How Do I Start Running?

I get this question often. People see an active lifestyle and it peaks their interest. Why? Well, I think that we all want to be healthy and to live long lives with our families. We all want to look and feel good. We all want a full and rewarding life and to feel motivated when we wake up everyday, but somehow, the habit of physical activity gets broken and lost in the day to day shuffle of growing up. I’ll tell you one thing though, it’s never too late to start good habits.

My wife, Alicia, is a great example. In June of 2016 she started taking brisk walks on her lunch break with our dog. That July she decided she wanted to start running. I remember going along with her for her first non stop mile, covering the distance in about 15 minutes. Alicia’s average pace on her easy days is now 9:45 – 10:00 per mile and in 12 days she will completing her first marathon. Is that not amazing?

So how did Alicia get there?

“Commitment. You just have to get up in the morning and put your shoes on. You have to enjoy it, or at least enjoy the process. I mean, I don’t enjoy it every single day.” She admits “Some days it doesn’t feel very good, but I have goals that I want to meet and the not-so-pleasant runs don’t outweigh the good runs.”  

“It also helps to have an achievable goal and a plan to follow. I wouldn’t want to wake up in the morning after running a mile and think ‘200’s are the new thing. I’m, gonna go do that.’ You want to have a reasonable goal… I picked a half marathon. I needed to have something there to motivate me every day, but more than the goal, I enjoy the time to myself; to get ready for the day or to wind down from the day. I get an hour to myself.”

Even though Alicia gets her mileage in every day, she knows being committed to the sport isn’t always easy. “If you’re having trouble committing on your own, get involved in the running community. Go to the running store and join a group. Get a run buddy. The social aspect [of the sport] can help people a lot.”

Alicia’s story is really inspiring to me and also reminds us that the answer to the question is very simple: You have to want it. You have to want a healthier lifestyle. You have to want to get out and run each day. When it’s raining, when the wind is blowing, when the snow is coming down, you have to make a choice. Once you do that, the rest is simple.

Common Chores That Double As Cross Training

We’re all busy people and strengthening our supporting muscles is probably one of the most slacked-upon aspects I see in distance running athletes, but I get it! You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy! Well, if you’re especially strapped for time, consider trying the following exercises while simultaneously knocking out common household chores that almost all of use are “required” to complete.

Bill Pay Planks – I strongly believe that planks are the best ancillary exercise for runners. It’s a true “core” exercise. A good plank activates the the muscles that run up the spine, your abs, your chest, your shoulders, your glutes, your hamstrings and your quads. All of these muscles help to stabilize you throughout the gait cycle, reduce the “wobble” or “snake” and have the possibility of making you a more efficient and less injury prone runner. WE ALL NEED MORE PLANKS! But, if you’ve been missing out on them because you’re strapped for time, try doing planks while you pay bills, check your [credit union] account balance or while responding to Facebook messages.


Garden Squats – Spring is here! Which means we’re planting things and sooner or later we’ll be harvesting things as well. Next time you’re doing some gardening, instead of bending over to complete whatever task you’re completing, try incorporating a classic squat. Squats help to strengthen the hips, thighs, hamstrings, and glutes; all of which lead to a stronger, healthier lower body and better, more efficient running.


Laundry Leg Balance – Laundry. It never ends. I’ll literally be doing laundry for the rest of my life, which sucks, but the silver lining is that I can simultaneously improve my running! The single leg balance helps to strengthen the lower leg muscles and ankle muscles, activates the arch and improves both balance and proprioception. You can start without a pillow and add that later when the single leg balance on a flat floor has become too easy. Add a slight bend to the knee and engage the glutes for an added challenge.


The Push Lawn Mower – Ah, the decision that got me writing this post. Ditch that old gas guzzling hunk of junk in the garage (by recycling it) and invest in a push mower. This can easily turn into a full body workout, flushing the toxins out of your legs from the morning workout and getting your upper body RIPPED by targeting the same muscles that are targeted in a bench press (pecs, deltoids, triceps, biceps, back, etc). A little upper body strength never hurt anybody (especially if you carry bottles in ultramarathons) and you’ll be looking damn good running down the highway screaming “SUN’S OUT, GUNS OUT!”


I hope these tips and ideas enable you to start incorporating some cross training into your daily routine and help you become a stronger runner. Thanks for reading!


A Week With The Best: Masazumi Fujioka

Today on a A Week With The Best we have Masazumi Fujioka. Masazumi is as humble as they come, but don’t let that fool you when he toes the line with you at your next Ultra.

Masazumi was born in 1971 (45 years old) and is a Pacific Northwest based Trail and Ultra Runner sponsored by Team Seven Hills. He has won and placed in many Northwest races and national Ultra races as well. Some of his best times include 1st place at Sun Mountain 50 mile (2015) 1st place at Zion 100 (2016) 1st place at Orcas Island 50k (2016 and 2017) and 3rd place at H.U.R.T 100 (2017).

Thanks for joining us, Masazumi.


How and when did you start running?

I liked any kind of sports and especially soccer when I was young, but I had never been a track and field athlete. In my mid-30’s, I was too busy at work and gained weight. Believe it or not, I was heavier by 40 pounds than I am now. I started running in 2008 for health.

Your biggest accomplishment ?

Personally, it’s H.U.R.T 100 this past January. The race is well known in Japan and has many Japanese participate every year. I became the first Japanese male podium finisher in its 17 years’ history

You’re a pro, but do you work work as well? If so, what do you do for a living?

I am a software engineer. I have never thought I am a pro in the sense that I am not running for a living. A good thing is that I am working from home and have no need to commute. That enables me to work without curbing time for training.

Describe a days general diet for you:

In general, I eat carbs at breakfast and lunch, and protein at dinner. I drink a little, but only on weekends.

  • Morning
    • 2 slice of bread with banana, almond butter and raspberry jam
    • orange juice
    • coffee
  • Lunch
    • Either ramen, soba noodle or okonomiyaki
    • Small ice candy
  • Snack before and during workout
    • cookies
  • After workout
    • chocolate soy milk
  • Dinner
    • large salad
    • soy food such as tofu or natto
    • meat (chicken or pork) or fish (salmon etc.)
    • yogurt with fruit

What’s a typical training week like for you? An example from your training log:

Except for  the weekend, I normally train in the evening. Below is a typical training week during daylight saving time.

  • Mon … Rest
  • Tue … 13 mile road run (effort: hard) + 1h elliptical machine
  • Wed … 13 mile road run (effort: easy or moderate) + 1h elliptical machine + core strength exercises
  • Thu … 13 mile road run (effort: easy or moderate)  + 1h elliptical machine
  • Fri … Interval run (3 min x 6) + road run (effort: easy) + 30min elliptical machine
  • Sat … 20 mile trail run (effort: easy or moderate)
  • Sun … 13 mile trail run (effort: easy or moderate) + 0.5 h cross training + core strength exercises

I use treadmill heavily instead of going out to run in soggy cold winter.

What is your favorite workout?

Running in a mountain under the sun with nobody in sight!

Do you have any tips for new runners or runners striving to reach big goals?

The thing I always ask myself is “what is the goal ?” That makes it easier for me to figure out what to do to achieve the goal.

The goal will vary among runners. It can be to run as many races as possible, as fast as you can or anything. For me, often it’s to do my best run in one or two target races in a year. Running all the races in top performance is difficult especially when you get older, like me, as it takes more time to recover. By finalizing my “A” race, I can plan when to take a rest, start building up my base, increase volume and bring myself to the peak condition. That increases the probability of reaching my goal.


Thanks for sharing, Masazumi!


If you are or know a pro runner or industry pro who would like to be featured in our series, please e-mail me at and be sure to check out the hashtag #Team7hills on social media.

