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Podcast: Episode 183 with Alex Varner

This week's episode is with my friend and sometimes training partner, Alex Varner, and we recently sat down at his kitchen table to continue a conversation that started a few months ago on some runs together about moving on from the sport of running, or at least reevaluating our relationship with it. Alex has been running competitively since high school and has done some pretty amazing things in the sport: he’s won a national title in the 50K, he’s been top 10 at Western States, he’s won and broke the course record at Lake Sonoma, he’s put up the fastest time at the Dipsea Race a record 9 times, he’s run a 2:21 marathon, and he’s also won the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh, NC. After 20+ years of being a competitive athlete, Alex’s relationship to the sport is in an interesting place and we spent this entire episode talking about identity, motivation, letting go, and a lot more.

Podcast: Episode 182 with J.M. Thompson

This week’s episode is with J.M. Thompson. He’s an ultrarunner, a clinical psychologist, and author of the new book, Running Is A Kind of Dreaming, a powerful, mind-bending memoir about how running saved him from a life of depression, drug addiction, and suicide attempts. This conversation was fascinating and one of my favorites that I’ve had for the podcast to date. In it, we discuss J.M.’s book, how it’s structured, and how it came to be, but also what it’s been like for him, as a mental health professional, to open about his own issues so publicly. We talked about ultrarunning, his evolving relationship to it, and the types of personalities the sport tends to attract. Jason told me about what he called the “waking dream state” that he experiences in long races, the process of reorganizing our past experiences with trauma so that we can move forward, the importance of learning to ask for help, and a lot more.

Podcast: Episode 181 with Jenny Maxwell

This week’s episode is with Jenny Maxwell. She’s the founder and CEO of JAMBAR, an energy bar for promoting community and eating healthy organic nutrition. This isn’t Jenny’s first foray into the energy bar market: she and her late husband Brian practically created it in the mid-1980s when they launched Powerbar, which they worked on together for 15 years until it was acquired by Nestle in 2000. Jenny is also a runner, a drummer, a nutritionist, and a mom of six kids. In this conversation, we talk about launching JAMBAR after 20 years away from the energy bar industry, how the space has evolved and grown over the past two decades, and what she’s doing to make her new company and product different from the rest. Jenny and I also discuss playing the long game and taking a patient, sustainable approach to both business and life, aligning yourself with the right people, the similarities in how athletes and musicians approach their respective crafts, and a lot more.

Podcast: Episode 180 with Leidy Klotz

This week’s conversation is with Leidy Klotz, a professor at the University of Virginia who studies how we transform things from how they are to how we want them to be. He’s the author of the book Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less and he’s also a runner himself. In this episode, we talked about Leidy’s relationship to running and the place it holds in his life before getting into a discussion about subtraction and why it often gets neglected in favor of addition in so many aspects of our lives, including running. We talked about subtraction as it relates to coaching, writing training programs, and even running shoes, how to overcome our instinct to add to things all the time, looking at life through an editor’s lens, and a lot more.

Podcast: Episode 179 with George Hirsch

This conversation with New York Road Runners chairman George Hirsch was a real treat for me. We spent half of it talking about the New York City Marathon, its history, its stories, its allure, and more. We also discussed how all of those things went into a new book called The New York City Marathon: 50 Years Running, which is a coffee table keepsake that I’m really enjoying right now. I also got George to tell me more about himself, his legendary career in publishing, which included a stint at Runner’s World during its heyday, how he got his start in running back in the 1960s, what keeps him running six days a week at the age of 87, how his relationship to it has evolved over the decades, and a lot more.

Podcast: Episode 178 with Dana Giordano

My conversation this week is with Dana Giordano. She’s a top middle distance runner on the track who competed in the 5000m at this summer’s Olympic Trials. She also hosts the popular podcast More than Running with Dana, where she sits down and talks with some of the most inspirational and insightful women in running from athletes and coaches to insiders and advocates.


by Cotton Bureau

Workout of the Week

Workout of the Week: The Sisyphus Session

I use some version of this short-medium-long format for all of my athletes depending on who they are, what they’re training for, and where they are in a training block. This hill workout is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one and there’s probably a place for it in your program.

Workout of the Week: The Halftime Fartlek

Looking for a challenging but not-too-hard workout to knock out before your next race? Look no further than the 5-4-3-2-1 halftime fartlek. It starts fast and finishes even faster but it will be over before it really starts to grind your gears down.

runner running on the trails

Workout of the Week: The 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 Fartlek

The 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 fartlek is an "introduction to power endurance" workout that can be used early in a training cycle when an athlete is still building fitness but ready to handle more work. The pickups are relatively short—1-3 minutes in duration—and the intensity—10K effort—should manageable for that chunk of time. The "recovery" intervals, which are run at more of a moderate training pace than a slow jog, are equal in duration to the work interval that preceded it. I like to use a version of this workout every few weeks during a half-marathon or marathon buildup because it forces the athlete to stay engaged the entire time and serves as a nice substitute for a standard threshold session.