Fall Running Tips

Summer is officially OVER! A lot of our athletes here at Upper Left Distance Training are happy about that, because cooler weather means easier long runs, faster workouts, and less lugging around of loaded hydration packs. With all perks of cooler days though, there are still some things to keep in mind.

Remember to hydrate. Even though it is cooler and you’ll need less water than on those blistering summer afternoons, you still need fluid to perform to the best of your ability. Fluid loss does occur, even in cool climates, so remember to stay hydrated! Your performance and recovery depends on it.

Do dynamic stretches. Muscle activation and increased blood flow is always important before you head out for your run, but especially so as the cool temperatures roll in. With cooler days your muscles may take a little longer to warm up, so prepare them by going through your dynamic routine before you head out the door. This is a good habit to get into regardless of the season.

Wear reflective clothing. I don’t do a ton of road running these days, but when I do I’m always shocked by the blatant disregard motorists have for pedestrians. And with shorter days drivers will be less likely to see you, even at well lit cross walks. Make yourself visible by wearing highly reflective running gear and NEVER cross in front of a vehicle before you’ve made eye contact. Always assume a driver hasn’t seen you until you know otherwise.

Upgrade you shoes. Technology is awesome these days. Go to your local running store and find a shoe with slip resistant rubber for wet roads (such as the Adidas Boston Boost) and don some deeper lugs for the muddy trails (visit your local running shop). An easy way to reduce you risk of injury is by not slipping and falling on your ass.

Remember the 20 degree rule, but be prepared in the mountains. One of my least favorite feelings is being wet and hot. If you live in the PNW you’ve experienced this at least once: you thought it was sub zero out there so you layered up, but it was 45 degrees and raining. Once you shuffled out of your igloo and got moving, it felt like it was 65 degrees and your were running in a parka. In a moment of panic you tried to peel your water resistant shell off, but it wouldn’t budge! OH NO! I THINK IT SHRUNK AND I’M STUCK!!! GET THIS OFF ME!!!!!! That’s a little dramatic, but you get the point. Remember that while it is much cooler outside, it will always feel 20 degrees warmer than it is 15 minutes after you start running.

That’s not to discount the importance of being prepared in the mountains though. Weather patterns often change and shift dramatically, even in low elevation mountain ranges, so be prepared. You need to consider windchill in wilderness environments as well. Always bring a pack with extra calories, a filtration device, an emergency blanket and light-weight rain shell pants and jacket at the very least. Better safe than sorry!

Take care of yourself. With the awesome fall running weather comes flu and cold season, so be kind to your immune system. Take your vitamins, stay hydrated, eat healthfully, get a flu shot (if that’s your jam) and SLEEP! I’m always on top of our athletes about sleep. Sleep is the best activity you can do for your recovery and well being. Even 30 extra minutes per day could change the way you live and run.


I hope these tips help you as you move through this wonderful season.

Feel free to reach out if I can help you with anything else!



Three Killer Hill Workouts

When I ask an athlete where they feel they could use improvement, the most common answer I get is: “I want to be a stronger uphill runner.” Well, don’t we all ?! There will likely never be a point in your running career where you feel you don’t need to improve upon your uphill ability; it’s always a work in progress.

Below are 3 examples of tried and true hill workouts we use here at Upper Left DT to improve uphill strength, power, and economy. It’s important to thoroughly warm up with easy running, drills, and dynamic warm ups before performing any of the following.


VO2 Max intervals

VO2 Max intervals are a great way to improve your aerobic capacity as well as aerobic efficiency in an uphill environment. By performing these types of hill intervals regularly you will increase your uphill speed throughout your entire pace spectrum (from easy pace to maximal uphill pace).  You will also increase your ability to tolerate and clear high levels of lactate, which directly compliments your threshold work. These workouts are a key piece to becoming a well rounded trail runner.

Example: 8 x 2 minutes uphill at a RPE of roughly 9 to 10 (Rapid breathing, unable to hold a conversation, only able to speak one word at a time) with easy walk jogs back down for recovery.

