TSS 27 | Ultra Running

An Ultra-Marathoner Discusses Training on Tonal: Matthew Shepard

TSS 27 | Ultra Running


Coach Frances has seized control of Tonal with her Well Rounded Strength program.

There’s a whole host of virtual events on Facebook from Tonal.

We check in on the latest with the Tonal blog.

Tonal had a virtual Pride Parade.

The latest Tonal book club features The Mindful Athlete.

Coach Nicolette celebrated a birthday on June 27.

All this plus our interview with Matthew Shepard!

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

An Ultra-Marathoner Discusses Training on Tonal: Matthew Shepard

It’s been interesting. We got to go to the movie theater.

Unfortunately, we saw F9, which should be called “F this movie” because it’s so dumb. I’m not a fan of that franchise.

I’m not a fan of the franchise. I don’t think I would have been a fan of this movie even if I had been a fan of this franchise, but we’re not here to discuss that.

I can discuss the movie.

I know but that’s not why we’re here. You already had a podcast about that. That’s not what this is about.

You don’t want to talk about a Pontiac Fiero in space?

No, because that’s ridiculous. What I do want to talk about is what happened at the movies, Tom.

We watched the movie. That’s pretty much all you can do at the movies.

What happened when we walked into the movie theater?

We took our seats.

We did but do you remember how we went in and you were like, “There are people in our seats.” You looked at the ticket and you said, “It’s H1 5, H1 6 and H1 7,” so like 5, 6, 7. We go to the H row and these people are already in 5, 6 and 7.

They misread their tickets.

I look at the tickets that Tom is holding. I then see that it says H 15, H 16 and H 17.

I know there wasn’t a row H1. There should be a hyphen or a dash or something like that.

I don’t even know how you did that.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the movie theater.

We didn’t know how it worked anymore.

I’m out of practice. I think they remodeled. The last time I was there, it was H1.

I think you were sitting in somebody else’s seat the whole time.

It was just that the movie was so poorly attended that I never got busted on it.

I think that’s what occurred.

If you say so.

All I know is there is no H1. For anybody out, there’s no H1. It’s not a thing.

What do you have in store for people?

We are going to talk about brand new content that is hitting the Tonal trainer. We are going to talk about all of the events that have occurred. There’s been a lot that Tonal has been doing for Pride. We’re going to talk about some new Tonal blogs that have hit the airwaves.

Before we get to all that, shameless plugs, don’t forget we’re available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts. Wherever you find a podcast, you can find us. While you’re there, be sure and follow us so you’ll never miss an episode. You can also find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you’re there, like the page and join the group. It’s a way to stay up to date on Tonal and Superset things and between episodes. There’s all that. Let’s dig in. Shall we?

We shall.

As always, there are tons of new content. Let’s walk through what else is out there.

I like how Kate put it. She said, “Coach Frances is taking over your Tonal with her new content drop.” The reason she said that is because all of the new content is from Coach Frances. We’ve got a new Well Rounded Strength program. It’s going to be intermediate, two times a week for two weeks. We have some more live workouts. This one is called the Well Rounded Strength. You’re going to alternate your focus between the lower body and upper body, but you’re also going to be including those fundamental movements. You’ve got your squats, your hinges and your rows. Each block ends with a core cardio finale. You’re going to make sure that you’re working on your strength and endurance.

That makes sense to end with cardio because when they have you do cardio in the middle, then you’re slipping and sliding around like you’re at a theme park. Having to do it at the end, then you just walk away from the paddle.

Tonal recommends that you pair this with the Tonal Tone Up series. You can enjoy yoga, Pilates and barre on alternating rest days.

Then you’re not resting. I don’t think they’re using rest days properly.

It’s more like an active rest day. It’s not like a sloth’s rest day.

If I get a rest day, then it’s a rest day. It’s like when you hit that age as a kid when it was a snow day, and then your parents were like, “Go shovel the driveway.” You’re like, “Snow days are fun days and now you just gave me work.”

I sense a little frustration.

I was triggered, Coach Frances.

I think that yoga and barre are pretty light for a workout. It’s not going to hurt you, Tom, you can do a little bit. Speaking of, this is a new series, the Tonal Tone Up Twists with Coach Frances. This is an intermediate full-body, 50-minute yoga flow. It’s a series of bodyweight workouts. This is the first of the series of bodyweight workouts. It’s going to increase stability and improve range of motion. You’re going to do all the things. The next Tonal Tone Up is Stabilize with Coach Frances. This is 33 minutes. This one is a barre and Pilates hybrid. I love that. This is going to tone your muscles, increase stability and improve range of motion. You’ve got Tonal Tone Up Backbends with Coach Frances.

TSS 27 | Ultra Running


What has Coach Frances been doing before this that all of a sudden, there was like 45 classes?

I guess it’s a whole series that they wanted to release at the same time. That’s why they’re recommending that you take this Tonal Tone Up and you pair it with her other ones. It’s like one program but they give it to you in bite-size pieces. You could do the Backbends or just the Stabilize, but they’re recommending that you do both of these together. It’s giving people lots of flexibility with their schedules.

It’s just funny that all of a sudden it was like, boom, boom, boom.

