3 Months to 50K – Featuring Simple, Smart, on-the-go Coaching from Inside November Project

Earlier this year I trained for and finished my first 50K. It was a small race in Baraboo, WI called Dances With Dirt. It was awesome. It was hot, it was long, and I have never been that tired at a finish line in my life. Again, it was awesome. With more and more Co-Leaders and NP members from around the world signing up for the Endurance Challenge Series (ECS) races, I wanted to get more on my game as I aimed at the final race of the year. Though the ECS by The North Face has three more stops in 2016 (Wisconsin & Utah both this month), I’m getting more and more updates that California, the final stop, is going to be huge. Yes, the event is what The North Face calls the Championships because all the pros show up, there is a giant prize dripping with cash & chocolate & fame on the line, and simple because the location is just outside of San Francisco. But something new is happening this year. As NP plans, as usual, to takeover the Marathon Relay with teams of 2 to 4 people who will share the 4 loops that add up to 26 miles, more and more of us are signed up to race 50K. Why? Don’t ask why, just keep reading.

So, after a year of training that has been pretty all over the place and travel that makes getting miles in even harder, I’ve decided to recruit some of the industries best to make these next three months as effective as I can. The four coaches below are from inside the NP movement and are all personal friends of mine. Each has a lot to offer and knows their world best. Using the simple week to week advice, I plan to get my miles in, eat the best shit possible (you eat pieces of shit for breakfast?!), avoid injury, stay strong, and keep track of the ups and downs as they come. The night before the big race on 12/3/2016 I’ll post the notes that I’ve taken each day and put it all out there for the world to see (even though it may just end of being JonBits, Deniz & I who actually read through all the chick scratch). Training is fun, racing is more fun, but like many of you out there, the consistency can STILL be the hardest part. Feel free to find and follow these 4 influencers on social media, experience them in person, and learn what makes them tick. I hope you enjoy the long journey to a long race.

I’ve broken the four coaches down into the basic; “Miles” by run coach and NYC Co-Leader John Honerkamp, “Nutrition” by cooooore NP Boston member and food guru Micah Risk, “Strength” by former Harvard strength & conditioning coach and current NP Boston Co-Leader Emily Saul, and “Injury Prevention” by Boston’s finest soft tissue master, “The Leg Whisperer,” Dr. Ian Nurse. Click on them, follow them, join their communities. These are my people, my friends, my fellow leaders, and I’m going to use their giant brains full of industry experience and personal know-how to prepare myself as best as I can.

The Challenge – Get in the miles needed to feel good while running 50K and attempt to post a faster 50K then the one in July. Sub 5 hours is my goal. Beating Lauren Padula, Lauren McCloskey, and maybe even Lauren Winkler of Seattle are also smaller goals I have in mind. That’s right, beat the Lauren’s. I learned about racing and hydration and how to keep moving at Dances With Dirt. I’m hoping to use John’s advice to get me more miles and the right kinds of runs each week.

Coach John’s Simple Advice:

Key run each week is the LONG RUN. Once you get to 10-12 miles for your long run, I like alternating each week with a high and low long run. So, like this:

10-12-14-10-16-10-18-20-10- etc.

Now you don;t have to go up by 2 miles each alternating week. You can do more. You can also go by minutes which I recommend. BG: “I did a 2 hour run this weekend for my long run, I’m going to do 60-75 min next week and then go 2:15 or 2:30 the following week. I’m killing it!”

As for the spice or the speed. I like the spice. Speedwork gets you fitter and faster and also help you sort out your paces (internal clock) I also get bored of just running. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. Doping speed is fun and also breaks up the monotony of just going for runs.

I like doing speed once a week, typically on Tuesdays. The track is the best place for this, but you don’t need a track. You can also do hill repeats for speed. I like do a tempo every other week and I consider and race I do a tempo since I am old and no longer race. I run as fast as I can as even as I can. It ends up being a hard tempo. .

