This is Nick Coury from Phoenix, Arizona. He finished Hard Rock this year in 27:18:58, and placed 5th overall. This time represented a huge improvement from his previous times at Hard Rock.
Nick was nice enough to share a little of his race strategy with me while our crew prepared a breakfast burrito for him at the finish line.
Nick did some things differently this year. First thing he did was he walked the flats. Sounds crazy, but the benefits paid dividends for Nick. By walking the flats he was able to keep his heart rate down after running the long descents and hiking the big climbs. A lower heart rate means more fat burning as an energy source. More fat burning means more sustained energy over 100miles with less fatigue.
Next thing Nick did was never let his legs get juiced up with fatigue. He took it easy enough on the descents and climbs to keep the lactic acid from accumulating in his legs. Lactic acid is the result of pushing your heart rate beyond the aerobic zone and into the anaerobic zone. When in the anaerobic zone, consuming increased amounts of food (sugar) becomes a prerequisite to sustaining your effort. Consuming increasing amounts of food increases stress on the G.I. track, which can lead to serious stomach issues, nausea and the G.I. track shutting down entirely. Problems with the G.I. track are some of the most common reasons ultra runners lose so much time on the mountain and never make it to the finish line.
Nick was pretty adamant that these tactics made all the difference in this year’s Hard Rock. I whole-heartedly agree with him.