It’s no secret that Ultrarunning is in a period of fantastic growth and transformation.  People are pouring into the sport form all walks of life, at an unprecedented rate.  Though there is some fear that this evolution will somehow corrupt the sport’s principles, the current momentum and energy seems largely positive to me.  On the one hand, there are significantly more true runners with professionally trained talent discovering the trails and pushing the competitive envelope at the front of nearly every race.  Similarly, there are even more folks being compelled join our ranks from non-running or even non-athletic backgrounds.   It’s beautiful thing and I feel equally inspired by both groups.

Like many of the good people currently entering the sport, I come from a nontraditional background – lucky to discover running by happenstance.  I never ran track or cross country in school and, even once I found running, I was never inspired by road races.  Like most, I was compelled by the landscapes.  The idea of covering such vast distances through the mountains is what initially spoke to me, and what continues to get me excited everyday.  While my lack of formal experience or training initially made my learning curve a steep one, I’d like to make it perfectly clear that I don’t see this as a competitive disadvantage.  Rather, I see my late entry as one of my greatest strengths.  I don’t carry a lot of the same wear and tear of those who ran through their youth, and I have a mental freshness or naiveté that has served me well through my relatively short racing career.  There is no question that, had I been a runner through my adolescence, I would not possess the fire and love for the sport that I currently feel.

The truth is, I find myself identifying with and rooting for those who share a similar inexperience.   I’m happy to represent this group and always love answering training and racing questions from those with no formal experience, or who have never been coached.  Those who are doing their damnedest to figure it out themselves.  I’ve been lucky to have a relatively good amount of success since I found the sport, and am always happy to share what I think has made a difference in my development as an athlete.  That is exactly the purpose of this post.

Like many of us, Pearl Izumi does not come from a running background.  Having been a staple on the cycling and triathlon scene for some time, PI was relatively late to the running party, but is now very happy to have found it.  As such, Pearl Izumi has graciously allowed me give away some of my favorite pieces of running gear to a few lucky commenters on this post.  So, without further ado, I’d like to open up the comment section of this post as a discussion board for those with specific questions about my training, racing, and evolution as a runner.  With Western States now a little more than two weeks out, I can say with full confidence that I’m in the best shape of my life.  This being the case, I feel better positioned than ever to provide some advice as to how I’ve made it to this point, and how my nontraditional background has contributed to my progression.

So, please feel free to sound off below.  Come monday of next week (6/17), I’ll pick three lucky winners at random to take home a Pearl Izumi Ultra Thermal, some Ultra Shorts, or a pair of the new E:Motion shoes.  Make sure you leave your email in the in the appropriate field, so I can reach out to the winners.  I promise to personally respond to EVERY question and look forward to the discussion!  Fire it up.


  1. Russ

    Can you explain the advantage the move to San Francisco has been in your training and race strategies compared to your Colorado days.

    • dylan


      I’d say the advantage has been a few things. First, I’ve trained with people more than ever before which I think has been beneficial. Living at sea level has also allowed me to train at a high intensity with more consistency and recover better. Of course, for WS, it has also allowed me to train on the course which is a definite advantage! It’s tough to be away from the mountains though.


  2. Danny Stevens

    How has your background as a national championship lacrosse player helped you on your journey to be a top ultra runner? I come from a similar background and am now racing Ironman(with my wife ) and would love to hear your thoughts.

    • dylan


      Good to hear from you my friend. I think I have you to thank for getting me into running. You were too good for me to see the field as an attackman so Flip moved me to middie :). How about those Rammies, eh? Those kids are in for a rude awakening at the alumni game next year! I’ve been loosley following your endurance exploits as well. Good luck in Idaho! Let me know if you’re ever down here in the Bay Area. Would love to connect.


  3. Jake

    Dylan, Thanks for being “real”. Love the blog and your tweets. What would you say has been the biggest contributor to your success; mental toughness, tempo/interval work, long mountain/trail training runs, or the flexibility to prioritize training/racing? It could be a combo of all of the above, but I’d love to have your perspective.

    Inspired, Jake

    • dylan


      Thanks a lot, man.

      Honestly, I’d say the biggest contributor has been something different. I’m naturally a very impatient and stubborn person. In regular life, this tends to be a major weakness but, in ultra racing, it can be a huge asset. I tend to be very focused on getting the damn thing done as quick as possible! In training, I’d say the runs that give me the most confidence are the ~3hr hilly runs in which I really push the pace. When those are finished, I tend to feel very prepared for the next obstacle. More so than after 5-7hr slow runs or faster workouts. Hope this helps!


  4. maggie

    Great post. I don’t have much of a running background, nor the legs that you do, but I like to think I’ve got a great learning curve to play with and can really see the improvement through all of my races. I think many of the people checking out ultrarunning won’t necessarily stick around once the true realization on how much time it takes to train and maintain sets in.
    Good luck at Western States…a second year on the podium for PI would pretty damn cool

    • dylan

      Thanks, Maggie! There is nothing more satisfying than witnessing huge improvement in yourself. Keep that attitude and the training becomes easy!

  5. Susie Lambert

    This weekend I ran in the Summer Start 5k. I admit, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was not feeling like I was in top shape to be racing….just had a root canal….coming down off a cold…lingering chest cough… I had signed up myself and my 13 year old daughter, Katie, weeks ago so I felt like I had to stay committed. I faked enthusiasm for my daughter’s sake, pinned on our numbers and lined up at the start with the rest of the runners. As they counted down to the start I looked around at all the smiling faces and was reminded of why I run. For the fun of it! The elite runners were having as much fun as the walkers and it showed. The “GO” was given and off we went. In the 3.1 miles between the start and the finish a few people passed me and I passed a few people and all of us exchanged encouraging words to each other. I high-fived a tree, and then a street sign, laughing at my silliness but sometimes I just don’t care when my spirits are high…as I remember them being on the 3rd and final leg of the 180 mile long Grand Teton Relay last year when I high-fived a “turn right” sign! So that’s it. I run for fun. There are days when my runs are anything BUT fun, but to look back on those, they are the runs that have helped shape me into the runner I am now. The runner who can wear cotton sweatpants and giant bun on top of my head and jog 2 miles around the neighborhood because it just feels good. Or the runner who can pin a number on her dry-fit jersey and feel like she’s flying as she makes the podium at a local fun run. A mile is still a mile, no matter how long it takes so if you like to go and I like to go, I think we’ll get on just fine.

    • dylan


      Such a great point and perspective to have! Honestly, this is something that I struggle with. Such a big part of my identity is now wrapped up in being a runner that sometimes I loose track of why I got into it in the first place. This is a great reminder. Thanks for your comment and for reading!


  6. Scott Ormond

    DBO, you are a great writer pal- must be holding the pen with your feet. What are your favorite mantras when it’s time to dig in deep and get ‘er dun? scottyO-Aspen

    • dylan

      “Breathe and relax. Breathe and relax. Breathe and relax.”

      Hope you had a good Food and Wine weekend, my friend. All the best!

  7. Tony Le Cara

    I live in Houston, TX and currently have never completed an event longer than 26.2. What are the most important training tools that can be developed on flat land to successfully complete an event like Western States or Badwater? I have the heat training Down!

    • dylan


      Great question. As someone who has never lived in a flat place, I may not be the best person to give advice, though :). Evan Honeyfield, a really fast guy and 2011 Wasatch 100 champ, had a really interesting strategy. He lives in Idaho Falls (which is pancake flat) and said he’d train at a much slower pace to get his body used to running 11-13 minute miles that he’d be sustaining at Wasatch. Just developing the muscle memory of 100 mile pace even if you can’t mimic the landscape of the race. He was able to run a very fast time (sub-20hr, I think) at Wasatch using this strategy, so it’s worth a shot!


  8. Corey

    Hey Dylan, love your posts here. What is your favorite “hidden gem” trail in the US and why? Also, what is your favorite hidden gem trail race and why? Thanks!

  9. Clinton Munkres

    I am slowly building miles in my running. Just started about 9 months ago. I completed a 20 mile run last Sunday. It was grueling but I made it. Looking forward to getting up to the marathon distance and beyond in the coming years. I realize it take awhile to build up ones base.

    • dylan


      Thanks for the comment and, yes, building slow is very smart. I resolved in the spring of 2009 that I would run the Leadville 100 but allowed myself more than a year to prepare. I ran my first couple ultras in 2009 and 2010 and arrived at the start with plenty of preparation to finish. It’s better to not rush into your ultimate goal, I think.


  10. Stephen Wren

    I have been running for a few years, despite the fact that I hated running when I was younger. I have started running trails since moving to the East TN area, because we have some beautiful trails in the area. …That said, I am still not by any stretch a competitor in any race I run; I am just out there for the thrill of the the race, the camaraderie, & the experience of it all. Maybe one day, I will be able to advance my athletic ability to finish in the top 25%….
    What did you do to enhance your ability to endure through the pains associated with long-distance running, and out of curiosity, what is a typical training week for you (not necessarily race training, just your regular “fun run” week) and how do you prepare in the last few weeks leading up to a race (mentally & physically)? –I have heard/read conflicting views on this: I have a sub-3:40 marathoner friend who never runs more than 20 miles a week with a 7 mile “long run” on saturdays except for the 3 weeks before a race she will do a 14, 18, & 22 miler and she continuously improves her finishing time, while most of the training plans that I have seen online show needing to run ~80% of your race distance several times in the weeks leading up to race week.

    • dylan


      Without question, for me, it’s critical to have a lot of 4-7hr runs in my legs prior to any ultra race. The longer the race, the more I’ll do. I’m also a big believer in back to back long days so most weekends I’ll do a 4-6hr run on Saturday and a 3-4hr run on Sunday, or something.

      Fun run training is probably 10-15hrs/week and race training is usually 15-25hrs/week. It’s probably different for a marathon but, for 100 miles, I think it’s important to arrive very rested. In other words, you’re not making fitness gains in the last three weeks. It’s more about rest and maintenance miles.

      Hope this helps!


  11. Charlie M.

    Kinda cool that there are guys like Sage Canaday who have been tearing it up with a “traditional” running background (college XC/track, then Road Marathons, finally Ultra Trail races), and guys like yourself who don’t have the “traditional” running history.

    Obviously both of you guys have had unbelievable success at a young age. It makes me think the “traditional” versus “nontraditional” running background thing is not that big of a deal (is that the main point you are making?)

    Are you basically saying that you will have more longevity than a guy like Sage? That you will have less of a chance of mental burnout? Or physical decline? Or both?

    • dylan


      I am by no means comparing myself to Sage! He’s far faster and more talented than myself. But, yes, that is sort of the point I’m making. I’m not sure I’ll have more longevity due to not running at a young age. I’m just sure that finding running at a later stage in my life has ensured that I still have a passion for it. I played Lacrosse throughout my childhood and college. Honestly, I was completely burned out by the time my career came to a close. Hopefully running will remain a consistent passion throughout my adult life! Thanks for your comment.


