mental aspect of ultra idols | Yiannis Kouros Steve Prefontaine Emil Zátopek more women running today! ice. meltzer research
by Adharanand Finn
Fri 3 Mar 2017 07.00 GMT
You’ve done some pretty epic races over the years. Which was your toughest? The 24-hour world championships. It was a one-mile loop that you ran around and around for 24 hours. That was the toughest, both mentally and physically.
You’ve run the Badwater [135 miles through Death Valley, in July, in temperatures of 54C] and Hardrock 100 [which he won in 2007]. But this was the toughest? Yes, without a doubt. OK, those other races look tougher on paper, in fact they’re two of the hardest races out there, but the 24-hour race was a different challenge. I call it the PhD of running – no change in scenery, no running from A to B, no finish line. Mentally, it’s a killer. Trail running is mostly walking and running, but this is different. And I was pretty proud of the result – I broke the US record [running 165.7 miles].
You featured a lot in Chris McDougall’s bestselling book Born to Run. Did he convince you to take up barefoot running? The funny thing is I already did barefoot running in the infield and I was already using minimal shoes. This stuff was already around before the book, and I was always a fan of lighter shoes with less support. So, I’m a believer in barefoot and minimal running, yes, but as a tool for building foot strength and honing form. I wouldn’t run a race barefoot. It wouldn’t be efficient on rocky trails.
Finally, who is your running hero? Yiannis Kouros has always been a hero of mine. When you look at the scope of his world records, it’s pretty incredible. In more conventional road and track running, I guess my heroes are probably Steve Prefontaine and Emil Zátopek.
way easier to do the AT than write the book (as 2)