Adam Peterman will be making his 100-mile debut at the 2022 Western States 100. In the following interview, Adam talks about when he first learned about Western States, how he’s handling trail ultramarathon training better than collegiate track and cross-country training, and what lessons he’ll take from his previous ultras into this weekend’s race.
Adam Peterman Pre-2022 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar, here with Adam Peterman before the 2022 Western States 100. How are you, Adam?
Adam Peterman: I’m great. Yeah, thanks for having me on.
iRunFar: My pleasure. So, you’re fairly new to the trail ultrarunning scene, just started last year. But your high school coach was Mike Foote. So, you’ve known about ultras for a while. When did Western States, in particular, come on your radar?
Peterman: I think the first time I ever heard about it was, it was through an event Foote actually organized. Foote and my other high school coach organized this movie showing at our local theater. I think it was my freshman or sophomore year of high school. But they showed “Unbreakable,” the iconic film with Tony Krupicka and Geoff Roes. And they showed the film, and they had three of those guys on a panel on stage for questions. So, that was the first time I heard about it. I don’t know if I was necessarily inspired to run it, but anyway, it became on my radar then.
iRunFar: And then when did you decide, “This is something I want to do?” Because obviously, it had to be pretty soon after you started running ultras or before, even.
Peterman: Yeah, yeah, I would say like, Western States was the ultra I would always follow. When you’re in college, I feel like a lot of people don’t really follow trail and ultrarunning, but Western States was what I would follow.
iRunFar: Got it.
Peterman: And so I think maybe in the back of my head then I thought it would be a cool one to run eventually. Like bucket list, maybe when I’m like 40. But then it all happened last year really. My girlfriend Erin ran at Western States and I crewed her. And just like, being here and part of this whole atmosphere, it just blew me away.
iRunFar: Nice. It drew you in, just the experience.
Peterman: Yeah. And I remember I wrote out a long-term plan of races I wanted to do. I think I said 2023 Western States was on it. But, here we are, one year early.
iRunFar: Had you already signed up for Speedgoat before Western States?
Peterman: Yeah, last year. Last year Speedgoat was kind of the first one.
iRunFar: So, your first real trail mountain race was The Rut a couple of years ago, and that did not go well.
Peterman: It was so bad.
iRunFar: Per your own words.
Peterman: Yeah, it was terrible.
iRunFar: But you’ve stuck everything else, like…
Peterman: Everything else has been pretty good.
iRunFar: Like, how do you explain that?
Peterman: Well, The Rut was weird. I really went into the race pretty undertrained, I was working for the Forest Service all summer, so I was good at hiking but I wasn’t running very much. And I feel like that weekend, something was just off. I was kind of battling a little bit of a fever, I definitely went to the starting line sick, of The Rut. So I like to think that’s my best excuse, but I have no idea.
iRunFar: But on the other side, what is it … Do you have any secrets to performing everything else since then? Every ultra-marathon you’ve run, you’ve crushed.
Peterman: Yeah, I don’t know, I’ve been able to be really consistent. Like, I try to just never do too much, but I just try to keep it consistent, train hard, push the climbs when I’m running. And I think in college I just wasn’t able to be this consistent as I was always injured. So I’d like to think that in college I would have been a lot better runner if I was able to string it together. But now that I’m able to actually be consistent in trail running, I think …
iRunFar: Is that just the approach from those really good D1 programs, where you’ve got a lot of bodies and you can just churn and push the mileage and the effort and some people break and some don’t?
Peterman: Yeah, that’s kind of what, it was a bummer that it happened to me. I ran for the University of Colorado, and Mark Whitworth was my coach. Like he’s a great coach, I don’t blame him for anything. Like, he wasn’t having me run too much.
Peterman: Just something about the intensity and having four hard days a week, it was just too much for me at the time. And then I just got into an injury cycle, later in my career in college and never really got out of it. So, I’d like to think I would’ve had a much better college career if that hadn’t happened. But really, Colorado, they know how to train, they train hard, but he’s really smart.
iRunFar: Yeah. And how have you tempered that in ultrarunning? Because it’s easy to get carried away, just I’m going to go for another easy day in the mountains and crush yourself pretty quickly. How have you avoided that?
