#6 Ninja Loop
Insider Tip: Not really an insider tip, but running downhill takes confidence and practice. Ian Sharman, one of the best, has some great tips on how to improve your own downhill running on his blog. Take a look and practice before really going after it.
Insider info: In the spring the grass is like a green that you have never seen before. Wildflowers in the summer. Plus look out for that old car on the trail.
I think Strava is swell. While I agree with the premise that Strava has killed the loneliness of a long distance runner (see Sam’s Blog post here), for those that run alone most days it can provide a motivation and connection to our peers and history not previously readily available. It also provides some pretty epic segment battles which have produced some incredible performances normally reserved for races. No need to worry about nailing a taper and having the perfect conditions. When you are ready you can challenge the best any day of the year.
Recently I put out a query on twitter about what the most iconic Strava segments in the Southern Marin/Mt Tam are of Marin county are. I got some great responses (here, here, and here) which I totally agreed with. They all made the list. Now the order is something entirely else.
My rationale for choosing a segment was based on the following simple criteria. How impressive is the CR performance? How iconic is the bit of trail it is on? How many people have run it before?
So starting with #10 and working back to #1 I will post one segment a day for the next ten days. Feel free to argue, agree, or offer your alternatives and insights as well! Eventually I will post a similar list of the Boise Foothills, but for now, I will reminisce about my old neighborhood trails.
I’ve been quite on the blog front. It’s not because I don’t have ideas to write about, I just lack the time. Teaching has been busy. Getting some research up and running has been busy. Trying to get back in shape has been keeping me busy.
When I do have the time to write I have focused on my column for UltraRunning Magazine, called the Science of Ultrarunning which debuted in the January issue and can be read for free here. However, to check out my latest article “Going Mental” in order to up your psychological training you will need to pick up a print version.
About the same time that I agreed to start writing the column I found out that another Professor in Idaho was also interested in bringing sports science to the ultra community. Science of Ultra Podcast by Dr. Shawn Bearden is an excellent resource for any looking to see how scientific research can be put into practice. His guests are second to none in the scientific community, really the best of the best when it comes to the field they are discussing. A few of my favorites thus far have been Psychological Fatigue with Dr. Marcora and Alistar McCormick (which lines up nicely with my article in UltraRunning Magazine), Hydration Physiology withDr. Sam Cheuvront and Dr. Robert Kenefick, and Fatigue with Dr. Joyner.
With all of these different sources coming together now more than ever is the time to learn about how to use both existing and new science to optimize your ultra performances. So read, listen, and learn to perform.
I’m not one to get sentimental about moving. Since finishing undergrad at Davis I have been in Missouri (5 years), Copenhagen (2.5 years), and back in the Bay Area (Oakland and Marin, 3.5 years). Such is the life of a scientist in search of training and funding to progress in ones career. My mindset in each case was “well if I don’t like it I can always leave”. Inevitably, while adjustment can take time each place I have settled in, found a wonderful group of friends, and really enjoyed my new normal. Sure, the lifestyle is certainly different in Copenhagen versus mid-Missouri as our the people, but if to pick one that I preferred is difficult, if not impossible. Its apples and oranges. Very different, each with their own plusses and minuses. Or maybe I’m just easy to please. Regardless moving is mostly a pain and saying goodbye is always difficult. Still I know that the next adventure will bring new experiences, new people, and enrich my life and perspective in entirely new ways. Thats always exciting and whether you stay in the same place for your entire life or not, its a worthy goal.
That is the setting upon which I found myself in Caldwell, ID at the front of a classroom of mostly freshman, mostly athletes, explaining why I was going to be giving them quizzes (its because it enhances retrieval learning). The College of Idaho was not on my radar. In fact I don’t think I even knew that it existed. But last December I somehow found myself hoping on a plane to go interview for a tenure track position. The interview went well and soon there after it was a drive back to Boise for a snowy weekend and frequently uttering “Can we live here?”. We (Bridget and I) choose yes. Bridget has secured an awesome Graduate Assistant position working in the new department of Innovation and Design at Boise State. Her MBA will be completely paid for. I on the otherhand landed in the newly formed Health and Human Performance Department at the small liberal arts school College of Idaho. Yes, its mostly teaching, and yes the research is limited by resources, but I am inspired. Instead of chasing big NIH money I work on projects that are driven by intelligent, motivated undergraduates. Best of all I get to that in a human performance lab instead of flipping vials and counting dead flies. I may still be in the honeymoon period, but my initial impressions of the school are overwhelming positive and I feel extremely lucky to have landed the position that I did. The faculty seem truly invested in educating and transforming the students here into intelligent thinking professionals. Not only that, but they all seem to enjoy it and are legitimately excited to be here as well as evidenced by an extremely low turnover! Sure I recognize that its a self selecting crowd, but from the top down the College of Idaho sets high standards for their faculty and higher standards for the students that choose to come here. And while past success of the students at College of Idaho it certainly doesn’t guarantee future success, but the culture is here and thats incredibly important, encouraging, and exciting.
In a way my position at College of Idaho is the completion of me coming full cycle. When I entered my PhD I thought, teach at a small school, maybe even do some coaching. During my PhD at Missouri I was inspired by the research my colleagues and I completed. It was successful, it was fun, and it was what I trained for. I was all aboard the R1 train. My experience in Copenhagen did little to damper that enthusiasm. Some great colleagues and the opportunity to mentor a fantastic PhD student seemed to have me on track for that tenure track lifestyle at an R1. While not really finished with my time in Copenhagen the opportunity to move back to the Bay Area came up and we jumped at it. The Buck Institute seemed like a place I could thrive and reach that goal of a “high-impact” paper that would pave the way for me to an R1. However something happened along the way. Instead of more inspired by moving to more basic and supposedly high impact I became less inspired. I saw the papers in the top journals more a product of politics, reductionist approaches to biology. The science could be exciting, but was at times seemed far away from the translational science I was doing before. I missed the work I was doing in Copenhagen and Missouri, but also realized that those projects, while important to me, probably would not land me at an R1 school in a location that I wanted to be. In a way my research interests had become too broad to fit into the R1 world of academia and I felt stuck. Still I don’t regret my prior research choices. Those choices led to a breadth experiences which will certainly make me a better teacher, a better mentor, a better member of the College of Idaho faculty.
In Boise we have 100’s of miles of trails from our door and beautiful mountains a few hours away. At the College of Idaho I have student-athletes interested in science of sport that I get to interact with personally on a weekly basis and watch grow during their 4 years at school. It seems like a perfect personal and professional match. As such I am truly grateful and excited to now start that life I had envisioned 11 years ago when I finished my degree in Exercise Biology at Davis. Plus I get 3 months off in the summer and thats pretty cool.