Contained in the Thoughts of an Ultrarunner: Meet Dylan Bowman

Inside the Mind of Ultrarunner Dylan Bowman

Picture: Cameron Baird / Crimson Bull Content material Pool

Ask Dylan Bowman if it takes a sure sort of loopy to run an ultramarathon and he’ll insist he’s simply a mean man. One who thrives off asking “what if,” operating 125 coaching miles per week, and spending the occasional 18-hour stretch of alone time with a bib pinned to this thigh.

Bowman first received the operating bug within the wake of his collegiate lacrosse profession, when he discovered himself searching for a type of train to maintain his physique and thoughts occupied. Cue Tom Hanks’ most memorable line: “I simply felt like runnin’…and runnin’…” And Bowman didn’t cease. In 2009, the Colorado-native ran his first marathon with just some weeks of coaching. A yr later, he surprised the ultrarunning world with a 3rd place end in his first 100-miler, the celebrated Leadville 100. The Crimson Bull-sponsored athlete has since earned a heap of wins throughout the globe, from New Zealand’s Tarawera 100 in 2015 to the 100 Australia the identical yr. Simply final month, Bowman climbed an off-the-cuff 25,000 toes — and straight to the highest of the rostrum — profitable the 100 Miles of Istria in Croatia. All by the ripe age of 30.

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However earlier than you write this endurance athlete off as superhuman, hear him out. On an “off” weekend in Santa Clarita, CA, Bowman sat down with Day by day Burn earlier than operating an “unintentional” 34 miles on the Wings for Life World Run, a novel charity race benefiting spinal twine analysis. Concurrently 155,000 runners throughout 25 nations, members got down to run for individuals who can’t — and so far as they’ll — earlier than the end line (aka the “Catcher Automobile”) catches them. Form of the perfect enjoyable run for an ultrarunner like Bowman.

Learn on for Bowman’s method to coaching (altitude sleeping tents included), diet (#burritogoals), and the place his thoughts wanders at mile…95.

Meet Dylan Bowman, Ultrarunning Phenom

What received you hooked on the ultramarathon distance particularly?

Properly, ultras have been truly my introduction to operating as a complete, so —

One thing most likely nobody has ever stated earlier than.

Ha, yeah. I suppose only a few individuals have that sort of story. However for me it was only a curiosity. I imply I bear in mind once I first discovered concerning the Leadville 100, which was the primary main 100-mileage marathon that I did in 2010. It was a second in my life the place I knew I had discovered one thing I used to be actually curious about doing. It’s laborious to elucidate what made me need to do it. I believe greater than something it was simply intrigue concerning the those who did it and a curiosity about whether or not I might do it, too.

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And had you achieved a marathon earlier than that? Or it was identical to, “Let’s join the extremely!”

Properly, my first race was a path race at marathon distance. After which I ran a pair street marathons, sort of only for enjoyable. After which I did two 50-milers earlier than I did Leadville. So I had been operating for a couple of yr main as much as it. I’ve since achieved eight [100-mile races]. For our sport, that’s type of a very powerful distance, although there are races now which might be longer. However not less than on the aggressive entrance that’s type of the longest distance on the tour of actually aggressive world-class occasions.

So what goes via your head by mile… oh, 95?

“It’s a painful, painful train. However most issues which might be worthwhile in life do require somewhat little bit of struggling.”

Each race is completely different. However by mile 95 you might be just about solely fascinated with attending to the end line. At that time often there’s an excellent quantity of separation between whoever’s in entrance of you and whoever’s behind you. And principally the foremost motivation is that you just’re nearly achieved. However earlier on throughout the race clearly you’re fascinated with consuming and consuming and pacing. You’re doing the mathematics about the place the following help station is, and the way lengthy it’d take you. You’re making choices based mostly on the place your competitors is, and what components of the course fit your strengths.

For me, I’m a greater climber than I’m a descender, so I’m pondering, “OK effectively possibly this can be a good place for me to maneuver somewhat bit sooner.” However other than simply the fundamentals of what will get you to the end line quickest, there’s some greater stage pondering, too. It’s actually attention-grabbing as a result of at a sure level within the actually lengthy races, your physique and thoughts type of shuts down no matter’s not vital to the easy activity at hand. So that you undoubtedly cease fascinated with life stresses or relationship points or no matter factor in your life is definitely bothering you. It does even have type of a therapeutic — nearly meditative — impact. It’s one thing that’s laborious to simulate exterior of maximum train. And I believe that’s one of many issues that makes it so enticing and compelling to me.

Ultrarunner Dylan Bowman - Mount Tamalpais

Picture: Cameron Baird / Crimson Bull Content material Pool

Does the ache and discomfort someway subside a bit, too?

