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Talking to Andre Blumberg

#8 – Session 2 – Andre Blumberg (granddaddy of Ultras) – Physical, Mental Training, Personality Questions

Continuation from Session 1:

 

 


“So glad you’re getting Andre on – big hero of mine.” – email from John Ellis (accomplished ultra runner in his own right)


 

As I continued to talk to Andre Blumberg, we covered the following topics in Section 2 of this 3-part podcast.

Session 2: Physical Training, Mental Training, Personality Questions, Lessons Learned

Physical Training

  • Physical training all the way up until the grand slam
  • Talk to us about your training program. Right from the beginning in 2010 all the way up until the grand slam
  • How did he bring his weight down by 30-something kilos in 2010?
  • How did he train for the grand slam?
  • Talk about the high altitude tent
  • Now that all the training is done and he is so accomplished already, how does he train everyday and where does the motivation come from?

Mental training

  •  Most people look up to Andre when the going gets tough. They don’t want to disappoint him. How does he cope with this himself? Is he influenced by external pressure?
  • What makes him mentally tough?
  • What does he tell himself when the going gets tough?
  • Was he this tough before ultras? Does he train his mental strength? Who are his motivators?

Personality questions for Andre

  • Is there a lot of pressure on Andre? So many people look up to him. So many regard him as a role model. How does he deal with the pressure?
  • If he had to choose between work and running, what would he choose?
  • How does he manage his time between working in a high profile role vs running?
  • This sense of humility and benevolence Andre is known for, where does it stem from? Does he make a conscious effort to remain humble despite being like the Godfather of ultras?
  •  What are Andre’s fears? Is he scared that he may run out of challenges?
  • Would he be rather be known as Andre, the father of ultra running, Andre, the founder of HK4TUC, Andre, the accomplished professional Andre, the mentor for runners? Which does he like being known as more and why?

Injury, pain and philosophy on medicine and alcohol

  • Doing ultras in 5 months… did he get injured? How did he deal with it?
  • What does he do when he’s in physical pain or mental anguish?
  • Would he take medicines? When/where does he draw the line?
  • He went cold turkey on alcohol. Considering beer is staple food in Germany, how did he go cold turkey and does he drink now?

Lessons learnt and definition of failure

  • What’s Andre’s philosophy on failure?
  • Has Andre ever DNFed? What’s his philosophy on it?
  • Philosophy on team runs vs individual runs. Which one is better according to him and why? Does he like team runs?

In Session 3, I talk to Andre about nutrition, Gear, The 4 Trails Ultra Challenge, Goals for 2015 and beyond

Session 3 coming soon…


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music

 

Talking to Andre Blumberg

#8 – Session 1 – Andre Blumberg (granddaddy of Ultras) – His story / accomplishments

Talking to Andre Blumberg

Talking to Andre Blumberg

Summary:

I was fortunate enough to interview Andre Blumbeg aka “granddaddy of ultras” in the 3-part podcast.

Without exaggeration, interviewing him was INSPIRATION, MOTIVATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL!

My biggest takeaway was this: “It’s easier to throw in the towel than it is to persist. Know your purpose, don’t give up. Very often we give up way before we should”.

Topics to be covered in the podcast:

Session 1: Andre Blumberg’s story, accomplishments (Grand Slam, Badwater, Lake Tahoe)

Session2: Physical Training, Mental Training, Personality Questions, Lessons Learned

Session 3: Nutrition, Gear, The 4 Trails Ultra Challenge, Goals for 2015 and beyond, Contact


 

Session 1:

Who’s Andre?

  • The father of ultras! The role model to many trail runners in Hong Kong. The only person who has completed the Grand Slam in the US (four 100 mile races in the US in the span of 10 weeks) with a total cumulative elevation of 24,380m. See Grand Slam quest. The 4 races were Western States, Vermont 100, Leadville 100, Wasatch Front. Since 1986 only around 280ppl have done the Grand Slam. Andre is in that club. In 2013, 31 ppl completed the Grandslam. Andre is one of them
  • He underwent a transformation before his 40th birthday. He started biking in the gym in Jan 2010. He weighed 103kgs then. In April 2010, he ran the 65km RTI. Same year he did TNF 100 in SG and the next year (2011), his first 100 miler (UTMF)
  • He is also the brain behind the 4 Trails Challenge

Three Quick Questions for Andre:

  • What is Andre’s favorite trail in Hong Kong and why? Also, what’s his favorite race in Hong Kong? What’s his favorite race overseas and why?
  • What in Andre’s view is his best accomplishment in the field of ultra running?
    Does Andre have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?

