Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Karl Meltzer on The Human Express

Sunday night I happened to see The Human Express, a documentary about Karl Meltzer's run from Sacramento, California, to St. Joseph, Missouri.  To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express, Meltzer decided he would run the 2064-mile Pony Express route, something no one had ever done before.  The Human Express records the travails and triumphs of Meltzer and his crew as they follow this historic route.
No stranger to covering long distances, Meltzer has run the Appalachian Trail, and has won more 100 mile races than anyone.  But running 50 miles a day for 40 days has got to take its toll, right?  It would for most of us, but Meltzer seemed to gain strength through the run.  He took daily readings of his resting heart rate and other vitals, and, once he got stabilized after a couple weeks, his health seemed to improve.  Impressive.

I liked his comments on endurance and speed.  He said he doesn't do speed work, but trains for long races by running long distances.  It makes sense, but I have to wonder how well that translates to mere mortals like myself.  Meltzer lives and trains in the Rocky Mountains, so his daily runs must be hilly, rocky, at altitude.  If you're running on mountains every day, you probably don't need to worry about getting in some intervals on the track.  Still, his simple, high-volume, low-stress approach to training is appealing.

The Human Express served as a great commercial for the Hoka One Ones. These are the anti-minimalist running shoes, with so much sole they remind me of those moon shoes that kids wear.  I am a running minimalist, but the farthest I've ever run in my VFFs is 50 miles on trail.  Meltzer ran that much or more every day for 40 days on dirt and pavement.  The Hoka's almost cartoonishly wide soles and thick cushioning certainly made that pounding more tolerable.  His feet held up remarkably well through all that running.

Meltzer's run is an impressive accomplishment, one more to add to his unmatched running resume.  Here's a guy who loves to run, and has figured out how to get a corporate sponsor to pay him to do it.  More power to him!  I look forward to hearing about Meltzer's next insane distance feat.
That's a long, long way to run.

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