I told you at the beginning, Coach Frances is taking over your trainer. The Backbends is going to be all about backbends, obviously, but this one is going to tone your muscles, increase stability, and improve your range of motion. You’re going to have a whole sequence of backbends. Finally, we have the Tonal Tone Up Barbell with Coach Frances. This is another barre-Pilates hybrid. This is number four in the bodyweight series. This one is going to incorporate the barbell as you work to develop core strength and cardio endurance. I will say that Kate mentioned that this all came out right before International Yoga Day. Perhaps that was why they released all of these at the same time so that you could make sure to celebrate International Day of Yoga.

Here’s my theory. There were Wi-Fi issues.

I don’t understand.

I think Coach Frances has been sending in her workouts for weeks and they all got jammed up, and then her Wi-Fi finally reconnected and it was like boom class. They’re like, “We got nine classes on our ass. Put them all out there.” That’s my theory.

The audience can decide because that’s two theories and they can pick which one they think is more realistic.

The real test will be if when all this is done, if we don’t get another class from Coach Frances for eight months. She’s passed out somewhere because she’s tired if she did all these in such a short time. She’s like, “I know how I feel at the end of one of these sometimes.” She did all these in a week. That’s too much.

If you haven’t taken the time to care for your body, you’ll notice. Click To Tweet

Somebody should check on her and let us know. Maybe I’ll send a message to Kate, “Can you go check on Coach Frances?” Coach Frances, if you could send us a message, we would like to know you’re okay. Tom’s worried about you.

This is a safe space. We will protect you.

All sorts of events are coming up in relation to Tonal on your Facebook machine. Some have already happened by the time you read this, but others will still be percolating. What do we got?

There was the Lift With Pride virtual group workout on Sunday, June 27th. There was also the Pride parade and I love that Tonal puts a focus on Pride month and make sure that it’s an inclusive community for all groups. The Pride parade is pretty special. If you haven’t had a chance to go to one of these, this is their second or third. There are all kinds of special guests. There are some trivia games. There are all kinds of things. If you didn’t get to watch it in person, I still recommend that you go back and watch it.

In the Lift With Pride virtual group workout with Coach Pablo, he was actually leading the community through a virtual group workout that was all about lifting with pride. There’s a workout Lift with Pride that all happened on the 27th, then on Monday, the 28th, there’s an athlete challenge info session with Coach Paul. This is to kick off the July Tonal challenge. It’s all going to be Train Like an Athlete. That’s the name of the challenge. You’re going to have a chance to ask any questions about the new upcoming challenge that you want to ask. Tonal Talk is going to be on Wednesday, June 30th. This one is Running Strong with Tonal. I wanted to make sure I mentioned it because guess who the guest is? Matt Shepard. That’s our interview in this episode. He’s going to be on Tonal Talk too.

He gets around.

I know, with all the running he does.

That makes sense. He probably ran from place to place.

I think he ran from St. Louis and it took him two weeks to get back to LA. Now he’s there and he’s going to do a Tonal Talk from there. He didn’t really run. There’s going to be Ask Coach Allison on July 1st, and then there’s Coach Nicolette’s Reverse Training Birthday Workout on July 1st, her birthday.

Is she going to make your age backward?

It’s not that you age backward but you give the workout to Coach Nicolette. She does that for her birthday so we get to work her.

My first thought is we should all team up and log in, and person after person should give her nothing but Bulgarian split squats. Here’s the other problem with that. It probably wouldn’t be a big deal for her.

I saw at least one other person suggest Bulgarian split squats for Coach Nicolette. You are not the only one that wants revenge on the Bulgarian split squats.

She’ll probably just shake them off like, “Whatever.” It’d be like if I did something like this and everybody said, “Say something stupid.” I’m like, “That’s easy. It’s my superpower.”

We shall see.

Lots of good stuff on the blog since the last episode. If you don’t pay attention to the Tonal blog, you really should.

I agree. They have lots of good information out there. The one on June 25th was the 7 Reasons To Love Membership (According To the Official Tonal Community).

This is from people in the community who already have a Tonal. Of course, Tonal is going to tell you that you should love your Tonal. It’s their job to sell you a Tonal. They’re immediately the suspect. Here’s what people who already have one have said.

Number one was the personalized accounts and progress tracking with Tonal’s AI. You can see exactly how much you have grown strength in your core, in your back, in your hamstrings. They used to just track the upper body core and lower body. Now you have it broken down by areas within that. You can see the upper body, you’ve got your back, your triceps, your quadriceps and your legs. They break it down to even more segments. It’s good information.

This is all thanks to little guy front back.

Little guy front back did all the hard work. If you don’t know what little guy front back is, that’s the green guy that is showing on Tonal’s AI.

He literally does the heavy lifting.

The Tonal member experience is number two. The Tonal member experience is never boring. They keep the member experience fresh. This person, Douglas Goforth is always excited to see what comes next. There’s no chance of getting bored because Tonal continues to roll out new features, which I agree with and love. There are always new things, including new kinds of content. How much got added in 2021? Yoga, Pilates, cardio, family fitness and meditation. We have number three, data-driven strength training. This is your form feedback and your PR summary. You can see whenever you’re about to PR. You get a notification when you do PR. You get told whenever you have the strength or your weights increased by a pound, which is amazing. All of that is incredibly motivating.

You get very frustrated with my relationship with the PR ripped tone or whatever.

He does not care.

If you get some pleasure from working out, I get none. Everybody talks about how endorphins and you get lost in time. None of this happens for me. I spend the whole time telling myself how much working out sucks.

