Photo by Joel Wolpert

Photo by Joel Wolpert

By Guest Contributor TJ Hooks

Montana feels distinctively wild, while driving across the state, I was given the impression that this was one of those unique places which may never truly be tamed, no matter how hard we may try.

Of course, The Rut’s host, Big Sky Resort, tries extremely hard to convey that concept; inhospitable  mountains domesticated for our comfort. Breakfast buffets, soft beds and wifi amidst brown bears, bison and snow-capped peaks.

It’s strange, because that seems to be the antithesis of The Rut, where Big Sky brings comfort to us, The Rut strips it away. Roads and trams connect to every destination, but runners take the trails, and sometimes don’t even have that luxury. Taking the straightest (and steepest) route is common, even if that means boulder-hopping up an 11,000′ peak.



When it comes to race day nutrition just keep it simple.


If your race is less than 90 minutes, you probably don’t need to eat on the run.  If it is hot and/or humid you can drink some water or electrolyte drink along the course, but proper training, a balanced breakfast a few hours before the start, and regular hydration leading up to the event should get you through a 15 to 90 minute run or race without the need for additional aid.


After 90 minutes of continuous aerobic activity, your body runs out of glycogen stores (carbohydrates – sugars & starches) and starts relying on available fat and protein to fuel itself.  The reason people hit the wall or bonk between 90 and 120 minutes into an aerobic effort is because they have run out of glycogen (sugars & starches) and/or electrolytes (salt, potassium, etc.).  The body is trying, but not as efficient at using fats and proteins as its primary fuel source.  Essentially, the body is feeding off itself which is why it doesn’t feel good and why your ability to perform diminishes. [..]


As an athlete my goals are always long-term: What can I do now so that I still enjoying running decades from now?

As a coach with athletes from all over the world, of all ages, abilities, and aspirations, I am often asked for general guidelines to lead them toward their long term goals.

I generally say that each athlete is different and it is important for us to find what works best for them.

That being said, there are a few general training principles that are applied universally from the most consistent athletes and coaches in the sport.

The following ten tips are good for all athletes to keep in mind, particularly people just getting started, coming back from time away, or are frequently injured.

Volume Intensity Equilibrium
Volume/Intensity Equilibrium over the course of a training cycle



These are general principles that can be applied to most people.  However, there are bound to be exceptions to each of these rules.


As I said before, these should provide a good starting point for beginning runners, runners coming back from time off, or runners struggling with regular injuries.


Regardless of the age, experience level, or ability of the athlete it is important for athletes and coaches to work together to find what works best for them.  Finding the right balance of stress, rest, and stimulus will be the key to your long term success.


 Bust of JakeJacob Puzey is a professional runner & USATF certified coach for McMillan Running Company residing in Flagstaff, Arizona.  To learn more about training and racing, check out the other articles Jacob has written on his personal blog www.jacobpuzey.com.  To begin working with Jacob as a coach visit McMillan Running Company and sign up for personal coaching.

An Historic Hardrock through the lens of TJ Hooks

July 11th, 2014

5:50 a.m.

Elev. 9,318′

Silverton, CO

Silverton High School is in chaos. A nervous, excitable chaos humming with two hundred impatient voices; runners, crew, family, spectators, and cameramen. Lots of cameramen. (Do they prefer  Cinematographers? Filmmakers?  Guys with cameras?)


6:00 a.m.

Elev. 9,318′

Silverton, CO

Run!!! Oooh, look! It’s Julian Chorier and Kilian. There’s Jeff Browning!

As Dale Garland said at the pre-race conference, “About ten of the top fifty Ultrarunners in the world are racing in this year’s Hardrock.”


Watching the first few seconds of a race is always a unique experience.  A florescent stream of runners, each individual melding with each other, each with different objectives, paces, and thoughts, following the same trail.  After a quick breakfast, Marco Zuniga, Dan Gable and I load into Marco’s car and get a head start to Island Lake. [..]


Managing the tempo run: One of the most essential, yet most challenging workouts for runners to do correctly is the tempo run.  Whether it be lack of long stretches of flat terrain without stoplights, high heat, or the inability of the athlete to run at or near their lactate threshold without going over it, the tempo run is often a frustrating experience for athlete and coach alike.  

Athletes tend to either run too fast or too slow, essentially losing the benefits of the workout – to build endurance and increase lactate threshold by working in or just below that specific heart rate zone.  While heart rate monitors can be helpful in learning what tempo effort should feel like, not all athletes have access to such technology and most need to take a stepping stone approach to be able to handle a standard 20 minute tempo run. 


Cruise Intervals: One means of preparing athletes for continuous tempo efforts while producing similar stimulus is breaking the tempo efforts down into shorter, more manageable cruise intervals.  Cruise intervals allow the athlete to get in the desired volume of quality running, while providing regular feedback about pace.  In fact, cruise intervals often provide opportunities to cover more ground than the athlete otherwise could at the same pace if running continuously.


Georgetown 400s: One of my favorite cruise interval workouts is known as Georgetown 400s.  Georgetown 400s get their name from the former Georgetown University middle distance program notorious for transforming athletes with shorter distance speed into mid-distance superstars.  When they started, many of the athletes could not do a 4 mile tempo run so their coach, Francis Gagliano, had them start doing short cruise intervals to help build their stamina.  They already had the speed.  They just needed to learn to extend it.  Georgetown 400s helped them blend their speed with endurance and the results were astounding. [..]


Memorial Day weekends don’t get much more memorable than this past Memorial Day weekend.  After years of working with several athletes, I was able to witness some of them run lifetime bests and place higher than they ever had at the Oregon State High School Track & Field Championships.  Few things in life are more rewarding than seeing those who work hard toward a goal, reap the rewards of their labors.


Hugging my athletes after their final race as high schoolers.

Hugging my athletes after their final race as high schoolers.  Photo by Kimberly Macias.

This particular state meet was special to me because it will be my last as a high school coach for some time.  After a decade of coaching high schoolers in Hawaii and Oregon, and with the addition of our second child, my wife and I determined it was time for us to dedicate more time to our own children and not be on the road coaching high school athletes quite as much.  While this last state meet meant three days and long nights away from my family, it was worth the final sacrifice to be there and witness the performances. [..]

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