Make it more challenging: end with 2 x 10 second all out (100% effort) hill sprints to increase pure power and muscle recruitment.


Uphill threshold runs can either be continuous runs from 15 to 25 minutes, or uphill “cruise intervals” of 5 to 10 minutes in duration. These are run at perceived 60 minute race pace, just like traditional Lactate Threshold workouts, but uphill. If you don’t have a hill this long where you live, no worries! Set the the treadmill to 8% incline and get it done.

Example: 20 minutes uphill at perceived 1 hour race pace.

Make it more challenging: 2 x 10 minutes uphill at 1 hour race pace with full speed downhill running back to the start between the 10 minute intervals. *Be cautious with downhill workouts as they put an extreme amount of stress on the lower extremities.


Fartlek hill work is by far one of my favorite workouts. The best part about Fartlek is the adaptability of the workout based on how the athlete is feeling that day and what we’re trying to accomplish. The main systems targeted can easily be changed based on how hard you choose to run each interval, but the main goal here is to HAVE FUN.

Example: 4,3,2,1,3,2,1,2,1 Minutes uphill at a moderate to hard effort with easy walk/jogs back down the hill in between intervals.

Make it more challenging: Run the 4 minute intervals at perceived 10 mile race effort, the 3 minute intervals at perceived 10K race effort, the 2 minute intervals at perceived 5K race effort, and the 1 minute intervals at near maximal effort.


Work with your Coach implement any of these sessions into your regular training regimen and see the results for yourself!


Three Treadmill Workouts to Boost Your Trail Running Game

I coach a handful of athletes who don’t have access to big hills, especially mid week, but that doesn’t stop them from developing into bad ass trail runners! We work with what we’ve got, which sometimes means treadmill workouts. Like the great coach Jack Daniels said “Don’t waste your time wishing for things you don’t have. Do your best with what you do have.”

The following workouts (depending on how they are executed) can elicit a number of positive adaptions, including: an increase in strength, an increase in power, better uphill efficiency, a higher VO2 max, improved lactate buffering, and extended endurance at a given pace. Work with your coach to modify these workouts based on your current ability and goals.


Classic Intervals


How it works: Check out the course profile of your upcoming race and determine the average percentage of incline on the prominent climb(s). This will be the percentage you bring your treadmill to during your “on” segments. Warm up with a 20 minute easy jog, then set your treadmill to your estimated race pace for your upcoming event via RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) and perform 1 to 5 minute intervals (depending on your experience level, skill level, and the purpose of your workout) 4 to 20 times at your determined incline percentage with equal jogs at zero percent incline in between for recovery. Cool down with a 10 to 20 minute jog.


The Yates Hill Fartlek


This workout was suggested by one of our athletes; an army veteran and state worker in Washington who was given similar training while serving in the army. It’s become a team favorite!

How it works: Grab a deck of cards. Remove a set (2 of each) cards Ace through Queen. This can be a total of 4 to 24 cards; adjust accordingly based on your experience and skill level. The number on the card coincides with the percentage of the incline you will be running (Ace for 1% Queen for 12%). Warm up for 20 minutes at an easy jog, then set the treadmill to your estimated race pace via RPE. Pull cards at random setting the treadmill to the percentage of incline that coincides with the card you pull. Perform uphill intervals of 30 seconds to 5 minutes (depending on you experience, skill level, and the purpose of your workout) with equal jogs at 0% incline in between for recovery. Cool down with a 10 to 20 minute jog.

Not only is this a great way to elicit the physiological adaptions mentioned in the introduction of this article, but to learn how to adjust psychologically to changing terrain and discomfort on the fly.


Classic Uphill Tempo


How it works: Look at your upcoming course profile and determine the longest climb(s). Find an average percentage that coincides with that climb. Warm up for 20 minutes with an easy jog before setting your treadmill to your estimated race pace via RPE. Set your treadmill to the percentage associated with your goal race’s climb(s) and adjust the treadmill speed to maintain the RPE associated with your goal race pace. Run uphill for 10 to 30 minutes (depending on your experience, skill level, and the purpose of your workout). Cool down with a 10 to 20 minute easy jog.