  12. Brandon Bennion

    Do you follow a specific diet when training or just try to stick to healthy foods in general? What are your favorite products to stay fueled and hydrated while racing?

    • dylan


      I do tend to stick to a pretty healthy diet. I rarely eat meat but it’s not for any ethical or health reasons. I just tend to enjoy foods that don’t include meat a lot more. I’m lucky that my body seems to be fine with gluten and I don’t usually have any stomach problems.

      For racing and training, I use First Endurance supplements and I’m happy to endorse them. FE liquid shot is my main calorie source in racing but I also eat Nature Valley Sweet and Salty granola bars. My new thing is a slice of bread slathered with chocolate peanut butter and sea salt folded in half. It’s probably ~300 calories rather quick and provides great sustained energy. Hope this helps!


  13. Shad

    Just wanted to drop you a quick note to wish you the best of luck at Western! Sounds like Jamie is predicting a top 10 for you so go get them!

  14. Harrison

    Dylan – Have you found any negative impacts with the move to San Fran and job change? It seems like sometimes stress or change outside of actual running can effect training more than you think (at least it has in the past for me).

    • dylan


      Good question. I’d say the only negative effect that comes to mind is the lack of any sustained climbs of 3k or more that are so plentiful in Aspen. The move initially was a pretty stressful undertaking but, now that I’m settled and in a new position, I have A LOT less day to day stress. I think it has been great for my training.


  15. LukeD

    Thanks for doing this Dylan!

    I come from an athletic background (soccer, baseball, basketball), but like you, not a running-specific one.

    Do you find yourself trying to adhere to a certain, planned training program, hitting your weekly mileages, time, vert, etc, or go off more loosely-based guidelines and just have fun?

    I progressed from 13.1 to 50k to a 47m fun run in the mountains last weekend within six months. Not because a training plan, or anyone else, said to, but just because it’s what I enjoy.

    Do you see a balance, or a minimum threshold, where if you’re getting “enough” miles/time/vert in, anything beyond is mental? Some people can slog out 80 miles of regimented training a week, but is that more beneficial than someone who does 60, and enjoys it more while having greater passion?

    I know this is a rambling (and largely philosophical/personal question), but would love to hear your opinion! I always will jump at something I’ll enjoy over something prescribed, I think.

    Best wishes,

    PS – Love all my PI gear…and would like to add to the collection :)

    • dylan


      This is a very timely comment for me. I’ve recently wondered the same thing and think, as most things in life, balance is key. There is a lot to be said for the long, grueling, character building runs that are completed even when you don’t have a lot of motivation. But too much of this will lead to burnout or injury. Making sure the vast majority of your runs are fun is, of course, very important.

      I don’t plan my training in advance in any structured way. I try to have a loose idea of what my long runs will be at the end of the week and my speed day is Wednesday. Other than that I pretty much wing it the rest of the week.


      • LukeD


        Thank you very much for responding. I really appreciate you sharing so much about you and your running, and it’s great to get all of this insight firsthand.

        Have a great day at WS!


  16. Jennifer Tidroski

    Thank you for your writing. I love your title, “appreciator of enduring spirits.” I have lived most of my life by that principle-you get anywhere you want by continuously moving forward, even when life pushes you back. I am a pediatrician in a rural community who discovered running only last year when I completed a half-marathon with Team In Training in honor of my father-in-law, a lymphoma survivor. Because I live in the country (and have a stray dog problem), my husband and I blazed a 1.5 mi loop of trail on our property. Now I love trails so much more than the road! What sort of time line is safe to attempt an ultra? I am currently training for a road marathon this October and want to pursue longer trail events after that. Am I too inexperienced of a runner to shoot for a 50-miler this year? Thank you again!

    • dylan


      Thanks so much for your comment/question. Your story is a great one.

      I always encourage people to go for it, when it comes to attempting their first ultra. I did mine on two weeks notice and without much training. Of course, I felt awful during and afterwords but it taught me a HUGE amount. A crash course, if you will :).

      Of course, it’s also important to not be reckless if you’re under prepared so monitor how you feel after the marathon. If you feel good physically and still have enthusiasm, I’d say give it a shot. As long as you’re excited about it, you’re golden. Hope this helps :).


  17. Chris

    My question is about prepping for an ultra. I know beginner marathon plans often have the longest long run at about 20 miles rather than the full 26.2, how far does a long run need to be in ultra training (say for a 50k)? I love the idea of a trail ultra but the time required to prepare scares me more than the event itself.

    • dylan


      I’d say it depends on your goals. If just finishing is the objective, 20-25 miles is plenty. The last third of any race is almost always about mentally embracing the challenge at hand. In the grand scheme of things 50k isn’t that much longer than 42k so the training doesn’t need to be much different. You just have to be mentally prepared for the unknown… If that makes sense?

      If the goal is to feel good the whole time and be competitive, I’d recommend getting up to about 28miles in your long run in order to mimic the fatigue you’ll feel as much as possible.

      For 50 miles, I’d say run a 50k as a training race for your big preparatory run. Similarly for 100 miles, run a 50 miler or 100k to get ready.

      Hope this helps.


  18. Evan Reimondo

    Yo D-BO!
    I’m curious about your transition into being a sponsored athlete. I find myself in the conundrum where I’m trying to train at the level to make me competitive in bigger races, but I’ve been battling injuries and balancing a heavy work load. I make very little money right now as an Americorps volunteer, and have no sponsorships, so I lack the resources most people have to get help in resolving these issues. Maybe you were able to avoid the injury problem, but what did that transition from recreational running to competitive/sponsored status look like for you?

    Also, best of luck at Western! Stoked for you.


    • dylan


      I was very lucky in the fact that I didn’t really have to sell myself too much to obtain sponsorship. Being on team PI also allowed me to start and maintain relationships with other companies who now sponsor me like First Endurance and Ultraspire, for example.

      I do have a little race resume that I’d suggest you create in order to sell yourself to potential sponsors. There is no doubt that having a nice website (as you do) is a major bonus. Of course, it all comes down to your results and visibility, though. There is no short cut to reaching your full potential as an athlete. Focus 100% on your goals and the support will fall into place. The sport is growing and more resources are opening up. Just keep your head down, work hard, and invest what you can of your own cash into it, if it’s truly what you want. The rest will take care of itself.

      Hope this helps.


  19. Doug Wood

    I’m a road runner/cyclist but I’ve been pacing an ultra-buddy on a few of his races and am thinking about doing one myself. How do you stay motivated as the miles start piling up?

    • dylan


      That’s the $1,000,000 question :). I just focus on how hard I’ve worked and try to remind myself that this is what I love. I’ve been there enough to know how good it feels to finish, so that’s always a major motivator too. The mind game of the 4th quarter is the same in any sport, I think. It’s all about desire.


  20. Roselle

    I was at an ultra and noticed several of the runners wearing hokas. What is your opinion on a shoe with a huge cushioned sole versus a more traditional running shoe (or even a minimal shoe)?

    • dylan


      I’ve never worn Hokas, actually. I know tons of people who swear by them but I’ve yet to try them out. I tend to wear shoes with more cushioning and am currently training and racing in the Pearl Izumi N2, which is a good “middle of the road” shoe. Not minimal but certainly not heavy. I like shoes with wider platforms because I have a tendency to roll my ankles and feel that helps me avoid them :).


  21. Adam Lawrence

    Thanks for the much-needed inspiration. Seeing you chasing Olson back down the trail was a highlight of what was, overall, the worst of the three 50 milers I’ve run this year. One thing that seems to set ultrarunning off from other sports is just how hard you need to work to even be mediocre at it, let alone good, while any moderately fit person can finish a road marathon without serious problems, even if it does take them over four hours. Coming from a hobby jogging/hiking/backpacking background, my running fitness remains relatively low, although my ability to keep pushing forward over challenging and interesting terrain gets stronger, fuelled as it is by a love of moving by my own power through remote areas over differentiated ground. However, it seems the old dogma that since nobody sustains a serious x-country/road marathon/track pace over a mountainous 50 or 100 miler, running fast and flat is useless for ultrarunners (Geoff Roes, for example:, Ben Nephew gives a response: is becoming increasingly untenable when one looks at many of the real runners, as you rightly call them, leading the field at the moment: Canaday, Clayton, King. Similarly, these runners are also challenging the old-school logic that going out strong in an ultra leads to inevitable failure, opening up 50 milers with a few six minute miles. Canaday even seems to win races by bonking and walking the last few miles, having opened up a sufficient gap using this technique to be able to afford that luxury. So my question to you, as someone who is motivated, like so many of us, by a love of wild landscapes and tricky technical terrain, is whether your own training has benefited at all from running fast, short, and flat, or whether you get all the speedwork you need during the long, hilly, mountain adventures that make all this training worthwhile?

    • dylan


      Great question! That’s sort of the whole point of the post… How will I continue to maintain a level of competitiveness as the sport continues to change/get faster. I think, absolutely, to be competitive in a 50 mile race these days, you have to do some speed work. I’d previously never done that in any consistent way until recently. I’m easing my way into it and only have intense workouts once per week (as opposed to two days like most guys I know). It really takes it out of me and everyone says that speed work is the fastest way to injury, so not overdoing it has been my focus.

      For 100 miles, I think it’s a different story, since we still haven’t seen someone with a really fast/road background win one of the big ones. Inevitably it will happen, but I still think slower, strength/endurance building runs should be the cornerstone of 100 mile training. Really, 100 miles is so completely different from 50 miles that it’s almost silly to compare the two.

      Does this answer your question?


      • Adam Lawrence

        Thanks, that’s really helpful. Somehow, I can wrap my head around running 50 miles slowly easier than I can the idea of doing even one sub 5 minute mile. Part of this is my love for spending hours alone on the trails, but part of it is also my lack of a track/x-country background and the relatively advanced age (29) at which I started running “seriously.” I think that kind of extreme short, flat distance speed is only attainable by younger guys who have been running competitively since high school. Your advice on 100s is quite sound, and I can’t wait to try one (as soon as I feel like I’ve done at least one 50 miler well). Best of luck to you at WS!

  22. Kristen M

    I’ve run three half marathons but longer distance runs are still in the future. Besides the fact that I’m not terribly athletic, one of my obstacles is training time. There is obviously going to be a difference in how much time a professional athlete can spend on training versus a run-for-funner like myself (working mom of three). How much time do you spend in training and how do you balance training with life stuff like relationships?

    • dylan


      Ah, the other $1,000,000 question :)…

      Truth is that A LOT of sacrifice is needed. Luckily, I found the sport when I was young and without a lot of responsibility. As my professional career progressed though, training time became my biggest challenge until I reached a point where I needed to make a decision: quit my job and focus on running, or continue on the same path and come to terms with the fact that I’d soon no longer be competitive.

      As a working mother, you have a much greater life perspective than me and have much more important priorities than running. Still, there is a lot to be said for setting goals and chasing them. Unfortunately, this means a lot of early mornings and late nights to get your runs in. And probably fewer nights out with friends. It all depends on what your goals are but, inevitably, there will be sacrifice.

