Archive for ultrarunning

Boston Marathon Race Week: Old Habits Die Hard!

“Mistakes are the portals for discovery.”  - James Joyce
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order to things.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
“The obstacle is the path.”  - Zen aphorism 

This year’s Boston Marathon, which will be held next Monday April 21, will be among the most significant and historic in that race’s storied history, in part because of the bombing events from last year’s race. Today’s post isn’t about the bombing or about THE Boston Marathon per se.  It is about the fact that when it comes to LONG RUNS prior to a marathon, Ironman, or some other long distance race or run, old habits sure die hard.  

What’s the old habit I’m referring to? Running your last long run 3 or even 2 weeks out from race day.   

Its amazing to me that in this day and age, with all we’ve learned about how our body functions best, the idea of doing a “longer” run within 3 and even 2 weeks prior to a marathon is still very prevalent out there in the running community. As the title of this post states, old habits (like being afraid of doing any strength training, or counting mileage as the primary predictor of performance!) die HARD!    

So When Should You Do Your Last Long Run? 

I was first exposed to research about the amount of time it actually takes for deep cellular tissue (muscle) damage to heal (from training) around 1990.  That’s 24 years ago. One study, conducted at Harvard at that time, showed that tissue remained significantly damaged even after 4 or 5 weeks of “recovery” after that “long” run.

After learning about that study and then discussing these concepts with our former podcast guest and running expert Owen Anderson, PhD (who at that time was the editor of Running Research News) I decided to adjust my own training to reflect that longer taper period prior to race day. I immediately felt the benefits of it with my first 2:40 marathon in 1991.  To that point, I’d been able to run a 2:50, but with this new approach to tapering, I ran a full 10 minutes faster and felt better on race day.  I don’t necessarily credit that taper and distance between the last long run and race day as the sole reason for the 10 minute drop, but I do believe it was a huge factor.

Without a doubt, I am convinced that a huge percentage of the runners who are running marathons in this day and age, and in fact many of those lining up in Boston next Monday, toe the line with “still damaged” muscle cells from a longer run, too close to race day.  Maybe its me, but it always made sense that if I wanted to have an opportunity to run my best on race day, that my legs needed to be healed from what I had done to them in training. That might sound like a simple concept, but again, old habits die hard.

Keep in mind as you think about this, that a “long” run can mean different things to different runners. Someone running 90 miles per week can run longer, relatively speaking, than can someone who can only handle 30 miles per week. But in my opinion, even on an elite level, a lot of the country’s best marathoners are still running too long, too close to race day, even with their lofty weekly mileage totals. I’ve employed this taper strategy or some variation there of, with every person I’ve coached since I began coaching, and as I mentioned, used it myself since the early 1990s.

Obviously, doing this requires that you do GET IN those longer runs early enough in your preparation. But even if you fall short in either the number or length of those longer runs, trying to “squeeze in” one last long run too close to race day, ensures that you will toe the line with less than 100% of your capability that day, and that’s a shame. The best chance any of us have to run our best “on the day,” is to show up 100% healthy and healed and motivated to do well, with a solid strategy in place.  The key words are “100% healthy.” If you’re not, even with the best training and highest levels of motivation, you will very likely do less well than you might otherwise be capable.

Why Do Runners Continue To Run Long Too Close To Race Day?

Big Confidence Boost?: At first glance that close-to-race-day long run seems like a smart idea. Many runners believe they need to prove to themselves that they can go the distance on race day, and what better way to show you’re ready than to knock off a 20-miler just a couple of weeks before you go to the starting line! What a great shot in the arm to your confidence, right? Wrong.

It might sound logical to lay one last long run down to boost confidence, but that would be a mistake, and the reason is simple: You need recovery after your long runs.

Many runners dismiss the amount of pounding we put our bodies through running those miles. As I often say here in our Lab, a mile of running is the equvalent of 1500 one-leg squat jumps! That’s a lot of repetitive trauma.

In an article Owen wrote in RRN some years ago, he referenced research conducted by Dutch exercise scientists with a group of marathon runners. “About two thirds had significant signs of muscle injury on the morning of the race, before they had run just one mile of the marathon!” According to the study, “the reason for this muscular mayhem, for the most part, was the long running the Dutch had carried out during the month before the race. The Dutch-athletes’ muscles were totally non-recovered on race day.” The Dutch researchers found that training runs with durations longer than 15 kilometers (~ 9.3 miles) were the ones which seemed to produce the greatest amount of muscle damage. Below 15K, little muscle damage accrued.  (The reason why I started back then, making 9-10mile runs my longest within four weeks of the race).

