The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-377 – Alex Runs Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

 (Audio: link) audio:]
Link epi4377.mp3

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


Hello, and welcome to the RunRunLive Podcast episode 4-377, I will be Chris your host, thank you for joining me.  I am speaking with you the day after US Thanksgiving.  The weather has finally started to turn here and it is below freezing outside. 

Teresa and I went and ran the Ayer Fire Dept 5K on Thanksgiving morning.  I get to see many of my friends from the running club.  One of our members, Anthony was the original race director who created the race. 

I used to go up and run the Feaster 5 miler in Andover but this is so much more convenient.  The Feaster gets almost 10,000 runners and a bunch of local running celebrities show up to take pictures with McGilvary.  It’s a good race but Ayer is less hassle for us being the next town over. 

I can’t say I had a good race.  I can’t say I had a bad race either.  In terms of how I felt and the pace I ran it wasn’t my best effort, given how I actually tried to train for the race and am coming off a successful marathon campaign. But, on the other hand, being out on a cold, sunny morning with my daughter and all my friends – there’s really no complaining about that!

Today, we speak with friend of the show, Alex, about his epic adventure at the Ultra-trail du Mont Blanc at the end of the summer.  If you pay attention to the ultra world you may have heard of Leadville or Western States.  UTMB is the Western States of Europe, if you will.  It gets all the best international mountain and trail runners.  It’s over 100 miles long and has an insane amount of vertical. 

Alex, used to volunteer to edit the audio for the interviews on RunRunLive.  Another one of those Sympatico friendships I’ve been graced with through the podcast.  I think you’ll enjoy it. 

Remember a couple episodes back when I gave you my new Apple sauce recipe?  Well, I tried an excellent variation.  I’ve started putting overripe bananas and ripe peaches in with the apples. And I’ve discovered you don’t have to peel the apples either.  Just throw it all into an oven-safe dish, covered and bake it on low all day long and you get amazing, healthy apple sauce for your morning oatmeal. 

In section one of this episode I’ll talk a little about how I attempted to pivot from the marathon to the 5K and in section two I’ll write about running in the city of Boston. 

I finally got around to getting my flu shot.  I try to get in each fall because I think it’s important to do my part in keeping the herd healthy.  I usually don’t’ get sick since I started training regularly.  A number of people I know, work with and even my wife who is usually healthy as a horse came down with this nasty chest cold this fall that seemed to last for 2-3 weeks. 

I went down to the local drug store, CVS, where they give the shots on a Saturday.  It wasn’t a very productive day for me.  The dump was closed because of veterans’ day and I didn’t know it until I loaded up my truck and drove over there.  I found it impossible to get in for a haircut two weekends in a row due to some bizarre spike in the demand for haircuts locally.  But, I did manage to get the flu shot. 

While I was sitting there an old man came in and joined me.  It was veterans’ Day and he was wearing a WWII commemorative hat.  He told me that he enlisted in 1942 at the age of 17.  He was in Normandy 6 days after D-day.  He was stationed in Czechoslovakia.  Then he went to the Pacific theatre and was in the Philippines and Japan. 

He’d be about the same age as my Dad would be if he were still alive.  Local guy.  Grew up in the town.  Lived his life there.  Still there.  Getting his flu shot.  Imagine the changes he’s seen?

That was a couple weeks ago.  Today is thanksgiving.  I find myself thankful.  On with the show.

I’ll remind you that the RunRunLive podcast is ad free and listener supported.  What does that mean? It means you don’t have to listen to me trying to sound sincere about or Audible.. (although, fyi, my MarathonBQ book is on audible) We do have a membership option where you can become a member and as a special thank you, you will get access to member’s only audio. There are book reviews, odd philosophical thoughts, zombie stories and I curate old episodes for you to listen to.  I recently added that guy who cut off is foot so he could keep training and my first call with Geoff Galloway.   “Curated” means I add some introductory comments and edit them up a bit.  So anyhow – become a member so I can keep paying my bills.


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Section one – Pivoting from the Marathon to a 5K -

Voices of reason – the conversation

Alex Cooke

Alex is 43 and hails from Birmingham in the UK. Like many of us, he started running in early middle age to improve his health, but quickly found benefits in multiple dimensions. He’s got a busy life, and uses running dreams to keep him motivated to train and live a bit cleaner. After [not quite] conquering the Boston marathon and falling in love with the European Alps on a family holiday, he set his sights on trail running and, specifically, the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc -  a 106 mile, 33,000 feet mountain race as his next goal. Three years after setting the goal, did the reality live up to the dream?

Twitter: @TrustCooker

Instagram: trustcooker

UTMB stats and videos:

Section two – Running in the City -


Excellent job my friends, you have slipped, crawled and struggled through 30 hours of the RunRunLive podcast Episode 4-377. 

The intro for this podcast was written just around Thanksgiving.  Now it is 2 weeks later.  Apologies for the tardy publishing cadence.  My new gig in the city is very intense and time consuming.  I don’t have any place to record.  By the time I get to the weekend I have a full slate of other activities and no time to record either – I’m also fairly wrung out intellectually. 

But that’s not your problem!  It’s not a problem for me either.  I’ll figure it out.  I have spent these few weeks well and wisely.  I ran my turkey trot 5K and it was as struggle but I did ok.  I got to spend some time with my friends and Teresa. It’s a nice event to kick off the day. 

Last weekend I ran the 4.7 mile leg, leg 2, of the Mill Cities Relay.  I ran 7:30’s as I predicted but it was hard work and I was fairly sore on Monday of this week.  Basically I’m feeling the effects of a active fall racing season. 

Coach wants me to start training for Boston but I kind of want to take some time off and do something different.  I was looking at Comrades Marathon in June – but that’s probably outside my reach – as epic as it is.  I’ll figure something out. 

I’m so busy I find I’m falling into the ‘switching cost’ trap. This is what happens when you work on many important things in parallel.  Every time you go from focusing on one important thing to focusing on the next important thing you pay a penalty.  It takes your brain a certain period of time to transition out of the one thing and then refocus on the next. 

It’s like when you’re working on a project and you are deeply focused and the phone rings.  It’s important so you answer.  Now you’ve lost the flow of that project.

What ends up happening eventually, as you try to string more projects in parallel, is the time spent switching and absorbing the impact of the switch begins to outweigh the value of the thing you switched to.  They discovered this concept in the early computers.  Eventually the entire CPU is tied up switching tasks and nothing gets done. 

What do you do?  Unfortunately, the answer is to work longer and try to carve out appropriately large and specific chunks of time for important tasks.  You may find that the only time you can find is outside of work hours.  Or, you can say no.  You can identify those things that are not urgent but are important and make sure those get done.  Because those are the things that will pay off over the long run. 

For example, you are having to deal with customers because you don’t have enough qualified employees.  What should you do?  If you don’t deal with the customers, you’ll take a high profile hit for being unresponsive.  But, if you don’t focus on hiring and training you will never get out of the trap.

You’ll be tempted to try to do both.  Deal with customers and hire and train in the spare time.  What happens? You end up being mediocre at both.  As painful as it is you have to focus on the thing that will give you the long term win, not the thing standing in front of you screaming. 

It comes down to knowing what you’re trying to accomplish and aligning your tradeoffs with those strategic goals. 

Sounds strangely intellectual when I talk about it this way.  In reality it’s the chaos of daily life. 

I’m going to keep plugging along, doing the right thing, and I’ll see you out there.

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


Direct download: epi4377.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 5:15pm EDT





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