All Posts by Megan Janssen

Protein bars have their purpose in an athlete’s healthy diet. While whole-food sources tend to be the gold standard for nutrition, protein bars pack a lot of punch for their size and ease. Because they contain carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals in a small treat, they can be used as convenient workout fuel or as a recovery tool. However, knowing what kind of bar is best for your needs and workouts is key.

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The race director greeted me as I walked up to the two orange cones that marked a starting line in Telluride Town Park. His event would begin in 15 minutes, but only a small number of runners were hanging out. I recognized no one, thank goodness. I didn’t want anyone I know to witness my potential blowup.

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Trail Runner’s sister publication, Rock and Ice, is seeking a qualified Advertising Manager. The Advertising Manager is responsible for Rock and Ice print and digital sales accounts, prospecting and securing new advertising sales in all media including print and digital editions of Gym Climber, and developing new revenue opportunities.

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Morgan Sjogren, aka “The Running Bum,” spends most of her time running around in wild places. A lover of public lands, literature and trail running, she dedicates her life to increasing awareness about public spaces in the U.S. she feels need protecting, reading, writing, running and living out of her Jeep. To master this nomadic lifestyle, she’s had to get creative with her cooking. Here are our favorite excerpts from her new book, Outlandish.

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Hardrock 100, Western States Endurance Run, Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc… Most folks in the trail-running community have heard of the sport’s most iconic races. It might come as a surprise, then, to learn about an event that mostly flies under the radar and has attracted many of the sport’s most competitive athletes for its 2019 edition. The Santa Barbara Nine Trails Ultra is an old-school, 35-mile, climb-heavy race in Santa Barbara County—and it is stacked.

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Jim Walmsley absolutely destroyed the competition and the course record at the 2018 Western States 100. Rather than kicking back and enjoying the win, however, Walmsley, 29, a professional trail runner based in Flagstaff, Arizona, needed to quickly return to training for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) just two months later. While he started out strong in UTMB, he eventually took a DNF, his legs drained of all energy.

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Road marathon training is fascinating because athletes at the top level are exploring the outer limits of their potential. There are no shortcuts to top performance. In training, a top marathoner needs to go all-in.

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Winter brings about a wonderful set of outside options for having fun with your dog. Running, hiking, snowshoeing and skiing are fun activities for our hounds and provide new mental and physical challenges that help them become more heathy, confident, balanced, calm dogs.

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With less than three hours until the start of The Yukon Arctic Ultra, billed as the “Coldest and Toughest Ultra in the world,” I am in panic mode.

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Always in need of easy, healthy recipes, we went in search of some tasty meals that are straightforward, robust and different. We found three from the new book, SIMPLE GREEN MEALS © by Jen Hansard, whom you may remember from the green smoothie craze.

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You have questions, he has answers. We recently interviewed the elite trail runner Rob Krar, winner of the 2015 Western States 100 Endurance Run, 2015 Run Rabbit Run, 2015 Leadville 100 and 2018 Leadville 100. Beyond his trail mastery, Krar is known for being open about his depression and life struggles. Here is our version of “Ask Me Anything” with Krar.

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Whether you’re mid training cycle, on pause for winter cross training or straight off the couch, trail half marathons are a great way to get your momentum amped for the rest of the season.

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Just past the Green Lakes Aid Station, about 18 miles into New Zealand’s Tarawera 100 Mile Ultra on February 8th, 2019, Jeff Browning, 47, of Logan, Utah, was on a mini walking break, messing with his soft-flask cap. He was in 2nd place and had a comfortable gap on Zac Marion, 33, of North Logan, Utah, 2nd-place finisher at the 2018 Tushars Mountain Marathon and winner of the 2018 Bryce Canyon 50 Miler, and was a beat behind fellow American Camille Herron, 37, who splits her time between Alamosa, Colorado, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is overall holder of the 100-Mile, 12-Hour and 24-Hour world records in speed and distance, respectively.

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Always in need of easy, healthy recipes, we went in search of some tasty meals that are straightforward, robust and different. We found three from the new book, SIMPLE GREEN MEALS © by Jen Hansard, whom you may remember from the green smoothie craze.

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Runner’s knee (clinically called patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS) is extremely common in all types of runners, particularly those who are new to running or ramping up their training schedule.

