s a easier task, right? To say like, okay, like I need to work on my climbing or I need to work on my technical descents, but my runs only 45 minutes today. Right. So it’s, it’s, it’s easier to tackle those weaknesses in the off season. Um, or even to say like, okay, I struggle with my speed, but, but my volumes so low right now, this, it sounds doable. I only have to run three by five minutes hard, you know, it’s only 15 minutes hard. Um, and so yeah, just using that off season time to tackle your weaknesses, to do some planning, um, and then just making sure that you’ve balanced your fitness and your rest. Right. Um, I think sometimes athletes get to these first few races in the season and they haven’t actually taken that time to rest, to re, to rejuvenate your emotionally and physically to take care of those little nagging injuries. Um, and, and then you realize you’re back into the season, you’re jumping back into racing and you’re like, gosh, I really could have used a little more downtime there. And I really could have used, um, you know, a little less pressure during these, these months. Um, there is a lot of wisdom, right? With every, just with, with every culture right across our, our planet there, we embrace that slower time of the season and we embrace that time to rest and recover. Um, but I don’t know, you guys jump in.

Corrine Malcolm (10:56):

No, I think that’s, I think it’s good. I think I’ve got a lot of athletes who spend the off season and like, I don’t know, they either, they either came out of kind of a rough end to last season and they, they aren’t ready to mentally like reset. And so they’re kind of just chomping at the bit, or I’ve got athletes who they’ve had a good reset and the next race is so far away that without intention being set, as you mentioned, they’re kind of like lost in this like, like nebulous limbo of being like, why am I training? What am I training for? The race is so far away, but that coming back to intention, like this is what we’re intentionally using this time for. I’m always like back to basics. It’s time to go back to basics. We’re gonna get in the weight room, we’re going to do shorter, harder stuff. We’re gonna work on weaknesses. Like, I think you, you, as a coach or you as an athlete, get to help like steer the ship and set those intentions. And I think that that’s really important to have those things that can help guide guide the way towards, you know, the, the long, far off in the distance, a race Ryan, what, I mean, maybe we just stole all your thunder, but what do you find is hard about the off season?

Ryne Anderson (12:01):

I think first you have to define what off season means to you. Does it mean the mental, emotional break? Does it mean work on your weaknesses? Um, does your geography take away way the ability to run? Do you have to switch sports so first, like define what the off season means to you and then go one a of like, okay, then what are my goals within the off season? Um, is it mental reset? Do I wanna work on speed? Work on like those weaknesses we talked about, do I want to do more social runs? Um, do I want to experiment with nutrition things I haven’t got to work on? So define off season and then your goals within that offseason. And then as you’re starting to creep out of that off season, nail down your plans for the year, have your, okay. These are what I would like to get into, but it’s hard to get in some of the races you wanna get to and then have of your contingencies of like, okay, well, I didn’t get in the lottery of Western states.

Ryne Anderson (12:58):

Um, what’s, what’s that other race on my bucket list that I can get into because it’s, it’s not just, can I get into Western states that year or hard rocker, all these other great, a hundred MOS that have Lotes, like, okay, how can, how can you find similar races that make you happy when you do get the opportunity to do that big race, then you can go have, um, a really good athletic performance and a holistic performance that you’re happy with. Um, so that’s where I would start. And like also like your off season, doesn’t have to fall in with everybody else’s cuz over here in the south, like some people like to take the summer off cuz of stinking hot. Um, we have so many great races from November through March that some people don’t handle the heat. Well, no matter what they do, um, to try to prepare for that. So, Hey, I’m gonna pick my a races through the winter and then go from there. And then in the summer I’ll just try to get through it. Um, so yeah, be, be your own person in defining your off season.

Corrine Malcolm (13:58):

Yeah. You gotta meet your own, your own needs. Just like the comparison game is hard when tra with training, like the comparison game is hard with the off season, like looking at other people, what, what, you know, what is so and so doing for their off season might not be what you need. So you really have to meet, meet the needs of each individual athlete. Um, I think both of you mentioned planning and racing and, and getting into certain races. And I think that’s a really important part that starts in the off season and then builds into kind of the training phase for everyone. And I know that I’ve got athletes, I myself feel the, feel the FOMO of, you know, what race am I gonna do this? You year? What racism I gonna do this year? How can I do all of them this year?

Corrine Malcolm (14:40):

Like the hunger for, for doing that is really real. And I definitely have athletes who might verge towards over racing. They, you know, they’re on ultra signup and they’ve signed up for everything type type of situation. So how, how, when you are looking, you know, you’re sitting in the off season, training’s ramping up towards, you know, these a goals. How does that planning phase work for you and your athletes and how do we deal? How do we encourage athletes maybe to, uh, to veer away from the FOMO of over racing and, and back towards kind of like putting into either a meaningful season, either one of you, whoever wants to jump in first,

Ryne Anderson (15:15):

I’d say pick out the races. You’re that get you most excited? And then like, just, just start with the big list of you’ve went through ultrasound up and this looks cool. That looks cool. And just get ’em all down and then go from there and circle the ones like, Ooh, that one gets me really. And what do you know, that works out perfectly with my schedule and that work kind of dies down. Um, kids are doing less sports or more sports. It depends on like, yeah, what your training is. And then if the FOMO is real and they want to do races, then you have to have an honest conversation and like, okay, you can do these races, but you’re going to have to go in with the right goal on mindset that it’s, it’s a, it’s a training race, or you’re not gonna be able to race and, and PR on this race, you go do every year, because you, you said this was your big goal in November. So Pring at the 50 K you do every September is not, um, it’s not gonna work this year. So having honest conversations, um, and yeah, start big, just put everything down on paper. Um, and having a coach or your spouse or your training buddies, like bounce those ideas off of each other. Um, cuz if you kind of just keep staring at that list, you’re not gonna make any leeway. And then you’re like, oh, well I will just sign up for everything. How about that?

