When did you start Training with Wright Training?
Since the gym opened in Victor in January 2020.
How long have you been on a running-specific program?
I have followed a more specific running plan since I returned to sports after my second child in April 2021.
How long have you been a runner?
I had run off and on since middle school when I ran the 100m hurdles. However, I had never run anything longer than three miles before I ran my first 10k about a year out of college in 2008. I got into shorter-distance triathlons while doing my emergency medicine residency in Phoenix since there was a big culture of triathlon training down there. I ran a marathon with my sister in 2017 pre-kids; that was the first time I ever took running seriously. Since moving to the mountains, I have fallen in love with trail running, and it has been my motivation to run more consistently for the past year and a half.
You decided to do five running races in 5 months. Can you tell us about your lineup?
Overall, this is the most I have ever raced in a season (meaning more than one race), but I tried to make my race schedule manageable to avoid overtraining and burnout. I ran a trail half marathon in June, a shorter 11km trail race end of July, a very intense 26km trail race in early September, a road marathon in early October, and finishing off the season with another trail half marathon in early November. Looking back, I crammed too much into the end of the season. However, I wanted to try a variety of race settings this year to feel out what my strengths were and what excited me the most.
You are a mother of 2 and an ER doc; how do you make time to train?
It has sort of become something that’s just a part of my life. It is very hard to motivate yourself to do something every day. I make it happen if it “just is” and has to happen. If you have something that needs to be done, give it to the busiest person. They know how to make things happen and are the best at time management. It’s also about finding something you are passionate about because you will do it. Sometimes it means sacrificing some sleep. Everyone has excuses, but we can make time for the most important things. It takes some deep self-reflection at times to know what that is.
How has strength training helped your outdoor performance?
Strength training has helped me recover faster after big efforts in the outdoors and after races. It has also significantly helped my resistance to impact with downhill running and strengthing my core to help avoid back pain with prolonged downhill running.
Do you feel it was hard to come back after pregnancy?
It showed me what I was capable of, while the world tries to say postpartum women need so much recovery time and have to ease back in slowly over a year. This may be an unpopular opinion, but if you have kept up with strength training and exercise during your pregnancy, you can get back to the level you were at pre-pregnancy much faster than others say. This takes consistency and dedication. If you are consistent, you don't need motivation which is often lacking in pregnancy.
Your overall balance and well-being- It made me feel like a whole person and that I still had my own body. Being pregnant and becoming a mom can be all-consuming, but if you take the time to focus on yourself and your health, you can be that much better of a mom. It also teaches our children healthy habits and that mom's well-being is a priority.
What have you learned through your journey of running, training, and having kids!?
Women’s bodies are amazing and are capable of so much. I feel like I have a mom power now with endurance sports. I have become so much mentally tougher to endure through more than I thought capable.
With all the races, miles, and vertical you did. How did you feel afterward?
The biggest race I trained for this summer was The Rut 26km race in Big Sky, MT. This race is the most physically demanding race I have ever done. It was 7,800 feet of elevation gain over an 18-mile course. For training, I ran between 4,000-9,000 feet of vert every week for several months. The uphill is one thing, but you always need to be physically ready for all that descent. This is where strength training comes into play for making you recover faster from all the impact and also prevent injury, which is so common in trail running. Road runners can get away from minimal strength training even though it's not recommended. However, trail runners must have robust strength training consistently if they want healthy, prolonged training and racing.
Have you ever tried to do that many races/ miles in that amount of time?
I had run a road marathon, but 18 miles with 7,800 feet of vert at altitude is VERY different than 26.2 miles of pounding the flat pavement at sea level. While both are hard, they require very different training. Flat running does not translate to mountain running but building a good aerobic engine in the mountains can definitely help you run a marathon. You do lose some of your faster stride with long slogs up hills, but this can be overcome by tweaking your training to run some flat, fast intervals.
Do you feel good about your performance with the difficulty of competing in that many races?
I don’t think I truly understood the complexity of training for different kinds of running races. I just thought, “oh, if I can run a trail half in June, I can train up to a trail 26km in September, and if I can run 18 miles in the mountains, I can run a marathon on the roads a month later”. I’ve learned a lot about run training and the types of training you need for the various terrain and lengths this year. It has been super fun to learn and experiment. I have also learned a lot about myself and my own fitness and what type of racing suits my strengths. Spoiler: I feel I can perform the best for trail races that last between 2-3 hours.
This is all such great insight Alicia; thank you for sharing your thoughts and reflection. Great Job out there!
