Tag Archives: training

every step

I’m procrastinating a little.

It’s day two of our January thaw.

It’s 48 degrees and raining, which has glazed the 4th-class gravel road in front of our house with a sheen of mottled gray ice.

So, I’m less excited to get out there and put in the miles today, but I know I need them — as do my dogs, Dragon and Freyja, who will eventually lose their patience with my lassitude. IMG_8578

For the time being, I have been reflecting on and planning for running instead. I’ve been dividing 272 by various single digit numbers — 9, 8, 7 — realizing that only 4 extra miles per day can help me complete the Long Trail in 8 days rather than 9. Is that possible, for me?

I pushed to near 40 miles for a day or two of my Arctic Trail run last August, but then I also called it quits after only half the total distance because of a stress reaction in my leg. More training? The variables in Vermont are different, the goal distance overall is shorter, but the terrain more demanding.

I’ve also never ridden a bike 200 miles in one go. I’m confident, though that the training I started in December will make that possible for me.

Every step of every run I take is so deeply interbraided with these questions, with self-doubt, as well as with the hopes, aspirations, and insights I gain from reflecting on the why of it all.

Some of that why is this:

Experiencing our full humanity requires us to attenuate our self-centeredness by enfolding it within a much wider sense of self in which we experience genuine love and compassion for all beings, both living and non-living.

This excerpt from a short essay by Stephan Harding is part of a response to the question, “What does it mean to be human?” Harding draws on Arne Naess’s idea of an ecological self — one that is larger than just our individual self that encompasses the whole of the human and non-human worlds.

I share Stephan Harding’s belief that

…the most pressing challenge for our times is to awaken the ecological selves of as many people as possible within the shortest possible time.

This is exactly why I’ve come to do the things I do —

If I can connect my footfall on the icy gravel outside my own door to my more far-flung adventures in the Arctic to conversations with middle-school students about climate change to, finally, building resilient communities, I hope that I can help awaken at least some of our collective ecological selves.

Now, time to strap on the microspikes and get out that door.

 

 

 

 

Goals

When I was in London for a few days with my son Orion after the 2016 Keswick Mountain Festival, we stopped in at the Charing Cross Road Foyle’s Books and its overwhelming kilometers of shelves. As much as I wanted half the books in the store, we agreed to limit ourselves to one book each.

My choice was The Path: A New Way to Think About Everything, by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. I don’t typically opt for books in the ‘self-help’ category, but this one caught my attention partly because of its attention to the idea of small, daily rituals — those things we may believe are inconsequential, pointless, or irrelevant.

Drawing on Chinese philosophers from Confucius and Mencius to Laozi and Zhuangzi and others, The Path points out that we do not need “a radical new plan for how to live and how to organize the world,” but rather, we should pay far greater attention to the “mundane aspects of daily life” and that “we create the Way anew every moment of our lives.”

It can be easy for me to lose sight of the essential role our daily routines play in helping reach long-term goals; sometimes the mundanity of the quotidian even seems to get in the way of what I want to do in the long run.

Simply making a long-term goal isn’t enough. It’s the thousands of tiny steps between here and there — the daily rituals — that can make nearly any goal attainable.

January 1st is just around the corner, and with it, an opportunity to reframe, reground, and reassess both what we plan for and what we do every day. This year, I meet the start of the new year with a renewed drive and passion for Climate Run projects, and, honestly, more than a little anxiety.

In 2018, the 4th year of Climate Run, I have my sights set on two adventures:

First, in late June, I will get on a bike at the Vermont / Canadian border and ride, non-stop, the 200 or so miles to the southern end of the Long Trail on the Massachusetts state line, and then run back up to Canada — effectively completing a round-trip of nearly 500 miles in about 10 days.

I’m stoked to bring Climate Run to Vermont and share not only stories of the experience, but also the ride and run themselves with others. Do you want to join me for a day? for a few miles? at a road crossing? Let me know! It’s been great to have the support of so many over the past 3 years, and it will be even better to see you all out on the roads and trails of Vermont!

Second, I will be headed back to Scandinavia where, just before teaching a field course in northern Norway with Sterling College, I will spend a few days in the Faroe Islands. There, in late July, and with fingers crossed for reasonable weather, I plan to summit the highest peaks on 7 of the archipelago’s islands (each over 700 meters in elevation) in a single long day — a total of more than 50 km of running and nearly 16,000 ft of elevation gain.

