Monday, April 3, 2017

"The 20X Factor"

As the Western States race gets closer, Clint's training is starting to ramp up.  He is continuing his three week build up of mileage, followed by a week of less mileage.  There are a few races built into the training schedule to practice running under race conditions and to test out gear and nutrition.  One rule of ultra running is to practice with the same decisions you plan to make on race day.  So Clint has a few upcoming races on his calendar: The K2 Challenge next week, Mokelumne River Festival Half Marathon in mid-April, The Canyons Endurance Run 50K in late April, and Born to Run Ultra Marathons 30 mile in late May.

In the past, Clint has already completed five endurance runs that are over 50 miles: one 50-mile race, one 100K race, and three 100-mile races.  There were always training plans for each respective race, and Clint does not train with a running coach.  He reads a lot and uses the internet to research the logic behind different training plans.  Based on all this experience, Clint developed a training plan for Western States using prior plans that worked, and taking into consideration prior plans that did not work as well.  One realization that he had was that his best races were when he was lifting weights and doing interval training on the treadmill.  Some of his less successful races followed training plans that focused on increased weekly mileage.  So he decided to use a hybrid plan.

Halle joining Clint on his birthday workout
As we have been sharing, the current training includes two days of strength, mobility, and flexibility drills that improve tissue quality. This training is done on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Seth Kotelniki at The Ranch Athletics in Loomis, CA.  I asked Seth to educate me on the philosophy behind the individualized training he is currently using for Clint.  He said that the first things to focus on are correct movement patterns and to restore soft tissue.  This would provide for faster recovery following the many grueling training runs that Clint needs to do to prepare  his body for the 100-mile race.  Secondly, Seth wants Clint to focus on conditioning the whole body, and especially the core.  "Energy is wasted with poor posture," and a strong core helps improve correct form.  To some, working out on strength may seem counter-intuitive for an ultra runner.  But, according to Seth, "Strength is never a weakness."  These workouts strengthen muscle fibers that are different from muscle groups needed for running.  So, a runner can work out at The Ranch and do a long run on the same day. In addition, "most runners do not have full range of motion of joints." Training sessions focus on the entire body.

I wanted to understand how increased strength and power can improve a runner's endurance and potentially, speed.  Seth used a biker's analogy to help clarify the logic behind this philosophy.  The following is not a direct quote, but my attempt to transcribe what I learned: "Let's use an example for bikers.  To keep things simple, I'll use even numbers.  Let's say it takes 10 pounds of strength for a  rider to bear down on the bike pedal for one rotation.  Assuming this rider has the strength to squat 100 pounds, he is expending 10% of his power on each rotation.  If I can improve the rider's strength so he can squat 200 pounds, it will take less of his energy (only 5%) on each rotation.  This should improve  the rider's endurance, and with less expenditure of energy, form and speed will benefit as well."

Finally, I asked Seth what he thought about Clint as a client.  "He's very upbeat.  He's very interested in personal growth and development.  Actually, we talk a lot about books."  One book that Seth recommended is Unbeatable Mind by Mark Divine.  Clint had already mentioned this book to me on our very first meeting. He has read it twice and recommended it to others, myself included. The book is written by a retired Navy SEAL and focuses on the development of mental toughness and clarity.  According to Mark Divine, " are capable of at least twenty times more than you previously thought." (The 20X Factor).

Not many people know the story behind how it came about that Clint is training at The Ranch. On the very first day I met with Clint, he shared two stories that made him pause, swallow down a knot in his throat, and blink away wetness in his eyes. The first story was the one we shared in "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" blog about not picking up Halle at the finish line of his 2013 Run on the Sly 50K race in Pollock Pines.  And this is where the second story comes in.  Clint was telling me about all the family and friends who have been supportive throughout his entire trail running journey, and how it has become even more evident now that he is running in Western States.  He told me that he is so very grateful and thankful for his dear friend, Bill Yeates, who is making this part of his training possible.