A lot of trail and ultra runners aren’t fans of the “dreadmill” but the fact of the matter is that it’s an effective item in your tool box that can aid in your success, especially if you’re unable to make it to the trail head daily due to family or career obligations. Executing these simple and effective workouts as one of your quality sessions each week will change the way you attack hills on race day.

Have fun!

Safely Increase Your Running Volume

Winter can be a tough time to train for a lot of people. The majority of runners I know either had planned down time or forced down time due to a wicked flu season and/or horrendous weather in their region. Any of these things can be a blessing in disguise, as us runners tend to push ourselves very hard year around. It’s important to stay fit year around, but we also need periods of rest and recovery. We can either voluntarily take the time to recover with a reduction in load, or, our body can force us to take that time through sickness and injury.

However, winter is over! With spring comes new light and new energy! The days are longer, the weather is nicer, the flowers are blooming, and summer is on the horizon. Not only that, but the fire is burning HOT for all of those summer races you signed up for.  Now is the time time to see what you’re made of! Now is the time to start your journey towards running or ultrarunning greatness.

As John L. Parker Jr. famously wrote in his novel “Once a Runner” – “You don’t become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many day, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.”

Many Coaches quote this line, but how do you safely implement the “Trial of Miles” ? And without setbacks ? Let’s clarify the latter, first: There may be setbacks. It is foolish to think that anyone participating in this high-impact, repetitive sport will come out unscathed. Don’t let Charlatan Coaches or compression gear companies tell you otherwise: eventually you’ll sustain some type of running related injury. We all get hurt. We can do our best to minimize the risks of injury, but we can’t completely prevent it from occurring. And if we get injured? We also heal. And we achieve even greater things by staying positive in the face of adversity and learning from those setbacks.

But hey! Cross that bridge when you get there.


Let’s talk about increasing running volume safely:


Run slow.

One of the most common mistakes I see is people running too fast, too often, which leads to nagging injuries, inconsistent training, and subpar results. Slow down! You literally need to run slower to run faster. Unless you’re a nationally competitive athlete or have been running most of your life, the majority of your mileage should be fairly relaxed. This is especially important when you’re increasing volume to a level you’ve not experienced yet.

Be consistent.

Show up! Consistency is key. And it’s easy: you just choose to do it. Don’t skip days. Don’t cut runs short. Don’t make excuses. Consistency leads to better running, less injury, and more speed. 

Baby steps.

The 10% rule for volume increase is slow, archaic, and nonsensical. However, too much, too soon is the number one leading cause of injury in runners. Instead, try increasing your weekly volume by the the number of days you run per week. If you run 4 days per week, add 4 miles. If you run 5 days per week, add 5 miles. Listen to your body and work with your Coach. After a couple weeks of increasing, stay steady and adapt to a given load before adding more mileage.

Light workouts.

When you’re increasing your overall volume, it is a big stressor to your body, especially if the volume is in unfamiliar territory.  It would be too risky to simultaneously increase the duration and/or speed of demanding workouts. Keep strides in your program, or maybe hill sprints, or a set of light surges or fartlek sessions here and there, and every week or two, complete a long run, but keep extremely demanding workouts to a minimum. You’ll have plenty of time for those once you adapt to the stress of your new training load. 

Form Habits.

Get up early. Have something to eat. Drink your coffee. Use the restroom. Brush your teeth. Lace up your shoes. GO RUN. Habits become second nature, and in the thick of training, running should be no different.

Acknowledge fear and then say “Kiss my ass!”

Maybe you’ve never run this much volume in a week before. Maybe you’re nervous to increase your weekly mileage because you’ve heard horror stories of “over-training” or “bad knees” or “heart scarring” from publications looking to capitalize off of your fear. Maybe you have a little self doubt; this is all normal, but to be your best, you must overcome your fears. Believe in yourself! You are capable of amazing things.

Have you been running 30 miles per week ? Take the time to increase to 50. Have you been running 50 miles per week ? Take the time to increase to 70. Have you been running 70 miles per week ? Well… you get it. There is a point of diminishing returns as far as volume goes, so work with your Coach or use common when attacking a bigger training load.