*Featured image by Glenn Tachiyama

A Week With The Best: Sion Lupowitz

Today on A Week With The Best we have Sion Lupowitz, fresh off of a 3rd place finish at the competitive and rugged Zane Grey 50 Mile Endurance run!  Sion grew up in Corrales, New Mexico, but now lives and trains in Tucson, Arizona which is surrounded by four mountain ranges. Sion runs for Aravaipa Running, Honey Stinger, Squirrel’s Nut Butter and Bioskin.

Some of his tops performances include 1st place at the 2016 Stagecoach 100M in 17:42:17, 1st place at the 2014 and 2016 Old Pueblo 50M in 8:48:10 and 8:05:41 (New CR respectively), 1st place at the 2016 Inaugural Oracle Rumble 50M in 8:10:17, 1st place at the 2016 Cedro Peak 45M in 6:56:53, and 2nd place at 2015 Mogollon Monster 100M in 26:05:00 which was his first 100 miler! He also summitted Blackett’s Ridge (we used to train on together on this ridge in Tucson) an astonishing 100 times in 2015. That’s 170,000 feet of rugged vert! Not counting the other 265 days of the year. The dude is a monster.


How and when did you start running?

I started running as a kid. Don’t all kids run?! In high school I ran track and cross country. While I wasn’t very fast at any of the track meets, I thrived during the long training runs. That was a telling sign of what was to come! Following high school, I didn’t run a step for over 10 years. My life kinda spiraled out of control during my twenties and I began going on short runs as a means of escape. My sister talked me into running a half marathon and while the idea of running 13 miles seemed insane, I was game. I managed to quit smoking and focus on training. When I arrived at the start line of the race, I knew I had found my home! I was later introduced to trail running and ultras. That was simply a life changer and I haven’t looked back.


 What has been your biggest obstacle as a runner?

Keeping that mental edge. Sure running is physical, but it is also very much mental. Training for long races takes a lot of time and dedication. Sometime I don’t feel like running! But, thats what separates me from being an average runner to being a great runner.

Gotta keep that edge!


Your biggest accomplishment ?

My biggest accomplishment has to be winning the Stagecoach 100 miler just five minutes shy of the course record! It still hurts knowing I was that close, but that was an incredible feeling finishing that race.


You’re a pro, but do you work work as well? If so, what do you do for a living?

While I do enjoy the spoils of comped races and free gear and snacks, I am yet to hit the big time. I work full time in the medical field to pay my bills.


Describe a days general diet for you:

Hopefully a lot of pizza.


What’s a typical training week like for you? An example from your training log:


Mon – Rest


Tue – 8-10 miles with 1,500 plus vert


Wed – 8-10 miles with 1,500 plus vert (depending on what I am training for. This could also be a spadework day)

The – 10-12 miles with 2,000 plus vert


Fri – 10-12 miles with 2,000 plus vert


Sat – 12-15 miles with 3,000 plus vert


Sun – 15-25 miles with 3,000 plus vert


What is your favorite workout?

Running up steep stuff.


Do you have any tips for new runners or runners striving to reach big goals? 

Don’t make running a business, enjoy the ride and always remember that we do this because we love it.


Thanks for joining us, Sion!


If you are a pro runner or industry pro who would like to be featured on this weekly blog, please shoot me an e-mail at


*Featured image by Howie Stern Photography

Marathon Tips For Beginners

So you’ve decided to tackle the beast! 26.2 miles. Besides having a sound training plan and working with a knowledgeable coach, here are a few tips you should consider.

First off: Gear. Use it. Know it. Love it. LOVE YOUR GEAR. Any small gear issue will be exacerbated over 26.2 miles (and even more so in an Ultra) so it’s important that you know your gear and know what to expect from it. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:

Shoes: Do they fit properly? Do they feel good to you? Do they cause any hot spots during long training runs?

Socks: Do they fit properly ? Do they slide down after too many miles or when they get wet? Are they moisture wicking?

Shorts: Have you done long runs in them? Do they cause any chaffing? Do they have pockets for gel packets?

