by Jade Belzberg
On September 23, 1,400 runners will take off from Fuji-kawaguchi-ko Town, Japan, the official start of Ultra Trail Mount Fuji, a 100-mile race that circumnavigates 12,388 foot Mount Fuji. The runners will fly in from France and Belgium and Latvia, South Africa, Nepal, and Iceland, just to name a few of the countries represented at this year’s race. A handful of runners will be from the United States, one of which is INKnBURN Elite Nickademus Hollon.
Before he takes off for Tokyo, Japan next week, I asked Nick some questions about his thoughts going into the race and how he plans on recovering from Ultra Trail Mount Fuji (UTMF) and transitioning to his next big race, World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) in November.
Here’s what he has to say:
From your resume–which includes endurance events in Italy, Germany, Canada and Nicaragua, among others–you seem inclined towards international races. Why UTMF specifically?
I’ve always been fascinated by foreign languages and cultures. It was one of the first interests my fiancé and I ever fully shared, traveling. I love the diversity, the different food, cultures, customs and environments that I get to run through. I feel very grateful to be in a position in my running career where I am afforded opportunities to travel the world like this.
How are you training for UTMF at the moment? You must be in the taper phase now, right?
I am nine days out from the race currently and shaking in my pants. But yes, aside from that, I’m tapering or as some call it “sharpening”. During this time I’ve cut volume down to about half of what it was during my peak training. I hit the track yesterday for a speed session and will likely still keep up the intensity of my workouts leading right into UTMF, just in much shorter duration. I’ll cut out strength training by the end of this week and really try to focus on low-stress, long sleeps and clean nutrition during the last few days going into the event. I feel being well rested is particularly paramount going into UTMF given the extensive travel required to get there.
In May you won (and nabbed the course record) at Cruel Jewel. Are you preparing for UTMF any differently?
Cruel Jewel was a great race and the result of a carefully planned peaking. I feel like I’ve finally got a grasp on the year long programming it takes to perform well at these events. I’m pretty happy with my training going into UTMF. Sure, there are those “lost days of training”, times I wished were faster and days I should or shouldn’t have run and yeah, I’m still addicted to the occasional pastry and didn’t have the massive “fat adaption” breakthrough I’d dreamed of post-Cruel Jewel. However, I’m stronger (in the gym) than I’ve ever been and have been more purposeful than ever with my training each and every day. Whether it’s foolish or not, I feel like I’ve got a pretty decent idea of the follies of my mindset. I know better than ever how to avoid psychological lows before, during and after the race. So I’m excited to see all these focused weeks come together.
Who do you foresee as competition? Are you going into the race with specific goals?
My ego. That’s my primary competition. Myself. There is quote in a book called the Tao Te Ching that say, “To conquer your enemy is strong. To conquer yourself is true power.” I think that’s at least what I am trying to convince myself of going into this race. UTMF is part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour this year, so it’s even more notoriously competitive than most years: Dylan Bowman, Sebastien Chaigneau just to name a few international names, plus I’m sure dozens of Japanese and Chinese professionals who will lay it down strong out there on race day. I learned (the hard way) in 2014 that although my “endurance” may seem unlimited, I’ve got a limited amount of “expectation” or “competitive juice” as I like to call it. Just as an example, let’s say each year I am only allotted 30oz of “competitive juice” before I burn-out. And with that in mind, here is how 2016 has gone so far: I burned up 10oz (at least) at HURT 100 in January, then I strategically used up another 10oz at Cruel Jewel 100 in May chasing the course record. That leaves me with about 10oz of the precious fluid between UTMF and World’s Toughest Mudder (my other big fall event). I’ve had a chip on my shoulder about WTM since 2014, so I really want to see all 10 of those last ounces go fully towards WTM if that makes any sense. Sure I want to be competitive at UTMF, and yes, I’ll be nervous at the start and still give the race my all, but I don’t want to start layering on expectation or harsh goals, despite the fact that I feel I’ve got the training to back it all up.
What are you most looking forward to while in Japan?
It’s a short trip, only six days, two of which are travel and two of which are the race itself. So really only two days I’ll have pre and post race. That being said, I really want to go into it with no expectations and open arms, welcoming whatever strange foods or epic bath houses I come across. During the race itself, I am most excited about seeing the small remote villages and seeing how and where the Japanese live. I love witnessing subtle differences in global activities like washing clothes. Will they hang their laundry like the people in the Italian Alps? Will they have washer/ dryers like us? Will they use the rivers/ streams to wash clothes like the people in Nicaragua? And then honestly, I’m really excited for the bugs. I both want to see and don’t want to see the Japanese Giant Hornet. It looks pretty cool on google, but in person? I think it’ll be terrifying.
You have 50 days between UTMF and WTM. How are you planning to recover from one race and prepare for another?
50!? Ah, you calculated my remaining days…I don’t know if 50 days or six weeks sounds better. But either way, it’s not much. If you’ve picked up anything from my rants above, it’s that peaking takes months and competitive “juices” are finite (for me at least). So that being said, the first goal post-UTMF is health. Recover, eat well, sleep a lot and cross train when necessary. I’m pretty confident in my current aerobic capacity going into WTM as I’ve spent 8 months of the year building it. WTM has some weird components to it, though. It’s really unlike anything else out there. One factor is that the majority of the race is run in a wet suit. The six week period between the events will be spent mostly recovering, ensuring that I am 100% healthy, optimizing my gear and improving upper body endurance.
We wish Nick the best of luck as he takes on UTMF!
To see INKnBURN’s Men’s Collection, Nickademus’ gear of choice for training and racing, CLICK here!