Cole's Climb
Trail Talk
Acclimation, Ultra-Marathons, and Long-Term Goals with Ethan McNaghten

Acclimation, Ultra-Marathons, and Long-Term Goals with Ethan McNaghten

Insight into choosing, planning for, and attaining difficult achievements.

Welcome Back to Trail Talk

During these interview podcast posts, I share stories from other members of the outdoor community. Range from wild adventures, to survival skills, conservation, and current events.

Look for episodes in your mailbox Sunday mornings at 9 a.m., MST. The stories you’re used to seeing will still arrive at the usual time, Thursday mornings.

EP 03: Ethan McNaghten, Ultra-Marathon Runner

In this installment, I’m bringing you to the shores of a remote alpine lake at the end of a long mountain valley. I wrote about the trek in, and shared more pictures during my previous post — Hiking Through the Seasons — if you want to read about that trip in greater detail.

To get a better feel: I also put together this gorgeous time-lapse

Ethan McNaghten has been living in Colorado for a few short months; about the same amount of time he’s been seriously running.

In that period, he managed to acclimate to the high altitude, build up endurance, and — perhaps most importantly — hone the mental fortitude needed to stay focused on the task.

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Our discussion about his 60k race covered quite a bit of ground. These are some of the moments that stood out to me:

Show notes

1:00 — Eagle vs. fish
2:00 — Why?
2:45 — The training process
4:45 — Weather dangers while training for long races
6:50 — The energy at the starting line
9:00 — Occupying your mind, raging against boredom
10:30 — Hiking through the seasons
13:45 — “All of a sudden” running 16 miles
16:00 — Setting your own goals, not someone else’s
18:10 — Race day: the highs and lows
21:30 — Pushing through the brutal moments
22:20 — Why you don’t run the race, before you run the race
22:45 — Pickle Juice?!?
25:45 — Keeping your focus through boredom
27:00 — The weather politely asks us to leave
27:30 — Try it, you might like it
28:30 — Picking your first race

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Enjoying the Journey

If you only get one takeaway from this interview, it’s that the destination can’t be the only pleasure you derive from an experience, for a couple reasons.

  • Important goals take time to accomplish

  • You’ll burn out if you’re not enjoying yourself along the way.

  • Focusing solely on the destination puts too much pressure on that final step you take to get there.

Ethan shared this with me: one of the most beautiful views of the race.

puffy clouds at the summit
The sun breaks over the course

It’s a good reminder to look for enjoyment along the way; you might be surprised by what you find.

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Next Time on Cole’s Climb

An unknown creature — we assumed it was one — moved gracefully with quiet padding paces. But the occasional twig, leaf or rustle in the foliage gave it away in the still night air.

During my first backpacking trip in Colorado, something stalked my hiking party to our campsite. What followed remains one of my most terrifying moments in the outdoors: trekking at dusk through mountain lion territory.

The same kind of thinking that got us into that mess, pervades our day-to-day lives. That’s what I aim to address in next week’s edition, “Picking off the Stragglers.”

Cole's Climb
Trail Talk
Conversations in, and about the outdoors and the incredible adventures you can find there. Topics range from conservation, to tackling tough challenges that push our limits.