Shirt: Does it fit well? Is it moisture wicking? Does it cause any chaffing?

Bra(ladies): is it supportive? Does it provide “coverage”? Do the straps dig into your back? Does it put pressure on your neck ?

Your next item of importance? Caloric intake. You burn roughly 110 calories per mile (give or take). This all varies from individual to individual based off of your fitness level, race speed, age, sex, and various other factors, but let’s use me as an example. I’m a 5′ 10″ 140lb male.

In general, we burn 1 calorie per kilogram of weight per kilometer run. To find your weight in kilograms, simply divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.

For me 140lb /2.2 kg/lb = 63.3kg

Calories burned during the marathon = 42.195 (marathon distance in kilometers) x 63.3 (weight in kilograms) = 2,670 calories total calories burned during the race.

The faster you run, the more carbohydrate you will burn as fuel. I’ll be running at at least 70% of my VO2 Max, which puts me close to a ratio of 65% carb cal / 35% fat cal burned. If I burn 2,670 calories / 26.2 miles = 102 calories per mile. 102  calories x .65 (65% carbohydrate as fuel per 102 calories burnt) = 66.3 calories from carbohydrate per mile run. 66.3 carbohydrate calories per mile x 26.2 miles = 1,737 calories from carbohydrate during the race.

Now we need to figure out how much glycogen can be stored in your body. Leg mass (where usable glycogen available for running is stored) is roughly 21% of your total body mass for males and 20% of your total mass for ladies. Take your weight in kilograms (your body weight in pounds divided by 2.2) and multiply that by 20 or 21 percent. For me that would be 63.3 kg x .21 = 13.29 kg. Multiply the amount of carbohydrate calories you can store per kilogram to find your potential storage. For me, 13.29kg (leg mass) x  80 (carb cal stored per kg.) = 1,063*

If I only have 1100 calories (max) stored as glycogen in my legs and I’m going to burn 1700 carbohydrate calories, I need to figure out how to consume roughly 600 more carbohydrate calories throughout the race to try and make the wall as bearable as possible. No easy feat! It’s important to practice this in your long runs and Marathon Pace work. As a beginner you’ll be running on the lower end of the effort spectrum, simply worrying about conquering the distance. In that instance it’s not quite as important to worry about the specific numbers, but keep the importance of fueling in mind.

Last, but not least… Body Glide! This could arguably be added to your gear list, but it makes such a big difference, it deserves it’s own mention. I can’t stress it enough. Find a body lubricant you like and lather up! Toes (even in between) thighs, nipples, armpits, anything that rubs and any spot you believe may get chaffing; lube it up! I’ve seen people’s nipples bleed. I myself have had the inside of my thighs bleed. If you forget this, it will not only be one of the most painful runs you have ever completed, but THE most painful shower you have ever taken afterwards (unless you’re a burn victim).


Those are our tips for beginning marathoners! Of course, there are many more aspects of training and racing to be considered, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you feel you would benefit from some guidance.



* Referenced equations: Humphrey, Luke. Hansons Marathon Method. Boulder: VeloPress, 2012. Print.

A Week With The Best: Joe Gray

Today I ran the Whidbey Island Half Marathon in 01:15 and all I could ask myself was “How the hell did Joe run this in 01:09???” So I decided today would be a good day to share his interview.

Joseph Gray is a 21 Time Team USA member, 11 Time USA National Champion, 2 Time Xterra Trail Running World Champion , the 2016 World Mountain Running Champion and a 5 Time NACAC Mountain Running Champion with the consecutive record.

How and when did you start running?

In middle school to stay out of trouble basically!

What has been your biggest obstacle as a runner?  

I think finding time to prepare for races. There are so many awesome races that pop up and many of them are very different in terrain and challenges thus, it’s difficult to train for all of them to perform at your best

Your biggest accomplishment ?

A long career of winning and being consistent at major events.

You’re a pro, but do you work work as well? If so, what do you do for a living?

I currently coach privately.