Humble beginnings including time scale:

  • We touched upon his story briefly but want to hear it from Andre himself. Take us back to the beginning. What is his story? When/why did he get into running?
  • When someone wants a life transformation, they’d run the Standard Chartered marathon or they’d do a 100km and end it there. What we want to know is (a) What caused the transformation? (b) What kept it going after RTI in 2010? Before that, when did he come to HK and what was his lifestyle like BEFORE all this running?
  • Most people start of with road running before hitting the trails. Why did Andre decide to hit the trails at the very beginning? Why RTI

Accomplishments:

  • What’s Andre’s biggest accomplishment and why? Grand Slam – he is also the only one from outside America)
  • Talk about the Grand Slam (Each of the 4 races).
  • He traveled back and forth to the US. How did he cope with the time difference?
  • Talk about Lake Tahoe (200 miles)
  • Talk  about Badwater 135 miles

 

Session 2 and Session 3 coming soon…


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music

 

Doing the podcast with Steven Carr

#7 – Steven Carr (Road runner -> Trail runner / Race Organizer)

 

Doing the podcast with Steven Carr

Doing the podcast with Steven Carr

 

Show starts off with the “Tailwind Trail Tip”  –  Three Tips for Downhill Running by John Ellis

 

Who’s Steve?

1) Very serious guy. Very hard to get him to laugh. No, I am kidding. Steven is a guy who decided one day that with all the people surrounding him being very healthy and very fit, that he wanted to do better. As he puts it in his blog, “it is quite simply a vendetta against all the people who have done better “athletically” than him”. A inspirational story and a guy who has a great sense of humor

Over to Steve:
1) Where is Isle of Man and is it a tax haven? Does Steve have billions of dollars hidden there and is he running from the law?
Nope! He says he doesn’t. But, who knows!
Quick questions for Steve:
1) What is Steve’s favorite trail in Hong Kong and why? Also, what’s his favorite race in Hong Kong?
Ma On Shan ridge. This is on Stage 4 of the Mac. Like Lantau 70 and Hong Kong 100
2) What in Steve’s view is his best accomplishment in the field of running?
Hong Kong 100
3) Does Steve have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?
The very famous Andre Blumberg. Very accomplished yet very humble. Also, Jeri Chua and Rob Krar

Humble beginnings including time scale:

“Before we listen to somebody we want to know who they are”

1) What is Steven’s story? (Touched upon it in the intro but want to hear from his own words). When did he get into running?
Decided to shut people up by doing the London marathon.

2) Talk to us about the half marathon.

“I woke up around 5. I put my running clothes on. Had breakfast; bananas, coffee, water, some Weetabix. Packed my bag. Bananas. Lots of bananas. I then went to the bathroom and proceeded to vomit for around ten minutes. What on earth was I doing?!? I hadn’t trained properly. I hadn’t even thought about this in any kind of depth. I was not ready. I couldn’t do this. I had to do this. I couldn’t not do it now. I had raised the money. My parents had come to watch. I had people waiting for me on the course. I will do it. I will finish it. I will survive.

5:35:21. The last six miles took one hour and forty five minutes.

How did he manage to finish despite vomiting? And, more importantly, what made him not give up?

What’s happened since the humble beginnings?

1) Why does he want to run and how big of a difference is trail running to him when compared to road running? Which one does he prefer and why?

Prefers Trail Running for sure now. Moved to Hong Kong, followed his wife Micheala around who runs. Friends who kept talking to him about runs got him into running. He decided to shut them up by knowing and doing more
Accomplishments:
1) Aside from his major accomplishment he already spoke about, what are some of of his other accomplishments? Talk to us about HK100 (2014)
After giving up at the 37km mark on the Lantau 70 race, he decided to work on his training. His trainer made his training process more efficient. Worked on nutrition (used Tailwind on HK100), focused on regular runs, better gear and was prepared as to what he was going to do every 10km of the race. Andre told him to call him when things got tough, before he could call his wife so Andre could get him to shut up and move on

Failures:

1) How does Steve define failure?
As a teacher, doesn’t believe in failure. Only in taking lessons. Writes lessons down

2) What’s his philosophy on DNFs?

No problem with them so long as you learn from it

3) What lessons has he learnt from his “failures”?

On HK100, better training, nutrition and planning

Philosophy on pain:

1) What’s his philosophy on pain? Will he take medicines to finish a run? What’s his philosophy on medicines?
He will not take medicines. Pain is temporary, glory is forever. Makes a rational decision to continue despite pain

Nutrition and Alcohol:

1) What about his diet? Is there something he avoids?
Likes to cook. Now uses Tailwind

2) What’s his philosophy on alcohol?

Hard challenges with alcohol, decided to stop drinking and John joined him

Mental Training:

1) What about the mental aspect of things? Does he have a recorded speech he’d give himself when he is suffering mental anguish?
Not particularly. When he comes across tough situations, he has learnt to persist by looking at the situation rationally

2) Philosophy on team runs vs individual runs. Which one is better according to him and why?

Individual runs. Isn’t sure about team dynamics just yet

Nutrition and gear:

1) Talk to us about favorite gear plus nutrition strategy on an ultra

Nike shoes, Saloman bag

Goals:

1) What are his goals for 2015 and beyond?
STY and a 100 miler in the future! Leadville or Western States (Thanks to Andre)

Career as a race director:

1) Talk to us about Hard as Nayls. What is it about? Why did he choose to get involved?
Got talked into it by Richard Scotford

2) What are the challenges of organizing a run?

Permits, people, volunteers, sponsors. He has the gift of gab. Was able to convince sponsors

3) Did he enjoy the challenge? Some guy fell down and hurt his head in the last bit of Hard as Nayls. How did he cope with that? How much stress is involved in being the race director?

Can be stressful. Had to learn to separate that incident and be rational about it

4) Would be rather be known as Steve, the ultra runner or Steve, the race director?

On that particular day, Steve, the Race Organizer
Lessons learned:
1) We spoke about lessons learned as a runner. What about lessons learned as a race organizer
Know many people. People are what make the race special

Interests:

1) Outside of running what are Steven’s interests? Does he read books about running? Which one is his favorite?
Cooks. Reads books. Recommends Status Anxiety by Alain De Botton
Parting words of wisdom:

1) Mantra or motto or creed that Steve lives by (either in his running or his life)

Doesn’t believe in problems. Sees only challenges. Don’t hang around with negative people

2) For someone who views Steve as a role model and intends to start running, what advice would he give to this person?

Be sensible! Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! Do your research

Best contact info:

1) What is Trail to a 100 miles? https://thetrailto100miles.wordpress.com/about/

2) What is the best way to reach him? steven@gonerunning.hk

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music

View from Pat Sin Leng (Courtesy Milos)

Episode 6 – The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (Blabbering with 4 runners post a 32km run)

Summary:

  • 32km insane run. Insane because of the heat! Terribly hot. 37 degrees as on Rupert’s watch!
  • Average speed 4kmh ?! We would have been disqualified on the actual race!
  • Saw a turtle!
  • This podcast is mainly me about me blabbering with the 4 finishers post the run! Don’t expect any meaningful takeaways!
View from Pat Sin Leng (Courtesy Milos)

View from Pat Sin Leng (Courtesy Milos)

Turtle in shop as you go towards Sha Tau Kok

Turtle in shop as you go towards Sha Tau Kok

Group photo

Group photo

Old village house (Courtesy Milos)

Old village house (Courtesy Milos)

By one of the blue beaches (Courtesy Milos)

By one of the blue beaches (Courtesy Milos)


To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music

John and I doing the podcast!

Episode 5 – The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (Interview with Hong Kong’s elite runner John Ellis)

John and I doing the podcast!

John and I doing the podcast!

Show Summary:

In this episode, one of Hong Kong’s most famous and elite runners John Ellis talks to us about his running story.

Who is John Ellis?

  • If an ego is justified, he’s earned one. But, this guy is as modest as he is accomplished. See his running results

Questions for John:

* Shout out to Tony Lai for his suggestion on asking  3 quick interview questions to all  the guests*
  • What is John’s favorite trail in Hong Kong and why?
    • Changes overtime. Going up and down Tai Mo Shan (Kiosk to Lead Mine Pass) is the current favorite. Because it is 5 degrees cooler and there are no spiders. Also, one can keep refueling at the kiosk. So, a good training run
  • What in John’s view is his best accomplishment in the field of running?
    • Not the races he has done well but the hard races. Where he has had to dig deep and discover a lot about himself. UTMF for him was one of his best accomplishments (he cried when he reached the 9th checkpoint at the 140th km). He still managed to complete the run thanks to Andrew Dawson’s advice. “If you ever pull out of a race, you have to come back and finish the run the next year and go through all the pain again. So, might as well finish it now”)
  • Does John have role models in the field of running? Who are they and why?
    • Stone Tsang. He’s a hero in the trail running scene. Also very nice and humble. First met Stone 3 years back
Humble beginnings: where it all started
  • Started off as a road runner and after he moved to HK 5 years back, he got into trail running. Did a few marathons (3.30-3.45) in Sydney
  • Loves the trails
  • From 2010-2015, he’s made a lot of progress. Did HK100 (when they did their first race) in about 13.45. He’s done it in 12.01 since! He’s gotten fitter. Knows the trails better. Lost weight – 12 months ago he weighed 71kgs and now he weights around 63kgs
  • Easts better food and has been off alcohol (thanks to Milos’ inspiration). He’s going to be off alcohol until UTMF/UTMB. 17 beers an hour after that! Dawson won’t approve his abstinence from alcohol but John thinks Dawson is really in Australia to drink wine, not to learn about it
  • Still likes his road runs (AVOHK series, Standard Chartered marathon). He did 2.57 in 2014. Giuseppe (another famous HK runner) did 2.59.59. Likes the red-line intensity of a marathon. Ying is another fantastic trail runner who also does road runs. Giuseppe did 4.09 in the Green Power (45kms)
Training programme:
  • No routine. One long run per week
  • Believes in strength work and stretching
  • About 55kms a week is what he averages (runs mainly during the weekends). 10-15kms during the week
  • During the racing season a lot of those kms are race kms
  • Losing weight and getting better at 100kms has helped him very much. Better nutrition/hydration techniques too
Injuries, coping with it and mental stamina:
  • Races too much and therefore gets injured more often
  • Trail runners run too much (Some like Allen Ng do every race and don’t get injured. John tried that but suffers from tendon issues because of overuse)
  • Needs to go to the gym more often for strength training. Needs to be more disciplined about it
  • During races, he is stubborn, he will ALWAYS finish. He will take the pain but will complete.
  • Did MSIG 50km on Sunday,  Umbrella Run (115km) onWed, 70km that Sunday. Went nice and slow on LT70 but was injured. Told himself he was there, wanted the challenge, embraced the challenge and got through it
  • In terms of physical pain, North Face was the most painful. Base of his feet hurt really bad when he was doing the race. Mentally, he remembered his Fitness boot camp in Sydney. Mr. Warrior used to say “Pain is weakness leaving the body”, “Sweat is fat crying”, “Pain is temporary, glory is forever” so he persisted
  • Tornado (156km) was a tough one. Did the run with Dawson. At Lead Mine Pass, he locked himself in the toilet but refused to quit. Same with Dawson. Both would have remained in the toilet had it not been for Andre Blumberg who showed up with his cowbell and gave both of them a kick in the butt. Andre is the godfather of HK trail running and the best support crew one can have! Andre also helped Vic persist during Vic’s 4-trail attempt (Andre’s race)

Trivia about John

  • Quite competitive
  • Competes against himself. First he targeted Dawson. Wanted to beat Dawson!
  • Goes easy only during summer. Not this summer though (has UTMB to prepare for)
  • Likes team runs and team training. Different dynamic and working as a team is something he likes doing. Helping the slow guy become fast is something he enjoys. Will do the OTW with Marie, Matt and Mark this year. Will miss Dawson during the run. Incidentally, Dawson told me last year that Matt (who replaced an injured John) was an “upgrade in terms of company” to John
  • Minimalist as far as gear is concerned. Runs without a top because it cools him down (not because he’s trying to get chicks)
  • He uses Saloman Sense Ultra Force for shoes
  • Uses a lot of liquid during runs (Perpeteum before and Tailwind now)

Philosophy on medicine and pain

  • Takes ibuprofen but ONLY during the 2nd half of the race. Does not take medicines during the first half
  • He will take the pain no matter what

Interesting races

  • Has done loop races or as Natalia/Matt call it, “hamster wheel races”. Got talked into doing it by Matt (who has a silver tongue). Took Malaysian Airlines to Brisbane (when their planes were going missing). Did 208kms in 24 hours! Monotonous, continuous, straight, fast running requiring mental fortitude
  • Did one in Hong Kong (Sha Tin race promenade). 15-16 hours. “Life is about trying new things”. Every km there’s a nice comfy chair (Natalia says “beware the chair”) but he still persisted and did well (although he says it wasn’t a good race!)
  • Did the Umbrella Run because he believed in the cause (115km)

Goals for the year

  • UTMF/UTMB
  • HK Trail Racing League this year

Advice to budding runners

  • Don’t do too much. Build up slowly
  • Find running buddies. They will motivate
  • Parting words of wisdom: “Life is about loving what you’re doing. Do what you love”. It will make you successful and people around you more happy

 To reach John

  • Go to Gone Running. Set up 6 months ago (Matt, JoeJoe, Steve, Dennis) – outdoor trail running store with good advice from fellow trail runners (john@gonerunning.hk)

A big “Thank You” to all the listeners for all the valuable feedback. Especially, Phillip (spelt your name right), Martijn, Tony. If you have more feedback, please leave a message and if you’d like to see a particular guest on the show, please let me know by leaving a comment!

To subscribe to this podcast, please go to iTunes and search for The Hong Kong Trail Rockers Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/hk/podcast/hong-kong-trail-rockers-podcast!/id994423166).

Music: A big “thank you” to http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music