The BIG Myth.

The biggest myth that exists out there among runners getting ready for the marathon is that a long gap between the last long run and the actual marathon will make our body “forget” how to run long.  Going a full four weeks without a true “long” run, will cause our body to lose its ability to efficiently cover the distance, right?  Not so much! The truth is that provided you’ve done the necessary periodic long runs prior to that 4 week period and built to a distance of 20-22 miles on average, your body will not “forget” how to complete the distance on race day.   

In fact, if you approach your training in the right way, you can use this long-run-free four-week period to truly boost fitness and be more prepared than ever for a great race day! As your muscles heal and recovery progresses, you can…

  • step up the intensity of your training, allowing you to do more of the kinds of training sessions which will have a direct impact on marathon readiness. Those are sessions focusing on lifting vV02max, running economy, and threshold.
  • focus more time and energy on your overall fitness, specific mobility and flexibility needs, and topping off your running specific strength.

Most runners are so used to running on battered and bruised legs and being exhausted, that they never actually FEEL what it feels like to run on legs that are recovered and 100% healthy. What a shame!

The Bottom Line?

A smart marathon or long distance run training plan is one that builds fitness progressively and THEN ALLOWS for adequate recovery prior to race day. Many typical race training plans I see on the internet or written by other “experts” often leave out this critical recovery aspect, having runners run long 2 or 3 weeks out from race day. As a result, the runners following those plans or trusting that guidance end up toeing the line with damaged muscles, even though they “believe” they are 100% ready to have the best race possible.  If you’re reading this thinking “that guy is an expert running coach,” or “my fast friend does it this way,” stop and think for a moment.

Simply put, 3 weeks isn’t enough time for healing for the majority of runners, and 2 weeks is flat out absurd under normal circumstances. The exception might be if your weekly mileage totals are over 80 to 100 per week.  If your weekly mileage is below those numbers, you’ll be very smart to leave at least 4 weeks from the last long run you do until race day. Train smart in this way, and you’ll feel better and run faster as a result!

~Coach Al 

Getting Your Season Started Right!


Lis Kenon and Coach Al, Pursuit Athletic Performance

Coach Al with 4x Ironman AG World Champion, Lisbeth Kenyon

Hey Everyone! Coach Al here. :)  If you are like many endurance athletes in the northern hemisphere, the late March marks the time when you really start planning to “get serious” with training and race preparation in anticipation of the upcoming competitive season. Even more, for some athletes this time period marks the time when, after a casual glance at the calendar reveals only a few weeks remain until the first event, a state of shock and absolute panic ensues! ☺

Before you panic and start hammering those high intensity intervals, moving yourself precariously close to either injury or over-training, remember to keep a few important things in mind as you embark upon a fast-track toward improved race readiness.

First, avoid the trap of thinking there is a quick fix, short cut, or easy path toward a true higher level of fitness. Building the stamina and strength that leads to success in endurance sports takes time and patience. However, if you pay close attention to the fundamentals such as skill and technique enhancement and general/functional strength, you CAN make some great inroads over a relatively short period of time that WILL help get you closer to being able to achieve your goals.

Secondly, while there are many facets of your training that will be integral for your success, there are two topics requiring your attention all year long but often don’t get the attention they deserve this time of year.  They are: maximizing your daily NUTRITION and daily RECOVERY from training.  (If you’re at a point in time when you feel you need a “kick-start” to cleaning up your diet, check out our De-tox!)

It goes without saying that if you don’t eat well most of the time and at the right times and don’t recover adequately between individual training sessions and week to week, your training, fitness, and ultimately your race preparation will stagnate or even worsen.

Here are three TIPS to assist in transitioning optimally to the month of April and also help you get your season started right:

  1. Review your current Limiters and then establish some Training Objectives to improve and overcome those Limiters. Limiters are your weaknesses or “race specific” abilities that may hold you back from being successful in your most important events.   Likewise, Training Objectives are measurable training goals that you set for yourself and which may be based on your Limiters, with the goal of improving upon them.

To help in this process, start by asking yourself these questions: 

  • As you review your current Limiters, how well have you progressed in the Off-Season in addressing those?
  • Did you “miss anything” in your Off-Season preparation that you should focus on now?
  • Is there a chance that your Limiters will hold you back from being successful in certain events?
  • Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are you doing anything right now to improve your Limiters and thus your chance for success in your upcoming KEY races?