Super exciting to think about (& many more details to come soon!) — but knowing the work I need to do every single day to be able to reach these goals is terrifying.

My hope is that I can keep these huge goals in mind while really keeping a steadfast focus on the daily work — the rituals — they require…and through that work to collect and share stories of the many, many steps along the way.

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progression

Dragon and I finished up a long training block yesterday with a run back and forth across the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains — earning a 1000 mile badge from Run the Year 2017 and racking up a classic 8-week progression.

 

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Never before have I cherished an upward trending graph so much. 🙂

This week will see something of a decrease in mileage and vertical feet in preparation for Saturday’s Mount Washington Road Race. I’ve completed this race 4 times before, and I’m cautiously optimistic about my training this time around. Now it’s mostly up to weather, wind, and hydration.

After that, it’s 4 weeks until wheels up to Scandinavia!

I celebrated my run with Dragon by making a little video 🙂

Still looking for ways to help support Climate Run?

There are three ways!!

  1. Head on over to Atayne’s Climate Run Store and buy an Arctic Trail shirt. $10 from each sale goes directly to support Climate Run.
  2. Buy a Climate Run Skida Hat! Choose from all sorts of colors and sizes. Use my PayPal donation page to make your purchase & I’ll be in touch about styles. $15 from each sale goes to support Climate Run!
  3. Donate directly through the Climate Run GoFundMe Page!

Goals

One of the season’s first forays onto dry trails at Cady Hill, Stowe, Vermont


With the transition from the spring to summer semesters here at Sterling College, the trails have dried out, the sun rises earlier, and it’s been easier to find a few more hours in the week to focus on training. The Sterling running team has started 5:00 am summer practices three times each week, which has helped add more miles and more hill workouts into my weekly regimen.

Some students are starting out and running trails for the first time, some training for the upcoming Mount Washington Road Race, and some have longer term goals. Each person’s goals are unique, of course — from running a mile to completing a race to running across a small (or medium-sized!) country — the actual goal doesn’t matter.

What matters more is that we find meaning and intention in the goals we do build, and keep close those whose strength can help support us. A good friend recently asked me how I could find such focus on resilience and hope. So much so that my vehicle for doing so — running — has become a central part of my life — and the processes of training, planning, organizing, mentoring, and sharing stories of both adventure and climate.

When I leave for Norway in mid-July, I know that I’ll have the support of family, friends — so many new friends who have helped to support this work. I’m looking forward to meeting with new friends along the Arctic Trail and during stops in Svalbard, Tromsø, Bodø, Kautokeino, and elsewhere.

My goal, huge as it may seem, is at its heart really simple: I am just trying to figure out the best way that I can contribute to building meaningful communities and having thoughtful conversations.

And running has become a way for me to do just that.

From a recent training run on Mount Elmore, Vermont

3,000 hours

There are just under 3,000 hours left before I set out on my 500-mile run on the Arctic Trail in northern Scandinavia in August. I like thinking about the time in hours: I can visualize and wrap my mind around an hour pretty easily, whereas 4 months can seem a lifetime away.

If I think about the hours I spend training each week and the hours it takes to plan out this event, then thinking in hours gives me perspective, gives me pause, and also motivates and inspires me to make the most of each and every one of those hours.

But, I won’t spend all of them training (or racing 😉 ).

will work hard to balance an increasingly intense training schedule with spending time with my wife and son, teaching, coaching, playing with our dogs, and taking care of myself.

I am an athlete, ultrarunner, and advocate for climate resilience, but I am also human, and sometimes that’s what is most important to remember.


Today, for example, Orion (my 12-year old son) and I teamed up with one of his friends to take 7th place in the 6th annual Mud ‘n Ice Quadrathlon (a local affair consisting of a 9k nordic ski, 4.5-mile run, 3-mile paddle, and 11-milebike). My week’s mileage may have taken a dip, but I wouldn’t have traded the day for anything else.

Goals vs. Expectations

I had planned a long run for yesterday, January 1, to start off the New Year — and the Climate Run 500-mile Challenge — on strong footing. Of the 14 or so miles I had planned, I finished just over 6, mostly because despite how stunningly beautiful the alpine scenery along New Hampshire’s Franconia Ridge, the 60 mph wind and 10°F temps added up to a bitter windchill through which I had no intention of running 3 miles of exposed ridgeline.

