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Pace Chart Tutorial || Step 1: Landmarks & course data

By Andrew Skurka / June 14, 2017 /

Unless you have created a pace chart for an ultra marathon before or found a template online, the process begins with a blank spreadsheet. Personally, I use Google Sheets, a free platform that is easily shareable and that I can access from all of my devices (e.g. desktop, Chromebook, smartphone). Critical data I start by importing…

Tutorial: Create a pace chart for an ultra marathon

By Andrew Skurka / June 13, 2017 /

During every ultra marathon, I carry with me a homemade pace chart that looks something like this: My process and end-result continually evolve, due to past learnings and to the particularities of the next race. But I feel confident now in sharing a framework for creating a pace chart for an ultra marathon. Ultras versus…

Strength AND speed: 100-mile ultra training philosophy || Interview with David Roche

By Andrew Skurka / June 10, 2017 /

On Friday I toe the line for my second race of the year, the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. Like the Boston Marathon, Bighorn is an endurance running event. But the races are different animals in nearly all other respects. Most notably, Bighorn has 100 miles of singletrack and jeep roads, features 20,000 vertical feet of climbing, and reaches a…

Mailbox: My impact on crap

By Andrew Skurka / June 8, 2017 /

Recently, I received an email from Luke G., who had attended a gear & skills clinic at the flagship REI in Denver. It’s worth sharing: I field many emails from readers, most hoping to get some additional information, some expressing thanks for something that I had shared or done. But Felix’s story is one of…

No longer #snowpocalypse: Just an “average big winter” for the High Sierra

By Andrew Skurka / April 9, 2017 /

Through the beginning of March, California was having an extraordinary winter. Snowpack in the High Sierra was keeping pace with the wettest winter on record, 1982-83. If the trend had continued, conditions would have been very challenging for aspiring Pacific Crest and John Muir Trail hikers, due to extensive lingering snowpack and high run-off, probably…

A 526-word summary: The complete training cycle for road, trail & ultra running

By Andrew Skurka / April 8, 2017 /

Recently I have posted two excellent interviews with running coach David Roche: From Ultra(slow) to 2:3X Marathoner, and Dialing it in: Taper training for the Boston Marathon They’re long and rich, but not quick reads. To maximize their value, you might actually have to read them more than once. So for those just wanting an executive…

Dialing it in: Taper training for the Boston Marathon || Interview with David Roche

By Andrew Skurka / April 7, 2017 /

Last month I posted a comprehensive interview with running coach extraordinaire David Roche. If you have not read it already, you should — it is valuable context for this interview, in addition to having standalone value. Days after publishing it, I entered the last stage of my training for the Boston Marathon, which is April 17, a week from…

The trail is just a tool: Navigation skills, resources & gear for early-season backpacking

By Andrew Skurka / April 3, 2017 /

Even if your itinerary is entirely on-trail, you should expect an occasional off-trail experience when backpacking in the Mountain West in early-season conditions. On trade routes like the John Muir Trail, a continuous boot-track across lingering snow will develop by July, especially where the terrain funnels the foot traffic (e.g. at a pass). In less popular…

High water: Gear & skills for hazardous creek fords

By Andrew Skurka / March 17, 2017 /

Unbridged creek crossings are the greatest hazards in the early-season. High water volume (due to snowmelt) and steep gradients (due to mountain topography) is a dangerous combination. In comparison, other early-season conditions like sun cups, postholing, intense bugs and even hard snowfields seem like a mere annoyance or inconvenience. Let’s discuss how to safely manage…

Footwear & foot care for early-season conditions

By Andrew Skurka / March 14, 2017 /

What must you absolutely get right when selecting footwear for early-season conditions? As with every other season, they must fit. Period. All other footwear characteristics are secondary. However, if you get these right, too, you’ll be much better off than having a well-fitting shoe that never dries and performs poorly on snow. Boots & shoes “Waterproof”…