Nicole Rasmussen (16:34):

Yeah. I think even a step back from before you start scrolling ultra signup, before you make the list, I think a really critical piece in that, in that process of planning out your year, starts with before, even any of that, um, like sitting down with, with your support system, with your spouse, with your partner, whoever your support system is, and just like getting an honest assessment of, um, what can my life, what can my life, how like how much training can my life support. Right. Um, and I, and then like making sure you have that support from your, from your loved ones and the people who help you through this process, like, like how much, how many hours are you willing to support me in this training? Right. Cause we’re more than runners. We’re we’re parents and we’re professionals and we have hobbies and we have children, you know, like we’re running is awesome, but we’re more than runners.

Nicole Rasmussen (17:33):

And, and so think before you even make the list of races, it’s thinking, okay, like what do I, realistically, how many hours do I realistically have to train here? Um, and then even, you know, just taking an honest assessment of where your fitness is right now, you know, like what does my fitness look like the past six weeks or even what did my fitness look like last year? Um, one huge mistake I see when people plan out their, their schedules for the year is they pick out their really cool races and then they backwards. Um, meaning. So for example, like let’s say someone wanted to run this really cool 50 miler it’s in four months and they read somewhere, oh, I need to get 50 to 60 miles. I need to do a handful of 20 plus mile runs. I need to do one 50.

Nicole Rasmussen (18:24):

You know, you have these ideas of what you need to do and they take their event and they work backwards. So they kind of plot the weeks of like, okay, here’s gonna be my long runs and you move back and then wherever you are right there, you jump into that training on the next week. Right. And, and, and really what we should be doing is starting with, okay, I am right here. It’s day one. This is my fitness level. These are the hours that I have or that I think I might have available at peak times. And then how fit can I get? You know, like how realistically and safely, how, how fit can I get this year? And, and then what races realistically fall within that, that training availability, right? Like when you look at how many races should I run or what distance should I run, we have to consider, um, what can my training support, right.

Nicole Rasmussen (19:18):

And, and what, what, and can my life support that training? Like that’s a really critical step that I think people get really excited in this sport. And we always wanna go to the further distance, but those are the conversations that are important to, to have first. Um, I was thinking the other day that, you know, so many people come to ultra running because of the community, right? We have a great community. It’s very inclusive. This is a sport for all body types and fitness levels and ages. And there’s a distance for you and there’re is a race for you. Um, but one thing that just drives me crazy in our community is that we there’s like this glorification of suffering that and it’s, and I don’t wanna say that suffering doesn’t exist. It’s a, it’s an important part of ultra running. Like there’s going to be some suffering, but it’s almost like as a community, we glorify needless, unnecessary suffering.

Nicole Rasmussen (20:18):

Do you guys, do you guys know what I’m talking about? Do you see this like, oh, a hundred percent, a hundred percent, wouldn’t it? And we loved the, the story of the guy, the, the person who had stomach issues and they were throwing up for hours and hours and they, they had muscle cramps and they limped and they, and they, they made it to that finish line. Oh, we love that story. We, we love it in this sport, but wouldn’t it be great. Wouldn’t it be fun to see us as a community like glorify preparation and glorify, um, you know, like consistency and work that that would eliminate a lot of that unnecessary suffering. It’s part of the sport and it’s part of our community, but

Corrine Malcolm (20:59):

No, there’s actually, there’s a really great, um, master’s thesis that I’ve written about, um, by this woman, Jill, and I’ll never say her last name. Right. I’m actually gonna sit down and interview her next week. Um, I feel like it’s like in my head, it’s colonial, but I does not, I don’t think that’s right, but in like, there’s, this there’s a, a quote within it where she basically says that in the ultra running community, you know, we, we not, we accept and, and expect like a certain level of characteristics that are associated with mental illness and it’s just like, oh, wow, it’s almost ignored within the sport. Cause we’re like, oh, that’s normal. That’s like what you’re supposed to be like. Um, and that’s like, that’s, you know, it’s good to talk about these things, but at the same time, like maybe we shouldn’t just accept this idea of like immense suffering or, um, I don’t know, just some, I feel like some negative, some negative associations with a lot of things. So, um, yeah, it’s Def it definitely exists. And I think we all fall into that trap of like, well, I can suffer harder. I can, I can be tougher. Um, which is definitely, I don’t know. There are certain races, there are certain instances and situations that you can’t tough yourself out of. I don’t think, or shouldn’t tough yourself out of that’s the whole like death before DNF mentality that I think is really, you know, really toxic more than anything in our sport, but that’s a, maybe a rant for another day.