In a manner, yeah. I believe one of many main misconceptions concerning the sport is that it will get progressively extra painful all through the race. Operating 100 miles for my part sounds crazier than it truly is in follow. I imply clearly it’s very laborious. And it does damage. And also you do endure, however assuming that you just’re taking excellent care of your self and also you don’t have a structural damage, the ache is — you’re type of in command of it. The longer I do it now, the extra I understand that I can sort of management the extent of struggling that I’m experiencing, whether or not it’s bodily or psychological.

Loads of it comes all the way down to, you understand, “Am I low on energy?” As a result of in that case, it impacts your psychology. It’s straightforward to grow to be pessimistic and assume, “Oh my God, I nonetheless have 40 miles to go.” Relatively than, “Hell yeah, I’ve already gone 60 miles.” So yeah, it’s a painful, painful train. However most issues which might be worthwhile in life do require somewhat little bit of struggling.

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How do you gas your self throughout a race?

It’s at all times a shifting goal, making an attempt to determine what works greatest. Within the longer races, it looks like as quickly as you determine what works, the identical technique doesn’t work within the subsequent race. So you actually should be versatile. An important factor is consuming carbohydrates. For me, that’s gels, blocks and bars, Crimson Bulls and soda. Nevertheless it’s additionally troublesome to solely digest actually sugary candy meals, particularly after 10 hours of solely consuming that. So it’s good to complement with some actual meals. They may have potato chips or rice balls or potatoes — salty and simply digestible carbohydrates that work effectively.

What’s the weirdest factor you’ve eaten alongside the course?

The final race I did [in Croatia], I had a block of Parmesan cheese. I took it with me, as a result of I used to be so sick of all of the sugar. It was most likely 80 miles into the race. I’ve to say it was fairly good. It tasted higher than, you understand, a lemon flavored gel at that time.

Throughout your typical coaching cycle, what number of energy do you devour in a day?

I wouldn’t even know! I undoubtedly eat so much, but it surely’s a stability. So I strive to not gorge myself, however in fact, it’s important to be sure you get sufficient in any other case you don’t get well as effectively.

Just a few of my favorites meals are:

Breakfast: Granola with almond milk and peanut butter
Lunch: Three eggs scrambled with veggies and toast
Dinner: Veggie burrito with chips and salsa (I do eat a variety of burritos!)
Cheat meal: Fish and chips

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Croatia was your most up-to-date win. What was that race like?

“To me, it’s enjoyable to run via a complete evening the place it’s simply me and a headlamp and a few meals and water.”

It’s 170 kilometers, so it’s truly nearer to 105 or 106 miles. And there was about 7,000 meters of ascent and descent. So roughly 25,000 toes of climbing and descending. The altitude wasn’t a significant component. I believe the excessive level was solely about 5,000 toes. The climate was good for racing — possibly excessive 40s, low 50s at evening. After which within the early morning, crystal blue sunshine.

What number of hours did you do it in?

I completed in 17 hours and 50 minutes. So slightly below 18 hours. I truly was fortunate to have a fairly large lead. So on the finish of the race I didn’t actually should dig or you understand fully destroy myself. So I used to be in a position to actually benefit from the final couple hours of the race. I ended up profitable by about an hour.

Dylan Bowman Ultrarunner Views

Picture: Cameron Baird / Crimson Bull Content material Pool

How do you prepare for races like this? What does a typical week appear like?

Mondays are at all times my straightforward days — oftentimes fully off from train. After which relying on what I’m preparing for, the remainder of the week varies. However sometimes I’ll have three or 4 laborious classes per week. Relying on the kind of race I’m doing, the space of the race, the terrain of the race, I’ll try to simulate that as greatest as I can on these actually necessary days.

Weekends find yourself being actually rigorous. So main as much as this race in Croatia, I’d do about three hours on Saturday, which might be about 25 miles with some depth constructed into it, making an attempt to simulate the terrain that I’d be racing on in Croatia. After which on Sunday, I’d again that up with one other run in between 5 and 7 hours. So 30 to 45 miles. That’s achieved at a slower tempo — simply coaching my physique to have endurance after a tough day the day earlier than. Getting my physique used to shifting effectively on drained legs or on low vitality.

So, complete mileage for every week?

Complete mileage for me often could be between 100 and 125 miles every week. However I emphasize time and vertical greater than I do mileage. So I’d say between 15 and 20 hours every week. After which, yeah, between 15,000 and 25,000 toes of climbing and descending. After which I’ll oftentimes do a second session within the afternoon the place I’ll simply spin straightforward on a stationary bike, or do some circuit training-type workout routines.

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Do you assume it takes a sure persona sort to do what you do?

“The game has a manner of constructing the whole lot appear rather less troublesome, as a result of I’m continuously placing myself in troublesome conditions…”

Yeah, it undoubtedly does. I imply not all people’s motivated to train for, you understand, 20 hours at a time. However I believe it does appeal to individuals who like spending time alone. I’m a really social particular person and I do actually get pleasure from going out and having an excellent time with family and friends. However I additionally actually like having alone time. And operating for me is simply that in a variety of instances. It’s my time to be by myself and take into consideration issues which might be taking place in my life, work via issues I may be experiencing. And usually, simply be alone. I thrive in these conditions. I actually benefit from the a part of the game that’s about self-sufficiency. To me, it’s enjoyable to run via a complete evening the place it’s simply me and a headlamp and a few meals and water. And simply figuring out that if something goes incorrect it’s my duty.

