Last year, Lithuania’s Gediminas Grinius kicked off a great season with a win at Transgrancanaria. This year, he’s back to defend his title. In the following interview, Gediminas talks about how his fitness compares to last year, how he addresses pre-race international travel, and what it’s like traveling to races with his family.
Gediminas Grinius Pre-2016 Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Gediminas Grinius before the 2016 Transgrancanaria. How are you?
Gediminas Grinius: I’m good, thanks, Bryon. How are you?
iRunFar: All right. You are the returning champion here. How does that feel?
Grinius: It feels okay. The people recognize me on the street, so I’m happy about that. The people are taking interviews, so I’m very happy to be here.
iRunFar: You were obviously very fit at this time last year. Do you feel as fit this year?
Grinius: Yeah, I feel even fitter because I had six training sessions here, and comparing my times to last year when I did my training on the course, it’s a little bit faster. It a little bit scares me because maybe I’m a bit too early on my peak, but maybe it’s a good sign for the race, as well.
iRunFar: You just finished third at Hong Kong, and then you raced again?
Grinius: Yeah, I raced two more races. I went to a race organized by Aurelien Collet, who will be here as well in France, and I finished fourth. Some small details—the race was very muddy, and I chose not to wear proper shoes, so I was sliding all the time and lost 10 seconds on third place. Then I went for a 65k race in Poland and was invited as well by my friend, and I set a new course record. So, I think my training is on the track. It was hampered by my ankle problems one month ago.
iRunFar: So you feel very strong, and you’re racing a lot. One thing I’ve noticed about you is you’ve been able to race very well after travel. You’ve raced well in Hong Kong, Western States, here. Do you have any tips for running when you’re going to travel very far to a race?
Grinius: There are no big tips. For example, for Gran Canaria, I’m just preparing myself for the conditions. It can sound funny because in Lithuania it’s still cold and there’s lots of snow, but I’m doing some heat adaptations in the sauna because in Gran Canaria, even though the course is very diverse with weather and climate changes, the very last part is very hot. I’m simulating that with training for the end of the race. This is what I’m doing. I try to travel one week at least prior to the race because I know it works better for me because I cannot adapt to the various climate changes and the weather.
It’s better for the rest because I like to sleep. When I do my normal job and my training, I have a little bit of sleep deprivation. I sleep four or five hours which is not enough. So I try to travel earlier to the race, and one week is enough to me to catch up on my sleep.
iRunFar: So it’s worth that investment of time?
Grinius: Yeah, if you want to race well, for me, it’s definitely worth the investment.
iRunFar: It’s interesting to hear that it’s not just getting on the time zone or seeing the course, it’s stepping out of your other obligations because life is busy.
Grinius: Yes, the sleep is most important, I believe, before the race, and for recovery, it’s the most important thing. Sleep is one of the components. I believe it’s more important than the condition of the course or the time difference because usually I do ultras where you’re racing day and night. So for my body, it’s no difference switching between day and night anyway if you’re running.
iRunFar: Speaking of switching from day to night or night to day, this race starts at 11 p.m. Obviously you figured something out last year. Do you try to sleep in Friday morning? Do you take a nap?
Grinius: Usually in preparation for the race, if the race starts early in the evening or during the night, it’s the same. I sleep normally one night and I wake up and have breakfast, and for me, it’s not so important to sleep later in the day but just to lie in the bed to relax. This is the most important because you switch off your mind and you are a bit more relaxed and recovered before the race.
iRunFar: How can you do that because your wife is here and you have your two sons here?
Grinius: Yeah, but they’re very supportive so usually they’re going to the beach like here in Gran Canaria or doing some other activity and leaving me alone in the room. I have plenty of time to myself so I can recover.
iRunFar: Having an understanding family is very important.
Grinius: Yes, it’s very important. The support of family is the most important thing because if I have some quarrels or some misunderstandings with my family and I feel frustrated and anxious, it’s not good for the racing. Sometimes you should skip the race or drop from the race because of that.
iRunFar: Do you enjoy travelling to the races with them? How do you incorporate your sons into your running?
Grinius: Yeah, I like to go with them because my wife is the main support in each aid station, and she knows exactly what I need. For me, there is no need to explain there when I arrive what I need because she just looks into my eyes and knows, oh, I need to change my cap and to give me so many gels. My sons, they are cheering, so for me it’s very easy to cut the distance into sub-pieces. I run from one aid station to one of my sons and to another aid station to my other son and to my wife… it’s kind of a mental trick to complete the long distance running.
iRunFar: Will your sons sleep overnight on Friday into Saturday, or will you see them at a checkpoint?
Grinius: It depends. This time I expect them to be alive at a checkpoint, but sometimes they promise me, “Oh, daddy, we’ll cheer you,” but usually it’s just at the finish line or after the sun has risen.
iRunFar: Good luck on your race on Saturday, and enjoy Gran Canaria until then.
Grinius: Yeah, same to you, Bryon. Thank you.