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Instead, I retreated down the trail to the relative security of the stunted spruce trees on the steep western slope of the ridge and reassessed.

I could keep with my plan and cross the ridge — not particularly wise or safe.

I could go the other direction through deep untracked snow — tried that. Neither fun nor really feasible given my running attire.

I could go back down and run along the snowmobile trail by the road — not really appealing.

Instead, I opted to run back down the Falling Waters Trail to the trailhead and I realized, doing the math as I ducked under branches and around the tight copses of spruce and birch along the trail’s steep upper pitches, that I’d already had a long run/nordic ski day of more than 17 miles only two days before. And the lack of a rest day (unless you count a November Project workout as ‘rest’). And the total week’s run/ski mileage of 53 miles was 20 miles more than the week before.

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I’d started the morning thinking, ‘Sunday…must be a Long Run,’ never really taking stock or reflecting on the depth or the rich variety of my entire week. It was a vacation week for the whole family, and that made the training schedule a lot more flexible — and full of skiing, running, mountains, gym time, and group workouts woven into the fabric of family and celebration.

It was no wonder I was feeling a little tired heading up my New Year’s Day mountain run!

Long term goals structure my year in broad strokes — to run the 500-mile Arctic Trail in August, to run 2017 miles in 2017, to PR a pair of ultramarathons this spring, to train with my Sterling team, and to work with the new Climate Run Team doing the 500-mile challenge.

Sometimes, though, reaching those goals can blind me to what I’m doing day to day. Of course, I keep track of all my workouts and share them on Strava, but occasionally I need (as I think we all need) some perspective.

Climbing a mountain is a great way to find some.

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Climate Run 500-Mile Challenge!

With just over 7 months until the start of the Arctic Trail Run, I want to share the fun of training with everyone else!

I’m also feeling more than a little inspired from yesterday morning’s November Project workout in downtown Boston — training is starting to ramp up, with increasing Sunday long run mileage, scheduled cross training, and some run/ski doubles mid-week — and I want to invite you to join me!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like fitness…

So, I’m inviting you to join the Climate Run Team! Starting on January 1st, 2017, I challenge you to run, walk, or ski 500 miles by August 16th as a way to get moving, get in touch with the world around us, and learn about how we impact the environment, climate, and help build a resilient self and resilient community.

500 miles?!?!

Yep! That comes to about 2.2 miles a day — or about 15 miles each week. See? No problem!

Where do I sign up?

On the Climate Run 500-mile Challenge Facebook Group. Go ahead and join, introduce yourself, make your intention clear and get going 🙂

Do I have to run?

Nope! Human powered activities like walking and nordic / uphill skiing work just fine. The more you can do on trails, the better!

How do I  record my miles?

First, you can record them on your own. I love using my Believe Training Journal to help me get a handle on my progress, and the prompts are really great.

Second, join the Climate Run Strava Group to record your miles and see how everyone else is doing.

Post goals, pictures, and inspirations on Climate Run Facebook Page to share your accomplishments!

Is that it? What else do I do? 

The mission of Climate Run is to engage bodily movement as a way to build resilience in the face of a changing climate. 

What does this mean? It means that by participating, you commit to learning about the impacts of climate change and sharing what you learn — both through your physical engagement with the world as you move toward your 500-mile goal — *and*  through what you read, see, and learn about the climate.

Why August 16th, 2017?

That’s the day I plan to reach the end of the Arctic Trail in Kautekeino, Norway, having run the 500 miles from Sulitjelma.

Will it cost anything?

Nope! Just a little time and dedication. Of course, if you choose to support the Climate Run project, that’d be awesome. And, in a few short weeks, there’ll be all kinds of great stuff you could get to show your support — including 100% recycled shirts from Atayne & Vermont-made hats from Skida.

Any other rules?

Not really. Just that your walk / run / ski is intentional and not just incidental as part of your everyday routine. Can you bike? Of course! I love biking. But those miles don’t count as part of your 500. Just walking, running, and skiing.

