IAN SHARMAN Q&A
Facebook Live Q&A with Coach Ian
1. Coaching accomplishment(s) you’re most proud of and why?
Seeing runners complete a race or event they didn't think was possible is always the most satisfying part of coaching, but I was lucky enough to witness Ellie Greenwood win Comrades, the biggest and, usually, most competitive ultra in the world. I was running it as part of my build-up to Western States 100 and ran past the Russian leaders just before Ellie also passed them. I know how important this race was to her and I'd only started coaching her soon before the event, so taking that step up from the podium to champion was an amazing sight - more about psychological and tactical factors than pure fitness.
2. Most exotic personal running experience?
A decade ago I entered a duathlon in the Himalayas, from Everest Base Camp to Jiri in Nepal. There were four westerners and three Nepalese Sherpas in the line-up and the first stages involved running, then we switched to mountain bikes for the latter stages. At 18,000ft the locals made us look like 90-year olds in comparison, since the altitude barely affected them, but as we headed lower things slightly evened out. However, seeing the Everest Marathon record holder win every stage was impressive, especially when we learned he couldn't even ride a bike and had carried it every step of the way!
3. Favorite local trail?
I'm fortunate to have many amazing trail systems locally around Bend in
Oregon. But all year round I can run at Smith Rock and my favorite section
goes a little off piste up a chute nick-named the 'scar' by local runners.
4. Favorite cross training activity?
Hiking is something I do almost daily, plus I always aim to walk anywhere, take the stairs instead of elevators and generally avoid driving if I can. But I also enjoy some light strength work in the gym and try to fit this in twice a week when training towards a focus race, with exercises tailored to stability and core strength for running in particular.
5. Personal running accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?
The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning was the toughest and biggest challenge I've ever undertaken. It involved four of the original 100 milers in a 10-week period (Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville Trail 100 and Wasatch Front 100) and the biggest challenge was maintaining focus and motivation through each without adequate recovery. It meant a lot to me, especially since each race was a back-and-forth battle with my friend, Nick Clark, and he beat me in two events while I beat him in two. Both of us broke the old record by around five hours, with it coming down to the final hour of the last event. Nick won that last race and I had to finish within about an hour of him for the record, so it was very stressful, but also an amazing feeling when I crossed the line in second that day, close enough to get the record.
6. Most unusual coaching issue you’ve had to deal with?
A lot of runners spend much of their year making sure they get qualifying races or points for big ticket events like Western States 100, Hardrock 100 and UTMB. So I had one situation where a runner needed his qualifier for States with two weekends to go, plus he already had several years of qualifiers and failed lottery attempts. Extreme heat meant the his target race ended in the medical tent so he had one weekend left before the lottery deadline and managed to get into one more 100 miler and finish to keep the lottery streak alive. Normally that second race would have been far less than ideal, but in this case we had to scramble to work out how it could fit in and find a way to bounce back from a lot of fatigue to be strong enough to complete his last chance race.