Maybe you need to change what you say. Maybe you need to say more positive things.

If you’re around, you hear like, “You got a PR,” I’m like, “Did I?” Of course, it raises it a pound automatically. I guess as long as I keep lifting, I’m going to get PR.

It means that you did something good. Congratulations. It’s a good thing.

I’m just not wired that way.

Number four is daily access to expert coach-led workouts and programs. This is a huge thing. The coaches within Tonal spend so much time talking to the community. It’s amazing. I don’t know if they’ll be able to keep this up forever. I sure am happy that they’re doing it now.

Enjoy it while you got it.

That’s right. They’re amazing. Number five, you get a real-life workout partner and mentor. I agree with that. Your mentors are your coaches, but also the people within the community. There are so many people like Dave posted. He originally heard about Tonal from us and it’s been two November ago. He hit a strength score of 2,000. Congrats to Dave. That’s so incredibly inspiring to me. That’s amazing. Number six, workout alongside members of your household and friends. Not me. I don’t get to do that.

We did that once.

No, I don’t think that we did. I asked you to and you said no.

I was counting when I was on the Tonal and you were on the Tread. That is alongside. You were alongside.

I’ve had my Tonal for a long time now. I’ve had exactly one partner workout. That was with somebody who’s does not live in this household. That’s okay.

Moving on to number seven.

Not having to think about what kind of workout I do.

This should be number one. This is my favorite one.

It’s planned. It’s already good to go.

Chad Johnson, we’re on the same page.

Chad Johnson says that one of his favorite things is his next workout is already planned as soon as he wakes up. It’s true especially if you’re already in a program. It’s there. You just walk up to it and it tells you what to do.

When I come down to workout, I say down because ours is in the basement, I already am like, “I’m doing this but I don’t want to do this.” I don’t want to spend any time thinking. I don’t want to give myself a chance to back out. I want to hit the button and go. When I’m done with a program, I will pick the next program as soon as I’m done, even though I’m not going to hit the class for a day or two, so when I come down next time, there’s no spending ten minutes looking and then going, “Never mind.”

TSS 27 | Ultra Running


For you, it’s about not having another boundary. All of us have barriers to working out. It might be for some people, “I don’t want to drive to the gym. We have a gym in our house. We don’t have to do that.” For other people, it might be, “I don’t have the right equipment. I don’t want to get up early in the morning, etc.” For you, having to think about what you’re going to do is a barrier. Tonal has removed that barrier for you, which is amazing. There are your seven things.

Also from the blog, 11 Moves You Can’t Do With Dumbbells.

This is amazing because this piece of equipment is so specific. It’s versatile. It allows you to do so many things. There are eleven moves here. I’m only going to mention a couple. One of them that you can’t do with barbells is a front squat because the lower body movement engages and strengthens your legs and your hips. It works especially on your quads and glutes. The barbell sits on the front of your shoulders in this lift. If you try to do that with a barbell, that’s not going to work with a free weight is what I’m trying to say, for the dumbbell. With a barbell, it works. It does not work with dumbbells. It’s very specific and it shifts some of the load from the glutes to your quads and challenges your core to keep your upper body balanced. That’s why it’s important because you’re getting more muscle engagement by doing a front squat as opposed to a back squat.

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Another one that you cannot do with dumbbells is the half kneeling, single-arm row. It stabilizes your core and balances out your upper body strength after you do pushing movements like a benchpress or a push-up, but single side movements are going to address imbalances in your body. You’re working your core and the single side moves on your body, which is awesome. Another one that I personally love is the pullover cable crunch. You can’t do this with a dumbbell. This is something that you can do on Tonal. You’re using all of your core to pull the weight from the machine over. That gives you a crunch in your core. Can’t do that with dumbbells.

That is true. If you want to see that full list, head on over to the Tonal blog.

Also from the Tonal blog, they talk about Train Like an Athlete for a Month.

This is what I was talking about earlier. The July challenge. This is the Tonal challenge growing up. This is a new leveling up of the Tonal challenge. For July, it’s like a 360 view. Not only are you going to have your usual workouts where you’re going to be able to train consistently because they give you a calendar telling you everything to do. You got your four workouts that are on the Tonal, but then they give you workouts for every single day. This one is Coach Paul and they’re not all from Coach Paul. There are other workouts in there.

The goal that Tonal is trying to do here is to help each of us train like a pro. You’re going to be doing right next to Coach Paul, a four-week strength program but you also are going to be asked to do cardio and core workouts, and to be like a pro, focus on recovery mindset and hydration. Those things are as important if you’re talking at a pro-level. They’re going to ask you to work out twice a day on Tonal for the month of July, journal or read for ten minutes a day, drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if you’re 140 pounds, you would then drink 70 ounces of water.

They’re also asking you to use their daily and monthly progress trackers to keep tabs on your athletic journey and share your success. If you’re traveling, you can still take part. It’s going to run from July 1st to July 31st. The first workout is Good to Great with Coach Paul. It’s going to take place on July 5th. You can save or screenshot the daily and monthly tracker to share your success, not to mention, join the Train Like an Athlete Facebook group. There’s also going to be an award ceremony at the end.

For Good to Great, do they have anything like, “My speed is more like, meh?”

You can talk to yourself like that. I’m not going to allow you to get away with that because you are in the middle of Four Weeks to Fat Loss 2. That was right after finishing Four Weeks to Fat Loss 1.