Corrine Malcolm (22:21):

Ryan, do you have anything to that you wanna add, add to that before we kind of move towards, how do we utilize training and build races?

Ryne Anderson (22:29):

I’ll just bring it back full circle to that. Like kind of how Nicole said, prevent that from happening by planning things out, picking the right races for you and training appropriately. Don’t, don’t pigeonhole yourself into this really difficult race. Every Ultra’s difficult, doesn’t matter the distance, uh, vert, whatever, um, pick the race that you’re gonna get most prepared for and set yourself up for success. Don’t, don’t set yourself up in a, in a place where you’re not gonna be adequately prepared and you can’t go get the performance you want and go have fun.

Corrine Malcolm (23:05):

Yeah. I think we see that a lot with like, uh, Western state’s qualifiers, hard rock qualifi just had an athlete recently. Who’s got a lot going on in their life and recognized that the Western states qualifi, they wanted to run. Wasn’t gonna happen this year and that’s okay. And, and we’ve shift focuses to some other things that I think they’re gonna be able to be really successful at, but that was like a decision that had to be, they had to be made. They were not gonna have a great experience on race day, given this, that they have been in and the space that they’re currently in. And so I think that’s, that’s a, a big decision, but also a very important decision and a, and a reasonable decision. So kind of continuing on the, the vein of, of planning and looking as, as Nicole mentioned, you know, sometimes we build backwards to find these other races and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t work.

Corrine Malcolm (23:51):

Um, but I think we all, we all use, I think sometimes oftentimes a shorter race or a specific training weekend kind of as a, as a prep for a bigger, a bigger race. And it’s not, it’s not mandatory. It’s not necessary. I tell my athletes that all the time, right? Like if you’re not excited about it, we don’t need to go do that 50 K and prep for your 50 mile. Like we can do other things to make you make you fit and build confidence. Cause I think people are looking for confidence in those quote unquote training races or B or C level races. So how can we, do you guys encourage your athletes to seek out these events? Do you only encourage them if it works? Like how can athletes, if they want to use, if they need, if they quote, unquote, need that confidence booster in a training race, like how can we, how can we use them to our advantage and how can we avoid whatever pitfalls might lay? I don’t know, down, down the path towards a, a, B or a C race,

Ryne Anderson (24:42):

I would say the B and the C races definitely only serve a purpose. And I always try to, for some, for some people they have really crazy work schedules to where like their nurses or, or doctors, and it’s, it’s something crazy where they can only get in like maybe two runs a week. Um, and then for their weekends open up, it’s like, okay. Let’s if, if that gets you excited, um, and that’s something you’re then yeah, we can fit these races in. Or if it’s, if it’s somebody saying like, I need to do this 50 mile before I do a hundred miles, it’s like, okay, why do you feel the need to do that? Have you had past races where your nutrition went really bad after six hours, cuz you were getting into the heat of the day and you didn’t know, um, the foods you wanted after that time, if that’s the case, we could replicate that in a long training run or yeah, let’s go do a 50 miler cuz you’re gonna have eight stations that are most likely gonna have the same food at your next race and let’s work through those problems.

Ryne Anderson (25:39):

I think it’s good. It’s a good way to problem solve things that have prohibited a good race performance or, or led to, uh, a DNF or missing a cutoff time. Um, but I, I do not talk with my athletes and say like, it is absolutely necessary that you get a 50 mile run in and six weeks out from the a hundred miler that is the key to success. Um, but, and then having the conversation with them is like, yeah, that makes total sense that you, you feel the need to do that. But also if you do that 50 miler, you’re probably gonna need kind of like 10 days to taper and 10 days to recovery. So 50 mile, obviously a huge stimulus, but then would you rather have even training over those three weeks or one massive effort in there to get you more, more fit or more confident? And I think the other thing to consider is like, oh man, like it’s, it’s gonna gimme a lot of confidence to this 50 miler far. I was like, what if it goes wrong, then what’s your confidence gonna be like, it could be completely shot and it could backfire. Um, so getting to the root of why they feel they need it, I think is important.

Corrine Malcolm (26:54):

Yeah. I think that’s really, really important. I’ve had that conversation with people too, of like, you know, what, what is that gonna take out of you? What’s the Acker Fe to get that, that training race in, if it’s not the priority and there’s that whole head space that goes along with it too, that I think is really difficult for a lot of folks when it’s like, how many matches am I allowed to burn? How hard am I allowed to go during this thing? If it’s not, if it’s not my key event so I can keep my eyes on the actual, the actual goal goal that lays ahead, Nicole, how do you feel when it comes to training or build races or B or C races, whatever we might call them.

Nicole Rasmussen (27:29):

Yeah. I mean, I definitely utilize ’em like Ryan said, they’re not necessary. You don’t have to do them. Um, you can definitely get a good confidence boost with, with an athlete who’s new to the sport, right. Or if someone’s making a big jump to a distance, um, just using it as a supported long run. So there’s, there’s definitely been benefit there. And while you don’t have to use them. Yeah. I just, I think it is important for athletes to realize you can only perform at your optimal level for, for so many weeks out of the year, right? Like your, your peak fitness is, is only maintainable for so long and that’s because we have to manage the taper and the rest and the recovery periods with the bill periods. Um, and so where I feel like those B and C races come in with a huge benefit are, is the athlete who just loves to race a lot.