I’m super excited to share the training and goal-setting with as many people as possible! The more people who are involved in this project, the more we can change the story of climates, communities, and

Also, in a self-serving way, having partners helps me to stay focused and motivated on this long, long-term goal!

More soon!

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Winter Training #goals

This winter has come on cold and fast. When our running team came back to campus from the TARC Winter Fells Ultra 50k in Massachusetts on December 3rd, there was plenty of snow to ski on and a forecast for temps of -10 F. Around here, winter comes as a relief — it’s the season we wait for all year, and much of our holiday planning centers on being where winter is at its best.

That said, all of this makes training about a multi-stage ultra in August even more difficult. The appeal of nordic skiing and skimo (both great cross-training), time in the gym, and planning logistics for the Arctic Run itself can all take focus away from running workouts and a steady ramp up of mileage.

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Following Freyja on our backyard 6 miler

As hard as it may be to get out the door when in full-on conditions, it is honestly the support I feel from everyone as I continue the Climate Run project that plays such a big role in both keeping me accountable and reminding me that the goal is so much larger than just being able to run endless miles. It’s about sharing stories, (hopefully) inspiring others, and building community grounded in ideas of experience, vulnerability, and resilience.

I truly depend on the support I get, all of it — whether logistical, emotional, or financial — to help me get out the door and keep putting the miles in.

view on Abisko valley and Tornetrsk lake from mount Nuolja

Looking toward the Lapporten (Lapland Gate) in Abisko National Park, Sweden

Even though it’s still quite far off, I can hardly wait to be on the ground in Scandinavia, logging miles through remote and striking landscapes, like the Lapporten in Abisko National Park (about 250 miles into my run), learning about the impact of climate change on these places and on the people I meet, and coming back to share what I learn with as many people as possible.

Until then, though, I put on winter layers, hat, gloves, neck gaiter, microspikes, and headlamp, and head off into the afternoon dusk.

If you’re at all able to show your support through a donation, however small, please take a minute to visit the Climate Run GoFundMe page.

Thank you.

 

 

Road to Leadville: Dispatch #4

 

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Looking north from Hope Pass

On Wednesday, Jen and I hiked up the Sheep Gulch Trail from near Winfield to Hope Pass, which at 12,600 ft, is the highest point on the Leadville 100 course. Runners cross the pass at mile 44.5 and again at mile 55.5 as they return from the turn-around point at Winfield.

The climb and pass were as spectacular as I’d imagined. We were entirely alone on the mountain, and as the wind picked up on the final switchbacks, the world opened up and invited us in.

 

This was that Earth of which we have heard . . . . Here was no man’s garden, but the unhandselled globe.

The very crest was marked with a tangle of wind whipped prayer flags, sun-bleached and twisting in the spitting rain.

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The mountains are indeed the world’s sacred places, and I am humbled to be among them.

 

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North from Hope Pass toward Twin Lakes and beyond — the last 45 miles of the race laid out before me. 

 

 

If you’re interested in the race course, check out the full-size map linked to the one below:

2014-Leadville-Trail-100-Run-Course-Map

 

Road to Leadville: Dispatch #2

 

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Hiking around in Chautauqua Park, Boulder, CO

After only 48 hours, it already feels as though I’ve been in Colorado for weeks.

 

Although I haven’t kept track, I think this is my 12th trip to Colorado as an adult — and 13th if you add my family’s cross-country van trip in the 1970s.

Over the years, these mountains have come to feel like a second home. I’ve learned at least a little of what to expect, though I’m still always excited to explore new places and circling back to familiar ones.

Somehow, ever since I was young, I’ve been drawn to Leadville’s Race Across the Sky. I remember, too, stopping at a Leadville gas station in 1997 and suddenly really realizing where I was. That moment is so indelibly written in my memory, I remember the colors, the feel of the elevation, the snowfields still on the higher peaks, and even what t-shirt I was wearing (!!).

Now, nearly 20 years later, and probably about 30 years since I first heard about it, I’m super stoked to be headed back again.

Later this morning, we head up to Leadville for some high mountain miles and maybe some exploring in the Sawatch Range, just to the west of town, which includes several of Colorado’s highest peaks. The forecasted temperatures for the rest of the week look remarkably cool — highs in the low to mid-60s and lows in the mid-30s. Perfect for running, though it could make for interesting conditions if we get some rain early in the race on Saturday.