It wasn’t right after. There was a ten-day gluttony period when we were at Disney World. I used that to try and kick back.

You came back strong. I have seen several people post that doing the Four Weeks to Fat Loss 2 is the hardest they’ve ever done. People are talking about how they have to take breaks between the different blocks. I can say that you have worked your butt off on those. You can’t say that anymore, Tom.

I will say that I’ve cuss quite a bit during this one.

I haven’t heard the yelling upstairs. I only hear it downstairs. You’re getting quieter with the cussing.

That’s good. I guess that’s a step.

It is. It says it’s not hurting as much. I’m not sure.

I don’t take that as a win.

At any rate, if you haven’t checked any of the different challenges out, I feel like July is a strong place to start. This is a beginner program, the Good to Great, but it’s great for any level because the thing with weightlifting is you can workout to the point where you’re getting the same benefits as you were when you were beginning. It’s about how complex the moves are.

I love the fact that they included workouts on the go for travel because it’s summertime. Many people take vacations, especially now that people are feeling more free to move about the country. I think it’s smart that you don’t feel like, “I can’t do that because I got a vacation.” They took that excuse away from you.

Tonal is all about removing barriers for Tonal. I love it.

We talked about Tonal and Pride month, and they had a Tonal Pride parade.

I’m glad that you pulled this up because it is their second annual Virtual Pride Parade. If you were able to join, you had a chance to win a free Tonal Pride t-shirt. It’s like, “Tonal With Love,” and then there were special guests.

When I pulled this up, I had two thoughts. First, when I see Coach Pablo with his rainbow suspenders, my first thought was, “He likes Mork and Mindy too.” I’m like, “That’s probably a gay Pride thing.” That makes a little bit more sense in this setting. I like to think that he also likes Mork and Mindy. Is that okay?

It can be both. If you ask Coach Pablo, he has a good sense of humor and he likes comedy. He might enjoy Mork and Mindy.

On a more serious note, I just happened to hit a random spot to see what it was. I believe it was the two people here that were talking and I found this interesting. I never thought about this, but they talked about getting special workout tips for trans people who were about to get their surgeries. I never thought about that because, why would I? Not only am I cis-gendered but I didn’t start working out until about 45 minutes ago. None of those things was on my radar to think about. I was like, “That’s smart to get you prepared so you’ll recover more healthily.”

I don’t know about healthily but more quickly.

There you go. That’s out there if people want to go check it out.

There’s a new entry for the Tonal book club.

The book for July is going to be The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance by George Mumford. On Thursday, July 29th, 2021 at 7:00 PM central, 5:00 PM Pacific, there will be a read between the reps online event, where you can go in and have a great book discussion. I love that they do this. It’s so awesome.

By the time you read this, it will be too late. Her birthday will have passed but you can always wish her a belated birthday and blame it on The Superset. Nicolette’s birthday was on June 27th.

As I mentioned earlier, make sure that you tune in on July 1st for her Reverse Birthday Workout.

Make her do Bulgarian split squats.

Happy birthday, Coach Nicolette.

Happy birthday. Enjoy your Bulgarian split squats.

Joining us is Matt Shepard, but we were instructed to call him Shep.

Is this a thing? Do all of your friends call you Shep? Are we special because we get to call you Shep too? Does everybody call you Shep, and we’re not special? Which is it?

You’re special.

A real question for you is how did you first come across Tonal in your fitness journey, and how long ago was that?

My sister introduced it to me. We live apart. She lives in Washington State, and I live in Northern Alberta. She messaged me and said, “Have you heard of the Tonal? What do you think?” I’ve got a pretty strong fitness background. I was a strength coach for a while. I like to lift weights. I looked at it and I was like, “That’d be a good solution for you. It seemed like high-tech Bowflex or something. That looks like it’d be all right.” She got one in May or June of 2020. She was like, “This thing is pretty cool. You’re going to like it.”

I usually go down to the States in the winter because it’s brutally cold up here. I go down there so I can train, run more, see some family and get away. She’s like, “You’re going to love it when you get here.” I got there and I had finished up two big back-to-back races, Big Dog World Championships for Team Canada and One Track Mind six-day race. We had come off a six-day race and we drove down to Washington after. She said, “Here’s the Tonal. What do you think?” I tried it out and it was the perfect tool for recovery because of the resistance of the cables and the weights and how that monitor gave you a good readout of how you’re moving. Right from there, I was hooked. From recovery, that one week, I was like, “This thing is my jam.”

Turns out it’s not just good for your sister.

He took it home with him.

He was like, “I’m taking it right off the wall.”

He was like, “How do I sneak this through customs?”

That is a great question, though. They don’t ship to Canada. How did you get it? Do they ship to Canada?

I’m not certain. I had just returned to Canada. I’ve been in quarantine, hanging out.

Do you have the Tonal at your house?

Not here, no. I’ve been doing the Barre workouts with Coach Frances and those are cranium. I had no idea. Barre sounds like Pilates. I was like, “That’s not going to give me a good workout. I need a good sweat.” Barre is great.

How would you describe it? I have tried to describe it to Tom. It comes across as not challenging, but it is challenging. I would like to hear your description of Barre.

Tom, do you do any yoga?