Nicole Rasmussen (28:20):

Like I love to race. I love to see new courses and these beautiful play races. Um, and, and you definitely have to come back to, to the prioritization, right? Like let’s make sure you have one or two a events over the year and prioritize some of these other races. And when you’re looking at well, how many, how many races should I do in a, under a year, you have to consider like how many it’s different for everyone? Like how much can your training support to where you’re gonna feel, feel good during these races and also be emotionally ready to race frequently enough. And every athlete’s gonna be a little bit different, but, um, you know, like, like it’s a really a common scenario to have an athlete come in with a really long list and be like, this is my race calendar this year. And, and to have those conversations of it, you have to just consider what, what’s your goal at the end of the day?

Nicole Rasmussen (29:19):

Do you love the community? Do you love just being out there and enjoying nature? Like if that’s the case then yeah. Like race a lot and, and if your body can handle it, but for the majority of people, they’re, they’re, they’re in this event cuz they wanna see what they can accomplish and they’re they’re here because they, they wanna know what they’re capable of and they wanna perform at their best. And so sometimes that’s a hard conversation to have to say like, all right, we might have to cut some of these races out. Um, I recently had an athlete who was probably racing three weekends every month of an ultra distance or longer when he came to me. Wow. Um, and that was really typical and he’d been maintained that, um, and we had that conversation. Like if, if you’re just here cuz you love the community and love hanging out with all your buddies from the, the, the week, the weekly run who, you know, you don’t wanna miss out on any race, then, then that’s okay.

Nicole Rasmussen (30:16):

But, but if you really wanna see what you’re capable of, you have to work in the, those times of recovery and, and, and training like Ryan said. Um, and it was funny. Like we kind of cut out a lot of these races, um, got him to like kind of a consistent training and he, and I got this feedback of, we, we’d probably only been at this at like for six weeks and he’s like, man, I have improved so much. I am so fast. Like you are the best coach in the world. You had made me like the fastest runner ever. And while I would love to take credit for like, you know, transforming this runner in six weeks, I’m like, you know, it’s you have fresh legs. Like this is what legs feel like, who aren’t running an ultra every single weekend. Like you have the, the physical capabilities to train and to put, you know, better quality efforts, day after day and week after week, it’s gonna translate into better fitness. Um,

Corrine Malcolm (31:10):

That’s so funny. I’ve had athletes like that. I had an athlete who they needed a season to prove to themselves that they could handle. It was a lot of a hundreds, it was like five or six hundreds. Um, and then, you know, came back the next season and said, I actually wanna see how good I can be at this. And I was like, yeah, okay. Like, let’s do that. And it was like, that was the mentality shift. Like it was a, they needed to prove that they could do it and then they needed to like, then they wanted to see how well they could do. And that was, you know, yeah. Same thing. Like all of a sudden they could do workouts all of a sudden, like their legs felt great. And I was like, yeah, it’s because we’re not constantly recovering. Like we get, we get to train, which is so, so exciting.

Corrine Malcolm (31:49):

Um, I personally, I think I’ve struggled a lot with the idea of, of getting on the start line and being able to like put my ego aside on for a race. That’s not my, a race and it’s hard, it’s hard to go into a race and be like, people are gonna see this result and, and wonder was it what I want? Was it fast enough? Was it not fast enough? Like, was it, is it the performance I was hoping for? And I see that in my athletes as well, as far as like the psychological, sometimes like nuance of doing a training race where maybe we didn’t taper because they’re training through it. It’s the end of a big training block. And we’re just gonna kind of use, use this as like the last big thing before we take a little bit of rest and start training again.

Corrine Malcolm (32:28):

Um, Ryan, do you have any experience with athletes or personally as far as like how do you go into a race and, and that you’re not planning to knock of the park and like mentally put yourself in a good place. Cause I think that, can you, you want the, to feel good and run pretty well, but at the same time, if you’re not tapering, if you’re using it as a training run, like even knowing that you still pin a bib on and it’s like, the gun goes off and sometimes you forget that that’s why you’re doing the race. And I think that that’s a real hangup for a lot of people.

Ryne Anderson (33:00):

Yeah. We, we say B races, C races, but it’s hard to call it a B race and not give it an a effort. Um, so if, if the athlete really is performance based, then it’s a constant conversation for the weeks leading up of like, okay, you’re, you’re very fit. You, you, you can have a, a really good race, but also realize it may not go according to plan. Um, or if, if they want a race, then depending on the distance, it could fit perfectly into the end of that training block you were talking about, or at the beginning of a new block when they’re fresh to get maybe like a really hard like 25 K race or something like that. Um, or maybe a 50 K could fit in there depending on the athlete. But no, it is, it is very tricky that that darn ultra signup score looms over all of us. And we wanna have that alias ultra signup. So you

Corrine Malcolm (33:55):

Can’t escape it.

