David Laney Post-2016 The North Face 50 Mile Interview

With quintessential David Laney style, he ran comfortably early before picking off carnage later to take third at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. In the following interview, David talks about how he’s learned to recover better from 100-mile efforts, what happened with his recovery from UTMB and how he decided he was ready to race TNF 50 again, and how he can so confidently know that runners will come back to him later in long races–oh, and if he’s good at mini-golf, too.

Read our TNF 50 results article to find out what else happened at this year’s race!

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

David Laney Post-2016 The North Face EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and we’re at the finish line of the 2016 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. I’m with men’s third-place finisher, David Laney. Dude. You took third.

David Laney: Thanks.

iRunFar: How do you feel?

Laney: Not too bad. I’m kind of tired.

iRunFar: You have a few blisters.

Laney: Yeah, they’ll be okay. Nothing like a 100-mile blister; it’s just a little half blister.

iRunFar: You’ve kind of been laying low since UTMB. Is that fair to say?

Laney: Yeah, for sure.

iRunFar: What’s been going on in your world since we saw you there?

Laney: I took some real down time for the first time in awhile. I got a semi-permanent apartment, a three-month sublet, which is permanent to me.

iRunFar: Which you identify as semi-permanent. We have a ridiculous Jamil Coury challenge going on in the background right now. It’s 90% distracting.

Laney: Oh, there’s clothes coming off.

iRunFar: Anyhow, you moved into an apartment in Ashland, Oregon, took some time off after UTMB because you felt like you needed it…

Laney: Yeah, so last year after UTMB I didn’t really take time off. I felt terrible for nine months straight. This time, I took two weeks off, and after that two weeks off I felt not that terrible. Then, I just slowly built back up and, then, decided to do this a month ago.

iRunFar: Do you feel like the motivation for signing up for this was that you felt like you were back to yourself or at least you thought you could be competitive here?

Laney: Yeah, I felt like… I did a couple longer runs and a couple workouts, and I felt good enough to actually start training.

iRunFar: I think being in that position is not an unfamiliar position for a lot of younger runners who decide to move up to the 100-mile distance. There’s this new kind of fatigue. You’re used to being able to recover in a week or two, but suddenly you’re doing something that requires more. What type of things have you learned about yourself this time?

Laney: Yeah, I think that’s totally true, the different types of fatigue. I could go out and do a 10-mile run or even a workout, but then once you get into a 20- or 30-mile long run, it’s just a different kind of fatigue. When you wake up in the morning, you can tell. You feel like you got hit by a bus. It’s just different. The recovery time is longer; the climbing is terrible. You can just tell after a 100 when you’re not ready to run again.

iRunFar: Do you feel like you were… a lot of people will say that they kind of get stuck in that where it’s kind of hard to tell the difference between the deep-seated fatigue and lack of fitness. You feel like, Oh, I need to train because I feel like crap when I’m running, when you really probably need to rest.

Laney: Exactly. It comes out like emotion rules what you do, but it needs to be logic. I’m not out of shape, because I’ve been running this much. I’m not out of shape. I’m overtrained or not properly recovered. I ran 100 miles three weeks ago… or not even 100 miles, but 20-some hours. You just have to… especially a race like that… that’s a mistake I’ve learned. I’m not saying I knew this. Obviously last year I didn’t know that. Something you learn from.

iRunFar: Talk about that turning point for you this fall where you felt like you were coming back around. What was happening in your workouts and your runs where you thought, Okay, I can put in for The North Face?

Laney: I wanted to go running. I just decided after UTMB that I was not going to go running until I really wanted to go. Ten days later, I was like, Yeah, I feel like some easy runs. Pretty quickly after that I really wanted to go. I had trained long days all summer, so I still had that UTMB fitness. It doesn’t really go away that quickly.

iRunFar: People kind of think it does, right?

Laney: Two weeks is not going to do anything. You’ll be fine. You’re still fit. You’re just resting.

iRunFar: Your endurance is ridiculous still.

Laney: Absolutely.

iRunFar: Let’s talk about this race. You took it out at quintessential Laney style, intentionally I presume.

Laney: Yeah.

iRunFar: Were you marking people by reports of time back or were you just trying to run easy?

Laney: Yeah, just run easy. I feel like I have the effort kind of where I know I should be. I can eat this much food. I know that’s a certain effort for me. I was eating well. Things were going well, but I was 12 minutes back or something. Then 20 minutes at mile 18 or something. Most of these races, if you look at what people have done, you get an idea of how much it slows down. I was slowing down. Everyone slows down. If you can just not slow down as much as everyone else…

iRunFar: I think there’s a legitimate fear in everyone to go out too conservatively and feel like they’re going to lose too much contact and never be able to get it back. Do you just, at this point, just have faith that it’s going…

Laney: No, just science.

iRunFar: Just science. This isn’t religious, people.

Laney: Yeah, to some extent I have an idea, This is what I think I can do. I believe that I can run hard the last 15 miles. I do believe in that, but one of the guys from Portland, the Jacuzzi Boys Athletic Club, this guy named Scott, he’s really smart in math and stats. He did a graph of 20 places of last year’s race against their average pace with the climbing and all that. It was so clear. This is what happens. If you can not do that…

iRunFar: All you’ve got to do is stay above that.

Laney: Right. If you just have the basic stats of the race… that’s what I do after a lot of these. I look at the splits. This is what you did. I’m not that good at math, but when it’s USA Today math, I can figure it out.

iRunFar: My last question for you. What are your thoughts on 2017? What are you aiming for?

Laney: That’s a good question. I’m going to have to think about it. I have a lot of things I really want… There’s like 100 things on the calendar, and then I realize I can’t do all of them. We’ll see.

iRunFar: Undecided. You’re not going to quit running and take up golf, are you?

Laney: No, I’ve never played golf except for putt-putt, and I’m terrible. I can’t imagine I’d be good on a bigger scale.

iRunFar: You’re still going to run.

Laney: Yeah, probably. Who knows? It’s a beautiful day.

iRunFar: To be determined. On that note, thanks a lot. Congratulations on your podium finish.

Laney: Thank you, guys. Yeah, thanks.

iRunFar: Super-solid day.

Laney: Thanks for doing everything, coverage-wise. It’s awesome.

Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com’s Senior Editor, the author of ‘Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,’ and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world’s wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

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