You’re going to have to check out yoga. It is the bee’s knees. I’m only in the beginning stages. I’m learning. The movements resemble what you see in ballet. If you’ve ever seen ballet on TV or if you’ve participated in ballet, it’s hoop arms and doing plié. They’ve got two different positions and you move between them. It’s about micro-movements and in-mobility and working on big stretches and opening. It’s like Pilates and ballet mixed together.

Even when you say it, it doesn’t sound all the challenging. The thing is, those micro-movements get you because you’re not moving much, which takes control, which is hard to do.

What I look for in my strength theory when I’m getting my workout, I’m evolving as I grow as an ultra-runner. Balance and stability have been the things that have brought me further along in my career. I’m finding that the more I focus on balance, stability, mobility, and getting to know like, “What does my pelvis feels like when I’m in this position? How should it feel? Where’s my strength lacking? Do I have anything that’s feeling out of alignment?” I’ll go out for a 3 or 4-hour run. When I’m done, if I hadn’t taken the time to take care of my body, I’ll notice that when I go to do a deadlift, there might be some tightness on one side or the other. That imbalance sticks with you.

If you’re using those techniques to reach one side, how does that feel? If you reach this side, how does that feel? Get into a deep squat and see how that feels. If you do it over and over again, then you get to know what it feels like. If something’s not right, you can tune into that quickly and go, “I need to give some extra attention to this before it becomes a problem.” That’s the focus that I’ve been having since I started with the Tonal. It opened my eyes to where I had imbalances in my body. I started with Coach Kelly. He has this triathlon program that he does. I started there and it was a lot of side to side lateral movement. In my sport, it’s one direction constantly. When I started doing these lateral movements, I was like, “I have a big discrepancy here. I need to work on strengthening that.” Having the ability to use the cables, they’ve got different resistance patterns and very lightweight but difficult challenging movements. It’s been great to evolve.

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Does Coach Allison do stuff like that? I did a workout by accident. I was looking for something short that wasn’t machine-based. I was like, “I’ll try this.” It started where it was like what you’re describing or at least what I think you’re describing. Not because you didn’t describe it right, but because I don’t understand things. It was small movements. I was like, “This is a big fat waste of time.” About ten minutes in, I’m like, “Sweet Baby Jesus, what is she doing to us?”

TSS 27 | Ultra Running


It caught up with you, didn’t it?

Yes. Maybe I have done it. I don’t like it.

I have a question. You said you’re an ultra-runner. I know that’s long distances. Where’s the difference between half-marathon and marathon? Somewhere after that is ultra. Where does the ultra-runner start and end?

That’s a funny thing because ultra is such a massive term. Technically, ultra is anything that’s beyond the 26.2-mile marathon. You’ll see 50 kilometers. That’s 32 miles. That is the next step up that people go to and then 50 miles and 100 miles. It continues on past that into 12-hour, 24-hour, 6-days even. There’s a whole ton of different style races. Some are stage races where you race for multiple days on end. Some are timed races where you’d go as far as you can in a certain amount of time. All of that falls under the title of ultra. There’s a huge difference between them. I like to call them ultra-mega, mega-ultra, or super-ultra.

How do you even get into that sport? What on earth made you decide that sounds fun? You have to admit, that’s a lot and it does not sound fun whenever you say those words.

You have to be a special person to enjoy that repetition constantly. I started without intending to. I didn’t race. I like to spend a lot of time in the mountains and I’d be out on my feet for a long time. In 2010, I had heard about a record that somebody had broken. It was 100 miles or something. I was like, “People race that far? That’s a real thing?” I heard about it. When I did that, I said, “I’m going to do my own race.” I lived on this small island in Sitka, Alaska. It’s not an option to go to a six-day race there, a 24-hour race. I said, “I’ll organize my own.” I did a 24-hour race around this 1.75-mile loop in Sitka.

It’s like an 8-bit video game.

Did you wear a hole in the ground?

I made it 12 hours and 53 miles. I hosted it in November because I had heard about this. I was like, “I want to do it right now.” I bailed out for twelve hours. It turns out ultra is pretty difficult. It’s probably another 5 or 6 years later before I ran my first hosted ultra, which was the Canadian Death Race in Alberta. I loved the challenge. I failed my first couple of times, but it feels that I knew I could go further. There was something that said, “You can go further. You need to learn, practice, and figure this out.” It became a challenge. It was like a puzzle. What can you do to get a little bit better? Since then, it’s learning, practicing and baby steps and you keep growing and growing. You look back and go, “I remember when running a 5K was a day’s workout. Now, it’s a warm-up.” It grows bit by bit until you get to where you’re going.

What is the Death Race? Is that like everybody gets there and runs until one of you dies and then it’s over?

It’s a mountainous race in the Canadian Rockies here in Alberta in Grande Cache. It goes up and down a few mountains. It’s 125 kilometers long. You have 24 hours to complete it.

What is that, 100 miles?

Not quite okay. It’s 84 miles or something like that. I’m ballparking.

That’s okay. We won’t hold you to it. We’re not doing maths. No one is required to do the math.

It’s funny. I’ve lived in both the States and Canada. I know the metrics but the standard conversion, I still haven’t gotten there yet.

You only have 24 hours and you’re up and down. What elevation are we talking about?

This was back in 2017. It’s somewhere around 25,000 feet if I was going to ballpark it in elevation.

That’s Canadian. You’d have to hockey park it. They don’t have ballparks. That’s smart that they called it Death Race, though, because they can’t get sued. It’s right there in the title. You know what you’re getting into.