I’m not saying you should go out and pull an Anton Krupicka; running 200 miles per week until you can no longer run at all, but you have nothing to lose by trying something new, and as easy, for your performance as a mileage increase. So long as you are able to balance the stress of running with the stress of your work and family life; push yourself progressively. Build your volume in your program in a smart and productive way with a long term vision. You can be who you want to be. And there’s no better time to make that transition than in the spring time, when the world feels brand new.  


“Much is not dared because it seems hard; much seems hard only because it is not dared.” – Prince Wenzel Anton Von Kaunitz


Stories Ultra Race Report

By Upper Left DT Athlete Josh-Meyers Dean

The morning started off early with a 3:30am alarm to get myself, and my girlfriend/crew master extraordinaire, Julia, up to make some oatmeal with peanut butter, banana, and maple syrup, as well as a smoothie before we made the ~2 hour drive down to Cheyenne Mountain State Park near Colorado Springs.

JMD1Figure 1 Early on

The drive went by fast, listening to some spooky stories from Dirtbag Diaries “Tales of Terror” podcasts. It’s been a fairly snow free winter out here in the Front Range, but it’s been pretty cold compared to the PNW, which I’m more used to. The drive was spent mostly bundled up and trying to “bank” warmth if that’s a thing? After a while we drove into Cheyenne Mountain via the wrong road and had to back track a bit, it was pitch black as I got out to pee on the side of the road, which it was already freezing but I was stoked none-the-less! We eventually made our way to the actual start and were greeted with Christmas lights, illuminating up the start area and the Human Potential Running Series arch atop the hill we would run up and down the next 30 hours.

JMD2Figure 2 The start for each loop

Checked in around 5:35, changed out of my Luna Oso Sandals into my Scarpa Spins, which I would wear for the majority of the race. We had a pre-race meeting with RD John Lacroix, whom is always full of inspiration and jokes. He’s a really stand up guy and was saying how, as a race organization, he wants to celebrate everyone and not just the elites. He also went on to say that, since cheating has apparently become popular in these endurance races, that if you are caught cheating, you will be shamed on every form of social media he can find, which I appreciated. The meeting ended around 5:55 so we had a few minutes to mess around and chat.

JMD3Figure 3 Happy Happy Happy

The race started at 6am sharp with John just saying, “Well come on, go!” and we were off like a herd of turtles. I stuck with the leader for the first lap as it was darkish and the mud has frozen over to form millions of little ankle breaking walls. The race consists of four different loops following the color spectrum, Red which was about 3 miles, Green which was about 4, Blue which was 6ish(?), and the motherfucking Purple People Eater Loop which was 7ish. The first red loop was pretty uneventful and I was still waking up, thankful to have someone to navigate the perfectly marked course so I could just go autopilot and not have to think too hard for the first bit.

We rolled into the aid station/home base where I grabbed some typical aid station food, probably chips. Julia refilled my handheld for me and I was off onto the Green loop, my favorite loop, in first place. It was still pretty chilly so I was dressed like a gaper with splits over tights, and very thankful to have my Montucky Cold Snacks 80’s style warm headband.

The green loop was amazing as I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise, and as I was cruising some killer downhill, the local military played their bugles, it was a moment of bliss and reminded me how much I love trail running. I got back to the aid station, had some food, and set off on the blue loop still in first. Not much to report on this loop other than seeing a heard of deer and doing lots of walking and smiling. I believe this was the loop that I got passed by Miguel Isaza, but my goal was just to finish all 30 and enjoy some new trails, not necessarily to place.

I’m not sure why but I really dreaded the blue loop, despite it not being the hardest loop. Rolled into the aid station, ate, water refilled, then out again for my first purple loop. Excuse my language, but this loop was fucking rough. It was the longest, and had the most vert, but more so it was just lonely. I didn’t run with anybody for the most part for the entire race, which was kind of a bummer but it was nice to be alone with my thoughts for awhile.

