Gediminas Grinius ran at the front of the trail ultramarathon world before a rough close to his season at Diagonale des Fous. Three months later, he’s kicking off his 2016 season at the Vibram Hong Kong 100k. In the following interview, Gediminas talks about his run at Diagonale des Fous, what his offseason has looked like, and what team he’ll be running for in 2016.
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Gediminas Grinius Pre-2016 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Gediminas Grinius before the 2016 Vibram Hong Kong 100k. How are you, Gediminas?
Gediminas Grinius: I am good. Hi, Bryon.
iRunFar: Welcome to the 2016 season. You’re kicking it off.
Grinius: Yeah, it’s starting actually very fast. Just after 2015, it’s already January, 2016, and it’s too fast for me, but maybe it’s because of the changes I’ve made.
iRunFar: Through much of 2015, you had an amazing season. You had Transgrancanaria with a win. You had a great race at Western States. You won at Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji. Then you had Diagonale des Fous. What happened there?
Grinius: From the beginning of 2015, I planned to do all the 100 milers in the Ultra-Trail World Tour. It was my main purpose, and I thought I could do it. You never know. Coming back to UTMB, basically my problem was a physical one. At La Réunion, I have a mental problem. It happened very fast. My body was able to run, and I was full of force, but my mind just shut and didn’t give the commands to my body to move. It decided to do strange things like swim in a stream, pick bananas, and all that crazy stuff. I enjoyed it, but I suffered enough, so I just stopped.
iRunFar: Have you dealt with that before in a race where you didn’t have the motivation?
Grinius: No, I’ve never in my life had a race where I lacked motivation. I’m always willing to fight. I’m a fighter. But at that race in Réunion, I don’t know, my mind shut me down. I couldn’t run. I was able to run, but I just didn’t find the power to move my legs.
iRunFar: After the race, have you figured out why that might have been?
Grinius: I believe I was overtrained and tired from the long season and I was not bored during the race but some kind of not willing to fight. This was my problem. So it was too much racing and too much training, and this is what happened to me.
iRunFar: This is only three months later. Did you get a chance to take some time off to find more motivation?
Grinius: Yeah, I took some time off running. I believe it was three or four weeks. When I started to run I thought maybe it was not enough because when I started running again, my training did not go well. After awhile, I’m back on the track, and I’m hoping it will be a good January for me.
iRunFar: It is the beginning of the year. It’s January. You live outside of Vilnius, Lithuania, not known for its mountains or… really, you probably can’t get on the trails much right now. How have you prepared for this race?
Grinius: Actually, I was lucky. I had extended holidays, so I went to Barcelona[, Spain] to train with Jordi [Bes] who is going to be here in the race as well. I just was training on Montserrat Mountain and part of the Pyrenees. I prepared myself physically for the climbing. In Lithuania, it’s total winter with minus 20 [Celsius]. I usually run just after work hours, so it’s even dark and colder. Sometimes I’m splitting my single run into two sessions—running 10k, going back home, box training (stepping on a box and doing some kind of climbing), and then going back out for 10k.
iRunFar: You don’t want to do 20k outside.
Grinius: I don’t want. You can freeze to death.
iRunFar: It’s that cold.
Grinius: It’s that cold, especially for my fingers. My body can tolerate the cold pretty well, but my fingers freeze and turn painful. After that, it takes a lot of time to get them back to normal.
iRunFar: You did a little heat training for Hong Kong?
Grinius: Yeah, I was surprised. The people who advised me said, “Oh, you must do some heat training because it’s a hot race. Here it will be plus 20 [Celsius] and the humidity. It should be very hot.” I did some sauna training and some heat adaptations in the sauna like running and jumping in the sauna for 30 minutes some days in a row. But it never happened. I had a few running sessions here to recce the Hong Kong course, and it was really cold. I never put my jacket off even though I came from minus 20.
iRunFar: Yeah, and race day forecast is maybe a high of 10 or 11.
Grinius: Yeah, I saw that. It will be cold. Now I’m regretting I didn’t bring my gloves and hat.
iRunFar: A new year often means change, and for you it did. You moved to the Vibram team.
Grinius: Yeah, I moved to Vibram team. I’m very glad about that.
iRunFar: You said that you actually had been thinking about this team and Polartec since you started ultrarunning. Is that true?
Grinius: Yeah, it’s true. Basically, when I was an unknown runner and I was starting to contact some companies and ask them for sponsorship and support, Vibram was the first one who I approached. Apparently the manager was too busy and my email is somewhere in his inbox or trash or whatever.
iRunFar: Having a bunch of brands’ worth of shoes to race in since you can choose from any company, what shoes are you going to choose on Saturday?
Grinius: This is actually a good question because I like running for Vibram because you can basically run in all the brands who are using Vibram. For this race, I will choose the Hoka Huaka. It will be a little bit adapted with the Vibram sole.
iRunFar: So Megagrip then?
Grinius: Yeah, Megagrip for sure.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you out there.
Grinius: Thank you.