As far as I know, nobody has ever died on that course. However, at 3:00 AM, I did come across a bear that didn’t want to leave me alone. It kept following me down the trail. I blew my emergency whistle and somebody, probably a half-mile ahead of me, blew their whistle back. This is the cool thing about the running community. He’s in a race and he turned around and walked back to me until we were together. We scared the bear off together. We spent the next 2 or 3 miles walking together until we felt comfortable. I don’t even remember who the guy was. He’s a trail buddy. If you’re reading, thanks.

That reminds me of a YouTube video I saw not too long ago where the black bear was chasing a guy down a trail and this went on forever. This bear is chasing him through the woods. That is what I picture when you say that.

That’s one way to win. You got to outrun a bear.

That will light a fire under you.

Don't try to out-think the machine. Let it do its thing. Click To Tweet

Although if you’re in mile 82, that might be rough.

It’s when you need that extra oomph.

That’s a good point. Maybe they put that bear there on purpose.

Sometimes they put out some things because it’s common to have hallucinations when you’re running for multiple days. Lack of sleep. Some people will have these vivid hallucinations while they run. There are some races where what they’ll do is they’ll put out things that will make you think you’re hallucinating, like a clown or something. They dress up and are tucked in the woods. You’re running by and you’re like, “Is that real?”

You should change the name of the race to The Canadian Mindfuck.

I’m telling you, it’s a super fun sport. You should check it out.

If I go to the bank and the dry cleaner on the same day, I’m winded.

He’s driving.

Here’s how my mind works. When you said anything longer than a marathon counts as ultrarunning, my first thought was, “When you get down with your marathon, when you walk to go get a drink, it’s Ultramarathon.”

You did it. You got to get over the bar.

That’s probably your warm-up these days. You said a while ago that you run 3 or 4 hours a day. How many miles would you run on a training run? What does that equate to?

It depends on what I’m training that day. If I’m out on the trails, I’ll do a little bit less. If I’m running around in the town where it’s nice and flat, I’ll score a little bit more. My goal is generally to keep my heart rate and pace reasonable. I’m into this I-can-feel-like-I-could-go-forever zone. It’s not like I’m out there running like I’m trying to catch the ice cream truck. I’m out there having a nice little jog for a long time.

I’m sure it’s still a lot of miles. The reason I’m asking this is that I am turtle pace slow. It’s like watching a tortoise whenever I run, even when I think I’m going fast. My point is that if I run for 3 to 4 miles or 3 to 4 hours, that would be thirteen miles. That was what I did when we were in Atlantic City. What’s does that look like for you?

In three hours, I’ll probably cover about twenty miles.

Tell us how do you feel Tonal is working with this running? You said you felt it has changed your running. Why do you think that is specific or do you think it weights in general or Tonal specifically?

I used to be a strength coach, so I spent a lot of time in the gym. Every winter, I would bulk up. I tend to put on a bit of weight anyhow. I use that wintertime. I figured if I’m going to be eating more and putting on this weight anyway, I might as well be getting the majority of my strength work for the year done in the winter. I then can increase my volume of running in the spring to shed that weight back down. That way, I’m not having a huge volume through the winter while I’m at my heaviest. I adopt this strategy where I would do the weightlifting in the winter and I bulk up and then I cut it off.

What I did was I used Tonal. I didn’t go to the gym and lift weights. It’s only a handful of time with some friends. I started using the Tonal and I started realizing that I was missing a ton of good lateral work and that hip stability. I wasn’t getting that by lifting weights. Typically, I’m not doing lunges or getting into those different poses that Kelly had on his program. That was a real big eye-opener about where I was missing these things. The Tonal was huge in helping identify that. Also, transitioning from lifting the heavyweights to lifting the appropriate weights. That mindset was great.

They give you that assessment right off the beginning and they say like, “This is where we think you are.” I said, “All right.” I said, “This feels a little bit light. I don’t know if this is going to do anything.” It was great. Watching that score rise was great for the motivation. You hear that little chime noise it makes and you’re like, “I’m going to do it again.” You’re pumped to work out. I enjoyed it. It was right there. Oftentimes what I’ll do is I’ll run to the gym and back so that I can get my run and my workout in at the same time. This way, I could do my whole run without the interruption and then work out or do the workout and then do my run. That was the convenience factor. Having it right here was great.

Do you feel it’s changed anything about running for you in terms of faster, easier, fewer injuries?

Yes. In the time since I’ve started working out with the Tonal, I’ve done a couple of different larger events. I’ve been coming away injury-free, feeling strong and mobile. In the past, I’ve felt that after twenty hours or so of running, the hips start to feel tight, the glutes are feeling sore. You start to feel a little bit crummy. What I’ve noticed is that if I stay on top of this and I do the mobility work that they’re teaching me while I’m running, by twenty I’m not feeling as bad. By 40, I’m still feeling as good but a little bit more tired.

Tell us about these longer events. You had a Backyard event in 2020. Tell us what that was. Also, for those people out there who don’t know who Lazarus Lake is, you got to explain that because that guy is amazing.

Yes, the infamous Laz Lake. He’s the creator of the Barkley Marathons. You may have seen that on Netflix a couple of years ago. The Barkley Marathon in Frozen Head State Park. It’s historically difficult. There have only been fifteen people to ever complete it since it began in the 1980s. The idea of this race is to find the 1% of the 1%. It’s difficult enough that only the superhumans can complete it. He created that and he’s created a slew of other races in the wake of that, including the Backyard style, which takes 100 miles and it breaks it down into 24 individual hours. You need to run 4.101 miles in one hour. You complete that and then you line up and the next hour, you do it again. You have to start each loop at the top of every hour. No excuses. If you’re five seconds late, you’re gone. You go until one person remains. It doesn’t stop at 100 miles. It might not even stop at 200 miles. In the world championship, Karel Sabbe raced over 300 miles. It was 75 hours. It’s unreal.

There’s no sleeping either?

It depends on how fast you run your loop. If you can run your loop in 40 minutes, you can have twenty minutes.

Beyond that, there’s no built-in break. It’s like a Stephen King novel. He has a book called The Long Walk. It’s like a reality TV show. He wrote this book in the ‘80s under the name Richard Bachman. They take two kids from every state and they have them start walking. If you fall below four miles an hour, they give you a warning. On the third warning, they shoot you dead. The last kid alive wins.

Maybe this is where the idea came from.

I’ve not even heard of it. I got to read this book.

It’s a good book.

You can probably read it while you run. That’s the only time you’d have time. You’re running all the time.


There you go. You are reading while you run. I knew it. Tell us about your backyard event that you did then. Were you in the world championships?

I was.

How far did you make it?

It was a little bit different because of the pandemic. Generally, what happens is everybody goes to Laz Lake’s house, his property, and they do the race there. The top runners in the world that earned their golden ticket will go and race there, but because of the pandemic, we hosted satellite events. We had a team in Canada and then they had the US team. They had team Mexico and Belgium. All over the world, they had these teams of fifteen runners and they would run their course. They run their satellite backyard race and accumulate points. Each time a runner completed a lap, they got a point. If you had fifteen runners, you earn fifteen points an hour. As they drop off, you accumulate fewer points. If you have eight runners, you’re only going to get eight points that hour. I was on Team Canada. We took 3rd overall. Belgium went 75 hours. The US took 1st, Belgium took 2nd, and Canada took 3rd or maybe it was Belgium 1st and the US 2nd.

That’s incredible.

TSS 27 | Ultra Running



It’s the challenge.

I’m not wired that way.

Were you watching the whole 75 hours? Did you have to stay awake the whole 75 hours? How does that work?

With Team Canada, I went 42 hours. Stephanie Simpson, the winner for Team Canada, went 43 hours. Promptly after that, I went to sleep. I woke up and they were still going. I watched along in disbelief. That’s the record for the format. Previously, it was 68 hours.

He beat it by a lot.

He stepped up. The cool thing about this format is once your opponent drops out, the second place or the final DNF, Did Not Finish, the last person to drop out before the win is claimed, it’s funny because they still get the did not finish status even though they had to go one less loop than the winner. The second place there went 74 hours, which is still beyond what had been done previously at 68. A strong team coming across the pond.

Is that how it normally works? Whoever wins, they do one more loop. Does anybody ever show off? They’re like, “I’m going to do four more loops. Suck it, losers.”

No. It’s one more and then it’s the end of the game. You could continue running, but your score wouldn’t go up from there.

You get the usual benefit. There are dicks out there. I was curious what the mentality was.

I was saying even that kind of person would be exhausted by that point. They would be like, “I’m good.”

I like the idea that everybody gets a DNF because it makes me feel like I’ve competed in a way. I also have a DNF.

You want your t-shirt for that, don’t you?

I do because I didn’t finish either. Don’t feel bad.

Technically, you finished in second place.

The people that finish in second place are probably like, “No, you did not.”

They could beat you.

I sure as hell couldn’t outrun them.

Do you plan to go back? Is that what your plan is, to go and do it again?

You have to earn your way into the world championships. In 2020, I earned my way in. This 2021, I haven’t done any races. I was thinking I might try. I have this idea. I want to set the fastest known time for the Pacific Northwest Trail, which runs from the Continental Divide along the US-Canadian border to Cape Alava in the Pacific Ocean. We’ve been working on that. If I can get that organized, then I definitely would like to make a go of that. Otherwise, I might try to make my way to the Big Dog Backyard Ultra if I can. It’s pretty competitive because there are only going to be 75 runners because they’re going to host it in Tennessee. It’ll be new. We’ll see what comes.

You got big challenges ahead either way. That’s for sure.

We’re always looking for a challenge.

Tell us about the virtual run you did. That was in thirteen days? Was that in Kentucky?

Tennessee. It’s another race by Laz Lake. I must be some fanboy. That one happened by mistake. I slipped on a banana peel. We were going to do a 50 mile fastest known time attempt on Hell’s Canyon, which is the deepest canyon in North America. It’s on the border of Idaho and Oregon. The snowpack was a little bit too high to be done safely. I needed to make my way back to Canada by mid-May. I said, “We can’t do this. We’re going to do it by April 23.” We weren’t able to do that. I wanted to find something that I could do that would wear my legs out so that I could feel comfortable going into quarantine, knowing I wouldn’t be able to get a whole ton of exercise.

They did this race across Tennessee. I saw people posting about it and it started on May 1st, 2020. I thought, “That’d be a good one. I could go as far as I felt was comfortable.” The goal is not to get an injury. Wear them out good. I could go and rest up for two weeks in quarantine and then be good to go. I signed up on April 28, 2020. We went at it. With that Tonal helping me identify those different areas where I was lacking, where I was missing that strength, I was able to go at a nice, easy pace and crank out mile after mile. It felt comfortable. We had a tremendously fun time with it. We got up here and it was the perfect recipe.

I can’t even comprehend trying something like that. You need thirteen days of workouts to wear yourself out. For me, it’s a good hour. I’m good.

There was a lot of walking involved. It’s not a marathon. It’s an ultra-mega or a magnum-ultra.

When you’re using Tonal, are you using programs? Are you building custom stuff? What do you prefer?

I’ve been digging on the programs. I like the guidance when they’re chatting with you like, “Try this out or do this.” I like how they put them together and it helps me be a bit more accountable. When I make my workouts, I put in all the things I like, which are the things I do all the time.

It’s comfortable for you. You’re not challenged if you do it that way.

That’s where those imbalances come from too.

I felt like I was getting a great, well-rounded workout. I did yoga. I’m into calisthenics and gymnastics. I thought that I was getting these good workouts that I had put together that I learned from my time at Personal Peak and applying that extra additional resistance. The way they do it, they combine the exercises in these workouts. It’s hitting the nail on the head for me.

Do you think you’ll be getting your own Tonal someday?

I got to figure out where I’m going to install it. I travel so much. Maybe I’ll put one on the back of my RV that I can use there, but I don’t know how weatherproof they are.

In the meantime, you can travel from Nordstrom to Nordstrom across the country.

Hit the play button. If you do it all, that’s fantastic. If you got to stop halfway, then you still did half of the workout. Click To Tweet

I heard about that. That’s pretty cool. What a fantastic piece of equipment. I’m stoked to see how this is going to change the at-home fitness for people. Coming from the strength coach background, I see many people that come into the gym and they have that fear of doing things. They feel uncomfortable when people are watching them. I can relate to that when I first started going to the gym and be like, “I don’t know if I’m doing this right.” Even now, sometimes with social media and you do a workout and you show somebody, you’re like, “There are many people that might be watching this. I hope I’m giving the best information that I can.” I can relate to that. I feel that and I have a lot of that coming from my clients. This is going to be such a great way for people to get used to how do their bodies move in an environment where they have support from the Facebook group. They’ll have the coaches giving them feedback. Even the machine itself tells you, “Try to go a little bit lower. Backup two inches.”

Did you compare your strengths scores with your sister’s? That’s the real question.

My strength score, I want to say I love it, but at the same time, I tried so hard to do the workouts and don’t muck with the weights. I didn’t want to fall into that pattern of picking up the heaviest weight you can and move it around. Do the appropriate weights. I want to encourage everybody to don’t worry about the strength score. It’s awesome because it gives you that, “You’re doing better. You’re getting better.” As they say, the comparison is the thief of joy.

Do you have advice for people getting the Tonal or did you just give it?

Don’t try to out-think the machine. Let it do its thing. It is a fantastic tool. Follow along. If you’re getting started, get started. That’s all you got to do. Hit the play button. If you do it all, that’s fantastic. If you got to stop halfway, then you still did half of the workout. There’s no shame in doing a little bite. I made an analogy on my Instagram. It’s like eating ice cream. If you get the whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s and you’re like, “I’m going to eat this whole thing.” You get three quarters away and you’re like, “I’m going to be sick if I take any more.” It doesn’t mean the ice cream you ate wasn’t delicious. You still got some for later. Enjoy the whole experience. That’s all you got to do. Just start.

Will you ever try for the Barkley Marathons? Will you ever try to go to those?

It’s my dream. My number one ultra-running goal is to get to the Barkley Marathons. The winner of the Backyard World Championships historically has gotten a ticket into the Barkley. Maybe one day we will get there. That’s the dream. We’ll keep chipping away at it until we get there.

That was one of the craziest documentaries I’ve ever seen. I was hyped at the end. I wanted to do something crazy and outlandish by the end of it. Also, that’s terrifying and I couldn’t do it.

It takes a special kind of person. That’s what I love about it. You need to be sure that you are in the fittest possible state that you can to go into this because it’s meant for the 1% of the 1%. It’s such a small crowd that you need to be ready and know that you’re ready. The reason I haven’t made an application to run it yet is that I want to make sure it’s one shot, one kill.

One and done, I’m out. Mic drop, move on.

That’s a tough one to do, one shot. I understand why you feel the need to do that.

Thank you so much for joining us. Before we let you go, where can people find you on social media?

Instagram is my jam. I like to hang out on Instagram stories. @Go_Shep is my Instagram. I hang out on the Stories a lot. If you want to get the best content, come check me out there.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was a lot of fun.

Yes, it was.

Terrific. I appreciate it.

I guess that brings this episode to a close. What pray tell do you have in store for people next time.

We are going to be talking to Selina Sun next time.

Until then, where can people find you?

People can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/crystaldokeefe. They can find me on Instagram or Twitter at @ClipOutCrystal.

You can find me on Twitter @RogerQBert or Facebook at Facebook.com/tomokeefe. You can find the show online at Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you’re there, like the page and join the group. If you want to watch these episodes, you can do that at our YouTube channel, which is YouTube.com/theclipout where we have all the episodes from both shows. Feel free to swing by there and check that out. That’s it for this one. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, keep lifting.

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