Even though it IS late March, it is NOT too late to start developing some key workouts to help strengthen your weaknesses. Be patient and persistent, and set measurable goals (training objectives) so that when you line up for your most important event this season, you will have the confidence of knowing you did all you could to prepare for success!

  1. Focus on executing KEY WORKOUTS by differentiating intensity and being purposeful in all of your training: To ensure you continue to improve, one of your primary goals must be to execute key-workouts to the best of your ability, which are those workouts that when recovered from them, will have had a specific and material impact on your race specific fitness.  Avoid falling victim to the “rat race” mentality that has you chronically “running” from one workout to the next without any real focus, which only results in tiredness and higher levels of stress without resulting in improved health OR fitness.
  2. Eat as well as you can, most of the time: Eating the best foods to nurture your health and recovery, most of the time and at the right times, is the best path toward optimizing health and body composition. Too often endurance athletes fall victim to waiting until they are close to their goal races and then trying to get lean and “race ready.” Once you begin to do higher intensity race-specific training sessions, your body will be under greater duress – trying to limit calories at that time can be very stressful and may lead to injury, poor adaptation to training stresses, and basically undoing all of the work you are doing to improve!

To summarize, these three tips come back to one very important but often forgotten concept: listening to your body and trusting your intuition.  I believe your intuition may be the most important tool you have in your toolbox as an endurance athlete, and unfortunately many of us don’t listen to it when we need to the most.

If you are a novice, your intuition might not be as highly developed as your more experienced training partners or friends, but it IS there and is often talking to you! Your “inner voice” might be telling you that you are tired and just don’t feel up to that ride or run that you had planned, or, that what you are eating isn’t optimal to support your training or health.

Your body is smart! If you learn to really listen to it and stay patient and focused on the fundamentals, you will get your season started right and perhaps have your best season ever! Best of luck!

~Coach Al

Ultrarunning Camp Q &A with Coach Al and Champion Ultra Trail Runner, Deborah Livingston (Video)

Hello Everyone!

ultrarunningCoach Al here with ultrarunning champ Debbie Livingston. We put together a great Q&A session to give you additional information about our ultrarunning camp scheduled for Thursday, April 4 through Sunday, April 7 in Quechee, VT. If you have interested in attending, this video will give you an overview of what you will experience. We see this “retreat and camp” as an integrated educational, inspirational, training and learning experience designed to help you develop as a COMPLETE ultrarunner.

To learn more and to register, please click here–Ultrarunning Camp. If you have questions, we have a form for you to use to ask anything you need to before you sign up.

NOTE: Sign up with a friend by February 1 for extra savings on the double occupancy package. Registration closes on March 21.

Fire away with questions if you have them. Looking forward to running with your in beautiful Quechee, Vermont!

Ultrarunning Camp with Coach Al and Champion Ultra Trail Runner, Deborah Livingston

Hello Everyone!

ultrarunningCoach Al here, super excited to tell you about an exceptional ultra running camp I have organized with champion ultra trail runner, Debbie Livingston. Scheduled for Thursday, April 4 through Sunday, April 7 in Quechee, VT, this is sure to be more than just another running camp. Our vision for this unique 3 day – 3 night “retreat and camp” is to provide you with an integrated educational, inspirational, training and learning experience designed to help you develop as a COMPLETE ultrarunner.

As we run, eat, share, learn, and live together, surrounded by the unique, beautiful and varied landscape of this area of Vermont, you will be immersed in aspects of training and learning that are essential to becoming a stronger, faster, and mentally-tough competitor on the trail:

  • Explore the mind/body connection critical to successful training and racing
  • Delve into the mental mindset of a champion with our local elite ultra-runners
  • Learn why incorporating a holistic “movement-based” approach to functional strength is essential for optimal performance and health, and how to incorporate it into your training
  • Explore the power of connecting the conscious and subconscious minds for enhanced personal and athletic wellness
  • Enjoy early morning yoga and movement sessions
  • Learn how to maximize your recovery from training
  • Learn how to balance ultra-run training within the context of a busy life, maximizing training time and effort
  • Learn how to eat before, during, and after your training runs and races, for optimal performance
  • Experience challenging and varied trail runs in the scenic and serene valleys and rolling hills of this beautiful area of VT, right out the door of the Quechee Inn.