Peterman: For sure. I just tried to … I still cross-train and bike and stuff, mountain bike and ski in the winter, just mainly because I love it. But I think that’s been helpful just to get more training hours per week without running. I’ll run like 100 or 105 miles a week of trail miles, so it takes a while, but I haven’t gone over that yet.
iRunFar: Got it. Yeah. So you did run your first 50k end of last July?
Peterman: Yes. Speedgoat.
iRunFar: You got in with 100k at Canyons to Western States. Did you question at all whether you should run this year’s Western States?
Peterman: Oh, for sure. Yeah, like, I actually didn’t think I was going to run Western States. I thought it would make more sense to run like CCC at UTMB, stick with the 100k plan. But at the same time, I was just so excited after Canyons to come back here and give it a go that I just couldn’t turn down the ticket.
iRunFar: And you were here last year with your girlfriend to experience it.
Peterman: Yeah, and so it might be stupid, but I just want to chase what I’m excited about. I don’t feel like I always need to just make logical steps because we’re running 100 miles, that’s an illogical game.
iRunFar: Fair enough.
Peterman: That’s kind of how I rationalize it to myself.
iRunFar: Is there anything you’re looking forward to most this weekend?
Peterman: I feel like I’m really excited, I just have a great crew coming out, I’m like, really, really lucky. I have a great group of friends in Missoula I train with, and some of them happen to live in California and Reno over the summer just by chance. And so a bunch of my friends will be here, crewing. I think this will be really cool. I think about if they are able to run with me, like that last mile on the road. That just seems like it would be the coolest thing.
iRunFar: It’s interesting because you’ve run super competitively at DI in college, you’ve crushed your first ultras, but it seems like you’re about the experience and seeing the course and the people.
Peterman: It’s definitely both for me, I’m really competitive and I want to do really well. But also, just thinking of trying to race and win this race, I don’t think it’s my best outlet to doing well. Like, for me, I think I need to focus on what’s the effort I can give for this race, give for 100 miles and hopefully that puts me in a good spot.
iRunFar: Have you had any thoughts on that or any advice on that, like to mete that effort? Because it’s a lot more hours than you’ve ever run before.
Peterman: Yeah, I keep trying to just think of it like I’ll just have to ask myself when I’m out there, “Hey, can I actually sustain this for however far left I have?” Because I feel like in some ultras I’ve been doing this year, I’ve notoriously gone out too hard and the last hour is really terrible. And so with this, it’s like even more scale because it’s longer and hotter.
iRunFar: It’s good that you had those lessons. It’s easy to hear about it.
Peterman: Yeah, even at Speedgoat last year, I thought I’d kind of blown the race at mile 20 just because of some fueling issue.
iRunFar: Is there anything you’re worried about or most concerned about over the weekend? What’s the big challenge?
Peterman: I think for me it’s going to be like getting wrapped up in stuff early. Like there’s a few guys I think who will want to take it out harder than others and it will probably be really hard for me to let them go. So I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens out there because I think for me to set myself up best for success, I just have to do what feels right then.
Peterman: I just don’t want to run my legs out by Foresthill.
iRunFar: There’s a lot of running after Foresthill.
Peterman: Yeah, I’m just going to have to keep remembering that. I’m trying to be just, like, really cognizant that it’s my own race and not what other people are doing.
iRunFar: Nice. Well best of luck and I hope you enjoy the experience
Peterman: Thanks so much.
iRunFar: And a bonus question for you. So you’re coming from Missoula.
iRunFar: What’s your favorite flavor of Big Dipper ice cream?
Peterman: Yellowcake. Hands down, that is the best one.
iRunFar: Distinct answer, all right.
Peterman: Yeah, that one is so good and some people don’t agree with me, but that’s my favorite.
iRunFar: All right, I’ve got to get back up to Montana and enjoy some yellowcake.
Peterman: I live right next to Big Dipper and Dairy Queen, so I kinda go to both.
iRunFar: Got it. Different experiences.
Peterman: Yeah, I mean the Dairy Queen in Missoula was built in, like, 1960 so it’s actually quite old. It’s kind of cool.
iRunFar: Right on, nice, thank you.
Peterman: Yeah, thanks.