      Hope this helps.


    • dylan


      My biggest wall is coming to terms with the volume I’ve done and being confident that it is “enough.” When I see my personal training statistics being dwarfed by runners whom I want to be competitive with, it makes me uneasy. I rarely have motivation problems or struggle to get out the door, so my problem is more second guessing than anything else.


  23. Kurt Ward

    I’m new to the ultra running and as a recent college grad I was wondering what are some great cheap foods for ultra running? I was also wondering how to get started… Did you just start cranking out long mile or build up to more and more miles?

    Thanks for your time, I look forward to your response.

    • dylan


      NATURE VALLEY SWEET & SALTY granola bars!!! So good and so cheap!! I have a box in my car at all times :).

      Also, don’t just start cranking if you don’t have a base to build from! That’s the fastest way to injury or to develop a hatred for running :). I remember coming home from a four mile run a few years ago and being in awe of my accomplishment. Start small and you’ll be shocked how quickly you improve.


  24. Tavis Eddy

    So, Dylan, you were on your last ascent of the ski area at the RRR100….I was enjoying the descent in the RRR50. You asked me how far to the top, and I coughed up a loose estimate that I had been descending for ~20 minutes. How far off was I and did my estimate help of hurt? Great race by the way. Thanks. Tavis

    • dylan


      I asked EVERYBODY the same question :). One of my major weaknesses is that I turn into a total baby in the latter stages of most races… I need to work on that.

  25. Ben Gray

    As a 40+ runner who is fairly new to running but loving the trails and ultras (first road race in 2011, three marathons in 2012, first 50K two weeks ago, two 50 miles scheduled this year), I don’t have a framework for knowing when I’m pushing my training too fast/hard and risking injury.Any advice?


    • dylan


      Good question. I think the progression you’ve taken has been really smart and well thought out in terms of your build up. I’ve been very lucky avoiding injury (knock on wood) and I think a lot of that has to do with yoga. I go once or twice per week and feel it provides a huge benefit. It strengthens and stretches all the little muscles and ligaments in your legs which, I think, translates to durability.

      Always listen to your body…


  26. Errol Tremolada

    When training or racing, what are your top three must haves on you at all times…(gear, food, etc.)? What can you not hit the trail without?

    • dylan


      1. Pearl Izumi N2 shoes,

      2. Pearl Izumi Ultra short.

      3. Smith Pivlock sunnies

      I wear all three on pretty much every single run I go on :)

  27. nate

    don’t really have any questions, just nice to know there are some fast guys out there who got into it late. having pushed a few 80 mile weeks and won a trail half while just getting back into running (the only experience i had previous was a year of high school XC 10 years ago) i’m stoked to push the longer distances since that’s where i seem to get relatively faster.

  28. Spencer MacDonald

    What kind of training would you recommend? Where have you noticed the best results from? I live in the city so finding trails is more of a weekend thing so i’m also looking for training tips that can be done relatively anywhere.

    • dylan


      While I obviously prefer trail, I’m definitely not a snob about it. Just find some loops that you like near where you live and run as much as you want or can. The first couple years I was in Aspen, I ran roads for at least 6 months out of the year, until I realized that I actually enjoyed running on snowy trails… Just put the work in and you’ll do well on any surface, I think.


  29. Justin

    Is your diet something you are very strict with. Do you use and vitamins or supplements?

    Also wanted to say it is great that I got to your brothers site thorough yours and his thoughts on movement and life are really excellent.

    • dylan


      Thanks so much! Yes, Jason is a really interesting and talented person.

      He is a vegetarian and I’m pretty close to it myself. I rarely eat meat but it’s not because I think it’s wrong or unhealthy – I just enjoy non-meat foods more. My girlfriend is also a vegetarian, so it’s just what’s around I guess. I take First Endurance supplements everyday but no vitamins as I think I eat healthy enough to not really need anything. I just had my blood tested and it seems all my levels are normal, so I’m assuming I’m doing something right :).


  30. Christine

    Hi Dylan – after competing at a big race like Western States and then getting some rest time, what motivates you to start training again? I often find that after the cumulation of a big race, it is hard to get back into high-intensity training.


    • dylan


      I almost never have motivation issues, luckily. If anything, I have a hard time NOT running after a major race when I need rest. This is probably because I almost always have another goal to look forward to and train for. This has gotten me in trouble the last couple years (last year especially). Listen to your body. I think, intuitively, it’s easy to determine if you need rest or are just being lazy :).


  31. David Wolf

    Hello Dylan! First off, my son plays Lacrosse at Beverly Hills High School so he’s a big man of yours! I too come from a non-traditional ultra running background having been a baseball player in high school and college. As well, I’ve been a bodybuilder for many years. Still lift. Also got into running much later in my fitness regime. Maybe you saw me at Ray Miller 50 miler this year laboring up a climb while you were bombing down the hill:). I train and race in the PI trail M2. Great trail shoe!!! Anyways, my question to you is how your preparing for WS100 in regards to the potential for warm weather per your nutritional needs. Thanks and the best of luck!!!

    • dylan


      Great to hear you son is a Laxer! It’s a great foundational sport that builds lots of useful skills. What position does he play?

      If it’s really warm, obviously, you have to be very on top of your fluid and electrolyte intake. I have a good plan in place for Western should the weather be brutal. Basically, it just involves carrying more water during the hottest part of the day. I’ll have plenty of salt/EFS liquid shot on me at all times. Hope this helps!


