Knowing that top female ultrarunner Krissy Moehl would be stopping in St. Louis soon during a promotional tour for her new book, “Running Your First Ultra,” we jumped at the chance to sit down with her and get some background about the 240-page guide, her coaching efforts, and how she has racked up more 100 race finishes and 46 female wins over the past 13 years.
If reading our interview with her isn’t enough, you can meet Moehl for yourself from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, October 7, at International Tap House on 16 South Euclid Avenue in the Central West End. She will be signing copies of her book (available on-site for $23, cash or credit card) and then will be sticking around on October 8 to run in the Rockin’ Rockwoods 20K/53K the following morning. Join her on the trail by registering here.
Through the pages of the “Running Your First Ultra,” Moehl becomes your coach to completing a 50k, 50-mile or 100-mile race. Her experience translates into an effective and easy-to-follow training method, broken down into phases to help all runners take it to the next level and accomplish their goals. She shares her love of the sport by providing helpful tips, bonus content and personal stories.
What made you decide to write a book?
I’d been working on a personal collection of stories when I was approached by Page Street Publishing to write a how-to book. I’m so positively impacted by the first-time ultrarunners that I’ve coached over the years that I asked to write a book that would help people prepare for their first ultra.
How long did it take you to write it?
I had an 11-page, detailed table of contents written as a part of the proposal. I signed a contract just before Christmas 2014 and submitted the first draft of my manuscript in February 2015. It was a focused process for those two months.
Are the training plans in the book similar to those you follow?
It was difficult to write set-in-stone training plans. I work with my athletes on a week-by-week basis and evolve their plans as life impacts and dictates. I hope what I put into the book allows and encourages people to find the flexibility in their training to adapt to life, and visa versa, when necessary. My own training plans and the ones I write for my clients are similar in workouts, structure and building, but the most important part is that people create something that they’ll do and that works for them.
How does someone know if they’re ready for an ultra?
I don’t know that you truly know. There’s importance to having confidence in your training and preparations, respect for the distance and even some nervousness at the start line. The only way you’ll know is if you try and finish. Also the unknowing, I think, is a big part of why we line up for races. If we knew the outcome, what would be the intrigue?
Is there a “mantra” you go to or use when self-doubt sneaks in?
I continually check in on what I need to do to keep moving forward. It’s not really a mantra, but it’s a way of being that helps me keep moving forward.
What’s your favorite story from long-distance races?
So many great stories! I really enjoyed our eight-day run around Mt. Kilimanjaro in October 2012 for the simplicity of running beautiful miles and eating great food every day. With those being the focus, many wonderful experiences arise: like running with Masai warriors, listening to children drum and sing, raw conversations and new friendships.
What are your top three recovery tips or techniques after a 100-mile race?
Nutrition. Massage. Acupuncture. Hot and cold water therapy. That’s four, but they’re all important.
You’re a strong advocate for women in this sport, what would be the one thing you’d tell women competing in ultras?
Run your heart out! Run your best race and know that doing so will push other women (and men) to run their best effort. There are no gimmes. We’re all out there to see what we can do and what is physically possible. Motivate each other, because in doing so, you’ll motivate yourself.
How do you train/plan for longer adventure runs or stage races?
I really believe that life continues to prepare me for these efforts. The more years I put into the sport, the more I’m able to try and see what is possible. The Tahoe Rim Trail FKT [Fastest Known Time] last year was a perfect example. I was sick the first half of September. The training I did leading up to Tahoe Rim Trail was helpful, but it was the 15 years of running races and events all over the world that really made that effort possible.
Following your Tahoe FKT last year, what advice would give someone entertaining the idea of a FKT and how to prep for something like that?
Prepare as much as possible. From crews, to time charts, to course knowledge, to GPS trackers, to gear, to training, to…. Every piece is important. When it’s time to start, you have to have complete trust in your planning and arrive to just run. Stop planning. If there’s crew involved, you have to trust that they’ll execute what you prepared. Finally, you have to have flexibility to roll with whatever comes your way that day: the weather, your period, a flat tire on the crew vehicle. Things will come up. It’s how you deal with them that will define your run.
How do you train your brain for longer multi-day races?
I’ve only done a few multi-day races, and when I have the opportunity to train back-to-back-to-back, I focus on being very present. Prior to the event or block of training, I try to eliminate any external/life stress that might impact the days. Have grocery shopping, laundry, emails, bills, etc., done so that I can primarily focus on running and recovering. Being able to be present in the running is what makes it the most enjoyable. It’s when I’m worried about other factors, and not present in the experience, that I’m less successful.
Author: Brad Kovach is the editor of Terrain magazine