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Always in need of easy, healthy recipes, we went in search of some tasty meals that are straightforward, robust and different. We found three from the new book, SIMPLE GREEN MEALS © by Jen Hansard, whom you may remember from the green smoothie craze.

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Taking my place on a blanket surrounded by bags and coolers, I immediately learned the most prevalent aspect of any crewing experience: waiting.

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Rene Villalobos is less than halfway through the 2016 Rocky Raccoon 100 in Huntsville State Park, Texas, when the pain in his back returns. A year earlier, he had fallen on a patch of black ice late at night during Arkansas’ Run LOVit 100K and slipped a disk. The doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to run long distance anymore but, well, here he was.He grimaces as pain shoots up his back. Soon the sun will sink beneath the canopy of oak trees and sweet gums overhead and out of sight. Villalobos uses a few unprintable words to gripe to his “friend” Sal (James Salvador), an Italian ultrarunner who encouraged Villalobos to quit dropping the F-bomb on long miserable runs and find the joy in running.

“Look at this and this and this,” he would tell Villalobos, pointing at the scenery. “And don’t worry about anything else. Enjoy it! This is all a gift.”

Salvador had passed away nearly 10 years prior, in April 2002, during a low-risk planned surgery. He and Villalobos had been running together for 20 years by that time, and were planning to run several ultras together in the coming weeks. Instead, Villalobos found himself and his sister, Clara, with Salvador’s family as the priest read his last rites.

Villalobos says he’s “not really too much into superstition.” He doesn’t have pre-race rituals or lucky socks. But he does have a lot of running buddies like Salvador who have passed away over the years, and he still communicates with them.

“That’s probably about the weirdest thing I do,” he says. “I always say, ‘Well, I’m going to take my angels for a run today.’”

Miles on Miles

Rene Villalobos (who pronounces his name “Rain-E,” with a delightful Texan twang), 59, of Fort Worth, Texas, is not your typical runner-looking dude. He has dark skin, bronzed by hours in the sun, salt-and-pepper hair and a goatee to match; until a few years ago, he weighed over 200 pounds and possessed a hefty paunch.But looks may be deceiving in his case. Villalobos has run over 350 ultras, and over 150 100-milers. At one point, he ran nine 100-mile races in nine weeks. Counting unofficial races, by August 14, 2018 Villalobos says he had run 1,117 marathons. On the Mega Marathon List, he is ranked number five, with 1000 official marathon finishes. Let those stats sink in.

“Trying to explain Rene is almost as difficult as trying to explain trail running,” says Joe Prusaitis, the former longtime owner and race director of Tejas Trails, a collection of respected Texas races that includes Rocky Raccoon. Prusaitis has a long history of racing with and hosting Villalobos at races. “And I think the more you understand trail running, the more you would understand Rene.”

While not a household name or podium contender, Villalobos epitomizes a passionate approach to trail running. His training weeks might make even the pros blanch (see page 62 for Villalobos’s weekly running schedule), especially because, for over 30 years, he worked digging ditches and fixing pipes as a plumber, often in 110-degree Texas heat, before going on his weekday runs.

Things changed in 2004 when he got a job as Master Inspector for his hometown of Fort Worth. While he appreciates the air conditioning, being what he calls a “blue-collar runner” makes him proud, and he still does plumbing jobs for friends on the side.
“Once a plumber always a plumber,” he says. “Kind of like once a runner …”

Villalobos’ house is spartan—there’s no TV and few wall decorations.

“You know what minimize is?” Villalobos asks. “That’s me. Anything I have over a year, I get rid of it.”

The exceptions are his race bibs, including marathon-and-under bibs and medals, dispersed throughout his home like tiny monuments to his countless miles.

True Grit

During the 2016 Rocky Raccoon, Villalobos is using his best sailor mouth to complain to his angels, and “they just sit there laughing,” he says. “They’re probably saying, you paid for it, you dummy, why you out there? You ain’t got nobody to blame but yourself.”The Rocky Raccoon is made up of four 25-mile loops. It’s getting dark by the time volunteers and spectators catch sight of a Hispanic guy using a thick stick as a cane, moving slowly into the clearing. He’s obviously struggling—his stride is off, and he’s using the stick only halfway into the race. But he doesn’t stop. Villalobos hobbles back into the woods for his third lap, and, when he emerges again, he goes right on for the fourth.

Volunteers watch with concern and hope. The finish line looks increasingly like a ghost town as people pack up and go home.

In the woods, Villalobos repeatedly thumps the stick beside him like a third leg, occasionally griping to Sal, when no one else is around. He shuffles down the singletrack, over little wooden bridges, through brush and pine needles and endless roots as the sun rises.

“Pine trees and roots, that’s all it is,” Villalobos says. “What happens is you do four laps, and on the last lap all the roots have grown a foot.”

When he exits toward the finish for the last time, he is hunched over his stick, barely taking steps. He looks like he’s aged several years in a single night. In the miles since the last aid station, he’s fallen 20 minutes behind the cut-off time.

But he has “finished.” Racers and volunteers have tears in their eyes as he crosses the line. He doesn’t get an official finish time, but the race organizers give him a finisher’s belt, “because they said I was tough,” Villalobos says.

“When he sets out to do something, he just finishes it,” Villalobos’s running buddy Gerardo (Gerry) Ramirez says. “We’ve been through some races, in snow, like knee-deep snow, races where we’re drenched in mud; we’ve been hailed on, but I’ve learned not to give up because of him.”

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I was running a remote section of the Cold Spring trail last summer, deeper into Los Padres National Forest (just outside Santa Barbara, California) than I’d ever ventured, when an unmistakable slither undulated laterally across the singletrack at the very bottom of my peripheral vision.

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I’m not saying my wife ran out on me, my Chevy died and I got thrown by a bull. But as if in a country-music song, pretty much everything else went wrong at a trail 100 in Colorado cowboy country.

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“The same mountains. The same hut system. We both grew up in New England. We both went to Middlebury College.

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Trail running is one of the best ways to stave off the effects of aging. It keeps our cardiovascular systems young, our brains healthy and it even keeps cartilage intact. And yet, according to the Arthritis Foundation, over half of us will experience some age-related joint degeneration, like osteoarthritis, during our lives.

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Racing on technical trails is fundamentally different than racing on roads. Uneven footing, steep hills and tight turns are seldom seen in road races but are frequent challenges in trail races. The more you can practice these types of challenges, even if you don’t have adequate access to trails, the more equipped you’ll be on race day.

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Winning mountain, ultra and trail runner Emelie Forsberg approaches every race with grit, grace and a smile. Considering her race results, including wins at The Rut 50K, Kendall Mountain Run, Transvulcania, Mount Marathon Race, Hamperokken Skyrace and Matterhorn Ultra to name a few, as well as setting impressive FKTs, including her recent on the Kungsleden Trail in Sweden, the approach seems to be working.

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Within the first 24 hours of her 136-mile Annapurna Circuit mission, Suzanne “Sunny” Stroeer had to go to the well. She’d only started the Himalayan mountain loop 48 hours after the thought of running it first crossed her mind. To have a shot at the women’s Fastest-Known Time (FKT—the standing record was 4 days 14 hours 43 minutes), Stroeer knew she needed to cover more than 40 miles of the bone-chilling, quad-burning, high-altitude terrain by the end of her second day.

People Q&amp As

Jon Glaser, a comedian you may know from shows such as Parks and Recreation, Late Night With Conan O’Brien or Girls, has debuted a new show dedicated to the absurdity of the gear culture: Jon Glaser Loves Gear. The catch is, Glaser, 50, of Brooklyn, New York, is actually gear obsessed.

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Montana’s mountains are, in a word, legendary. With nearly 3,000 peaks, 250 of which are over 10,000 feet, and over 27-million acres of public land, the state offers nearly endless adventures. But it’s equally easy to get lost and overwhelmed by the sheer number of options.

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For 42 years, the Escarpment Run has been both a staple and a bit of an outlier in the trail-running scene in the Northeast. An 18-mile race over a very challenging course on a variety of surfaces, it requires speed, strength, the ability to run over technical terrain and skills for steep climbing and descending.

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Technology makes it easier than ever to log a myriad of running metrics: weekly mileage, average pace per mile, mean heart rate, maximum heart rate and more. There’s no shortage of numbers to track and training targets to aim for. Given our unprecedented access to data, it stands to reason that you’d know your body better than ever. But do you really?

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