So, your typical week: 4 days

1 Long run
2 NP’s
1 Speed / Spice

Coach John

The Challenge – On the road, on the go, I need to eat a ton of food. I was able to grab Micah’s attention for this coaching project by going vegan for 9 days. I was light headed, hungry every single second, and nearly pooped my pants multiple times a day from all the veggies, tofu, and non-rule breaking foods. I asked a waiter at a diner if there was butter in something, I usually just didn’t eat so that I could “stay on track,” and didn’t dive into a cookbook to make some of the amazing dishes that vegans rave about. It just wasn’t going to work. Vegan is a stretch for me, but taking advice from the woman behind Lighter Culture, who’s a mom, who’s fast, has great ink, and has been caught on the front of Runners World Magazine (2-time cover model) is something I’m finally ready to do – Made vegan jokes for years up until this point… and now I’ve come crawling back to Mama Risk for 50k help.

Micah’s Simple Guide:

“BG– It’s pretty simple. Eat more calories. Eat lots of food. More than you normally would. You’re moving a lot more now and your body needs extra nourishment and fuel. The number one reason people stop eating vegan or plant-based is because they don’t eat enough calories, which leaves them feeling unsatisfied, unsatiated, and even feeling weak. This is NOT inherent to the plant-based lifestyle, as some might suggest. In fact, you can look to many elite athletes that are crushing it on a 100% plant-based diet. Novak Djokovic, ultrarunner Scott Jurek, and even the strongest man in the world Patrik Baboumian all eat plant-based!
The thing is, vegan food is usually more nutrient dense but NOT more calorie dense than food sourced from animals. Especially if you’re eating the good stuff (that’s beans, lentils, grains, veggies, fruit). So again, I can not stress it enough– eat more calories! No matter what you like eating, there are plenty of plant-based versions of that food to try. Vegan food is everywhere now. It’s all about the adventure of finding what you like.

I am totally in support of the “veganish” or “part-time vegan” thing. The best part about eating high-quality vegan food is that you’re eating more anti-inflammatory foods. That’s great for speeding up recovery, and you will need the extra advantage on your busy schedule. Also, lots of popular vegan foods like lentils, beans, and soy in particular have MORE protein per calorie than meat products. That’s more bang for your buck! And that means …. eat more food to get more calories! Which also means more protein. And none of the bad shit – no cholesterol, low saturated fat, and all the vitamins, minerals and fiber that make everything in your body work better. The more efficient your body is at at getting fuel and supporting the mechanisms that help you run faster, the better your training will go.

For my first bit of practical advice- seek out restaurants and food from regions like the Middle East and Southeast Asia for veg food. Plant-based proteins are used more frequently in cuisines from those regions, plus they’re generally inexpensive and provide generous portions. Have fun!”

Risk Laughing


I ride bikes. I attend NPSD. I love to run trail as training. So, when it comes to being strong in the legs, glutes, flutes, & toots, I am seeking help from Emily Saul, Co-Leader of NP Boston. She has that BG disease, where if you ask her about a topic she’s hyped on, she’ll go on and on. Below are the key, but not simple movements, that she’s suggested. My email inbox had a video or two for each movement, as well as a warmup and the reps/sets for each. As the reader, I’m going to break it down with just the names of each. Below are movements 1-5 to build stronger legs for 12/3/16. Got questions? Reach out to Saul.

Emily Sual comes to the NP family with a background in college rowing, powerlifting, & more than one American Gladiator audition under her thick, leather, lifting built (for those of you born after 1995, American Gladiator was the original American Ninja Warrior with more hair, better names, & mandatory unisuits that only come in red, white, & blue. Do your homework here, then rejoin this odd blogpost).

Movement 1:

Hip Raises (glutes & posterior chain) Do one or the other–SLHR is scaled up from Standard.

  • Standard. 3-5 sets x 10-12 reps.
  • Single Leg Hip Raises. 3-5 sets x 10-12 reps each leg.

