Hey Philip, how are you doing? How do you feel about the current pandemic situation? Does it have a big impact on your training/participation in races?
They are probably all experiencing a relatively new situation that affects their family, social, cultural, work and sporting lives. And these impacts are unfortunately mostly negative.
Last year the races were cancelled, this spring new dates were announced but postponed until the fall. Many organizers are sitting on a bundle of entry fee money and don't want to give it back, plus there is a clash of dates. So last year there wasn't much chance to participate in any races. It was a lot of luck whether or not the race would eventually happen.
Of course, it was also reflected in the training. Those who are result-oriented and driven by breaking limits, personal bests and beating opponents were often disillusioned and their training fell by the wayside. Those who enjoyed the sport for its own sake either played the sport "for fun" or gave themselves personal challenges. But those tuning their form for the "big" race often have to devote more than a quarter of a year to it, and then in times of uncertainty it is hard to expect any top performances. I myself prefer to keep in shape and wait for the first races!
We are very interested to know what races you have coming up this year? Do you have any planned? Have you already done any this year?
Due to my experience last year, I submitted more race entries than usual. In between ultramarathons you have to train of course, but you can't forget about recovery.
The beginning of my season this year for me was at the Czech 100 km and Czech ultramarathon championships (where I finished 5th), but that's just a bit of a distraction for me. I see the highlight of this year at the Czech 24 Hour Championships in Kladno and then in the autumn at the Hungarian Ultrabalaton (220 km around the Balaton), which I have already run twice. If I do well in Kladno, there is a chance to qualify for the World 24 Hour Championships in Romania. But these races are all about maximum performance, definitely not about the beautiful views from the mountain ridges.
In addition, I want to run "love" races - the so-called ultras, i.e. long races in forests, hills, where there is also a chance to enjoy something other than the hell of your subconscious, like when you run 200 km on a 1 km asphalt circuit.
How did you get into ultramarathons?
I got to it like a blind man to a violin! At 32, I was in a similar position to most of my peers. Work - family - work... I bought a Russian greyhound and started walking it. I used to meet nice retired women with dogs from the neighborhood doing the same thing and I felt strange. Plus, the dog ran like crazy when let off the leash. So I started running with him. Probably "crazy" to the neighborhood, too. And I got into ultra running by simply signing up for a race and I got hooked.
What does the term ultra mean? From how many km can a person be considered an ultramartonian?
An ultra is the type of race where you have to deal with things like sleep deprivation, needing a support team, and most of the time complaining during the race itself that you never want to run it again. Distance beyond something like 100 - 150 km is already on the edge of the physiological capabilities of the body in my opinion, and anything longer is already beyond that. Since there is a certain amount of experience that is a prerequisite, it almost never happens that ambulances come to ultras like they do to half marathons that inexperienced adventurers participate in. Generally, "ultramarathons" are running races longer than 50 km. Some are on an athletics track, others on tarmac or in the mountains, some are stage races,...
Anyone who has the confidence to wear that label, and for some reason it's important to them, can consider themselves an ultramarathoner.
Does your family support you in your hobby? Do they play sports with you?
Probably everyone who pursues any hobby a little more intensively must know the incomprehending looks of the surroundings and sometimes the word "crazy" appears. At best. But I feel the support of my loved ones intensely and I am very grateful for it!
What does your normal training day look like? Do you also have two-phase workouts? Do you manage to fit it all in with your personal and professional life?
I combine training with walking the dog. I run up to 10 km with my dog, then leave him at home and run the rest. Before races, I run in two phases so that I can run 20-30 km a day. Then I run that out at 5am. Outside of races though, I only run about 3-4 days a week. Just because I have other more important activities.
What do you consider your biggest success so far?
I'd like to run in places I've never been before. There are a few races I'd like to run: around Mt. Blanc, the Spartathlon and many other races in the Alps. My favourite course is the 24 Hours. It's often run on distances less than 1km and one repeatedly falls into a state of "flow" where one loses track of time, place and indeed everything around. Including fatigue and pain. Here I have a small, but not necessary, dream of qualifying for the national team and competing in the European or World Championships. It's quite realistic, it just requires sticking to a training schedule.
But none of that is necessary. I mainly want to run with my friends, to come back to great races like the Stefanik trail (140 km in Slovakia). That's the priority.
Running such distances must be very demanding not only physically but also mentally. Do you often fight with yourself during races?
Yes, the race is a struggle. (Laughs) It's faster and farther than any training. Even with good fitness comes crisis, pain, doubt. You have to be prepared for it and not succumb to it. It often happened to me that at the 30th km I had the feeling that I would fall down from exhaustion or that my legs were like lead and I still had 70 or even over 170 km to go. Then nausea or some kind of pain would set in and I was done for. A lot of people give up on a race like that. But if you can get over it (and often you have to do it several times in one race), you can easily find yourself running fitter and faster at the 200th km than you did at the 30th km. CBD is a big help here.
Have you ever been injured since you've been running? I know running hurts your joints a lot.
We had a lot of injuries, but always just because of a fall or a bad step. Crutches and a set of braces are always at the ready. But they were always just trivialities that healed in 2 weeks. The joints only suffered the first year of running and then somehow it passed. Forever. A well thought out diet definitely helps a lot.
Pain is an inevitable part of a long race. Some overcome it spontaneously, most with analgesics. For me, CBD helps, which makes me feel the dull, constant pain with some distance. Something unpleasant is going on in the muscles and joints, but can be more easily displaced with CBD.
How's your recovery? How do you give back to your body all the energy you've expended?
The reward for my training and racing hard work is a period when I go to the sauna, have a beer and chips in the evening and suddenly have more time for a good movie. After the race, the vitamins need to be replenished with trace elements, the training goes into a recovery phase where running is slower and less. As in the training phase, CBD can help quite a bit here, either helping to speed up recovery or counteracting some of the negative effects. Whatever the case, my recovery is within a few days. I won't dare to do another hard race though, ideally in another 2-3 months. But who could last that long without their hobby? (Smile)
Do you use any supplements? During- before and after the race? If yes, which ones? How do these supplements help you?
Since I'm vegan, I have to watch what I take in my diet quite a bit. Fortunately, this is now a routine for me after years. The supplements I take long term are vitamin B12 and protein. Before a race I start with iron, more vitamin C, B-complex and CBD drops. That way I can handle larger training doses. Recovery is similar, but I rely more on a varied diet that includes things like sprouted seeds or fermented vegetables.
Nutrition during the race itself is a big alchemy for which there is no easy and clear recipe. Some people are satisfied with the classic athlete gels and ionic drinks, others can't afford beer, cola, bananas with salt, bread with lard, crackling... All of this is really common at the refreshment stations.
What was your position on cannabis products before you started using CBD products? Have you had any previous experience with hemp products?
I've known hemp products for a long time mainly as a significant help for skin problems, but a few years ago I noticed that CBD-containing hemp helps people with Parkinson's or chronic pain. And then I saw that CBD was being talked about by MMA fighters from the US as a means of suppressing pain and aiding recovery. When I started to learn more about the mysterious CBD, I found that there wasn't much relevant information in the Czech Republic. And among runners, the concept of cannabis is perceived similarly to doping or some drug. I did some research on the Czech market and approached the company Carun, which impressed me with its approach to CBD products. After testing the capsules with SCB for the first time, I was excited because I felt that it allowed me to train maybe ¼ more. It "just" lived up to my expectations.
Do you use other cannabis products? Cosmetics, food?
My weekend breakfasts consist of a different mix of seeds, cereals and dried fruit. Hemp seed is part of them because of its properties. I have successfully treated a cat with eczema on his forehead that was itchy and had been treated with corticosteroids for several years with hemp CBD ointment from Carun. CBD was the only alternative that made it possible to not have to put on corticosteroids for the first time.
Would you recommend CBD products to other runners?
Yes, and not only to runners. But all athletes who have a heavy load. But that's just the icing on the cake. I see the main benefit of CBD as being able to help people with chronic pain, skin problems, Parkinson's, and even psychological problems like bipolar disorder. The spectrum of indications is large and far from fully explored.
Do you have any advice for aspiring ultramartoners?
Hey, newbie ultramarathoner! I believe you know what you want to do. You've had a few years of running under your belt, you've managed to run a few marathons, so hopefully nothing too surprising. Feel free to sign up for a nice outdoor ultramarathon, or maybe an athletic track where your loved ones can cheer you on and help you. The ultra community is full of great people, and they're sure to welcome you in and share their experiences and humor. But beware! If you succumb to this sport, it will take a lot of your time. In return, you'll make new friends, (if you don't survive) solid health, unique experiences, and a healthy self-esteem. See you at the start.