“When I met Crystal she immediately pegged my knee cap issue and gave me hope. She taught me how to strengthen the correct muscles to prevent more pain, enhance my movement, and preserve my love of yoga and tennis. Thanks to Crystal (and her patience- I’m not easy), my legs are stronger and my knees are less painful than they have ever been. And this is all over Zoom because I don’t live in Jackson! “
It was the nerve system of the largest empire in human history, and at its height, Genghis Khan's mighty horse messenger system connected half the planet. For a decade we've been rebuilding this ancient network to stage the world's greatest equine adventure race.
You square up to 1000km of Mongolian steppe on semi-wild horses, changing steeds every 40km. You navigate and survive on your own wits and skill, living among the herders. It's you and your horse vs. the wild.
This is the longest and toughest horse race on earth. This is the Mongol Derby.
Wow! You Won the Mongol Derby? How do you feel?
It's still like a dream. Each day that goes by I have a moment of €œwow, I actually won that thing! €. The feeling of accomplishment I felt crossing that finish line cannot be overstated. To have 2.5 years of work and sacrifices all come together into the ultimate outcome was overwhelming and incredibly satisfying.
Did you think this was a possibility going into the race
It was definitely one of my goals. Primarily to finish, but I wanted to give winning a real go. Going into this you never know who you're up against. Many are professional riders or jockeys. Everyone there was an excellent rider no doubt, but I was confident in my other skill sets that would serve me well during the race.
Tell us a little more about the race?
It's a 1000km (625)mi) race across the steppe of Mongolia. It was originally designed to mimic Genghis Kahn's messenger system (think our pony express). A rider will ride a distance on a horse, get a new horse and continue on. It's designed specifically to be hard on the rider, not the horses. Riders change horses every 20-25miles, pass a vet check, then select a new horse and ride on. I rode 28 horses over the course of the race. It took me 8 days.
I noticed vet checks were a big thing? How did you avoid this penalty?
I tried to ride the horse I had (not the one I wished I had) each leg. The weather also played a big role in how I rode. The horses have a hard time pulsing down in the heat due to dehydration. I was able to ride the morning legs faster than afternoon legs in the heat of the day.
How did you know which horses to choose when you made the switch?
I looked for overall body condition. I wanted leaner horses with markings that it had been ridden (white mark from saddles, worn down hooves, bit marks etc). On legs where I knew I'd have to trot a lot I looked for a long sloping shoulder which allows the horse to have a longer stride.
Did you sleep well during the race?
No. The first night I stayed up recounting my mistakes and going over how I could re-group and do things differently going forward. I then stayed 5 nights out with families not associated with the race. When you're staying on someone's floor and they're in and out of the ger (yurt) while you're trying to sleep, you don't sleep soundly. Also, the Mongolians stay up late in the summer, and we were going to bed early after a long day.
What did you eat?
I ate all local food and had one Gu Stroopwaffel for each day. Each horse station is hosted by a family that will prepare food for the riders. Typically it is rice with pieces of mutton or noodle soup with pieces of mutton. They also have these small pieces of bread (supposed to be donuts) everywhere so I would stuff my pockets with those and eat them while riding. One night out we were served a bowl of boiled sheep leg bones. We cut off what meat there was, put some soy-type seasoning on it and had that. It was pretty tasty.
How was your recovery?
The largest success of my whole race was that I didn't get sore the entire time. My body felt strong and prepared. I came home without a mark! The night after crossing the finish line my body got feverish while going to bed and had a brief bout of overall aches, but everything was gone by the morning. I think it was the final adrenaline let down. I count that as an enormous success.
How do you feel WT strength program contributed to your success?
The base fitness and tailored strength training was paramount in my success. The discipline to show up to one on one sessions twice a week for almost a year also helped me mentally. We focused a lot on muscles used for riding and areas where I typically get sore when riding. my body felt so prepared.
You had injured your hand going into the race? How did this play a factor?
I broke my 4th metatarsal at the end of May. This was hugely disappointing as I looked forward to a summer of long days riding. I wasn't able to do that. I took it as a sign from the universe to slow down and take a pause. I could still ride some, hike, cycle, and run, so I did those things to maintain fitness. I did a lot of hand therapy, acupuncture and cupping to help the healing. Teton Hand Therapy made me a minimal splint to ride with in the race. I was skeptical I'd be able to wear it without rubbing, but I wore it the whole time and never felt it!
You ready to do it again!?
I'd do it again, because it was that awesome, but I had such a perfect experience I couldn't top it. Something else will be on the horizon. I like having goals on the calendar to keep me motivated and engaged.
Anything else you want to add?
I'm posting a day by day recap on facebook and instagram if people want to read! @deirdredoesthederby