Max King went out hard at last year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile before a rough spell from miles 35 to 45 left him in third. While he’d like earn a spot in June’s Western States 100 with a top three (or four) finish this weekend, he’ll still go for the win. In the following interview, Max talks about why he’s racing a bit less often this spring, what his nutrition plan is for 50-mile races, and how this weekend’s race might play out.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Max King Pre-2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Max King before the 2014 Lake Sonoma 50. How’s it going, Max?
Max King: Good. You?
King: Alright. Good.
iRunFar: We were just chatting about how you’re racing a little less than you have in the past.
King: Kind of. Yeah, usually I run or race a little bit more starting off the year. Yeah, I’m just kind of trying a new concept and focus things a little bit more to see if I can’t have a little bit better races at the beginning of the year and then maybe even take a step back after that.
King: Yeah, just do the shorter distances and stuff. The ultras are hard on your body, so you can only do so many. And last year I think I just tried to do way too many like one right after another right after another, and I didn’t get in a good enough training block for an ultra. It just started not going very well.
iRunFar: I think there have been rumors that you kind of have your eye set on something for this year. You’d like to head to that race in California—Western States—in June?
King: Yeah, that’s the plan. Qualify from this and then do that, and just get in a good training block until then.
iRunFar: Not too much racing in between then?
King: No, not too much racing, just a couple little small races here and there, but obviously no ultras and nothing big.
iRunFar: How has your training gone over the last couple of months preparing for this?
King: Yeah, it’s been good. Chuckanut was kind of the first test of the year and that went well.
iRunFar: You won in a course record.
King: Right, and I felt good there. Since then, I recovered really quick after that which was nice. Then I got in another good training block and then have just been tapering.
iRunFar: Have you done anything on the shorter side? I know in past years you’ve talked about how running the steeple and the marathon-type stuff has complemented your ultrarunning and vice versa.
King: Yeah, I still throw in workouts like that shorter stuff. I haven’t done too many interval workouts this winter, but I’ve been keeping up with tempo runs and threshold and hill workouts and stuff like that and keeping that side of things consistent because it always seems to work. If I get in a good training block like that, it seems to work better than trying to focus on the longer and longer distances. I’m still getting in the longer runs, but I’m just not doing any of the shorter-distance races.
iRunFar: At least not seriously. You did a 10 miler last weekend?
King: Yeah, last weekend I did a ten miler just as a tune-up or like a progression run more than anything. Then I did an obstacle race which was a lot of fun, and stuff like that.
iRunFar: Are you going to be doing more of those this year?
King: Yeah, I’ll be doing more of those. They’re a blast, I’ve got to admit. It’s like a cross-country race on steroids. That’s why I love running—shorter distances, cross country—and so, yeah, I’m going to do some more of that because I get to do it all year long. I don’t have to wait until just during February to do cross country. You can do it all year. It’s actually like good cross-country courses. They’re hard. They’re technically hard. It’s not a grass track. They’re not having a grass track. Yeah, gotta get away from that.
iRunFar: Throw some water barriers out there, and some pits.
King: Exactly. Exactly. It just so happens there’s some barbed wire involved in the course. Ahhh, it’s a cross-country course.
iRunFar: It would really make international cross country a lot more exciting… with spikes.
King: I think it would wouldn’t it? Can you imagine some Kenyans and stuff getting wrapped up in barbed wire?
iRunFar: Along those lines, it’s fair game if I jump out and tackle you at any point during the race on Saturday?
King: Totally. Go for it.
iRunFar: You were just out at Gu yesterday, or today, what is your nutrition plan look like for a 50 miler?
King: Today. It’s pretty standard or what I think is pretty standard. I’ve changed a few things, tweaked a few things since last year obviously with signing with Gu. I’ll be doing Roctane throughout. Usually I’ll start with the Roctane drink in my first bottle and I’ll do that for an hour or an hour-and-a-half. Then I’ll start with gels every 30 minutes. So I’ll take a Roctane Gu every 30 minutes until about three hours, and at that point I’ll try and do it every 15 to 20 minutes.
iRunFar: For the gels do you do Roctane?
King: I do Roctane, just Roctane.
iRunFar: There are a lot of people who can’t do that. They alternate or…
King: That’s true, or they change flavors or something like that. You’ve got to do what works for you. It’s very individual. For me, I’ve had a couple races where I’ve just done Roctane and I’ve finished strong, and that’s the strongest I’ve been able to finish doing that, so that’s what I do.
iRunFar: Those last few hours you’re trying to do 400 calories?
King: Three hundred to 400 calories/hour. I seem to be able to handle it. My stomach can handle it. Obviously that’s going to change when it’s warmer. When it’s warmer, I’m probably not going to be able to get quite as much down.
iRunFar: You probably haven’t had that much heat training.
King: No. I’ve done a little bit of heat training for this but not a ton, just the last couple of days or so.
iRunFar: Last year at Lake Sonoma, you were not overly aggressive but you were aggressive and running at the front to the turnaround. You ended up sort of struggling to the finish—you finished third which is still a good run.
King: I struggled mile 35 to 45, so it was a good 10 miles that I struggled pretty hard.
iRunFar: So you really want to run Western States and you need the top-three finish here. Are you going to change your strategy or are you Max King and going out to win it?
King: Nobody ever said it was hard, right? I don’t know. It definitely will depend on what happens during the race. The plan is to win. Obviously I’m not just going to go for third place. It’s definitely going to play out differently not having Cameron [Clayton] in the race. He was the front runner. He was leading the charge last year, and I went with him because it was pretty comfortable. Without him in it, it depends on if there is anybody aggressive. If there’s nobody aggressive, like really trying to make that jump, then it’s probably going to be a little bit tighter pack.
iRunFar: Sort of like TNF 50.
King: Right, where there’s a big pack and then it starts to string out. I imagine that’s kind of how it will play out more tomorrow.
iRunFar: One of the interesting X-factors is that there are a lot of these new Nike Trail Team runners—guys that are run with really fast backgrounds and you don’t know what they’re going to do.
King: Yeah, I don’t know what David Laney is going to do. He could take it out a little bit harder.
iRunFar: Or [Alex] Varner?
King: Or Varner, but Varner with it being his first one, he may not do that. He may be a little bit more conservative. I’ve heard he may be a little bit more conservative on that side of things. He definitely was at TNF and so… you know, he might be. But you never know. Or Chris [Vargo] could take it out, too. So, we’ll see.
iRunFar: Good luck racing out there, and have fun.