      • David Wolf

        Thanks Dylan! He plays “middie” and is a face-off specialist. He loves playing! He knows about you and your stats from CSU. He’s hoping to play Club Lax in college. Yes, it is a great foundational sport which has helped him develop useful athletic skills. Thanks for sharing your hot weather protocol for WS with me. EFS Liquid Shot is an excellent supplement. Best of luck at WS! I know you’ll do well!
        Thanks, David

  32. Chris Price

    Hi Dylan,

    Is there any specific type of running that you find extremely beneficial, that a lot of ultra distance runners might be avoiding or not doing enough of?

    Sometimes I think more speed workouts or tempo type runs would help my performance. But I usually end up running around in the mountains for hours without much structure to my runs. With the emergence of some roadies with good success lately, it’s got me thinking that maybe I could use some of the structured training that they might be running.

    Can’t wait to follow you at States!


    • dylan


      I have the same problem when it comes to spending too much time jogging around aimlessly in the mountains, when I “should” be doing more structured stuff. I figure it’s good for the soul, which must be good for performance :). The only structure I have is that Wednesday is speed day. Other than that, it’s pretty much mountain jogging all the time.

      I’m not sure speed helps at Hardrock :)…


    • dylan


      Oh yeah, I get leg cramps. Just need more salt I think, as this is a sign of electrolyte imbalance. I recommend EFS liquid shot gel as a great, electrolyte rich source of calories.


  33. Hugh Davis

    With your success this year , do you feel pressure to perform? If so , how do you deal with it . It seems that you will definitely have a target on your back this year. Run fast at WS !

    • dylan


      I definitely feel pressure to perform, but more from my own expectations than from anyone else. The way I deal with it is just try to keep it all in perspective. Remembering that I love what I’m doing, no matter how I perform. I have so many friends in the sport and spending time with and competing against them is one of the great joys in my life. I try to keep this in mind all the time.


  34. Bard

    Hey Dylan,

    I’m interested in how you have progressed in regards to your training/work/life balance. When you first started in ultrarunning, how did you make the transition towards incorporating more and more running time into your schedule? Also, what are your thoughts on the advantages/disadvantages of professional ultrarunners who have more flexibility in their training versus those who fit their running around work responsibilities?

    • dylan


      I was lucky that I found the sport when I was young and had few responsibilities. As my professional career progressed, I was forced to make a lot of sacrifices in order to train as much as I wanted and needed to. This meant a lot of early mornings and fewer nights out with friends.

      It’s definitely an advantage to not have a serious day job and have the flexibility to train when and how you want. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic for most people. It’s all about defining your goals and making appropriate sacrifices to give yourself the best chance to accomplish it. When you constantly remind yourself what you’re working towards, it’s much easier to make these sacrifices.


  35. George Harris

    Great post and good luck at the Western States. I have been running for 36 years and just recently began running about 50% of my 70 plus mile week trail running. Other than hydration what is the most important thing you have learned about eating during your race?

    • dylan

      Thanks, George! Good to hear about your transition to trails. All I’ve learned about race nutrition is that I tend to race my best in the races I eat the most :). When in doubt, EAT!!

  36. Daniel

    I understand the sentiment of relating to others that found the sport in the same way as yourself, but I am uneasy about how it comes across as supporting some runners more than others…

    But anyways, with your background coming from falling in love with the landscapes, do you train off of feeling more so than structured workouts? Or do you still do intervals and road workouts even if they aren’t as enjoyable?

    • dylan


      I was simply stating that I identify more with the folks who aren’t true runners. Trust me, I root for guys like Sage, Max, Cameron too. They are amazing athletes who are redefining our sport. As I said in the post, “I feel equally inspired by both groups.”

      To answer your question, I have only recently started injecting speed into my training schedule. I run fast on Wednesdays but, still, I have almost no structure. I just determine the route I’m going to run and simply run it fast. I do hill repeats fairly often (about every other week) but I almost never run roads, even on Wednesdays.

      Truth is, I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to speed. I should probably consult a coach :). Hope this helps in some small way…


    • dylan


      The biggest factor in my consistency is simply my love for what I do. I truly LOVE running and almost never have a problem getting out the door. I’ve been lucky when it comes to injury too, which is very helpful. Listen to your body!


  37. Monica

    I’m new-ish to running (coming onto to years now) and I can agree that the learning curve is great if you have no true running background.

    What do you think was the hardest thing to learn by yourself? What was the one thing you wish you knew sooner rather than later?

    • dylan


      I think the hardest thing to learn has been how to fuel myself over 100 miles. I’ve found that, for 50 mile races, I can subsist off only gels and feel good. For me, at 100 miles, I just can’t do it. Unfortunately, I’ve never really had a backup plan either, which has caused a pretty massive calorie deficit/crash in the second half of every 100 I’ve done.

      For WS, I intend to get about half my calories from real food (granola bars & chocolate peanut butter sandwiches). Dialing in nutrition is so critical. I wish I’d taken it more serious over the last few years.


  38. Jordan L

    Even though I’ve been running since an early age I spent most of my young adulthood as a alcoholic,non traditional running background lol. I ran my first 50 mile last fall in 6:24 and enjoying being sober and pushing my limits. I’m running my first 100 mile at Burning River. My question is what is you philosophy on the long run? Back to backs, single long run in the 6+ hour range or a combination of the two? Thanks, and Good Luck!

    • dylan

      Wow, Jordan. That’s amazing! Awesome to see you channel that energy towards more healthy pursuits.