I reached out to Bill Yeates and asked him to share the full story behind his support of Clint's dream of completing Western States.  Bill told me that he met Clint in 2013 at Capital Beer and Tap Room on a Cap Tapper's Monday Shakeout run.  "When I met Clint, I was trying to get my marathon time down below 4 hours.  Clint, along with others like my coach Chad Worthen from Fleet Feet FIT program, gave me motivation and inspiration.  Clint even got me to dip my toe in trail running."  Bill was able to improve his time below 3:50 and qualified for the Boston Marathon which he ran in 2016.

Bill and Clint at The Ranch Athletics
"I know what it feels like as a runner to set a goal and achieve it."  In 2015, Bill was aware of Clint's four lottery tickets not being drawn in the lottery.  "I know how much Clint wanted to get into Western States. And it was disappointing in 2015 when his name did not get drawn."  The two continued to meet for regular Monday Shakeout Runs.  "I think at a Monday night CapTapper gathering, I told him that when he gets drawn in 2016, I would cover the cost of the Ranch." Clint and Bill had both heard that this gym really helps ultrarunners with strength and mobility.  So, when Clint won the lottery, Bill followed through on his promise. And the two work out together twice a week, even sharing a ride. "I have been injured most of 2016, so it has been great to have someone to travel out to Loomis with when we go to The Ranch.  I hope it helps him. I admire his dedication and commitment.  His enthusiasm for his sport is infectious.  He genuinely cares about anyone who is a runner no matter the distance.  Most of all, he is a wonderful Dirtbag Runner who loves and supports his colleagues and they love him back.  You can't help but root for Clint and enjoy his quest."

Everyone I have talked to seems to say about the same thing.  I don't think Clint even knows how much people respect him and want him to realize this dream.  He is one of those guys who is always taking care of everyone else and not wanting the focus to be on him.  He has such humility.

Another person who is a huge supporter of Clint's is Paulo Medina, owner and director of SingleTrack Running.  I asked Paulo about his relationship with Clint. The two have known each other for 4 to 5 years, but Paulo said he was having trouble remembering the first time they actually met.  "I probably met him when we went running one day and it was like a long lost friendship, you kind of keep on going from that point on, as if you never lost time before."  Clint is just that kind of guy; when you meet, you become instant friends.  "My very first recollection of him was when I was dying during Gold Rush 100K in 2013 and he was out there cheering runners on."

Paulo Medina was also a lucky lottery winner who was selected to run the Western States Endurance Run this year and will wear bib #270. "As a friend and previous Western States finisher, I am really happy he was able to get into the race this year.  My experience during WS really changed my life, and I can only hope that he has a similar experience.  Seeing all your friends and family during the race is very special, and after all, this is our backyard and we finally get invited to the biggest party of them all."

Speaking of parties, Clint celebrated his 40th birthday last week.  Many of his friends, family and fellow runners helped him celebrate and, as expected, this usually involved craft beer.  His beer of choice was the Pavlo Double IPA from Claimstake Brewing. Here is Clint at his party held at the Claimstake Brewery, wearing his favorite t-shirt, a birthday gift from his wife.  And luckily, a week of lower mileage coincided with the celebrations.

This week's training 03/27-04/02/17
Mon - Recovery from 40th birthday celebrations - no run
Tues - The Ranch - strength, mobility, flexibility, tissue quality
Wed - 10 mile run
Thur - The Ranch
Fri -  Rest and recovery
Sat - 24.4 mile hill repeats at Stagecoach Trail (2 mile hill with 900+ feet elevation gain x 6)
Sun - 10 mile run

In addition to support here at home, Clint will be getting support from fellow Dirt Bag Runners Peter Brennen and Tyler Clemens who will pace him out on the Western States Trail.  I think Clint just might have the 20X factor when it comes to the amount of support, love, and respect so many of us have for him and his quest for a very special buckle.


  1. I love this one, too. Friends are gold and Clint is very rich in friendship gold.

  2. Loved the discussions with Bill, Paulo and Seth. It takes a village huh? Fascinating stuff!