You will emerge a smarter, re-invigorated, and inspired runner equipped with the tools you need to make you faster and more resilient–ready to unleash your highest running potential.

To learn all of the details and to register, please click here to sign up–Ultrarunning Camp. All the details are outlined for you. If you have questions, we have a form for you to use to ask anything you need to before you sign up.

NOTE: Sign up with a friend by February 1 for extra savings on the double occupancy package. Registration closes on March 21.

Fire away with questions if you have them. Looking forward to running with your in beautiful Quechee, Vermont!

Coach Al’s Run Report: The Pisgah Mountain 50K Trail Race

Hi Folks!

Pisgah 50K, Coach Al Lyman, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to RimHope you had a chance to read my post about the wonderful confluence of events and people that led me to decide to take on the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run (R2R2R) in November. This kind of ultra running event of 42+ miles was not on my radar in the least–until the universe decided to send the opportunity my way equipped with the greatest group of people with whom to share it. I’m super excited to be taking on this grand adventure, and will keep you posted along the way as I prepare physically and mentally.

As part of my run prep, I ran the Pisgah Mountain 50K Trail Race on Sunday, September 16 in Chesterfield, New Hampshire. I ran with friend and client Tim Mather who is also doing the R2R2R. In brief, event went extremely well–I could not have asked for better result, and that is a great feeling.

Before the race, I felt the 50k was a huge challenge given the fact that I had run three hours only six days before, AND had never done more than 16 miles on a trail this technical ever in my life! But my inner self-talk boiled it all down to this–

It’s just a training run with a purpose…get the time on your feet in the company of other like-minded runners on a challenging course…see if you can complete it, in one piece, recover quickly, and keep the mojo going toward the Canyon.

If I could make that happen, I knew it would be a great confidence booster.

Tim and I traveled Pisgah together. Our race plan was simple:

  • Be conservative in the beginning
  • Walk any steep hills
  • Hold back on speed and JUST FINISH feeling good

Pisgah 50K, Coach Al Lyman, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim

By being smartly cautious we hoped to avoid major issues like rolled ankles or gastrointestinal distress that would negatively impact our continued progression. By finishing upright and in one piece, we would be on our way to continuing to build the fitness we needed for the R2R2R run.

Since our own Pursuit ultrarunner Debbie Livingston has WON this race in the past, I checked in with her for some tips. She had a number to share, but managed to hold back on actually telling me how incredibly hard this trail is! I think she planned it that way. Keep the secrets a secret, and watch how the coach responds when he actually finds out that this trail is no walk in the park! :) More likely, she is just so incredibly good that she doesn’t consider it particularly hard! Either way, Tim and I quickly learned from some other experienced runners on the course that there were plenty of challenges ahead. Among them is a summit of Pisgah Mountain, which comes after many false summits along the way, and plenty of technical trail with rocks, roots, and the like. On a hugely positive note, we had gloriously sunny skies and a DRY trail, which is huge blessing. This course would have been SO MUCH harder on wet rocks, roots, and moss. Thank you to the weather gods!

So how did the day go? Tim and I ran virtually all of the flats and downs at a very conservative pace. We walked all of the steep ups during the early miles, and eventually ALL of the ups. The end result was a +/- 7 hour finish for the 50k distance.

I feel we executed a perfect race. We achieved what we wanted and needed to in terms of managing hydration and fueling well, and avoiding any rolled ankles or falls. We can now look ahead with renewed confidence about our physical preparation. Even more, we talked a great deal of the time and enjoyed meeting so many other runners out there. We even experienced some “discomfort” and built some of the mental fortitude that we are sure to call on in November. It was a huge success all around.

I came out of the day with three major thoughts that are important to share with you:

Pisgah 50K, Coach Al Lyman, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim1. My commitment to functional strength– and ALL of the elements I espouse in this blog and preach to the athletes I coach on a daily basis– is the only way I was able to put this day in the record books. Had I foolishly run tons of miles without the requisite strength work, I surely would have been injured long before this race was even on my calendar.

2. As I sit here two days after the race, when “DOMS” (delayed onset muscle soreness) should be at its highest level, I can’t believe how good I feel! I have some minimal soreness in my legs and low back (from having over worked my hip flexors getting over the rocks and roots on the trail), but otherwise feel totally ready to rock and move forward with my training. No tweaks, no minor injuries, no real soreness. Every day, I’m reminded that when we move well and are functionally strong, we recover so much more quickly from these kinds of racing efforts. Our clients tell us the same thing every day as well.