      I do a combo of the two methods you mention. I like doing back to backs and sometimes will do triples where I’ll do 5hr, 3hr, 3hr (or something) on Fri-Sun. If I’m doing a training run of 6-7hrs, I’ll usually take it easy the day before and after.

      Look forward to rooting for you ar BR100! Good luck!

  39. Jake

    I’ve never fully understood the fear that the growth in ultrarunning participation would corrupt the sport’s principles. I’ve always envisioned the core values to be challenging yourself (in whatever capacity that may be), doing so outside (ideally on beautiful wooded or mountainous trails), and doing so in the supportive company of other runners. And if the fear is that more runners means that it’ll be harder to get into our favorite races, then perhaps it’s worth reminding ourselves that ultraracing is just a subset of ultrarunning. Our local trails would be happy to have us (and perhaps a small group of friends) for a 30 or 40 mile adventure ANY TIME it fits into our schedules!

  40. Dave S

    Hi Dylan – Hopefully you’ll be in full taper when you start answering these questions, because I think that’s the only way you’ll get this all done!

    I also come from a non-running background (swimming) and I’m always curious as to what athletes from other sports bring into ultras. Do you have any specific aspects of your non-running training/competition experiences, that you apply to training, or racing, in ultras?

    Really enjoy your blog, and good luck at States!

    • dylan

      Hahaha! You’re right, Dave. I’m amazed to get so many responses! Nothing like a little bit of free swag to get people interested :).

      Great question, too. For me, Lacrosse obviously provided a good amount of fitness and athleticism among other things. It also requires a lot of speed and power, which I think I’ve lost touch with since I stopped playing. I played midfield which requires a ton of running and hustle, so the crossover was tremendous. It was through Lacrosse that I discovered I was good on my feet and could usually outlast my opponent aerobically, too. Truth is, I thought about running a lot before it became part of my daily routine.

      The other thing that it trained me for is just the idea of practice. By the time I started running, I had spent years of my life devoting portions of everyday to physical activity. As such, the grind of training was an easy transition for me to make. I think I’d go absolutely crazy if I didn’t have that outlet.


  41. Jim P.

    D –

    I was in Aspen a couple weeks back and was doing some map gazing, thinking about big loops other than the well-known Four Pass Loop. Wondering if you have some thoughts on other big loops in the area. I was looking at the route up past Conundrum Hot Springs down into Copper Basin and then back up for a run down off West Maroon Pass. Thoughts? Other recommendations?

    • dylan


      I can map gaze for days at that area :).

      Here’s a link to the under-appreciated three pass loop which is a ball:

      Also, your idea sounds amazing though I’ve never done it. One of my personal favorites is running from Maroon Lake to Crested Butte, staying the night, and running back the next day (various routes either way). Another great run is Conundrum to Triangle pass then descending East Maroon (via Copper Pass) to East Maroon Portal and catching the bus back to town. There is so much out there! I’m getting all nostalgic!


    • dylan


      For 50 miles, I usually stick to just gel, eating every 20 – 25 minutes. For 100, I’ve found I need real food and can’t subsist on only gel. I’ll employ a new strategy that I’ve been testing using granola bars, chocolate peanut butter sandwiches, and gel at WS. Hope it works!


  42. Tom Przystawik

    As an aging runner (I’ll be 46 the year) I wonder what you do about injury prevention and treatment. Ar there specific treatments or supplements you feel are vital to keep you healthy? I also would love to know if you adhere to any diet or food philosophy.

    • dylan


      I’m a huge believer in yoga for injury prevention. I just think it strengthens and balances you in all the small, neglected parts of your body. I go to class (usually a standard vinyassa class) once or twice per week.

      I do not subscribe to any particular diet though I try to eat very healthy. I have lots of green smoothies and rarely eat meat. I eat a lot of gluten :).


  43. Jake Carlson

    DBO. Love the blog and your tweets. I have a couple of questions that I will pose in the utmost seriousness.

    1. What role, if any, does facial hair had in the success of an ultrarunner? Also, what style is preferred? Mustache, chops, fu man chew, full beard, neck beard?

    2. On a less serious note, what do you do for recovery? Anything?

    Look forward to hearing your serious input on both questions

    Jog On!

    • dylan


      1. I have a really patchy beard, unfortunately. I honestly wish I could grow something like Rob Krar. I’d never shave.

      2. I drink a lot of Ultragen and Water. I almost never take days off. Pretty sure, I suck at recovery :).

    • dylan


      Handheld if I need one bottle. Handheld and waistpack if I need two. I don’t like using two handhelds because it makes me feel really inefficient. Never use vests but will be training with one for the rest of the summer to prep for UTMB.

      UltrAspire products all day! By far the best IMO.


  44. David Blumentritt

    Aspen Backcountry Marathon is coming up, wish you would be here.
    Kill it at Western Staes, I know you have been waiting for this for a while.
    Travis is going to be with you right?
    Ill be following, and YES! I’d like a new pair of running shoes. Take care my friend. You are a monster…

  45. David

    I moved to the mountains after suffering through my first 100 mile race lst year when I was barely trained for a 50 miler and was a flatlander. I am improving in a lot of ways but still don’t have much steep uphill speed, it’s just as fast to hike. What’s the secret other than keep trying?

    • dylan


      Uphilling has always been my achilles heel, as well. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to getting better aside from just putting the in the work. It has been the focus of my training for the last 6 months. Depending on where you live, I highly recommend skinning uphill on skis to help with the process. It builds serious aerobic strength and shreds you legs like nothing else. It’s a ton of fun.