Ryne Anderson (33:56):

Yeah. You can’t escape it. Um, but no, it is, it is really tough. Um, but it just, you have to be very honest with yourself. Um, I know, especially with this, all these things are easier said than done, but, um, realize, can you give the a effort and are you gonna be okay that it’s, it may not stack up to what you wanted or how you did in the past. But now that is very, very tricky cuz yeah. You pin the bid on and you want,

Corrine Malcolm (34:21):

Yeah. I love to encourage my athletes who are maybe in the over racing category who are predominantly like, let’s say ultra ultra specific athletes. Right. You know, 50 K plus I’m like, you know what trail Hals are really cool trail marathons are really cool. 15 Ks are awesome. 18 Ks, what do you wanna do? A 30 K like there are all these other options out there that I think from the ultra side of the trail and ultra world, we like, I don’t know, we don’t pay them as much maybe respect or um, but man, I would rather go do a trail half than I would like to do a long steady state endurance effort. Um, so I think that trying to I’ve I’ve I have tried with my athletes who I feel like really want to race. Cause they like being in that community, they like showing up to this events like, yeah, let’s make some of these short distance trail stuff, a workout that we can build into your plan as opposed to, you know, having to run a 50 K every two or three weeks. And I definitely have athletes that really like that. And I think it’s way too much. So, Ugh. It’s a, it’s a very tenuous balancing act is what I’ve found

Ryne Anderson (35:20):

New idea sub sign on. Yeah.

Corrine Malcolm (35:24):

We’ll pitch it. Let’s pitch it to ultra signup. Hey, we’ve got a new idea for you. We’ve got a little sister, a little brother company sub ultra

Ryne Anderson (35:30):

Delineate these two distances.

Corrine Malcolm (35:33):

So yeah. Okay. I think kind of on that same vein of comparison, um, I see a lot of athletes maybe. So they’re they’re maybe they’ve done their B race. Maybe they’re now we’re kind of building towards what that first a race or the, a race of the season. And this is where I think I start to see athletes start to question everything we’ve been doing or get really nervous about like how long, long their long runs are or how big their peak week is gonna be. Um, you know, things that we hear in like, you know, when you’ve read the, the marathon training plans or things that you’ve heard when you hear an athlete talk about their training leading up to Western states. Well, my peak week was blah, blah, blah. Like what, what can we do for athletes or with athletes when that kind of stuff to stress them out. Because I think that’s, we’re heading into that season in the coming months more than anything.

Ryne Anderson (36:25):

Yep. So, and so has this much ver should I be doing this? Um, and then like, I like to frame it positive. It’s like, it’s good. You’re feeling this anxiety cuz you’re really excited about it. You know? So that’s good. Let’s view it from that, from that angle, that perspective, but also like, okay, let’s zoom out. Where were you? Three weeks ago or not three weeks ago. Three months ago at the start of when we started training, look how much you’ve progressed. Okay. Um, okay. If you, if you want to dive into the, the person you’re concerned about Strava, um, that’s cool. Go down that at rabbit hole, it’s probably not gonna serve you. Well look, look back at what you have done and how you have progressed. Look back at like, oh, when you did this workout early in the training block, didn’t go well, and then you got much, much stronger.

Ryne Anderson (37:12):

And then as the coach, you have to remind them of all their past years of training history. This is the peak you been able to maintain. Everybody’s different. So instead of comparing others peak weeks, like go back to your training and be like, oh yeah, like I get, I get super fit off of eight hours of training a week. Okay. Um, or, or whatever it may be go back and, and can, I guess self comparison can be bad as well. But in this scenario it has the potential to work out better instead of looking at others peak weeks, others, fast workouts. So, and so did this race and they performed really well.

Nicole Rasmussen (37:53):

That’s good, Ryan. I, I hate the term peak week. Like I hate that we put so much emphasis on it and that, that I get, we get those questions all the time. What’s my peak week supposed to look like what is my peak long run, supposed to look like

Corrine Malcolm (38:08):

A key. What’s my key. Is this my key workout? Is this my key long run? Like what, oh yeah. What that even mean?

Nicole Rasmussen (38:14):

Oh yeah. Like maybe we should call it like your peak training block. You know, this is your peak five weeks, you know, we’re, this is gonna be your peak volume and we’re, we’re gonna hit a lot of volume in these last, you know, five weeks before the taper or, you know, we’re going to peak climbing and, and look at like a three week average over, over this time. Um, I don’t know, like going along back to what Ryan was saying, like, I think that’s a healthier perspective to, to make sure that athletes know you don’t, there’s no magical long run number that you have to hit. There’s no magical peak week you have to hit. And, and that goes back to what I talked about earlier, where athletes think we have to hit certain numbers in that peak week and then move backwards. Like you just take where you are, you get as fit as you can, you get as much volume as you safely can.

Nicole Rasmussen (39:10):

And then, you know, when you’re in those peak, final weeks leading up to your event, um, take that time to, to realize like your training is chronic. We say that all the time, it’s week after week, day after day, month after month, all of those things are gonna indicate success so much greater than what you accomplished in those three in that, those last three weeks or that peak week. Um, I think it’s a really good time to, you know, we are really, really good as athletes at looking for red flags, especially during those like last, you know, those, the time leading up to a race, we’re looking for everything that went wrong in training or every, every time we got sick or, you know, we see red flags really easily, but that’s a really great time to, to look for confidence builders. Like Ryan said, like just like switch your mindset to, to, to, to view all the good things that you’ve done and all the preparation that you’ve put in.