3. The top trail runners are AMAZING, Debbie Livingston included. The winner covered the course in half the time I did. The female winner was about 45 minutes behind. You would have to see these trails to know what I mean–to average 8-minute miles is incredible and a testament to the amazing skill and fitness of the top runners. Congratulations to them!

I have to say, I believe that with a year of consistent run training under my belt and even MORE STRENGTH, I could show up here next year and take two hours off of my finish time. But, that isn’t the point. The point of the day was to finish healthy, finish strong, and keep on the path toward the R2R2R. Mission accomplished!



Coach Al Is Taking On the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run!

Hello Everyone!

Coach Al Lyman, Pisgah 50K, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run I am excited to announce that I am taking on the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run in November. I am posting this update for a few reasons–to give you a view of what I’m up to, how my training has progressed, and to tell you the story of how this whole darn thing came about. The universe works in wonderful and mysterious ways, and I am going along for the ride!

This past July, I traveled to Death Valley to crew for Jason Rita as he took on the Badwater Ultramarathon. The experience had its share of ups and downs. One of the “ups,” however, was meeting the other crew members including Jon Nassif. Jon is from Denver, and he owns a couple of restaurants including Green Fine Salad Co. He is an avid ultra runner and wanted a first-hand look at Badwater. He sought a team to crew for, and ended up assisting Jason. (And let me tell you, Jon can cook!)

Jon and I instantly hit it off. We talked for hours about training and life. He was very interested to learn and to share, as was I. Our discussions ranged from gait analysis to personal relationships to business, and everything else in between. We established a friendship.

A few weeks after Badwater, Jon contacted me about a bucket-list run he wanted to do–the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run (R2R2R). The opportunity, and the people to do it with, never manifested for him–until now. He wanted to do the run with me, and, perhaps, a few more folks with whom we would enjoy sharing the experience.

My first reaction? That sounds amazing! And fun. And really, really hard.

Then I started thinking….

The longest run I have done in the past YEAR was about an hour. I have been enjoying mountain biking, and I have been working around the clock coaching and in our gait analysis lab. I did not have any run racing planned for the future, so anything more than running to maintain basic run fitness was not in the cards.

But, still…. I was intrigued.

The reasons were simple, really. The R2R2R was not going to be a “race.” Right now, at this point in my life, racing does not light a fire in my soul. If I took on the rim run, it would be an ADVENTURE and a JOURNEY with an amazing guy. It was going to be a unique opportunity to see a place few people ever do. And it was going to be an extraordinary challenge.

After talking with Jon at length about the fitness required, the logistics, and our schedules, it was clear that that the best time for BOTH of us to take on the challenge would be in November. We settled on a run date of November 16th, one day before my 53rd birthday. Our plan is to do the run on Friday, then make our way back back to Las Vegas on Saturday for a true birthday celebration! Sounds perfect.

Of course, the problem is that a November run date meant I had only about 3.5 months to train AND taper for this epic run of ~45 miles. The general scope of the run is simple–seven miles down into the canyon, seven miles across, seven miles up to the top of the north rim, and then returning to the start. It is a total of 42 miles if taken point to point. Of course, nothing like this is ever point to point. Also, variable conditions are the order of the day. It is often 32? at the south rim, and 75? in the canyon itself. The altitude (7,500 feet at the south rim and 8-9k at the north rim) would make it even more of an epic test.

What on earth had I signed up for?

Those of you who know me, or have followed this blog for any length of time, are well aware of my fundamental beliefs regarding training. I KNOW that the ONLY CHANCE I HAVE for a great experience is to be as functionally STRONG as I possibly can be. I do not have the option to conservatively build a long run. There simply isn’t time for a “smart” progression. The success of this endeavor hinges my being stronger than I have ever been, and getting in the key run sessions that will prepare me, progressively, for this ultra run.

As luck would have it, friend and client Tim Mather came in for a session at the lab. Tim had stepped away from “training” to focus on some other life goals, and in the process had let his fitness slip a bit. During his visit, the topic of the R2R2R came up. Tim, being who he is, was absolutely stoked at the idea of doing this run. Over time we talked about the possibility of him joining our group, which has now grown to me, Jon, Jon’s sister-in-law, her good friend Pam Reed (yes, that Pam Reed, Badwater’s OVERALL winner in 2002 and 2003), and Stewart Erskine, one of the other crew members at Badwater. (Stewart ran the Hardrock 100 the weekend PRIOR TO Badwater).