  46. Cory

    Been cool following you career the past 2 years. I’m also interested in the question about 1 big long run of 5-6 hours for quality, instead of back to back 4 hour runs or so….. I understand running on tired legs, but it seems to break me down.
    Best of luck at Western. I got you top 3 for sure!!

    • dylan


      I employ both methods and find them both highly useful. Sometimes I do triples (like every 3-4 weeks) where I’ll do 5hr-3hr-3hr or something like that. As you do more back to back big days, it’ll stop breaking you down so much. Start doing 3hr-2hr, then go 3hr-3hr, then 4-3, and so on.

      When I do runs of 6-7hrs, I usually take it easy the day before and after.


  47. Scott M

    Welcome to the Bay Area ( I am a SF transplant as well) What made the biggest difference for you to increase your overall speed? I have been running mid pack and its time to move up.

    BTW – I am also a former college lacrosse player turned addicted ultra runner. I never thought that I would be into this annd now all I want to do is increase my speed.

    • dylan


      I think playing Lacrosse gave me some natural speed to bring into running. I don’t know much when it comes to speed aside that it’s typically faster to cultivate speed than it is endurance. Start by taking a standard ~40minute run you do all the time, and just run it fast. That’s what I did and have slowly gotten more creative with it. You’ll figure out what your body can handle pretty quick and you’ll see improvement almost immediately.


  48. Will Yazzie

    Hey Dylan- I am pretty new to the ultrarunning scene and am well aware of your speed and prestige in the community, but after reading this article I have even more respect for you and what you do. I am running in my first ultra in October in the heart of my homeland, the Navajo Nation. I will be running in the blue N1 Trails whether I win them here or not because it is such a beautiful shoe. But my question is, what is the best way to come back from an IT band injury? My knee is beginning to feel better (after my first marathon) and I’m hesitant to start running long again. Your advice is greatly appretiated and good luck at WS!! Run strong man!

    • dylan


      Thanks so much! That’s really nice. Good luck to you in your first ultra!

      I had a bout with ITBS in January of 2012 and it was really frustrating. It hardly even hurt after I’d get warmed up, but after my run I could hardly walk without limping. I stopped running for a month and it went away. Luckily, for that month, I was able to skin uphill and ski without pain so I had an outlet. It was very frustrating though. Just give it time and find another activity that doesn’t aggravate the injury. Focus on strengthening your legs. YOGA!

      All the best!


    • dylan


      I hardly ever struggle with motivation. I truly LOVE running and always WANT to get out. Inevitably, other responsibilities will get in the way, so having a desire to put in the work is crucial. A lot of that has to do with setting goals. If, when your alarm goes off at 5am, you think immediately about what you’re working towards, it will be much easier to get out of bed. That and strong coffee :).


  49. Drew Weiman

    Hey Dylan, I’m digging the black mid calves! Quick Question: How did you eventually figure out your running pace for 100 milers? Are you trying to stay below a certain heart rate number? Or is it by feel? I’m sure there was lots of trial and error. I’m guessing you figured out how fast you could run a 50 miler, then moved on to the next distance. Good luck at Western States!

    • dylan


      Good to hear from you, dude. Truth is I just wing it and go by feel at every race. I never look at splits from the previous year or heart rate stuff, I just try to run within myself while monitoring the sustainability of my effort. And, yes, lots of trial and error :).


  50. Eric V.


    As a 43 yr old uber “ultra newbie” in his first year of running, including running a few ultra races, I was hoping you could provide me some advice. I set a few quality race goals this year which included a couple 50Ks, 50 miler and a 100M to finish off the year. I will be looking for “significant” improvements next year through improved diet, more specified training, and racing as well. I was wondering what your thoughts are on hiring a coach to assist in the improvement process. How would you recommend choosing a quality coach for guy who has a stacked life besides training for ultras? Working 50 hrs a week, family and other responsibilities tend to make one very focused on “training” to improve. I appreciate your assistance with this.


    • dylan


      Great question! I’ve never been coached but have toyed with the idea of hiring one many times. I’ll list the names of all the guys I know personally who coach and whom I trust, but that’s about all I can offer. If you can afford it and you have the desire to improve, a coach is a no brainer IMO.

      -Ian Torrence
      -Karl Meltzer
      -Jason Koop
      -Joe Grant
      -Zeke Tiernan
      -Matt Hart
      -Tim Long
      -Ian Sharman
      -Yassine Diboun
      -Jorge Maravilla

      I’m sure they’re all great coaches. Let me know if I can put you in touch with any of them!


  51. Dom


    More Americans than ever are caught up in the fever of televised singing competitions. First: what’s your favorite? Second: if you could sing, would you go with a classical northern alto or a sultry southern swagger filled barritone? Third: Do you speak spanish, there’s a large demographic for spanish singers. Fourth: Where’s the ‘stache? Will it be race ready by June 28th?

    • dylan

      Jesus, Dom. That altitude is getting to your head :). No stache come raceday for this guy, though clean shaven-ness doesn’t seem to bode well at Western. Unless you’re Kilian. He’s always the exception to every rule.

  52. Alfonso Garcia

    Hi Dylan!

    I’m excited for my upcoming participation in Leadville 100. There are only two months :)

    My opinion of a european trailrunner, who also participated in USA (Tahoe 50 in 2010), is that the races are very different between Europe and USA. In Europe the trails are much more technical and do not allow the use of crews and pacers.

    Do you think that these differences may be a handicap for you in your participation at the UTMB?

  53. David

    I got everyone all excited for Saturday. We all will be following the torture. Go out there and show everyone whats up.
    You are gonna do great…

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