Globally, few ultrarunners have been as strong as Timothy Olson over the past two years. After a training effort at the Sean O’Brien 50 Mile a month ago, Timothy is ready to kick start his 2014 season at TNF TransGranCanaria this weekend. In the following interview, Timothy talks about his recent training, his upcoming season, and tips he’s learned along his travels.
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Timothy Olson Pre-2014 TNF Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Timothy Olson before the 2014 Transgrancanaria. How are you doing, Timmy?
Timothy Olson: I’m doing great. Yeah. Good to see you.
iRunFar: Good to see you as well. Here we are back in Europe. Last time you were over here, you had quite the run at UTMB.
Olson: UTMB was the last time in Europe, yeah. It was a hard-fought battle, but I got it done; so I was happy with that.
iRunFar: Totally. What have you been up to since then? You’ve been globetrotting a bit.
Olson: We’ve been traveling everywhere. We spent a month in Argentina which was wonderful—really fun culture and good people. I ran a North Face race there. That was great. It was fun to hang with the family there. Then we came back and did a little bit more traveling and never really had a place to stay. Right now we’ve been in Southern California for the last month and a half—staying there for a little bit before more travels, back here for Transvulcania in May, and then going to Colorado to get ready for Hardrock.
iRunFar: Nice. I’ve been following your training down there in SoCal, and it seems like you’ve been doing a lot of volume. You had Sean O’Brien, but that appeared to be a training run.
Olson: Yeah, it was a nice run in the middle of the week, or at the end of the week. Yeah, I’ve been doing lots of good training. It’s kind of hard not to there. It’s sunny every day. I’ve lived in winter with snow for most of my life, so running in January and February in sun is great. I probably did a little bit too much, but I took a nice long break before [this]. It’s just kind of organically kept creeping up, and I’m really throwing in a lot of vertical this year. The goal is Hardrock.
iRunFar: Your goal is Hardrock which is a couple weeks later than Western States, but it does seem like you’re training really hard early. Have you trained this early before when you were really primed for States?
Olson: I threw in a couple of good weeks before Tarawera last year, so relatively it’s the same. This is kind of when I start back up. I’m probably doing a little bit more; the sun is just calling me out. We finally have a home; it’s just nice to have a home base where we have a spot to go relax in the evening. Tristan has a place to sleep and take his naps. The traveling has been wonderful, but it’s just good to have a home base for now.
iRunFar: What has your training been looking like now? How many miles per week? What are your long runs looking like?
Olson: Every other day I go for four-plus hours. Where I am, I really like the two big climbs—Mount Wilson and Mount Baldy. One’s got 5k [feet] of vert in six miles and the other one’s got 5,700 feet of vert. I love that. That will kind of be the basis of my training—lots of climbing, and then punish the quads on the way down. I try to go hard for that first one up just because to kind of get the lungs working. I don’t do a ton of speedwork, so it’s kind of my way of throwing in a tempo and on some good climbs. Then I just kind of let it flow—whatever I’m feeling that day. I like to get out and explore new trails.
iRunFar: Well, you’ll have a new target when you get back there. I know you set the Mount Wilson FKT recently, but that’s been taken back by Jorge [Pacheco].
Olson: He took it back the next day. He’s awesome. He’s a good runner and a great guy. Yeah, I’ve never really focused on an FKT; I just do it as a warm-up.
iRunFar: You go hard.
Olson: But I go hard, yeah. So Mount Baldy is another one I want to go and just put some hard efforts in and see how fast I can do it. It’s more for me. If I get one of the faster times, it’s always fun to see where my strength is and where my endurance is at the time.
iRunFar: Any more tune-ups for Hardrock besides Transvulcania and Transgrancanaria?
Olson: I don’t know. I’m signed up for Lake Sonoma, but there’s this MS race the next day which I’ll be doing in Southern California. It’s for awareness for Multiple Sclerosis, and I’m doing it with Shannon there in Southern California. So I’m going to be doing that the very next day. So I’m either going to run the race and then drive that night back there, or I might skip Lake Sonoma. I haven’t made up my mind yet.
iRunFar: You have been doing a lot of traveling the last couple of years now and a lot of traveling for races. Have you picked up any… anything you’ve learned along the way to make it easier?
Olson: Traveling is always… I guess the thing to make it easier is to be flexible. It’s never going to go right. You’re going to miss a flight. For me, it’s always the language barriers. I’m working on my Spanish, but it’s terrible. I keep trying to learn that just so when I’m in a new place I have some… just a way to connect with the people better. So that’s been fun but challenging too with just traveling. A lot of times my family is coming with, so trying to find a place where Tristan can take a nap because otherwise he’ll melt. It’s definitely difficult to do.
iRunFar: We all know it’s you who needs a nap.
Olson: It’s me. He’s good. I’m the baby of the family. Otherwise, the traveling has been incredible. I recommend it to anyone to get out and meet new people, experience new cultures. It’s been really cool.
iRunFar: When you’re traveling to races do you bring some of your own food or is that a big question mark?
Olson: I never know what I will be able to eat. I really like a lot of fresh vegetables and really good quality food, so I normally make some kale chips right before I go so I have some kale. I have a really cool sponsor from Wisconsin called Gourmet Grass-fed Beef Jerky. So I load up a whole thing of that. I was staying at Garañón which is the high point of the race here, and I grabbed a couple avocados and some celery and spinach before I went up. That was my meal—simple, good for my stomach. I always find something when I’m traveling. Then I always travel with nut butters, too. I’ve got to have that. It’s my staple. It’s my breakfast. Yeah, so I’ll bring that as well.
iRunFar: Nice. Well, good luck here at Transgrancanaria and have a good season.
Olson: Thanks, man.
iRunFar: Vamas a la tienda?