July 06, 2015

Hardrock100 ›   Mike Foote ›   Omnibar ›   Ultrarunning ›  

Hardrock 100 - Mike Foote Q&A;

Mike Foote has been training hard for the Hardrock 100, which is coming up this weekend, so we asked him to have his fans submit questions via his Instagram and Facebook about what it takes to train for the race. There were a lot of questions so we chose some of our favorites. Some are on topic and others not, but here are Mike’s answers.

If you don’t see your question answered below please reach out to us on our Facebook page and we’ll do our best to get it answered.
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Foote on course getting some final training in last week.

It was a fun process to answer these. Thinking back on my preparation leading into the race is a good exercise. Thanks again for all the questions. Here’s my best crack at answering them.

mdsears - With great success in running Hardrock in 2010, what was your greatest lesson on the course you can use to hopefully improve your experience?

Great question. I’ve thought about this quite a bit actually. I literally came into this race blind in 2010, with no real knowledge of the course, or expectations. Without much knowledge of the course I didn’t really have a true respect for it. After completing it in 2010, I now know how burly this race is and have prepared better and more specific for it than in 2010. Also, I believe in the “go slow to go fast” principal, which is to say that I learned that by moving well, but without rushing, will lead me to my best performance on a course like this. 

@dumpster_diver - What metrics did you change in your training compared to other 100’s? Time? Distance? Vert? 

With a little nudging from my coach, Jason Koop, I really honed in on the specificity principal this year. In years past I would run a 120-130 mile week with 18-20,000 ft of vertical gain on the much more runnable trails in Missoula to prep for a race like Hardrock or UTMB, which are both much steeper. Hardrock, for example, is 100 Miles with 33,000 ft of gain. Therefore, even though the amount of time I was running in my final training block was similar this year to years past, I ran less overall mileage at a slower pace on steeper terrain to mimic the Hardrock race pace. 

Also, my higher mileage weeks (100+) were lower in number than years past. I did lower volume, higher intensity training blocks leading into my higher mileage training block which has only been the last 8 weeks or so. I hope that leaves me from feeling too overcooked on the starting line, which I have been guilty of in the past.

k__pat - How do you keep a smile on your face when the mountains can be so brutal Foote?! It's very inspiring!

I was blessed with a grimace that somehow looks slightly like a smile. It is very deceiving.

@mhiday82 - What are some of your favorite nutritional sources for fats and proteins while running?

This may not come as a surprise, but Omnibar fills that niche quite well for me. They are a great balance of carbs, fat and protein and are made with real food ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, almond butter, oats and flaxseed meal, which are a big part of my diet anyways. Also, they are a great break from the more sugary fuels I take in during a race like Hardrock.

@young_cappy - Did you see yourself running such a prestigious race in the early stages of your running career? Also what do you feel now looking back on your beginnings as an ultra runner?

Good question. I very clearly remember a good friend and early mentor for me in ultra running telling me to sign up for Hardrock in 2010. I don’t think I had ever heard of it before. Never the less, I took his suggestion, signed up for the lottery, and was fortunate enough to get in. So I didn’t see it as prestigious because I literally didn’t know any better. Looking back at it all now, there was a freshness and simplicity to it all that was intoxicating. My relationship with running has changed a lot in the last 5 yrs since my first Hardrock, for better and for worse at times. In the end, its races like this, and the culture that surrounds it that reminds me why I fell in love with this sport in the first place.

@gsleblanc - What's it like to see the sun rise, set, then rise again before you cross this race's finish?

For me, the first sunrise goes slightly without notice as it usually coincides with the beginning of the race and there is a lot for other stimulus that drowns it out a bit early on. The sunset though is fairly ominous. And the second sunrise is so glorious and warming and life giving, it is hard to put into words. My energy and spirit are at their lowest during the hours just before the second sunrise and it really re energizes me for the final push.

@fojovo - What do you do to prevent overuse injuries while training for a 100 miler?

Knowing myself well enough to integrate proper rest when I’m close to the limit of going over the edge into an injury. I also do active release stretching, foam rolling and massage. And finally I really believe in strength training, if done properly, to strengthen your core and keep your form efficient so that you are less likely to open yourself up to injuries. I employ all of these strategies to try and stay injury free. In my experience in the last 6 years of competitive running, the more I integrate all of these things into my routine, the healthier I am. Funny how that works.

@natefsmith - What do your cross train days look like? (i.e. any gym time, upper body, swimming etc)

In the winter I do a lot of ski mountaineering training and back country skiing. I find it to be such a good way to give my body a break from all the pounding of the running season. Once I am in the running season though my cross training is pretty limited. In an ideal world, and when I’m in a good groove, I do a 15-20 minute core/strength training workout 2-3 times a week to make sure I’m keeping muscles firing and balanced. I make it a point not to get too crazy in the gym though with anything that trashes me too bad, since I do enough of that from running, but I do just enough to keep feeling healthy and strong to compliment the running.

Foote on course training

@jeremywolfrun - How hard was it for you to come to terms with training and racing using hiking poles?