Nicole Rasmussen (40:10):

And, and maybe you haven’t had the best prep, maybe things didn’t go perfectly, but look for the good and, and let that fuel your confidence going in into your race. Um, I had an, an athlete recently who I think, you know, we talk about mistakes that this is a good example. So I wanna use, I wanna share good examples where she was in her, you know, quote peak week, like the biggest volume before the taper and got really sick, you know, was really, really sick that week and did like zero training over the, over the course of it. And she did such a great job of just saying like, I know, like I’ll be fine. I know, like I have worked hard. I’ve put in week after week after week. Like this doesn’t matter. And I didn’t, I didn’t even have to prompt it as a coach. And I think that’s a really good attitude to, to look at, you know, what, like we’re gonna get sick and it doesn’t really matter. And the training it happens, like, like you’re, you’re not gonna fall apart because your peak week wasn’t perfect. Um,

Corrine Malcolm (41:08):

I love that. That’s that’s such great. Like self-awareness by that athlete, like that’s yeah. That’s huge. I think it’s, I feel like not, I’m not constantly telling this to athletes, but it’s like, yeah, no, you’re, it’s a summation of all the work that you’ve done. It’s like, yes. The biggest long run we had on the plan might not have gone perfectly that’s okay. Because you’ve done all these other runs or this one workout, you know, two, two or three weeks out from the race felt terrible. Well it’s okay. Cuz you’ve done all these other workouts. You’ve done all these other things that, you know, kind of hopefully can show you that you, that you are ready. Didn’t have to be this one run. I think people, we get hung up on like this one run idea or this one week idea being the most perfect thing ever.

Corrine Malcolm (41:48):

I, my roommate had to remind me yesterday that I’m really good with a long taper because as I feel like my training block for Madeira, which isn’t, which is like a month away now, exactly. It’s exactly a month away. Like kind of ends right now. Like I’m my next, like my next week’s really busy and then I’m going on a honeymoon and that’s my own, that’s my own fault to plan it that way. But it’s like, okay, I’m gonna have kind of a long taper. Um, and I think that it’s kind of, she was like you that before you’ve had a long taper, it totally worked out. So I think it’s kind of nice to remember, you know, yes. Comparison both to others and to yourself can be a slippery slope and not always positive, but looking for those things that can provide confidence in those moments of questioning is so crucial. That’s really cool. I love that your athlete had that. Self-awareness when wish all of our athletes and all of the humans out there running could do the same thing.

Corrine Malcolm (42:40):

Okay. So I think we’re kind of moving towards the very last thing that’s gonna happen before race and that’s taper that’s rest. This is kinda a broad, a broad topic, right? Like you could talk about rest days, rest weeks, rest seasons. We kind of touched on off seasons earlier, but you know, kind of moving towards the race you got that taper that’s coming up. So where you got the taper tantrums, we all know, we all know those all too well. What can athletes do to survive the taper tantrums to rest accordingly week to week? Like what, what have you seen in your, a athletes are seen personally to, in order to embrace rest or embrace the taper, um, to get to the start line healthy and hopefully fit and happy to

Ryne Anderson (43:24):

Like its worked out the best for my athletes when they get to, when they get to the taper and they’re like, oh my gosh, I’m so ready to taper because they’ve put in the training. So that’s good because then there’re, there’s no, um, anxiety around your fitness. There’s gonna be anxiety about all the race logistics and everything going right. And then what can go wrong and all that. Um, and you, you could either assign your athlete or yourself, homework of what you’re gonna do for the race of like, okay, finalize your nutrition and all that. But for some that, that would not be a good idea. Obviously they have to get those things prepared and um, get their drop bags and everything. But some that’s a good pivot to, to make themselves feel better and keep themselves busy in a taper. Um, or it’s like, oh, you’ve been talking about this thing you’ve wanted to do around the house or the backyard. Like, let’s go do that. Let’s put that on the training plan one hour yard work or something, you know, um, let’s figure out other things that can, can fill your time to where you’re not just focusing on this race. Cuz when you’re tapering, you obviously have more time, um, to do other things, which is your training list. Um, pick out a book, um, figure out if your personality needs to keep focusing on the race or you need to pivot away completely. So you go into the race. Very excited.

Nicole Rasmussen (44:46):

I like that. Ryan, do you really put, mow the lawn on the, on the schedule, read a book. Do you put that in training book, training peaks?

Ryne Anderson (44:54):

I, I put, read the book on there for sure.