JMD4Figure 4 Aid station fare

The hardest thing about the purple loop was the sticky mud, that clung to your shoes like a parent with a child leash, it was annoying and made my shoes really heavy. But got through the uphill, banged my shoes on some rocks, and started cruising some awesome downhill. I was in a Zen like state that was sharply interrupted by my bowels reminding of how much oatmeal I ate that morning. I gracefully tromped through some sharp branches to find an appropriate spot, dug a hole, and the sweet, sweet relief of sharp ass pinecones (thanks CO). I got back on the downhill, cruised to the main trail, and back up the hill to the aid station finishing the first 20 miles in 4:30.

Not much happened the next few loops, aside from the mud being persistent, until I hit 50km mark (actually 55km) in about 7 hours in first place. At the start of the race you get a question on the back of your bib to ponder for the first 50km and then are interviewed by John about it, which will be put in his podcast series, Ultra Stories. My question was, “Why?” which I really thought about hard, and came up with how I want to find the joy in suffering, talked about my overwhelmingly positive view on life after the passing of my mom, and really just to show myself how much I can accomplish. It was probably a blistering 34 degrees at this point and I was never really warm but I felt really good and fresh. I had a veggie burger then set out on my second blue loop, which was uneventful.

JMD5Figure 5 Home Base

My second purple loop is where things really started to change, I was bonking hard, and really starting to suffer. My nutrition had been on point up to this point thanks to Gu Roctane, but I was really only trained to run a 50 miler at this point, and this race was a last minute decision, but I pushed onward. I’m blessed with an amazing coach, Korey Konga with Upper Left Distance Training, and luckily what I had done in training paid off since the winter was so cold, I had done all my long runs just really suffering. But, during this loop I was hurting and bitching the whole time, alone. I walked pretty much all of this loop, taking over 2 hours to run the 7.whatever miles. I got into the aid station looking pretty rough, but Julia, along with the best pals anyone could ask for, Jake Ryan and Ian Andridge, helped shove some veggie burger with avocado, as well as tater tots down my throat, sat me down for a bit, and set me off for my third red loop.

JMD6Figure 6 I call this, “The Suffer Burger”

On the red loop things really started to hurt and I was struggling pretty bad, doubting if I could finish, it was getting below freezing and the trails were back to their ankle breaking walls. Again I walked and met up with a really nice guy in the 15 hour version finishing up for the night. We shared the last mile of the loop, and it was very refreshing to have some company. That’s the thing about this race, it was so lonely that the minute you got companionship, it was one of the most cherished things I’ve experienced.

I arrived into the aid station slogging up that fucking hill, bitching and doubting myself to my crew. I did not want to go out for another loop, I was adamant that I would not go and here I would DNF. But ultra-whisperer John gave me a pep talk, and we talked about my DNF at his Indian Creek 50 mile race. I went to Jake’s car to lay down for a bit, had an all out bitch fit to Julia, “I can’t do this, it hurts, blah blah blah, bitch bitch bitch” and luckily she wasn’t having it. They bundled me up, stuck a headlamp on me, a veggie burger in hand, and set me off for my third green loop.

JMD7Figure 7 The best of the best

Let me say, I am terrified of running in the dark, which is something I will work on, but it really motivated me to get this loop done faster. It was also just so cold, brutally cold. But I trudged through the loop, alone and scared, in a horrible headspace. I got back to base camp and was set on not going out on the blue loop alone, I was not budging on this. It was decided I would sleep until 2 or 3 am (it was 8:30pm) and then go out. Well, I ended up sleeping until 5:45, which I was okay with since this meant I could pick up Julia as a pacer for the final 6 hours. I woke up convinced I was DFL, which at this point placing didn’t matter, I just wanted to finish.

JMD8Figure 8 Relentless Positivity

Julia and I set out on my third blue loop, and honestly I felt fresh and refreshed, slow but stoked. I was just happy to have someone with me and lucky to have such an amazing girlfriend to pace my slow ass for 6 hours. We ran most of the downs, not a single hill, and some flats. Otherwise, it was a pretty uneventful loop.