After a winter of using them in my ski mountaineering training I figured I would keep the party going. Plus, I just had to sincerely ask myself if I thought using poles would get me to the finish line of the race faster, and I think they will if used appropriately. 

@jaxcharlie - How much time have you spent above 10K feet?

@fboughner13 - How do you prep for the altitude of such a high race while doing most of your training much lower?

Its tough to be fully prepared for the high country of Colorado while living in Western Montana. Missoula sits at 3,200ft, which is a far cry from the 11,000ft average elevation of the Hardrock Course. This year, I partnered up with Hypoxico Altitude Training Systems and got myself an altitude tent for the last 4-6 weeks leading into the race. To be honest, I was kind of unsure if this would be helpful, but I ran/hiked up to 14,000 ft. today and was pleasantly surprised to feel better than I ever have at that elevation. Normally I have a headache and lethargy, but today I just felt slightly more out of breath than normal, which was fine by me.

@nicksnow242 - If you could be sponsored by any company (besides Omnibar) what would it be?

Well, besides my other current sponsors, The North Face, Big Sky Brewery, Big Dipper Ice Cream, I would have to say it would be cool if the state on Montana wanted to get into sponsoring local mountain runners. You know, with state employee benefits and pension.

@runnersedgemt - We're not sure if folks know that you actually work full time, some weeks more, along with all your big training. How do you manage it all?

This is a loaded question coming from my employer, The Runner’s Edge! First of all, though I work more or less full time as a race director, many days I have lots of flexibility to get my training in in the morning before diving into my work the second half of the day. It’s a balancing act and I no doubt work a lot more on my easier running days, and work less on my larger days. When heading into the week, I look at both my potential running and work schedule and begin to plan out when to schedule a day full of meetings and when my long runs or big workouts will be. Its an ever evolving process and isn’t always pretty but it works for me and I’ve gotten accustomed to the balancing act, though I’m perpetually trying to refine it.   I should mention again I’m lucky to have an employer who allows me that flexibility and trusts that my work is a priority and I will get it done amidst a big training cycle. In the weeks leading into Hardrock this year, my couple easy days of the week would consist of only an hour run, or nothing at all, which is when I would have my most productive work days, while my biggest running days were in the 8-12 hour range, and you can imagine not a whole lot for work gets done on those days.

Colleen Smith‪, The Runners Edge: Can you work for me next Friday? 

Sure, can you run 100 Miles for me, preferably at a fat pace?

@thrphoto - What do you eat for breakfast everyday? Not necessarily race days. 

I run in the morning within an hour of waking up 99% of the time so I keep breakfast light and then have a bigger meal after training. I normally just have a cup of coffee with a piece of whole grain bread with almond butter or peanut butter. Sometimes for bigger days Ill cook up some steel cut oats with a little maple syrup, cinnamon, berries and walnuts.

Post Run, or breakfast #2 as I’ll call it, almost always consists of a smoothie with fruit and greens and something with protein, like greek yogurt and nut butters. I’m also a sucker for a good egg scramble with a fresh salsa.  

@megs1768 - What do you eat during the race? Solids vs gels? Do you have a set amount of calories or carbs that you try and get per hour?

My nutrition strategy for racing is ever evolving. For Hardrock, since it is a slower burn kind of race. I’ll have the normal gels and gummy chews, but plan to integrate Omnibars earlier on to keep from getting a sour gut. They are savory and have a mush more balanced macronutrient profile and they reset my stomach when it threatens mutiny.

In my training I eat 200-300 calories and hour after the first 90 minutes. I’ve been pretty strict with this leading into the race so that my body is very used to this and there are no surprises on race day. If I start to feel depleted, I’m not afraid to eat an addition few hundred calories at an aid station, especially before a long climb so that I can digest it before the next jostling descent.

@srbrownmt - What's the most unique food or drink you've ever seen at an aid station, and did you try it?

There were some noodle bowls with floating mystery pieces in them that I considered at UTMF in Japan. My first year at UTMB I defaulted to handfuls of stinky cheese and sausage late in the race. My crew that year likes to remind me of the cheese literally spilling out of my shorts pockets leaving the aid station.

Sam Nelson‪ - I'm trying to improve running uphill without walking. Is there a trick with my stride, or is it just practice?

First of all, sometimes if the trail is steep enough I think walking is more energy efficient than running. But when I’m on the type of trail that is right on the edge of runnable I work hard to run within myself aerobically. If I’m going anaerobic, then physiologically that can only last for so long, so I try and be honest with myself about what pace I can run that is sustainable for a long time.

As for stride, I try and shorten the length of my stride so that my feet stay under my body more. I make sure the momentum of my arm swing carries me forward, and not wastefully side to side. And lastly I try not to bend over at the waist, this makes for tougher breathing and overall poor form.

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Thats all for now and we hope you enjoyed this. As a thank you for reading, use the below code for 15% off + free shipping on our store and remember to follow along on our twitter for race updates.

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Exp: 7/31/15

Pre-Race interview with iRunFar: