In case you missed our first post, let us introduce you to Kate Leis. She is a personal trainer and running coach from Delano who embarked on a pretty ambitious fitness endeavor: to complete 40 races marathon-length or longer by age 40. This year’s Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon marked Kate’s final race of her 40×40 journey. Below, she reflects on the triumphs and challenges of reaching her goal. We hope you enjoy the training tips and catch some of Kate’s infectious enthusiasm as you pursue your own ambitions.
1. First of all, we want to congratulate you for achieving this inspiring feat! You ran nine events this year to reach your 40×40 goal. Which was your favorite? Which did you find most challenging?
Great question! My favorite race this year was Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Race (Carlton/Duluth) in July. This was my 5th consecutive year of running it, and I keep going back each year because it is so great – the community of runners and volunteers is really special. The course is challenging and has a lot of varying terrain so you never get bored.
Most challenging would have been the Hallucination 100. Not because the course was that hard, but mentally I took a beating. It poured rain all night long, the trail became muddy and slippery. The race organizers gave you the option of pulling out at 100k (61 miles), so I knew I didn’t “HAVE” to go on… and if it hadn’t been for my awesome pacers and crew, I likely would have dropped. But my pacers (friends who can run with you during the later miles of long events) kept me focused and moving, so I was able to finish all 100 miles.
2. You ran a 100-mile race in September. How does a person train for a race that long? Does running a race of that length change your perspective on races of other lengths? (Did it make running the Twin Cities marathon feel easier?)
To train for a race of 100 miles, you have to commit to a lot of training. I can handle running a lot of miles each week (not everyone can, and everyone handles 100 mile training a little differently), so I averaged 60 miles a week for most of the summer. My week would look like this:
Monday: Short, easy effort, recovery type runs
Tuesday: Speed or hill intervals of an hour or more
Wednesday: Mid-week long run, typically 8-12 miles, moderate pace
Friday: Easy effort run of an hour or so
Saturday: Long run of 15-22 miles or race
Sunday: Long run of 12-15 miles
During my final blocks of training my milage increased to 80 miles a week. I also would lift weights and do core work in the gym 2-3 times a week.
You would think that running 100 miles would make shorter races seem easier, but as you prepare for different distances, you mentally prepare yourself for that distance, and as a result your pace and expectations change. Typically the longer the race, the slower the overall pace. So when I ran Twin Cities, I knew I was only running 26.2 miles that day, and ran faster than I did at Hallucination. You can be sure that as soon as I crossed the finish line after 26.2 miles, I still wanted to find a place to sit down! No way did I want to do that 3 more times! 🙂 So much of running is our mental state and managing expectations as much as it is the physical activity of putting one foot in front of the other.
3. In your last interview, you said running the TCM meant a lot to you because of the running community you’ve formed in Minnesota. Looking back on the race, did it have any other kind of personal significance?
It was fun running Twin Cities Marathon this year, as it allowed me to reflect on how far I have come as a runner and remember the experiences I had running TCM in ’04, ’06, and ’07.
4. What did you learn through your 40×40 journey?
I learned that my body can handle a lot of running! I know that sounds simple, but it’s true. I set up this goal at the beginning of the year knowing it would be a lot of miles on my body and I was fully prepared to stop if at any point I was getting injured or overtrained. Creating balance in my life is important; on one hand running helps that balance, but if it was creating a situation that was going to do more harm than good, I was prepared to shut it down.
5. How has Schuler Shoes been a part of your 40×40 journey?
Schuler Shoes has been great! They introduced me to some new running shoes (New Balance Zante Fresh Foam V2) that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise and I absolutely love. And I also love that I can slip on my Haflinger slippers post run for a cozy treat for my tired feet. Having good quality shoes not only when running, but also at home or socially is so important to recovery when logging a lot of miles. And I know that I can get shoes that fulfill all those needs with knowledgable staff at one place.
6. Do you know roughly how many miles you ran total across all 40 races? If not, do you know how many miles you ran in 2016 events?
Roughly 357.4 miles (5×31, 50, 26.2×2, 100) in 2016. Total over all 40 races is 1484.2 miles.
7. Your mantra is “just keep moving forward”. You’ve completed your 40×40 goal. What’s next for you?
A nice long nap 😉 Actually, I always take the late fall as some downtime/recovery time before analyzing my future goals. I probably won’t really dial in my next goals until December or January. Having a conversation with my husband about what WE want to do always has to be in there, too. It’s a team effort so making sure we are on the same page is priority number one.
Kate’s personal training and run coaching business is called Balanced Healthy Fit. You can reach her at: