This is part three of a series curated by Freetrailer, Cody Jett. In this series Cody meets with the pros from our trail and ultra world to learn more about how they train, fuel, and race. He then gives it a go – copying their daily routine to shine a little light on how these athletes approach the sport.
“Take things one day at a time, Running is not always going to be fast, but consistency is key.”
Far too often the brain, heart, and body (don’t even get me started on pride) are not on the same page when you test your limits in an ultra-endurance event. Perhaps that’s because starting at a young age, we are told we do in fact have limitations – that the human body can only handle so much. When we are given these pre-determined limitations, many of us will listen and stop pushing our boundaries…but for a few, the word limitation does not seem to exist in their dictionary. Some seem to laugh in the face of doubt. They jump into the ultra-distance to prove that their ‘chicken legs’ can handle the mountains (their words, not mine). They continue to find longer distances and continue to push their boundaries. This internal drive leads them to complete 823.3 unnerving miles on the Ice Age Trail, in the process setting a new fastest known time (FKT) in 21 days 13 hours and 35 minutes.
Today, I will be pushing my own limits by taking on the Ultra Challenge: Day in The Life of an Ultra Pro Coree Woltering.
Coree Woltering has pushed his body to the max with his running adventures. In the process he has crushed some of the gnarliest ultra-races and captured some of the most intense FKTs. It makes us wonder what is tougher, the Bronco he uses to explore the world or Coree himself? Through these adventures Coree has made a name for himself and it makes us wonder what makes him tick? Is it his nutrition, his running workouts, or is it the massive amounts of coffee he drinks? Or maybe – is it just the phenomenal talent he was born with? Well today is the day to find out, as I try to copy Coree’s advice and set out on a run of my own.
My morning starts with Coree’s go-to breakfast, Kodiak Cake oatmeal cup. The simplicity of Kodiak Cake cups is welcomed since I am tackling today’s challenge on a workday and only have a finite amount of time to accomplish my morning run.
While I enjoy my oatmeal and review the workout, I prep my handheld with Gnarly Fuel2o. We are in the middle of a heatwave; I wasn’t about to let dehydration derail the day. I read over the workout plan one more time. A 20-minute warmup, 1/2/3/2/1/2/3/2/1 Fartlek run, followed by a 20-minute cooldown. The beauty about a workout like this is that you can do it anywhere you are; it doesn’t require a specific terrain. It’s also short and sweet and conveniently perfect for tempo Tuesday.
I crush what’s left of my oatmeal, kiss my Poppy girl good-bye and I head out the door. Full disclosure, I am not a huge fan of waking up early and catching some miles. I’d much rather catch more Z’s and run during lunch. But, alas, we are in the dog days of summer and a heatwave demands a predawn effort.
The run starts off casual, and since I know the hard effort is coming I use the 20-minute warmup to wake the body up, take some sunrise pictures, and stretch the legs. I get myself in the zone by repeating Coree’s mantra to myself “10 seconds at a time” which, if you think about it, you can do anything for 10 seconds. While I wish those 20 minutes could last forever, that’s just not in the cards. I quickly bust into the first 1-minute hard effort at ~7:00 min/mile pace. I run a hard effort but try not to overdo it and hurt myself.
To not lose count of reps I resort to using my fingers to count on the run. One, two, three. It might have been the elevated heart rate or the heat, but during this run I finally understood how Russel Crow felt in A Beautiful Mind – the numbers just spoke to me.
As I continue to pluck away at the fartlek run, my body is feeling better and better. The last couple hard efforts are getting faster hitting paces I once thought out of my ability didn’t feel as hard. I felt in a groove. During certain workouts, my body and mental state just feel lost but for some reason, I am at home with tempo workouts like this one. My mind and body just know what to do. Plus, when you run super-fast, the workout feels like it’s over before it starts.
After completing the interval block, I slide right into the 20-minute cool down. The more I run and learn about training, the better I understand the importance of these warm up and cool down miles. The cool down miles always feel like the cherry on top.
Once the cool down is completed, I sneak back into the house hoping not to wake up the kiddos. Then I quickly realize the time and remember that my kids don’t sleep in (one day, we keep telling ourselves). Quickly I’m welcomed home by my wife and three girls (see: two human girls, one puppy girl), I pour my first of many coffees.
One of the perks of doing A Day in The Life on a tempo Tuesday, is it’s a workday and I can allow the legs to recovery while I sit at my desk. While I usually have my desk in stand mode, today with recovery calve sleeves on sitting just felt right. While I typically run later in the day, I have to admit that morning runs really do sharpen my mind, and my work absolutely benefits from it.
Before I log in for the day, I enjoy a nice breakfast with the family (eggs, bacon, and Kodiak pancakes). Any meal with bacon always gets the Jett family approval. Like the workout, I wish breakfast could last all day but work was calling my name. Literally. My MS teams channel was ringing off the wall.
The rest of the afternoon goes by like a blur and soon I am clocking out, shutting the laptop, and snagging dinner from the one and only WAWA – IYKYK. A big bowel of rice, black beans, chicken, avocado and a plethora of veggies! Not my typical go to dinner, but not a bad way to get tons of protein in while being healthy.
As the day concludes, my wife and I tuck the kids into bed and prepare my nighttime snack. My first ever key lime pie experience with strawberry ice-cream. While I have never had key lime pie before, I now understand why my father in-law insist on it for his birthday every year.
While I wash down the desert with a non-alcoholic beer, I reflect on the day. I reflect on a hard workout where I surprised myself and what I might be capable of next time I lace up my shoes. After living a day as Coree Woltering I am starting to realize I want to start reassessing the limitations I have long believed to be fact. Maybe I’ll continue to take a page out of Coree’s book – and look at setting limitations, not as the finish line, but rather my new starting line.