I knew Tim would be a great person to have on this journey, and I knew his motivations were pure. The one major issue he HAD to overcome was his deteriorated fitness. We planned out how he will build the strength he needs to make this journey a reality. We were honest with each other too. We both agree that among the MOST IMPORTANT aspects of our preparation is the fact that neither of us wants to be the weak link in the group, negatively impacting anyone’s experience out there. (You all know what I mean.) Tim was committed to doing the work, so we began with some 1:1 sessions at the lab, which we have continued for some weeks now.

August was simply about upping my game in the strength department, and establishing some consistency in my running. Over the last month, I have had to progress my long run from 2 hours to 2.5 hours to 3 hours. Those runs were a mix of trail and road. I did this specifically because I was very acutely aware of the challenge of doing ALL of the runs on either road or trail. Trails stress the body uniquely (rocks, roots, steep hills, risk of ankle sprain, etc.), and roads have their own unique challenge as well. I decided that a mix, early on, would allow me to keep progressing. My 3 hour run was 14 miles of road running and 1 hr on the trail.

So where am I now in my preparation? This past weekend brought the Pisgah Mountain 50K Trail race adventure that I ran with Tim Mather. We got a chance to experience some “discomfort” and build mental fortitude that we’ll need in November. That race report is coming up in the next post, and includes some important takeaways from these months of training for the R2R2R. Stay tuned!





Pursuit, Badwater Ultrarunner Jason Rita Team in Haiti Relief Effort

Q: What do Haiti, the Badwater Ultramarathon, and Pursuit Athletic Performance have in common?

A: Jason Rita

Jason Rita, an accomplished ultra-distance marathoner and long distance adventure racer is a client and good friend of ours who does extraordinary things.

Starting today, Jason is competing in the Badwater Ultramarathon, the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. Badwater begins at 280 feet below sea level going through Death Valley with temperatures hovering around 130 F. The race covers 135 miles with climbs totaling 13,000 ft of vertical ascent over three mountain ranges culminating with a finish at the top of Mt. Whitney at 8300 ft. As Jason takes on this beast of a race, our own Coach Al will be by his side as one of the support crew. In fact, he began his race prep here at Pursuit Athletic Performance. You can watch the video here.

Pursuit Athletic Performance, Badwater, ultramarathon, Jason Rita, Coach Al Lyman, Delaware Medical Relief Team, HaitiJason and Pursuit are also teaming up to raise awareness and funds for Haiti’s isolated Bainet community. For every Gait Analysis purchased from July 15 to Aug 15, we will donate 15% of the proceeds to the Delaware Medical Relief Team, the agency fighting the effects of “bad water,” including cholera in Bainet.

With the economic challenges facing the western world, it is easy forget that the 2010 earthquake killed over 250,000 people in Haiti, displacing many more, and caused tremendous health challenges. In response, Jason and his wife created a non-profit, 501c3 called Delaware Medical Relief Team (DMRT).

DMRT immediately responded to the crisis by sending to Haiti eight medical teams, hundreds of volunteers, and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars used for medical aid and supplies.

At that time with the spotlight on Haiti, governments around the world made huge promises. As these countries’ economic challenges worsened, they failed to deliver promised money, infrastructure, and aid. In response, Jason and DMRT are once again picking up the call to action, and Pursuit Athletic Performance is backing the cause.

The goal is to help the isolated community, Bainet in its health struggles withPursuit Athletic Performance, Jason Rita, Delaware Medical Relief Team, Badwater, ultramarathon, Haiti the consequences of bad water. DMRT has committed to working with the local health clinic to transform it into a functioning hospital.

In addition, we are planning a marathon from the ocean-side port town of Jackmal to Bainet! Our plan is to use the event to help Bainet in three major ways: as an incentive to local authorities to rebuild infrastructure, an event that will create a recurring source of revenue, and a way to raise additional aid.

If you are interested in supporting this marathon initiative in ANY WAY… whether it be marathon participation to various levels of support, please use leave your information on our interest form, and we’ll be in touch!

Help us help Jason and Haiti – donate today directly at the Delaware Medical Relief Team web site, or purchase a Gait Analysis. Either way, you will be pursuing–and doing–something great!


