In competitive distance running, one of the aspects that people like to point out about a particular runner’s ability is his or her range. To say that someone has great range is a way of saying that he or she can be competitive in a wide variety of distances. For example, many elite distance runners can have very close to world beating times ranging from the 800 meters all the way up to the 10,000 meters.
There is one runner in the US with such amazing range that he can be competitive in almost any distance he chooses. His name is Max King. Max has been a Swiftwick athlete for about two years now, and in that time he has been Mountain Running World Champion, and has been a top 20 finisher in the US Marathon Olympic Trials and in the top 6 in the 3000m Steeplechase at the Olympic Trials – and those are only distances under 26.2 miles. Recently, he has won the US 50K Trail championships, the XTerra Trail Running Championships and the UROC 100 kilometer race.
We here at Swiftwick have been following his progress and success from afar, because Max lives in Bend, Oregon and rarely races close to Nashville, TN, where Swiftwick is headquartered. Running on a string of three race victories in a row, Max flew out to Tennessee to run in the Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K, one of the biggest, most competitive trail races in the entire southeast. Max came in on Wednesday night and stayed through Sunday, giving us a good amount of time to get to know him and learn from him. As competitive distance runners, the runners here in the Swiftwick offices are always learning to pick up tips from guys that are some of the top runners in the country, and here are some of the tips that we here at Swiftwick learned from Max while he was here.
1. Strength and hills builds speed
While this may seem counter-intuitive Max says that his success on the track this spring can be attributed to the amount of hilly longer runs that were a staple of his training the last two years. He only did a few track workouts before running at the Trials, but he says that his aerobic base allowed him to power through the last half of the races at the Trials.
2. Experiment and find a sweet spot with your nutrition
Max lamented that while he had run a few 50 mile races before his big victory at the UROC 100K, he had always had a hard time with figuring out nutrition during races longer than 50K, and subsequently struggled. He switched around until he had found his optimum strategy of taking in 200 calories/hr for the first three hours and then 400 calories/hr after that.
3. Strides are for everybody, no matter what distance you run
Max does strides after almost every single easy run. Strides are simply 4-6 runs of 15-20 seconds each at a high speed, but not all out. This is a great way to maintain your speed without leaving your body fatigued.
4. Don’t follow the wrong people and know the course if possible
Unfortunately, StumpJump did not go according to plan for Max and many of the other race favorites. About 10 race favorites, including Max, followed some people from the 11-mile race that was going on, and by the time they caught their mistake, it was too late to be up front and part of the race in a competitive sense.
A huge thank you goes out to Max King for being an outstanding guy who does a great job as an ambassador for the Swiftwick brand and spreads the love wherever you go. Even though this weekend did not go the way you wanted, we loved having you out there and look forward to having you out here again!
Lots of folks from Swiftwick participated and ran well in the StumpJump 50K and 11 miler, including Roy Wells, Grant Castle, Tim Dennis, Matt Hawkins, and Jessica Miller.