Describe a days general diet for you:

My diet is really based on cravings! I regularly eat Electrobites and Garden of Life protein after extremely tough days.

What’s a typical training week like for you? 


(Joe does not like to share his training. The secret’s in the sauce, as they say.)

What is your favorite workout?

Progressive tempos.

Do you have any tips for new runners or runners striving to reach big goals?
I think the best advice is to stay in your lane! Be concerned with your training and your personal goals and avoid trying to mock the training and goals of others. It’s easy to see social media posts about someone and to be influenced to try something that is not genuine or perhaps you aren’t personally prepared for, so be natural and follow your path at your own pace. Being smart will allow you to have a long career


Thanks for that short and sweet interview, Joe!


If you’re a pro or know a pro who would like to be featured on A Week With The Best, please reach out to me at


A Week With The Best: Maria Dalzot

Welcome to A Week With The Best! This week we have PNW runner Maria Dalzot. Maria is a trail and mountain runner sponsored by La Sportiva, BioSkin, Native Eyewear and Trail Butter. A few of her career highlights include winning the 2011 NACAC Mountain Running Championship as well as the 2014 USATF National Trail Half Marathon. She is also a multi-time U.S. mountain team member and constantly wins races throughout the Pacific Northwest.  

Thanks for joining us, Maria!


  • How and when did you start running?

Running has always been my life’s passion. When I was a kid I ran circles around the yard for fun and tag was my favorite game in gym class. I started running competitively in 7th grade cross country when I was 11 years old. I remember the day leading up to my first race I was so nervous; I felt sick to my stomach and distracted from school work. “This is awful,” I remember telling my mom. “After I get this race over with, I’m never doing it again.” After the race, I was buzzing with elation, and asking when the next race was –I couldn’t wait! Fast forward 18 years, and I am still nervous, still addicted, still in love with the buzz, and still in pursuit of my best.

  • What has been your biggest obstacle as a runner?  

My biggest obstacle as a runner is overcoming my anxiety. Through the years running has provided me relief from obsessive, scary thoughts and has calmed my monkey mind. The trails have been an escape from the stress of life and a way to refocus and prioritize. But sometimes running is the cause of my anxiety and leaves me dead in my tracks, stranded on a mountain top shaky and unable to breathe. It is a constant challenge for me to overcome such debilitating feelings to keep pursuing what I am most passionate about.

  • Your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is never giving up. Over the last 18 years of training and competing I have had too many injuries to count: stress fractures, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, strains, pulls, tears, broken bones, foot reconstruction surgery and bunion removal. Despite so many set-backs and heart breaks, I still get up every morning with determination to reach my goals.

  • You’re a pro, but do you work as well? If so, what do you do for a living?

I am a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science. I have a private practice, Maria Dalzot RD, where I work with people of all ages and disciplines to help them reach their health and performance goals.

  • Describe a day’s general diet for you:

Food is a major priority in my life. I usually eat 4 large meals a day in lieu of snacking. I do not have any intolerances or sensitivities so I eat a balance of fruits, vegetables, fiber, dairy and seafood. I cannot live without bananas, apples, yogurt or nut butter. I must eat these things at least twice a day.

  • What’s a typical training week like for you?

Mon: Strength training followed by 8-9 miles

Tue: 8-10 miles easy

Wed: 12 miles with 8-mile tempo or progression

Thu: Strength training followed by 8-10 miles

Fri: 8-9 miles easy

Sat: 20-24-mile trail run

Sun: 8-9 miles easy

Mileage: 70-80 miles a week

  • What is your favorite workout?

My favorite workout is one that we used to do in college all the time at West Virginia University, the famous 90-60-30. It is a fartlek of running 90 seconds hard with 90 seconds off, but keeping the ‘off’ pace honest. After four sets, cut to 60 seconds on, 60 seconds off. After four sets of 60, run 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds off, and then finish with four times 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off. I do a lot of long, controlled tempos and so this workout takes me back to being a kid and just running hard. It’s also easier mentally, because you can do anything for 90 seconds.

  • Do you have any tips for new runners or runners striving to reach big goals?

My advice to new runners is to give yourself grace. Running is not a linear progression. Embrace the lows and learn from them. With so much sharing on social media and Strava, it is hard not to compare yourself to other runners. I encourage you to look for others for inspiration, but you need a diet, a training plan, a coach and shoes that work for you, and only you can determine what is best for you.

For more stories on Maria’s running journey visit her blog at or follow her on Instagram @mariadalzot and Twitter @mariadalzotRD.

Thanks Maria!


If you are or know a pro runner and would like to be featured on our blog, please shoot me a message at

A Week With The Best: Mario Fraioli

Today on A Week With The Best we have Mario Fraioli, author of one of my favorite running publications, the morning shakeout. He runs, writes and coaches in San Francisco and has given me some of my favorite tid-bits of advice while I’ve built my business here at Upper Left Distance Training. He’s an all around good guy and I am super pumped to have him on the blog this week!

Mario, Introduce yourself and a few of your biggest accomplishments.

I’m Mario Fraioli, a running coach and writer with an insatiably curious mind.

As a coach, I’ve helped runners reach their first finish lines, personal bests, Boston Marathon qualifying times, national championship titles, Olympic Trials appearances, international podiums, world championship teams, national records, and even the Olympic Games. I’ve been fortunate over the course of my own running career to train under some excellent coaches, whose influence has inspired me to help others achieve their goals.

I share my thoughts on running and other topics that interest me in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter that goes out on Tuesday mornings. From 2010-2016 I was the senior editor at Competitor magazine and I’ve worked on numerous other projects in both the running and media spaces. In 2013, I authored The Official Rock ‘n’ Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training.

As an athlete, I was a cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in Massachusetts and have raced competitively from the mile to ultramarathon distances, with personal bests ranging from 4:09 in the mile to 2:28 for the marathon.


How and when did you start running?

I started running cross country my junior year of high school to improve my endurance for basketball. That was 20 years ago and I really haven’t stopped since. Before that, as an eighth-grader, I ran my school’s “Walk For Technology”—the idea was to raise money for a new computer lab by completing as many laps as possible around the schoolyard in an hour (we solicited family and friends to give us a set amount of money for each lap completed)—because there was a trophy for the person who could do the most laps. I figured I had a better shot to win the prize if I ran the entire time—and I did.


What has been your biggest obstacle as a runner?  

Not letting it take over my life. It has at various points, and in retrospect, running wasn’t super enjoyable during those times because I was so results-driven that I failed to appreciate the process and find joy in it. Fortunately I’ve been able to overcome that, but it wasn’t an easy road.


Your biggest accomplishment ?

Taking what I’ve learned through my own journey as an athlete and using those lessons as a coach to help others navigate similar paths, overcome the same obstacles, and/or achieve things they never thought possible.


You’re a pro, but do you work work as well? If so, what do you do for a living?

I’ve never run professionally or made a living off of appearance fees, prize money or sponsorships. My full-time job is coaching runners and writing about running/related topics.


Describe a day’s general diet for you:

Pre-Run: Usually a glass of water, small cup of black coffee and a bar of some sort. Before harder workouts or long runs, I wake up a little earlier and have some Generation UCAN in addition to the above.

Post-Run: Medium size bowl of cereal (Trader Joe’s Honey Nut Os) with whole milk; breakfast burrito (2 scrambled eggs, rice, spinach, salsa); banana

Lunch: Sandwich: 2 slices of rosemary olive oil bread with turkey, provolone cheese, half an avocado and a pinch of salt. Bag of Kettle brand Sea Salt potato chips

Snack: Small bag of trail mix and a piece of fruit (pear, peach, apple, orange or whatever is in season)

Mid-afternoon: Small cup of black coffee

Dinner: Fish, chicken or beef (always some sort of protein), green salad with avocado, tomato, cucumber, pomegranate seeds, side or rice or quinoa and roasted vegetables

Post-dinner: 3-5 dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s and a 2-4 squares of dark chocolate

What’s a typical training week like for you? An example from your training log:

Monday: Easy Run: 30 minutes or OFF

Tuesday: Easy Run: 60-75 minutes + drills/strides

Wednesday: Workout (intervals, hills, tempo or some combination thereof): 75-90 minutes

Thursday: Strength Training at the gym (60:00) followed by an Easy Run (60:00)

Friday: Easy Run: 60:00 + drills/strides

Saturday: Workout (intervals, hills, tempo or some combination thereof) or Long Run: 2:00-2:30 w/intervals, tempo or progression mixed in

Sunday: Long Run: 2:00-2:30 easy if did workout on Saturday or Easy Run (60-75:00) if did harder long run on Saturday


What is your favorite workout?

It depends on the day but I love a session of 8 x 800m on the track at ~5K pace with 2:00 recovery between reps. Another favorite is a 4-mile tempo run followed by a set of hard, fast hill repeats (8 x 30-60 seconds with 1-2 minutes recovery between reps)


Do you have any tips for new runners or runners striving to reach big goals?

Set a goal and forget it. Focus on the process. Work on becoming a better, stronger athlete in addition to becoming a better runner. But most of all, enjoy it! If you’re not having fun, find a different activity.


Thanks for joining us, Mario!

If you’re a pro runner or industry pro and would like to be featured in a Week With The Best, please shoot me an e-mail at


How Does Online Run Coaching Work?

I get this a lot and I’m not super surprised. Online coaching has been around for a while, but it hasn’t taken as big of a hold as say, online dating. However, it’s a growing service that many runners are using to take their training to the next level. I myself have an online coach. My coach lives in Flagstaff, Arizona while I live in Yelm, Washington, but that doesn’t hinder our relationship or the effectiveness of the training prescribed to me on a weekly basis. With many innovative online coaching software platforms and services like Skype and Google Hangout, hiring a personal coach is easier and more affordable than it’s ever been before. Here’s how it works here at Upper Left Distance Training.

I start by sending you our New Athlete Information Sheet. With this information, I can get an idea of your running history and goals. Every runner has a different story, so I don’t offer generic training plans in any capacity. In my opinion, generic plans lack the effectiveness of a personalized strategy and are a disservice to athletes. So even if you’re buying a training plan from us instead of personal coaching services, this is where I will start.

After I’ve reviewed your information we set up a time to talk on the phone or do a Google Hangout. Voice calling or using video chat services aren’t required, but I do believe they help to strengthen the coach/athlete relationship. While chatting, we can get to know each other a bit and make sure we are on the same page going forward.

I then start building your plan from the ground up with workouts based off of your training history, current fitness,  short term goals and your career goals as a runner. I deliver your plan in two week blocks through Final Surge. If you get a chance, click on the image below to check out their website. It’s an amazing platform.


During the training process we are in constant contact. I adjust your plan based on how you’re responding to training, what you’re enjoying and what you’re not enjoying, as well as adjusting things around any last minute wrenches that get thrown in the spokes (i.e. the kiddo got the flu or soccer practice runs late).

I’m not a drill sergeant, I’m a coach. I’m here to guide you, and yes, I do hold you accountable and encourage you to stay on top of your training, but I’ve got a family too and I know that sometimes we have to get creative to reach our running goals. I design the most effective plans to increase your athletic abilities based off of you as an individual and I pride myself in providing truly personalized and attentive service.

This is just how we do things here at Upper Left Distance Training. I do think it’s important to do your research, which is why I don’t mind linking other coaching services in posts like A Week With The Best. All the information you need for choosing the best coach for YOU is readily available online and you should be armed with as much information as possible when making your decision. Personality, experience, knowledge and price are all valid points to weigh. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s most important to you.