Learn more …

  • Register for our Haiti marathon interest list!
  • To learn about Jason’s prep, check out the video here



Live from Badwater! Coach Al on Three Keys to Successful Racing In The Heat

Badwater ulatramarathonHello from Furnace Creek, CA–Death Valley!

It’s the day before the start of the Badwater Ultramarathon! I’m here in Death Valley to serve as support crew for friend and client Jason Rita who will take on this epic 135-mile beast of a race starting tomorrow.

Badwater is the hardest footrace on the planet. As Jason will face temperatures as high as 125?F, I thought it would be an opportune time to post a few tips to help you in your summer racing. As Jason’s crew, we need to help him handle the fundamental triad needed for racing in the heat–hydration, electrolytes, and calories– or Jason will have no chance of finishing this race. A DNF or poor performance can happen to any of us as we face racing in the summer–even if the heat is not as extreme as what we’ll face in Death Valley. The video below gives you my thoughts and guidance.

We will be posting updates as we can from Badwater to give you an insiders view on such an epic event, and to let you know how Jason is doing. He is dedicating the race to raise funds to help alleviate the effects of “bad water” in Haiti, and we are teaming up to help him do that. You can read about our efforts here.

Signing for now with three keys to successful racing in the heat!

Coach Al

Badwater Ultrarunner Jason Rita Preps for Grueling Race with Pursuit Athletic Performance [Video]

On July 16, Pursuit client Jason Rita will begin the the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet–the legendary Badwater Ultramarathon. Jason will run 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA in temperatures up to 130F (55c). When he takes on the beast known as Badwater, our own Coach Al will be by his side as one of the support crew. We’ll fill you in on details of the race as they unfold!

Jason has accomplished incredible feats in the world of ultra-endurance running including an unassisted speed summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the Himalaya 100-mile stage race, which included a third place finish at the Everest Challenge Marathon. He finished third in the Leadville 100 “Leadman” competition, which is comprised of the Leadville Trail Marathon, a 50-mile mountain bike, a 50-mile trail run, 100 mile mountain bike, and a 100 mile trail run. The list goes on and on.

gait analysis, Jason Rita, Badwater, marathon, ultramarathon, ultrarun, Pursuit Athletic Performancegait analysis, Jason Rita, Badwater, marathon, ultramarathon, ultrarun, Pursuit Athletic Performance







So how does an athlete with such an amazing and accomplished running pedigree begin his prep for Badwater?
By running?
By learning how to MOVE through our Gait Analysis.

Our hope is that every athlete learns how important it is to begin their own epic journey–whether it be taking on a 5K or Badwater–with solid functional strength, and stable movement that is the foundation for conquering your hopes and dreams. Let’s hear what Jason learned from the experience in this video.

Best of luck, Jason! We’ll all be cheering!

Meet Our Athletes: Ultrarunning Champ Debbie Livingston

Debbie Livingston, Laurel Highlands Ultra, Pursuit Athletic Performance, ultra runHello Everyone!

It is my true pleasure to introduce you to one of the outstanding athletes I coach, ultrarunning champion Debbie Schieffer Livingston. I think you will really enjoy this interview as we cover a host of topics including how Debbie prepares for running distances up to 100 miles, how she recovers, her thoughts on the value of functional strength training (hint: she says it makes a “huge difference”), fueling and hydration, and the mental challenges she faces when running such long distances.

Debbie has been running ultras for more than a decade. She is equipped with with a wealth of experience and broad perspectives. Plus, she is the nicest person you could ever meet!

We filmed this interview in the Massachusetts Berkshires at the Mt. Graylock Trail Races Half Marathon where Debbie was third woman overall. That’s impressive enough, but what is truly mind blowing is that she did the Mt. Graylock race only SIX DAYS after her record-breaking performance at the Laurel Highlands 70.5 Ultra! In that race, Debbie smashed a 22-year course record by 12 minutes! (You can see her Laurel Highlands race report here.) Her results tell you this is an athlete who has learned how to put all the pieces together.

Debbie is truly an elite athlete, but as you listen I think you will see that issues regarding smart training, recovery, strength work, flexibility, fueling, and taking the long view apply to all of you too. At least that is how we guide and train ALL our athletes at Pursuit Athletic Performance, whether you are breaking records or gearing up for your first 5K.

Enjoy the interview. And wait until you hear what she has planned for the rest of the season!!! ~ Coach Al