What is your take on minimalistic running? (Cornel De Jongh)
The more I reduce my material requirements, the more unencumbered, connected, and satisfying the run becomes for me. Mountain running is a very primal activity. I don’t like complicating it any more than necessary.
How long does it take to transition to shoes such as the NB Minimus you are using and to be able to run ultra trail events in them? (Cornel De Jongh)
The transition time is different for everyone. For me, it took about 3-4 months of carefully reducing the amount of shoe I was wearing while gradually working up to 20-30min/day of barefoot running (on grass) to strengthen my feet and lower legs and reinforce the right kind of form habits. That was eight years ago. Many people will probably want to take even longer than that to complete the full transition.
What are some sacrifices you’ve made in order to continue to live a simpler lifestyle? What are your main motivations for living simply? (Erich Kopp)
I don’t really see my lifestyle as being a sacrifice, but I guess the main sacrifice for me has been an overall lack of stability. I spend most summers in the high mountains, living out of my truck and traveling a fair bit for races. This allows me to run a lot of good mountains, though, which I find very rewarding.
What are your top three beer choices after a race? (Jason Green)
Anything that is cold and wet. I’m not that picky. No stouts, no porters.
What’s the longest amount of time you’ve gone during training before you’ve taken any water? (Ian Marc Martin)
I think I’ve run five hours in the winter before without water, only a couple gels and a couple handfuls of snow to wash them down.
When do you wake up in the mornings? (Veroljub Zmijanac)
It varies with the seasons (earlier in summer, later in winter), but between 6am and 7am usually.
What is your key to balancing injury prevention and maintaining speed/pace in ultras? (Wesley van Biljon)
Unfortunately, I don’t have a key for this. Listening to your body is very important—and heeding what it is saying—but I’ve had a really hard time with this, historically. This is the thing I need to improve most in my running.
What kind of food sources make up your diet? (James Hallett)
I don’t follow any specific diet at all, but I make an effort to include mostly fresh fruits and vegetables along with lots of breads and pastas. I don’t eat hardly any fast food; I just don’t find it appealing.
When did you realize your feet support needed a different approach? (spanjaard)
Between 1998 and 2003 I got 12 stress fractures while running in motion control shoes with fiberglass orthotics. Since I threw away the orthotics and transitioned to low-profile shoes—and made the necessary changes in my form that result from wearing minimalist footwear—I’ve never had a stress fracture.
How is your training a week before an ultra race? (David Hungría Máñez)
I usually do my last long run (3-4hr) a week before the race and then just run an easy hour every day the last five or six days before the race.
How did you prepare for Zegama-Aizkorri? (Markinhos)
Well, I’ve been injured the entire time leading up to Zegama, and there is a decent chance I won’t be able to compete in the race. Had I been healthy, I would have followed my usual routine of a 2hr mountain run in the mornings with 1500m or so of vertical and an easy hour or so in the evening of barefoot running on grass. Usually I would do a long run on the weekends of 4-6hr with 3000-4000m of vertical, too.
How is your week after a big race? Do you rest for a day? How do you eat and train? (Paco Ferrera)
I usually take a day or two off (after 100 mile races) and then just jog easily for the rest of the week. My eating is normal.
How do you see yourself in shorter tests between 20 and 50km? (El Yeti)
I am not nearly talented enough to be as competitive over these shorter distances, unless it is very technical and with a lot of climbing.
European races have more elevation than the American ones. Do you feel ready to beat the Europeans runners, who run at home? (Mario)
Well, right now, being as injured as I am, I’m not ready to beat anyone—European, American or otherwise. However, in my training I focus almost exclusively on elevation gain on technical terrain, so no, those aspects of European mountain racing don’t intimidate me. We have plenty of steep mountains in the U.S.
When you run at the mountains, it’s normal to suffer injuries. Do you have any advice to avoid injuries? (Eduardo Ramos, Venezuela)
Probably no advice with any kind of proven validity, seeing as I’ve been injured for the past year. The best thing I can offer is that you should be rational about training loads and always listen to your body. Take more lower-volume easy days than you think you need.
What are your chances against Kilian at the Zegama-Aikorri Marathon? What are your thoughts about the barefoot trend? (Dani & Pere)
Hmmm, these are two very different questions. First, I think my chances against Kilian at Zegama are terrible. I am injured and haven’t been able to train consistently; I probably won’t be able to run the race. If I were healthy and able to prepare as I would like, then yeah, I think I would be able to apply some pressure on some of the climbs and make it interesting at the front of the race.
Second, my thoughts about the barefoot trend are that 1) anything that inspires people to be active and go running is a good thing, and 2) I think people need to be careful with it and only implement barefoot running on natural surfaces and very gradually, all the while listening to their bodies.
What is your record in a marathon and half marathon races? (Rafa González)
My personal best marathon is 2:42 and I’ve never run a half marathon.
How is your feeding base before the running season? Are you a vegan? Do you take any kind of supplements? (Abel Recknold)
I am not vegan. The only supplements I take are Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Omegas (a blend of mostly flax seed oil) and Floradix vegetable iron supplementation.