Setting off on my last purple loop, we found out I was in third, “It shouldn’t matter but just so you know, you’re in a close top three” said Sherpa John. This lit a fire and we cruised out on the purple loop running a bit more, although naming a series of hills The range of Mount NOPE, as in every time we started running up a hill, I’d exclaim, “NOPE” and start walking. At some point we ended up in second place as we ran into base camp. We didn’t stay for too long because I had a fire under me at this point, but had some pickles, tots (THANK GOD FOR TATER TOTS), shoved a lemonade Gu down my throat, and set off for my final red loop.

JMD9Figure 9 shameless plug

This loop HURT and we walked most of it but got it done and came back to camp, in first place. I was pretty surprised but got a wave of energy! In the last hour there’s the “golden hour loop” which is a pleasant .6 mile loop going down a hill, and then back up one, on new trails which I was very thankful for. Anyone can join you this last hour so Jake, Julia, and myself set for five of these loops smiling and laughing the whole time, hooping and hollering at whatever runners we saw. This one guy, who this was his first ultra and hit 50 miles! Set out on one loop with his dad and that made me pretty happy.

When we got done with all these loops we returned to base camp to discover that I had won, which was pretty neat, but I was more psyched that I didn’t end up quitting. This girl Kate, had a goal of 50 miles and was really struggling the night before, but she pushed through and made it winning her the Purple People Eater Diversity Award! Very humbling to see such perseverance. I immediately cracked open a well deserved Montucky Cold Snack who supported me throughout this race, a company who gives 8% of profits to local causes! Had a good talk and interview with John, hung out with the remaining people, then went on to crush burritos and margs before the drive home.

Very thankful for everyone who supported me through this, from my awesome crew, Sherpa John and all of Human Potential Running Series, Gu Energy, Montucky Cold Snacks, Scarpa, and Korey Konga and all of my ULDT team mates. Ultra running may be a individual sport but without these people it wouldn’t be possible. It was the first ultra I have won too which I’m pretty psyched on! Now time to shift the focus to vert for the rest of the year. (All photos in this race report art credited to Ian Andridge Photography)

JMD10Figure 10 Post race

Running with Cougars and Black Bears

Early this morning I got this text from one of our athletes “… I got out to the mountains and it is dark as FUCK out here and POURING and I do not feel ok running all by my lonesome, because a bear will 100% eat me.” GIRRRRRRL! I feel your pain! With shorter days, longer nights, and winter weather rolling in, morning trail runs are starting to feel a bit sketchy, to say the least.

Even here in Oregon where there has never been a recorded Cougar attack in the wild, the thought of a big cat stalking you as the sun rises is enough to make the hair on your neck stand up while your focus slowly drifts away from your hill workout and towards stone age survival instincts.

Realistically, you shouldn’t be too worried. Statistically speaking you’re more likely to get hit by a car or mugged by a drug addict than assaulted by a bear or jumped by a cougar in the wild, still, it can happen and has happened. Pretending like you’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about won’t make the possibility go away.

It is highly unlikely that you’ll ever see a cougar. A cougar may have seen you, but sightings are rare and encounters even more so. Bears, on the other hand, are seen fairly often, especially here in Southern Oregon. I swear we have more Bears in Ashland than raccoons! They’re fairly common on the trails here, we even had one in our driveway last week. So what do you do to keep yourself safe while hitting the trails in Black Bear and Cougar country? And what do you do if you ever face an encounter?  

When you’re running in Black Bear and Cougar country be sure to be cautious at dawn and dusk when these animals are most active. Contrary to suggestions I’ve seen in publications like Trail Runner Magazine, DO NOT wear headphones on the trail or in wild places. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Stay alert and look up trail often. Glance around as well (while paying attention to your footing) and be cognizant of what’s above you if you’re approaching ledges. If you stop to rest, sit, or tie your shoe, be especially alert. Never stop and turn your back to a heavily wooded area. Be sure to make noise to alert wildlife so that you don’t come around a bend surprise a Bear or Cougar. When I start getting nervous I like to clap my hands to let the noise echo through the woods so that my presence is known.