What are among the craziest situations that you just’ve raced in?

There’s a race in California, it’s one of many largest races on the planet, known as The Western States 100. It goes from Squaw Valley close to Lake Tahoe to Auburn. It’s in late-June, so it’s often very, very popular. I’m an even bigger, taller athlete within the circuit, and I believe sometimes individuals of my stature have a tougher time coping with warmth. So you understand, when its 110 levels in the midst of the day and also you’re 50 miles in, these are fairly troublesome situations.

Additionally, final yr I did a race in Japan the place there was a hurricane that got here via and it rained nearly two toes over the course of the week. [For safety] they really needed to shorten the race. However I truthfully don’t thoughts operating within the rain or snow or chilly. It provides one other component to the race.

Dylan Bowman - Wings for Life World Run

Picture: Christian Pondella for Wings for Life World Run

So Wings For Life is subsequent, which could be very completely different out of your typical races.

Yeah, and that’s thrilling for me. Clearly, I simply did a extremely lengthy, laborious race a couple of weeks in the past, so that is extra about having enjoyable and being a part of an occasion that’s for an excellent trigger. Plus, I do like that undeniable fact that it’s a novel format. With most races you know the way lengthy you’re going to go earlier than you begin. So having that component of thriller with the Catcher Automobile goes to be enjoyable. I additionally like that undeniable fact that it occurs everywhere in the world concurrently. Understanding there are individuals on the opposite facet of the world which might be doing the identical factor as you, that’s motivating.

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What else do you’ve your eyes set on this yr? What’s your huge purpose?

My main purpose is developing on September 1: The Extremely-Path du Mont-Blanc, or UTMB. It’s a 100-mile circumnavigation of Mont-Blanc. It’s type of just like the Tremendous Bowl of our sport. It begins in Chamonix and goes via Italy and Switzerland earlier than coming again into France. That’ll be my main aggressive goal for the second half of the yr. So now I get well after which begin build up for that.

What would you say to somebody who’s making an attempt to get into ultrarunning, or simply making an attempt so as to add mileage or break via a plateau?

Primary: It begins along with your motivation. Ultrarunning is tough sufficient as it’s. When you’re probably not enthusiastic about it, it may be greatest to take a while away. But when it’s extra an issue of improper coaching, or not figuring out put together for the space, I’d advocate searching for out an expert coach. That basically helped me as any individual who didn’t have a background in operating. I nonetheless expertise plateaus the place I don’t really feel like I’m probably not responding to coaching, however having an expert who’s educated in physiology and completely different cardio methods to guage and tinker with my coaching is extraordinarily useful.

Had been there any rookie errors that you just’ve made as an ultrarunner?

Tons. For me, it was nearly how I used to be coaching. Again once I first began operating, I actually by no means integrated any depth into my coaching — I simply ran the identical pace nearly every single day. And that can show you how to enhance to a degree, however then you definately undoubtedly plateau and it’s important to begin being extra scientific or extra intentional about the way you’re coaching. So for me it was incorporating completely different interval classes, operating tougher some days, simpler different days. After which additionally being extra intentional about coaching particularly for the race that I’m making ready for. We’re making an attempt to simulate the situations of that race as greatest as we are able to beforehand.

Hypoxico Altitude Tent - Ultrarunner Dylan Bowman


Your day job is with Hypoxico. Do you employ their altitude simulation tents within the lead-up to sure races?

Yeah, I take advantage of the know-how primarily to acclimatize earlier than races at altitude. Since lots of the high races happen at altitude and I reside at sea stage, it’s an necessary variable for me to organize for main into competitors — notably as a result of a lot of the high guys on the circuit reside and prepare at altitude. For me that simply means sleeping in an altitude tent at sure factors throughout the yr and in addition doing occasional exercises on my spin bike at house utilizing simulated altitude.

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What’s the largest factor you’ve discovered about your self via this sport?

I believe the largest factor I’ve discovered about myself is simply how a lot I’m able to coping with troublesome circumstances. The game has a manner of constructing the whole lot appear rather less troublesome, as a result of I’m continuously placing myself in troublesome conditions and continuously proving to myself that I can get via them. And so then once I face issues in my on a regular basis life which might be difficult, I believe I’ve developed the power to stay calm. To only have an innate confidence in myself that no matter it’s, I’ll be capable of see myself via it. And I believe that rubs off on the those who I’m shut with as effectively. And, greater than something it’s simply allowed me to show to myself that I’m able to greater than I in any other case would have believed I’m.

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