Nicole Rasmussen (44:56):

I love it. I love it. Yeah. The rest rest is tough because this, this is a, an addictive sport, right? There’s something about being in the mountains, putting in those hard efforts, the long efforts, it feels good and it’s fun. And, and I think the type of athletes who gravitate to our sport, like to push their limits, you know, and they, they, they really enjoy that aspect of it. Um, but there is, there’s a difference between pushing limits and being stupid, you know? And, and I think, I don’t know when we talk about all these, um, H and traps that athletes fall into along the way, they kind of all come back to a similar theme of like having that long range plan in place from the beginning, right. Having that strategy in place from the beginning that that gives athletes a lot of buy-in and a lot of confidence when they know that I’m gonna train really hard when I need to, to, and I’m gonna rest really hard when I need to. Um, uh, I, I like to maintain, like, you can still maintain a little bit of intensity during your taper. You can, you can maintain some climbing during your taper. All you need to do is take the volume down, right? Like you can still go pretty tough on some of your efforts. Um, but we’re just gonna drop the volume and focus on a little more rest.

Nicole Rasmussen (46:20):

Um, it’s hard to be a do objectively. I think it’s, it’s nice when you have a coach who can look at things really objectively and tell you when it’s time to rest and not just in a taper, but resting in general. It’s, it’s nice when there’s a coach to bounce that off of. But I think the, at who can do that, who can be objective towards their own training and see when it’s time to rest and when it’s not, um, probably have the best, best chance to be successful, cuz that’s such a key part of part of what we, what we do in our training.

Corrine Malcolm (46:53):

Yeah. I think I I’ve had to look at rest and way in which it’s like today for training, I am resting, which was like, you know, like maybe that’s a trick like that was, you know, a way to trick my brain into being okay with it. But I think, yeah, having that person be it a support, a supporting person, being a partner or a training partner or a coach who you really trust to be like, yeah, they, they want me to rest. I can rest I’m I can do that. Like I think sometimes just being told to rest is enough, um, at times. And then I think that once again, kind of going back to that confidence piece and that comparison piece is if you get into taper, it’s really easy to spend that time questioning. Like, am I ready? Did I do it all right.

Corrine Malcolm (47:32):

Like go into it, knowing that you did like, that’s why you’re tapering, you got the race coming up, you did the training, um, questioning what you’ve been doing for the last six weeks. Isn’t going to help, um, come race day. It’s only gonna make you spend your week very, very stressed. So I think that that’s a good, a good place to go into, go into race, race mode, race day. What else is there anything else that you guys had on your notes that you were like, this, this one thing, if I could make runners stop doing this one thing, it would be X or Y. Was there anything that came kind to the top of your mind when I said wanna talk about common running mistakes, common training, mistakes, or racing mistakes that you wish that that little piece of advice would, would help, would help a runner kind of move through their running life a little bit more smoothly.

Ryne Anderson (48:22):

Don’t change how you eat the, the week of your race. Uh, that, that’s a very, very common question of like, should I eat differently? Um, no, cuz you did these big training weeks and you ate how you ate and you executed. So don’t, it’s, it’s just like we have more time. So we have more time to think, what can we change? What can we do to keep getting prepared to have our best performance? But yeah, that’s a big one of like, should, should I drink more water or should I, yeah, should I eat something differently? Should I start eating vegetables more this week or something like that? And it’s like, no, do it, do what you’ve been doing. Um, I’m sorry, I can’t give you thanks to do. I’m telling you to run less and I can’t give you new things to implement. Um, but that’s, that’s kind of how it goes as we’re getting ready for this race.

Corrine Malcolm (49:07):

Yeah. No, no new changes, no new changes. We speak. That’s a good thing, Nicole. How about you? What, what’s one, if you wish that runners could just change this one little thing or maybe it’s personally,

Nicole Rasmussen (49:19):

You know, um, I read a book recently, um, called the molecule of more have either either of you read it,

Corrine Malcolm (49:27):

It’s on my it’s on a list that I have going, but I have

Nicole Rasmussen (49:30):

Oh good. Oh good. Yeah. I mean, it’s not about ultra running, it’s not about athletics. Um, but it’s just something I’ve been thinking a lot about because I, um, it’s, it’s essentially a book about dopamine, right? And it’s, it’s a book about the state that our brain is in when we’re chasing goals, right. That like we have this Dogen mindset. Um, and the that’s, that’s really the molecule in our brain that, that causes us to want to do better to, to, to want more, to, to chase a goal to, you know, it’s like the reason that humans have put spaceships into orbit and you know, like, like we, we look out at what we desire and what we want and it, and it gives us the motivat and to chase it. Um, but there’s, there’s also like this, this side of this Dogen mindset, right?

Nicole Rasmussen (50:21):

Where, where we’re never going to be satisfied, right? Like, like this is the problem with addiction and a lot of things. And, but I mean, just something I’ve been thinking about a lot is that like with ultra runners, I think all ultra runners should read this book of just, I think that people who come to our sport really have that mindset of like, we, like, we wanna push, like we wanna go further and we want to, um, explore the boundaries of what’s possible for ourselves. And, and I think that’s wonderful and I think it’s great. And I think it’s a really important piece of, of who we are as humans. Um, but that like at the end of the day, and this is like the takeaway of the book that, that chasing those dopa dopamine, highs never actually gives you contentment or never actually gives you, gives you happiness.

