Newbie Cliff Notes

A Day in the Life10 Comments

Be prepared.

Walking at mile 75ish in the middle of the night…freezing to death.

Leadville Trail 100 2010

I got a message from Nathan:

I was wondering if you could provide any insights to this Leadville newbie about things you are going to do differently and mistakes you learned from in the past?

My first thought was….I blogged all that. Go read it. The race reports are long though. The discussion after goes on for weeks. Then I realized that there might be added value to putting out some cliff notes with some hindsight. So here is the essence of what I responded with. I didn’t take weeks to craft it. Just top of mind. Share yours in the comments.


I was probably at my fastest road-wise. I had done Boston months earlier in sub-3. But my main downfall was a few things:

+ Not enough long training runs. I just would always bonk at 3-4 hours and never really addressed it.

+ My hip. Injury bit me on race day. I was hurt going into it. Maybe taper more but it was pretty unavoidable.

+ I was not prepared to walk because I couldn’t run. So I developed massive blisters on the soles of my feet. Couldn’t walk for a week after the race.

But I finished. I gutted it out. Just kept moving. That’s the #1 lesson to a 100. Don’t stop until they tell you that you are cut or you hit the finish line. Any other way out like quitting is not the right answer.


I trained harder than ever. Big miles. 100+ mile weeks. I really changed things. Leadville was my only big race of the summer. I was over confident and antsy when I showed up. I lead the race from the start for a while. My day! Then I started to unravel. I wasn’t eating enough to support that pace sustained. I dropped pace from AS to AS. Then I hit Hope Pass and it kicked me in the teeth. I had no energy to go up it. I went from 18 hour pace to 25 hour pace in those last few stretches to the 50 mile mark. Everything unraveled.

So kept at it given rule from 2010 but ultimately became a zombie on powerline and could not finish. I ran myself into the ground. I did not run smart. I had the base. I just tried to execute a plan I wasn’t capable of or ready for.


I trained slow. I used to run my road 20 mile runs at high 7 pace. Now I run them at mid 9s.

I hiked all winter. I can run up mountains, sure. But in the race at 80 miles, everyone is hiking up. So I practiced that. I hike the same pace as some of my friends running uphill. But I am less spent.

Then for WS100, I focused on an even day and more nutrition. Eat, eat, eat. I did 100% better but it still wasn’t perfect and I suffered for it. I executed much better and built confidence that I can maintain that at any race.


I already know what I would change. I just have to wait until winter…if I saddle up again.


You can’t change anything now. Its too late. All you can do is prepare yourself for race day. I am sure there are 100s of tips. But if you could only remember 3. Maybe these:

1. Eat. This is a eating contest with running in between. Eat early. Eat often. Eat eat eat. Got it? Real food too. As much and as early as possible. Use the aid station food. Try everything they have.

2. Slow. Nobody does but try and even split the race. You can’t bank time. Doesn’t work. Try and get through 50 feeling good. Then that last 50 will hurt but you will run past everybody that is laying on the ground puking.

3. Be prepared. Stuff will go wrong. It might snow. You might blister in some way never seen before. Deal with it. Quickly.

Hope that helps. Its one thing to know that stuff. Frankly I knew it all before running it in 2010. Its another to practice it and race by it. That’s the biggest change for me.

Good luck.

  • Timko

    Good post! I know quite a few people who are STILL going to ignore everything everyone tells them anyway, though.

  • pittbrownie

    2010, such a great year! I still think about how I crushed you every night when I polish that big buckle.

  • Shad

    This is from my 2010 race report.

    Tips for Leadville and other 100s.

    1. YOU CAN NOT BANK TIME! Don’t do it or even think about it.

    2. Don’t sit down ever, unless you are changing your shoes.

    3. Don’t go anywhere NEAR the fire or propane heaters at the aid stations. The gravitational field of them is amazing.

    4. EAT early, eat often, and as much as you can assimilate.

    5. Take your electrolytes, even if you aren’t cramping. They help with digestion too.

    6. Sometimes it feels better to just puke it up and get on with the show.

    7. The fastest times on this course are out in 45% of total time and back in 55% of total time.


    Training is over 2 weeks before the race. Nothing you do the week

    before will help you. Take an easy, relax, and eat some bacon and drink some beer.

    9. Try to remember that “it never always gets worse.” Seriously, this is the miracle. You can trust it.

    10. Red Bull is your friend.

    11. For the 1st 50 miles listen to your body, for the second 50 stop listening.

    12. If you don’t think you are going absurdly slow the first 50, you’re going to fast.

    13. When gels start making you gag, try bacon. Seriously!

    14. A cold beer at mile 70 is pretty darn good.

    15. If you drop for some lame ass reason, it is going to stick with you for 364 days.

  • Nathan McBride

    I did read the posts!! :-). I was just looking for a condensed version. Thanks Brandon. :)

  • Brandon Fuller

    I approve of all of Shad’s points!

  • NickP

    I would add:

    1. You should be running at mile 10 like you will be running at mile 70. That goes for running uphills – if you don’t think you will run it at mile 70 you should be hiking it at mile 10

    1a. Run by feel. If you try to follow (most likely arbitrary) splits it usually ends up bad.

    2. It is OK to spend time in aid stations as long as it isn’t wasted time. If you are completely wrecked it is fine to sit for 5-10 minutes and eat/drink. You will probably feel much better afterwards. If you feel good then just get in, get what you need, and get out

    3. 100s are a game of problem solving. Make sure to address any issues as they arise – of course knowing how to fix them can be hard to figure out.

  • the runner

    Nice post. For me rule the # 1 is to just love the run and camaraderie. While focusing on this you constantly get one footstep closer.

  • Andy Wooten

    “11. For the 1st 50 miles listen to your body, for the second 50 stop listening.” No kidding! Great point!

  • Wyatt Hornsby

    Agree with you on all counts. I have to say it’s hard as goddamn hell to eat at Leadville. Food just looks nasty when you’re up there running. The altitude totally turns off your appetite. Somehow this year I need to get some solid food in me.


  • Wyatt Hornsby

    Also, this year my big goal is to go out conservatively and get through Mayqueen in 1:55-2:00. Leadville is a race that rewards patience. Jack rabbits get crushed…usually on Powerline inbound.