Training for a 100 mile race! #UltraStark #RunSanity #Keys100

The challenge may not be easy, but it's possible!

Let the training begin…again!

Last year, we began the journey of training for the Keys 100 ultra race. We had created great plans. We tried to stick to those great plans. However, as time passed and race day grew closer, so did the Adam's dissertation defense date. Reality set in. We would not be able to accomplish both. Of course, we chose to defer our race registration to May 2018 so Adam could graduate!

A few months have passed and it's time to get back at it! Below is our training plan. You can follow along as we log ALL. THE. MILES…1865 of them, to be exact! We will actively post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the following #'s: #UltraStark #RunSanity #Keys100


Dealing with the Deferment

As a perfectionist, it is hard to come to terms with a race registration deferment. We have been training for nearly a year for the Keys 100 ultra marathon. Training was going well, then life happened. Glorious, wonderful, life. We learned that Adam could defend his dissertation during this spring semester and could graduate in May 2017! What great news, and hard work, but mostly great news! However, that meant he had to spend more time writing than running. 

What people don’t tell you about the PhD process is that defending is actually the easier part of the end. Once you defend, it’s the editing and formatting and deposit process that can be super time consuming and frustrating. But he did it! We are now, humbly, house Dr. Stark or Dr./Dr.!

While he wrote, I ran. While I ran, he wrote. 

I am in great shape and ready to take on our first 100 miles race. However, we have been dreaming of the Keys 100 for the better part of a decade. We run ultras together. 

We finally came around to the difficult decision to defer our race registrations to May 2018. 

While I am excited Adam was able to finish his academic journey, it was difficult to swallow the deferment. I am highly competitive and love to accomplish goals. It took a moment or two for me to get over it – it’s not about me- and realize my goal still exists only now I have another year to become even stronger. I can alter my goal from one of completeling the Keys 100 to possibly placing! 

I share this story as I am sure I am not the only competitive spirit out there that struggles with the idea of postponing my goals. Now we get to finishe the Keys 100 as Dr. & Dr. UltraStark! What a cool way to accomplish a dream!

Let My People Run

“We all needed flextime to surf the waves when they were good or ski the powder after a big snowstorm or stay home and take care of a sick child.”

Yvon Chouinard

Founder, Patagonia

 The founder of the Patagonia sportswear company started his business with the intentions of being different.  He didn’t want staff that weren’t active and never used their products.  He wanted a staff that would embrace physical activity and break a sweat.
Why can’t other organizations follow suit.
What has happened to “work”?  Why is it a badge of honor to eat lunch at your desk?
As ridiculous as it seems, as least some business used to occur on the golf course.  And you know…golf is a good walk spoiled.
Work life balance?
I challenge you to take at least 1 lunch break per week to go for a run.  In 1 hour you can easily bust out 3 to 5 miles.  Eat a small snack prior to your run and eat a sandwich after; food done, exercise added.
If enough of us choose to take a break to run, then employers will begin to see the need to “Let my people run”.
oh…and also, if we’re all running, then we all run the risk of smelling and nobody will notice (it will be our little secret).
When you’re training for a 100 miler you got to get miles wherever you can.

The #1’s and #2’s of long distance running

When you start to train for long distance runs, your training runs can be anywhere from 5 miles to 5 hours. Your mental, physical, and physiological prep is drastically different for runs covering many hours.

Here’s what we have learned about the #1’s and #2’s along the way…

  • Humans with external plumbing have it a bit easier for navigating the #1’s


Humans without external plumbing, don’t despair. While I have not tried it myself, I have read and heard stories about how you navigate the #1’s nearly as effectively as our counterparts. There are even clothing lines now to help make it a bit easier.

  • Regardless of your plumbing construction, plan a route with restrooms!


We have key gas stations we often include on our longer runs. We’ve often scared a few gas station workers as we approach the establishment at 4:00am, in the dark, with bouncing headlamps. We always make sure to buy something…gummy bears, a bottle of water, potato chips…something so as to not only be in there just for the needed facilities.

  • If you have to use a port-a-potty…


Choose one that is on flat ground or leaning forward. Backward leaning units make it really hard to stand up after. If your only option is leaning backwards, don’t stress too much. There is a metal bar in the middle of the door on the inside. This bar is wonderful for when you need a little help standing back up.

A few other tips for the port-a-potty adventure. Check the TP reserve before conducting your business! Better yet, always have some on hand in your running pack. Fold it up all nice like and put it in a ziplock bag to protect it from rain and other sources of water (you know, like yard sprinklers that come on an scare the —- out of you).

  • Carbo-loading the night before is not that great of an idea!


Not a good idea. Why? For us, a good pasta dinner the night before leads to a healthy #2 mid-run. When you don’t follow the advice of #1, that #2 the next day is going to be less than pleasant. (TMI: many runners have #2ed in their pants on a run. It’s a thing. It happens. Not on purpose. Not something we are proud of. If you are new to running and fear this part of running, don’t. We’ve all been there!)


There are many other tips and tricks for navigating the #1s and especially the #2’s out there. Ask a runner near you how they make it happen while on the run.

Tick Tock Ultra Race Review

This past Saturday Anne and I ran the Tick Tock Ultra.

This is the first race that I have run and the race director insisted on giving me a hug with my medal.  A petite Southern woman gave out hugs to stinky, smelly, sweaty runners that had been running all day.  It was amazing!

The Tick Tock Ultra was a great event.  It took place in Lakeland, FL and the course was laid out around a beautiful lake.  We spent the day lapping beautiful houses, a college campus and lakeside scenery.  The course was well supported as an aid station was available almost every mile.  Unfortunately I was not able to run my best due to a nagging hip injury (more core work) we completed almost 33 miles.


Is that Freedom Rock…

…turn it up!



I realize that by typing that quote I have dated myself as a child of the 80’s.  I spent my childhood, and current adulthood, watching way too much television loaded with  this great commercial.

With the extended duration of runs in this training plan, music is a necessity.  While “big-time” marathons and the USTAF officially outlaw headphones and music, it is almost a requirement for ultrarunning.

As of this writing, the favorite song in our house is “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed.  This is ironic coming from a 5-year-old that can’t be silent for more than 30 seconds.  Coincidentally, this is a great running song is it starts slowly and builds to a dramatic ending.  Great for that last half mile sprint!

While the last half-mile is important, the bulk of the run has to be filed with with something to numb the pain and dull the boredom.  For tis task, I turn to podcasts.  My listening tasks are eclectic so I enjoy listening to comedy, history and science.  I divide my download between “A Mediocre Time with Tom and Dan“, “Stuff You Should Know“, and “Freakonomics“.

I hope I have sparked something that may add to your listening pleasure.


Burnout…not just an on-the-job thing


A psychological syndrome involving emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment (Maslach, 1982)

I am a burnout researcher. My December 2015 dissertation focused on burnout in the workplace. I have discovered, burnout is not just an on-the-job-thing! When training for a 100 mile race, it’s important to log a whole of miles, and more miles, and mountains of miles!

I am in the middle of a burnout period with running right now. It’s a sad sick cycle. One which I know to how to break but I as I sit here writing this on a grey gloomy misty day, I just don’t want to!

I have been running strong the last few months. Well, all year, really. Right now, I have not run in more than a week. I have continued to eat as if I am running strong which means I am not feeling so great and I have packed on a few pounds.


This is the argument in my head…I don’t want to run, but you need to run, no, I need to rest, but if you run, you will feel better!

To break this cycle, I simply need to get back out there. Simple. Slow. Fun. After two or three of these recovery runs, I’ll be back in the swing of things.


I don’t have the motivation.

I have a big race on Saturday – a 46 miler. I tell myself it’s good that I rest. I feel icky on the inside.

I need to go for a run.

This cycle is real and happens whenever anyone gives perhaps too much of themselves to work or a hobby. The key is stepping back to find the joy again. Much easier said than done.

The lesson here, you are not alone. Your cycle of burnout is normal.

Get back out there!

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