One thing to keep in mind is something one of my favorite writers and Ekiden Coach Mario Fraioli said, which is “Coaches: You’ve gotta know your shit. But first you’ve gotta give a shit. Degrees and fancy ‘certs’ mean nothing if you can’t relate to athletes.

If I had to give one piece of advice to an athlete looking for a coach, it’s to find someone you can relate to who actually cares about your success, not just in athletics, but in life as well.

I hope this gives you a little insight into how online run coaching works!

If you have any other questions feel free to contact me here.


A Week With The Best: Ian Sharman

We are excited to launch our new blog series here at Upper Left Distance Training: A Week With The Best. Every Sunday we will be posting a short interview with various pro runners and industry pros for a glimpse into their busy lives.

This week we are joined by Ian Sharman. If you run Ultras, then you know who he is. Ian is a British ultra runner sponsored by Altra, Clif Bar, Drymax Socks, Julbo Eyewear, Ultraspire, Squirrels Nut Butter and OS1st (compression gear). Living in Bend, Oregon, he is the founder of the Altra US Skyrunner Series and professional coach/owner at Sharman Ultra Endurance Coaching where he’s coached winners of Comrades, the 100k World Championship, Western States, and Leadville.

He’s run over 200 marathons and ultras winning over 50 of them, including first place finishes at the Leadville Trail 100 and Rocky Raccoon 100 (multiple times). Ian also holds the record for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (the combined time for Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville Trail 100 and Wasatch Front 100 in a single summer). 

If that’s not an introduction, I don’t know what is! Thank you for joining us, Ian.

How and when did you start running?

I started in 2005 after living and working in London in the UK for a few years after seeing a TV documentary about the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert. I’d always been sporty but wasn’t as active as I wanted to be so this set a spark in my mind and I started running, finding I loved it and so got hooked on races very quickly.

What has been your biggest obstacle as a runner?  

Finding time to fit things in is always a challenge, especially since I’m not an early bird so I rarely run before noon, with most runs after I finish working for the day, or squeezed in-between coaching calls. It’s definitely a challenge when 100-mile races usually start before dawn.

Your biggest accomplishment ?

The Grand Slam was the toughest thing I’ve ever attempted and it was more draining psychologically than I could ever have expected. It’s one thing to run 100 miles when you’re fresh and haven’t done something that tiring for several months. But it’s another thing to do it multiple times in rapid succession when you can still vividly remember the suffering from the last race.

You’re a pro, but do you work work as well? If so, what do you do for a living?

Yes, I work around 60-80 hours a week on coaching and Skyrunning, plus my training is on top of that. I love working with runners and doing something I’m really passionate about.

Describe a day’s general diet for you:

Overall I eat most things, except peanuts (I just don’t like them, but used to be allergic to them). I try to minimize processed food and eat fresh produce often, but don’t eat perfectly because it drains the fun out of life to have an overly restrictive diet. So if I can eat well 80-90% of the time I can afford to be less healthy the rest of the time, while still enjoying food and life.

What’s a typical training week like for you? 

This varies so much depending on what type of race I’m training for, especially since I love running roads, trails, mountains, jungles, deserts or whatever. But in peak training I may reach around 80-100 miles/week with up to around 20,000ft of vertical gain. As I get closer to a race my training becomes more specific to the factors involved in the race, such as hiking, heat-training, speed etc.

What is your favorite workout?

Downhill reps speed session on a 1-mile downhill in town at about an 8% steady gradient. I jog a few miles for my warm-up then run down it hard at my 1 mile pace, which means hard! Then I jog back up for recovery and do around 3-4 miles of downhill reps in total with the final one as the fastest. Then a jog home.

Do you have any tips for new runners or runners striving to reach big goals?

The simplest is to enjoy the ride and not rush into super hard or super long races. Every big step up in distance or difficulty should be for an inspiring, awesome race so you can keep motivated during the tough sections.

Thank you, Ian!


If you’re a pro runner or industry pro and would like to be featured in a Week With The Best, please shoot me an e-mail at


(Featured Image by Paul Nelson Photography)