Movement 2:

Squats or OH Squats. Do one or the other–these are nice to alternate because it gives some variation.

  • Overhead Squats (body weight or weighted with your small duffle bag) 3 x 20-30. You can also optionally do half of the set OH, and half of it regular back squat.
  • Tempo Squats 3 x 20. Do half the set with a 5 sec negative, 1 sec drive up. Do other half of the set at 1 sec tempo up/down.

Movement 3:

Lunge Circuit (the circuit can be arranged however you want–see options) You can also play with repetitions due to lack of additional weight.

  • All Right leg: front lunge, reverse lunge, lateral lunge. Then all Left Leg: front, reverse, lateral. Then Sumo Squat in the middle. Repeat x10 (increase reps and/or add weight to scale up as this gets easy.)
    *If I know you at all, you’ll do your Lunges in the airport –you’ll “subtly” be doing walking lunges with your TNF bag up over your head right next to the moving walkway while talking shit and making friends with the people getting zero fitness as they ride the conveyor belt. By the end of the walkway they’ll be doing lunges too. Amiright? (That’s a #challenge!)

Movement 4:

Single Leg Squats. Do one or the other based on what is available to you and for variation.

  • Standard. 3 x 8-12 each leg. (when you have a box/very sturdy chair/ or edge of a higher level like a wall or planter)
  • Pistol Squats. 3 x 8-12 each leg. (when you’re standing on the floor because that’s all you’ve got)

Movement 5:

Slide Leg Curls (hamstring, glutes). These are never easy–but if you end up needing to scale up, do single leg.

You need two paper plates on carpet or linoleum floor, or anything slide-y like a small towel on a smooth, non-carpet surface.  3 x 8-10 reps.



Ian Nurse is the brilliant mind & body behind Wellness In Motion Boston, the soft tissue sports chiropractic spot that aims at keeping athletes moving. I swear by this man as I’ve been pushing the nickname “Leg Whisperer” for years. Ian is the guy who drops a 2:25 marathon at Boston and still gets to Summit Ave to throwdown with the tribe. He trains 14 times a week when he’s getting ready, and he races to win when he’s ready (You’ll see him breaking tape at the local Tory Row 5K as well at the 2016 Seaweeze 1/2 Marathon in Vancouver, N-B-D). Ian’s guidance & opinion comes from a place of having dealt with injuries of all kinds and he kept it simple:

“I find with runners if you give them too many exercises, they won’t do them. Also because most runners don’t belong to a gym, they need to have exercises that they can do at home. I actually wrote an article for running magazine with these exercises highlighted and I think you may find it useful. But in terms of recovery, I think the key to staying healthy is regular body work. I think you need to really treat yourself to sports massage every two weeks when you’re training. There are limits to what you can do on a foam roller and usually you need someone else to dig to break up the scar tissue that forms. Ice baths, regular foam rolling and Normatec use are all awesome too, but usually you need deeper stuff to stay healthy. I see my own ART (Active Release Technique) chiropractor once a week and also get a sports massage every two weeks.”

And if you are interested in more movements from the Dr., please click here.

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3 Replies to “3 Months to 50K – Featuring Simple, Smart, on-the-go Coaching from Inside November Project”

  1. Awesome plan dude! One thing I would add that is specific to ultras and longer trail races is the back-to-back long run. This doesn’t happen every week, but once you establish your base, but before you peak, you will want to throw in a couple weekends that add up to 30-35 miles. The first one might be an 18 on Saturday with a 12 on Sunday, whereas the last one (right before peaking) could be 20 and 15. The emphasis on the Sunday run is just to get out and run for a while on tired legs with no pace expectations. Ideally, both of these runs are on similar terrain to what you will be racing on. Can’t wait to see you crush!

  2. Great post! I started NPSD in June and of course because of all the hype am contemplating the 50k. I’ve never conquered that distance on the road or trail. I’m going to see how my body responds in the next month. This is a good guide for training. Thanks! 

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