Nicole Rasmussen (51:16):

Um, and that the people who are really happy in life have like developed this, this ability to be content and to recognize that like happiness comes in smaller doses, it’s not these highs and lows, but like, it’s like the oxytocin mindset that keeps you just like contentment and it’s like long term love. And anyways, I’m totally going off on a tangent. But, but I was thinking about this when we talk about rest and ultra runners and how hard it is to get us to rest. Sometimes I think, you know, we come to the sport cuz we love the high of like competing and racing. Um, but, but every single athlete that I talk to, usually part of their goals, they tell me I wanna be doing this when I’m 80 and I wanna be doing this when I am, you know, when I’m old, I wanna be running forever.

Nicole Rasmussen (52:04):

And I wanna be able to to enjoy this hobby with longevity. And I think if you really, if I could like give an athlete one piece of advice, it would be to sit back, like view your career as an athlete with a really long lens to look, look at what you’re trying to do over a 20 year span or a 30 year span. And I think if you do that, we feel less pressure to have to do all the races this year, right. Or to have to go after that Western states qualifier, or to chase the a hundred mile, even though I’ve yet to do a marathon. You know, sometimes if you can view your career with this really long lens, um, or even, you know, like thinking I have to put in this training around, even though my ankle really hurts or, or I have to, you know, there’s a lot of like I have tos.

Nicole Rasmussen (52:56):

Um, but if you can develop that sense of contentment with who you are and where you are right now, um, that’s probably more important than what we think that sometimes these races are gonna give us, right. And that what we think finishing some amazing endeavors going to give us. Um, it’s a really wonderful and important part of our lives. It brings us a lot of satisfaction and contentment, but, but just step back and look at things from a, from that long lens and with a long view. And I think if athletes could do that, it would solve and eliminate a lot of the problems that we, that we deal with when, when it comes to racing and, and implementing our training.

Corrine Malcolm (53:37):

Yeah. I think that it’s kind of like the, the philosophical, philosophical answer to all of our, all of our problems, I guess, in that kind of to follow that note. We’re gonna, I’m gonna ask you kind of both, both the same question, but it’s gonna be our final question. Um, and we’ll start with Ryan is, and I did not put this in my show notes, but it is something that I I’ve asked everyone at this point. And I think it’s kind of a nice question to end things on is what’s something that, you know, now that you wish you knew when you started ultra running. And so Ryan, is there something that, you know, now that you wish that you could go back, you know, 10 years, however long, and, and tell that that ultra runner,

Ryne Anderson (54:17):

All the races I want to do are gonna be there. I don’t have to do the mall one or two years. Um, yeah. And I wish I would’ve found out about electrolytes soon.

Corrine Malcolm (54:31):

All the races will continue to be there and electrolytes

Ryne Anderson (54:35):

And electrolytes will help with that. Yeah. I was doing Sam, Juan solstice with a buddy and was feeling terrible, like getting slight pains of dizziness. And he is like, have you had any salt? And I’m like, what? And he is like, here, eat this noon tab. Don’t put it in your bottle, eat the noon tab. And I did. And I was like, oh, that, that actually tastes good. If that tastes good. Not being in the water. That’s, that’s probably not good.

Corrine Malcolm (54:59):

It’s probably not a great sign. That’s, that’s amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone. Who’s just eaten a noon tab. So this is the first, um, Nicole, what would you tell the, that initial, that initial trail or ultra runner that you that’s something that, you know now that you wish you knew then?

Nicole Rasmussen (55:16):

Yeah, I think I would tell young Nicole, um, to keep things simple. Um, you know, I, everyone’s talking about the Neil VanderPol speed skater, uh, training and the, but my, my favorite thing from what he put out in his little journal was that like, at the end of the day, speed skating is just like a single leg squat repeated over and over and over and over again, like that’s all it is. Um, and, and it reminded me of, uh, there’s like this documentary that follows this high school cross country team, and they’re really successful. And they’ve had this program, that’s like one state championships for years and years and years. But the night before the state championships, someone asked the, the kid, you know, he’s like the number one runner on their team. And they said, what’s your race strategy tomorrow going into this state championship meet. And this kid, like, this is so wise. And I, and this is so awesome. The kids, he, he put his arms, like in a running movement. He said, I’m gonna go like this, and then I’m gonna go like this, and then I’m gonna go like this, and then I’m gonna go like this. So he’s just pumping. I, I don’t know if you can see me, but he’s just pumping his arms, like a runner. And he’s like, like, and I’m gonna keep, and I’m gonna do it again. And again and again, and like just,

Corrine Malcolm (56:28):

It’s just

Nicole Rasmussen (56:29):

Running it’s. So it’s just running and, and it’s at the end of the day, you put in time on your feet, you, you eat calories, you go slow enough and eat enough. You can go forever. And, and, and just to simp, keep simple, like enjoy the simplicity. Don’t get wrapped up in the many, many voices who are telling us what to train or how to train. Like at the end of the day, it’s a really simple activity. That’s that brings us joy and keep it simple.

Corrine Malcolm (57:01):

I love that. I think that’s a great place to end our show today. I wanna thank you both so very much for coming to my round table of, of, uh, maybe a comedy of heirs in a lot of ways. Um, but hopefully lots of people will be able to glean some information, um, moving forward in their own 20, 22 season. Um, I think that’s gonna be it. Thank you both so much. We’ll talk to you guys again soon.

Nicole Rasmussen (57:25):

Thank you. Thanks. That was fun.

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