Monday, 18 April 2022

Interview with Ultrarunner Adam Peterman

Those of you who haven't heard the name Adam Peterman before would be forgiven. At only 26 years old, he has somewhat exploded into the trail/ultra scene in the past year or so, without much prior warning, although already a reasonably accomplished runner. Having ran through High School at Hellgate (Montana, US) and then collegiately at the University of Colorado where he majored in geology (accompanied by environmental science), his background makes perfect sense to pursue trail running. With a love for the outdoors cultivated at home by both friends and family, a degree quite literally studying the outdoors and having been extremely active his whole life, there couldn't be better candidate. His resume now includes several wins and a course record at the Moab Trail Marathon, the speedgoat 50k course record (he set this in 2021), a win and course record at Chuckanut 50k only last month amongst many other impressive achievements. 

Photo credits: Left, Seth Orme (IG: seth.orme), right, Evan Barnes (IG: evanbarnes__)

 Adam was kind enough to sit down with me over Zoom (Montana is quite far away from Glasgow) and allow me to pick his brain. We talked about High School, road and trail running, his training and goals, nutrition as well as some favourite memories. I always like to ask interviewees their most embarrassing moment (just to remind us they are human too, despite their accomplishments) and I think Adam's might be one of the best I get! The next big race on the calendar for Adam is the Canyons 100k April 23rd, which could land him which, if successful, will give him shot at running either the OCC, CCC or UTMB, as well as a possible ticket to Western States, none of which he has competed in before, but as discussed in our interview, he would prefer to do a UTMB race first to protect his longevity in the sport being only 26. It was a pleasure meeting a guy with such a head screwed on, in no rush to compete at every distance/event just yet, but crushing goals he sets one step at a time with a long term perspective on the sport. Please feel free to tune in and follow his progress at the race through their Facebook page:

So let's get into it :) Some of my questions here are paraphrased from the actual interview, as are a couple of Adam's responses. I realised looking back on the recording that we both like to say the word 'like' and 'um' rather a lot!

When discussing trail/ultra running in general, I mentioned the community and how this is the group I identified most with myself, to which his response was:

"It's a unique community for sure, cause I always ran when I was younger and I always thought that of all the sports, running was really tight knit, and then I really liked trail running as well because at these longer races, no matter if you're really fast or at the back of the pack, everyone's really happy to be done. Cause it's like this big challenge for them and you don't always see that, like when I was running at college, it's not that hard to run a 1500m race right? So not everyone who finished is very happy with their performance. I like that in these longer races, you might have someone who had a pretty rough day out there, but they're like 'I still ran a 50k so at least I finished'...I like that aspect of it."

"I tend to find road and track runners to focus very much on the small details, which makes sense as you're trying to shave seconds not hours off of your times, but that's not the type of person I am. Is that why you made the transition to trail?"

"With road running or running on track, it was really easy to start overthinking things and I don't know why cause running's quite a simple activity. But yeah, I definitely felt like when I was in college I gave running too much thought, to a point where it wasn't helpful...I like trail running and UltraRunning because it's a lot less specific, not to say...I still write my training like everyday and stuff like that, but I found that it's a lot easier to coach yourself and train college I felt like everyday was so important and all these workouts you had to nail"

"I was gonna ask about your training actually. Is that like a training...philosophy? Some people run by feel on the day listening to their bodies, but you said you write it all out?"

"Yeah, I've been coaching myself ever since college, I write my training at the beginning of each week and have like an overall plan for each block leading into a race. But I really like the fact that I coach myself because I'm not really letting anyone down if I pull the plug. I think that's been successful because it allows you to definitely listen to your body a little bit more. Then on the other side if I feel really good I might push it pretty hard and I think if I had a coach they would be frustrated that that would happen sometimes when they didn't prescribe it.

I try to have one day a week where I run a little bit faster, hopefully closer to 6 minute pace for like 90 minutes, and then I try to do one day, I call it 'vert day', I just try to get a bunch of climbing and it's relatively long and then I usually do a long run. And yeah, that's my philosophy."

"What types of races do you have coming up now? Obviously you just smashed the 50k into pieces..."

