When I was down in Melbourne conquering Mt Baw Baw I took the opportunity to pick the brains of Tristan "T-Bone" Miller, the man behind Run Like Crazy. This guy ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks, all around the world, including a couple of ultramarathons and some offroad events.
He's a cut (or two, actually probably three) above me in terms of speed but with the advent of his new Run Club, I figured he might be in the business of handing out some advice.
Back in February I emailed T-Bone about my lofty endurance running ambitions to find out: was Run Club just a running group or is he offering coaching now? He gave me his phone number and invited me to call. After a few rounds of phone tag, interrupted by both of us travelling overseas, I kind of let it go. I hardly knew this guy. He must have many people like me that he barely knows, get in contact with him, for all kinds of reasons. I didn't want to be one of *those* people.
So I thought it was a bit of a big call to just phone him up randomly, after time had passed, and say, "I'm here in Melbourne, do you have time to meet up?"
But SEG, who motivated me through climbing Baw Baw, questioned this logic. "He can only say no, right?"
Clearly, that's not how T-Bone rolls. He's passionate about motivating others to run. So of course he agreed to meet me for lunch the next day.
T-Bone's words of advice for a triathlete and aspiring endurance runner went something like this.
Don't run like a Thunderbird.T-Bone's theory is that because of the muscles triathletes use on the bike, they run very upright with a high cadence and short stride. (And reading between the lines, he refers to us as Thunderbirds because our forearms flap about a bit fairly uselessly.)
"If you run up hills like that you'll just topple backwards, back down the hill."
Ironically when I first started out in triathlon, I couldn't run standing up straight to save my life. My core was so weak that I hunched over terribly. One of my squad mates used to yell at me, every single run session, "stand up straight!"
I'm not holding out for a return to this kind of form, but T-Bone's observations are right. Watch Kona, then watch any of the major marathons. Triathletes don't have the same fluidity of a Kenyan marathoner.
Learn how to fallI'm actually pretty good at this. Find me a crack in the pavement and I'll trip over it...
I wish I was joking but I'm not. I'm so uncoordinated that the very thought of trail running raises my heart rate by a few beats per minute. I didn't tell T-Bone this. So his next proposal kind of terrified me.
"Do you have any hills near you? What you need to do is find a hill, on a trail, that goes for 2ks. Run up it, then run down it. Then run up it, and then down again.
"You can make up a lot of time on downhills. You need to learn to fall down hills. Trust that your feet will place themselves where they need to."
My brick runs off the bike at Mt Coot-tha will never be the same.
Walk with purposeOn the flip side of falling, T-Bone validated the walk/run strategy employed by many ultramarathoners.
"At some point when you're running up a hill you're going to realise that you could walk just as fast. So walk. But keep your pace up, don't just wander along."
That I can do. (Well, I say that now.)
Double or nothingWhile I hadn't been forthcoming about my fear of falling, when T-Bone asked me if I did any gym work, I was able to hand on heart say that I did a circuit, albeit outside and boot camp style, once a week.
"You're going to have to start doing that twice a week."
This really isn't going to be easy.
Don't cry on the start lineT-Bone has done some major ultramarathons, one of which I someday aspire to.
"There are people there just crying with the enormity of it. I don't know what that's about. Cry later, when it starts getting hard, or cry when it's done. Don't cry on the start line."
I'm not ashamed to tell anyone that I'm a serial start line cryer. So I admitted to this.
I think he still wants to be my friend...
T-Bone, call me maybe?