Archive | Guest Perspective

How to Recover from a Hilly, Technical Ultra

The Bel Monte Endurance Races present a challenging, beautiful course for runners. Here are some ways to heal from endurance events with hilly courses.

By Henry Howard

The Bel Monte Endurance Races offer a 25K, 50K and 50-miler for those wanting to explore beautiful mountains in northern Virginia.

But check the fine print — the 50K is a 17-mile out-and-back course, meaning runners will do closer to a 55K by the time they cross the finish line. (The turnaround point for the 50-miler was at 26.2 miles.)

Regardless of the actual length — my watch counted 34.8 miles for the 50K — it’s an epic run with nearly 5,000 feet of elevation change. Such a race means recovery is key, especially when it’s a training run for my first 50-miler three weeks later. Continue Reading →

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Finding Jenn Shelton

photo credit: Jenn Shelton @sheltonjenn

She was the gifted, fearless wild child featured in “Born to Run.” Fourteen years later, Shelton still leads a “crazy life,” following her passion in pursuit of the next endurance challenge.

By Henry Howard

Jenn Shelton became well known for her appearance in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book about ultra running, “Born to Run.”

In the years since the book was published, Shelton has matured but still embraces a Bohemian lifestyle as evidenced in the new documentary, “Outside Voices.” 


At the end of the documentary, Shelton is in her small van under a moonlight sky. She’s on her cell phone, learning Italian. It concludes, with her repeating a translation, “You do not know who I am.” Continue Reading →

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“Slow Runners” are Still “Runners”: How I Embraced the Title From the Back of the Pack

When I started running, I was pretty sure that crossing the 5K off of my bucket list would be enough for me.

I was never athletic, my childhood had been spent tormented because of my lack of athleticism, and my body had never conformed to what I thought an “athlete” needed to look like.

I had plenty of reasons to assume that I could never be a “runner,” and simply huffing and puffing my way through C25K wasn’t enough to break that mental barrier. Continue Reading →

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How to Train for Marathons While Traveling

I am writing this while literally 30,000 feet in the air.

It’s been a busy week of travel — Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C., then back home for an 11-hour layover (seriously) before flying Wednesday to Las Vegas, where I worked — and exercised — until returning home Friday.

Traveling for work is not unusual for me. As a runner, I have learned how to properly prepare for maintaining my workout schedule whether I am on the island of Puerto Rico, in the mountains of Colorado or in chilly Des Moines in January. (Yes, I have been all of those places in the past year.) Continue Reading →

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From Baseball to Ultra Running

Former major leaguer Eric Byrnes was known for his hustle and speed. Now he has transformed himself into a passionate endurance athlete.

By Henry Howard

Baseball fans who saw Eric Byrnes play recognized his exuberance for the game — chasing after line drives in the outfield, sprinting around the bases and playing with an enthusiastic abandon for the game.

“Authentic is a word that I use a lot when I talk about Eric,” said Tarah Byrnes, describing her husband, now an analyst for Major League Baseball Network. “And it can be an overwhelming concept, if you think about who Eric is. His intensity as a baseball player, his intensity as an athlete, his intensity as a broadcaster — all of those things show it’s true, it’s authentic.”

His authenticity and athleticism are on full display in a 45-minute documentary, Diamond to the Rough, which chronicles his transition to ultra running and completion of the Western States 100. Continue Reading →

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The Thrill of the Run; Passion for the MTA Community

Longtime MTA member Foti Panagakos enjoys a packed racing season and interacting with fellow members on Facebook.

By Henry Howard

Fotinos “Foti” Panagakos has been regularly running for about eight years. In that time, he has transitioned from 5Ks and a “one and done” marathon to a prolific racer who has finished 38 marathons.

For Panagakos, it’s not the competition that drives him. It’s the thrill of the run.

And it’s also the passion of the running community, which is what keeps him drawn to the Marathon Training Academy crew. Continue Reading →

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American River 50 Combines Roads, Trail for Spectacular Ultra Race


Gloria Takagishi has a long list of running accomplishments — Boston Marathon, Western States, etc. — but will always remember and treasure her first ultra marathon, the American River 50 in California.

Now 70, Takagishi has started the race every single year. In fact, she finished AR50 each of the first 30 years of its existence.

On April 1 of this year, Takagishi will again line up at the starting line in Folsom for the race that is close to her heart. Continue Reading →

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An elite runner dishes on nutrition

Tina Muir embraces the high fat/high protein fueling method, while rewarding her sweet tooth with a daily dessert.

By Henry Howard

At age 14, Tina Muir hid in the bathroom as her cross-country team was starting practice. In time she realized that she was not only good at running but actually enjoyed it.

Running is now an integral part of Muir’s life. She’s an elite runner for Saucony, community manager for Runners Connect and hosts her own podcast. (MTA’s Angie Spencer was featured on a previous episode.) Continue Reading →

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Reflections on a Dark, Muddy Trail Marathon

My headlamp light was a DNF casualty a mile into the race. Fortunately, my Run Lites gloves kept the trail illuminated for the next four hours, allowing me to finish.

By Henry Howard

In the days leading up to the Winter Night Trail Marathon outside Indianapolis, Indiana, the forecast consistently called for freezing rain and/or rain.

But about 24 hours before the race on Jan. 14, the forecast changed. No precipitation and temperatures around 30 for the race. I figured my luck was changing and felt good heading into the race.

When I picked up my bib an hour before the race, I saw that it was number 300 — a perfect score in bowling. Another good omen, I thought. That thought would disappear soon after the 6 p.m. race start. Continue Reading →

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Stress Fractures in Runners

For runners, the dreaded diagnosis of a stress fracture (particularly in the foot) can result in not being able to train or race.

This causes much disappointment over months of discipline and hard work. Stress fractures are caused by overuse and repetitive activity and are commonly found in runners and athletes who participate in soccer and basketball.

Refraining from running and high impact activities for an adequate period of time is an important aspect to recovering from a stress fracture in the foot. Returning to running too quickly can delay the healing process as well as increase your risk for a complete fracture (which would take even longer to recover from). Continue Reading →

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Meet Chris Galaty, MTA Coach, Runner and Teacher

Longtime runner and international educator joins MTA team with a vision to tailor training plans to the athletes and ensure they meet their goals.

By Henry Howard

Chris Galaty has literally completed too many races to count. Marathons, half marathons, Ironmans and shorter distances.

Among his treasured finishes are the Boston Marathon, Chicago Marathon and the Lake Placid Ironman.

Goal setting is important to him — “empowering,” as Galaty says. But that not only motivates him as a competitor, it drives him as a coach. And now, he has joined the Marathon Training Academy stable of coaches. Continue Reading →

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Meet New MTA Coach Lynn Grieger

The Army veteran and 50-state finisher prepares her athletes for a lifetime of healthy, injury-free running, based on their individual goals and fitness levels.

Lynn Grieger has been a runner for 40 years, and has a long list of accomplishments.

Grieger, who achieved her 50-state goal this year, has finished 56 marathons overall. Additionally, she has completed several triathlons, 20 half marathons, four ultra relays and dozens of other races.

However, Grieger, a new coach with Marathon Training Academy, puts coaching over her own running.

“I’m most proud of coaching people to finish a race distance they didn’t think they would ever be able to complete,” she says. It’s more exciting for me to run with them and cheer them on than it is for me to finish a race on my own.”

Continue Reading →

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