"So in 4 weeks I'm doing the Canyons 100k, it'll be my longest race and the big one for the spring. What's exciting about that race is if you get top 3 there, you qualify for Western States, or in my case, I don't have any UTMB points so if I get top 3 at Canyons I'd actually qualify for UTMB or OCC or CCC. I really do want to run Western States but I'm only 26 so I just don't want to burn myself out".

"Do you cross-train at all to help you not burn out?"

"Yeah, I really like cross-training, I try to get out on the bike maybe 3 times a week in the afternoons, but I just really like biking. I'd guess I get about 5 hours a week biking and a lot of my friends here bike too. I started doing this thing where I have this backpack that's full of 50 lbs of sand and I just hike up the local hill and walk back down and that's my strength training for the week."

" What would you say were some of your favourite memories from running?"

"I feel like probably my favourite memory from running would be High School. The first and only time I broke 9 minutes in the 2 mile. It was just a really big deal to me. So that was my senior year, by my 3rd year we had travelled down to California to do this big meet and I ended up doing terribly in the 2 mile. We found out that I had anaemia, like I'd been training too hard or something maybe just cause I was growing. So I was really frustrated the entire 3rd year. To show up at the same meet a year later and break 9 in the 2 mile was something that seemed so far off the year before, so that was really cool. 

Then I feel like in this last year I've had some really good memories from races and like I was saying, these training runs I do with my friends where we just go for some long run, share these really great views and kind of tough runs then we all pile into the car and go get fast food".

"Are there specific people in the trail running world that have been an inspiration?"

" I think the biggest one is the guy I was talking about earlier (I have not included this part of the conversation actually to prevent too much text! I asked him about how he had so much time for training earlier on in our chat, to which he replied he had a particularly understanding boss being a professional runner for North Face himself, as well as only working part-time...), Mike Foote. He is the race director for The Rut so he's one of my bosses, but the unique thing is that when I was in High School running at Hellgate (where Adam now coaches), he was an assistant coach there. "

"Is he the one you did Death Valley to Mount Whitney with?"

"Yeah, he's that one!"

**CONTEXT: For Adam's senior project in High School he completed a human powered (bike and run/hike) trip from below sea level in Death Valley, 135 bike ride then summited over 14,000 feet up Mount Whitney all with his coach, Mike Foote**

" He was a great mentor for me during High School. I looked at his lifestyle like the type of running he did (ultrarunning) and though that's what I wanna do when I'm older. Then in college I got more removed from that cause your just not surrounded by trail runners and ultra runners in a team like that. Then I also look at Jim Walmsley. I was definitely inspired by him because I felt like he was a runner in college and put up some pretty good times and then just the way he transitioned into trail running, really attacked it and went for it I thought was pretty cool. I feel like a lot of people say 'oh, it's insane what he's doing' but he knows what he's doing andI just look at him like that's really cool he did that, and I think it paved the way for some of us. We raced a mile when I wa sin college and he was in the Air Force. That was before he was well known, like before he was the guy he is now, so that was pretty cool because I felt like I knew Jim before he blew up."

" Ah, did you beat him though?"

"Yeah but it was a mile! And I was a collegiate runner!"

"One last question I like to ask everyone, what's your most embarrassing moment ever?"

"I feel like the most embarrassing thing, I guess it's not really a moment, but I made a YouTube video...yeah unfortunately it's not on the internet anymore, I don't know where it is, I think I deleted it off the face of the Earth. I actually think some of the High Schoolers I coach filmed the video with their phones before I deleted it, so it's on a few phones across the state. But yeah, when I was in 6th grade I made this YouTube video and it was essentially on how to make a didgeridoo and I remember, I made it in like one take, just filmed on my parents big computer, then submitted it...years go by and then I check it when I'm in college, it has like 90,000 views and all these people I know had watched it and stuff."

This is only scratching the surface of what we talked about, but all I could share with you as I don't want to send anyone an essay! I had such a lovely time chatting with Adam and look forward to watching him grow as an athlete and an inspiration to many others. Remember to follow his progress at the Canyons run on the 23rd April, and his Instagram can be found at: @adampeterman_. I hope you've enjoyed reading our chat as much as I enjoyed it and keep your eyes peeled for the next interview I've already conducted but just not shared! Oooo secretive...

Lots of love, 

Helen xx

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