If you do encounter a Black Bear or Cougar, remain calm. Give them space and back away slowly. Whatever you do, do not run, as running can trigger the animal’s instinct to give chase. Use your coat or pack to make yourself appear as large as possible and speak in a low and firm voice as you back away. Never turn your back on a Cougar or Black Bear. Face the animal, stay calm, back away slowly, and give them a way to escape.

In the unlikely event that you’re attacked by either a Black Bear or Cougar, you will need to fight back; you will be fighting for your life! Use your fists, rocks, sticks and anything else that is available to you. In the majority of recorded attacks, people have been able to fight the animals off and survive.

I’m not sharing these tips to scare you, but it is important to be aware of the risks you’re taking in the back country. Often times in life, the risks we take are well worth the rewards, so long as you’re aware of the the possible consequences associated with the choices you’re making.

The bears I’ve come across have been extremely skittish, even with cubs. And the chances of being attacked by a Cougar? Well, according to the Bay Area Puma Project, you’re 150 X more likely to be killed by hitting a deer with your car, 300 X more likely to be killed by a domestic dog, 500 X more likely to die drowning in your own bathtub, and 7,000 X more likely to die in a car crash!  It is literally more dangerous to walk down the street at night in any US city than it is to hit the trails in Cougar country.

Don’t be afraid, just be aware!

For more information about Mountain Lions and Puma FAQs visit this website.

Find more information about Bears here.


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 upperleftdt@gmail.com and be sure to check out the hashtag #Team7hills on social media.

*Featured image by Glenn Tachiyama

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 upperleftdt@gmail.com


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. http://www.mariadalzotrd.com/

  • 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 http://mariadalzot.blogspot.com/ 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 upperleftdt@gmail.com

Trail Running Etiquette With Your Dog

We all love our fur babies. Luna, our Great Dane, is one of my best friends and a great running partner. She comes with me for most of my easy mileage, and occasionally, out into the mountains. Now, I know people have a lot of opinions on this subject, but at Upper Left Distance Training we believe the trails should be shared by everyone, and everyone should feel safe on them. Theses guidelines are common sense and basic courtesy to other trail users.

  1. Keep your pet on a leash. I DO NOT CARE how nice you say your dog is; it is an animal, and animals behave erratically. Last year we were hiking up Mt Ellinor when a Dalmation came down the trail wagging it’s tail, looking cute as ever. Intimidated by the size of our dog, as other dogs often are, it attacked her. As you can imagine I was furious. Be respectful and thoughtful of other users and their safety. Keep your dog on a leash that is no longer than 6 feet in length. This is not only as a courtesy to other trail users, but to protect your pupper from other dogs and wild life, such as bears.
  2. Yield to other trail users. Keep your dog close to you when passing and yield when possible. Dogs can be intimidating to some people. We had a lady become absolutely terrified when we passed her with Luna on our way up to Lena Lake, even though Luna was leashed. The lady was screaming “No. No. NO!” It seemed absurd, but you never know what people have experienced in their lives. Be courteous and keep your pets near you by holding them by the collar as you pass other runners and hikers.
  3. Pack it in, pack it out. Seriously. If your dog shits in the woods, pick that shit up or bury it. Don’t bag it and leave it on the trail and think “oh, I’ll pick that up later” and then forget and drive off in your Subaru like nothing happened. The same rules apply to your dog’s shit as they do to yours.
  4. Do not leave your pet tied up and unattended. This should be a no brainer if you’re trail running, hiking or camping, but don’t leave your pet alone. The wilderness is home to a ton of wild life including bears and cougars, which would be happy to have  your dog as a snack. Not only that, but keep in mind that all wild animals have the potential of carrying rabies.
  5. Doggy First Aid. Carry a first aid kit for your dog. There are many hazards on the trail and those don’t only apply to you. If your fur baby gets a cut on her pad, you’ll want to be able to dress it up and get her back to the car safely.
  6. Water. Care for your dog in the wilderness as you would at home and plan for extra water consumption due to heavy exertion. Carry extra water for yourself and your pup along with collapsible bowl.

That’s all I’ve got! Do you have any other tips or suggestions ?