Krissy Moehl on her new book “Running Your First Ultra”

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Transcript:

Amy Clark: Krissy’s new book just came out, “Running Your First Ultra.” We’re going to talk a little bit to Krissy about that. Tell me your inspiration for writing this book. You have this Ultra … It’s pretty much a bible. I feel like it’s the Ultra Running Bible.
Krissy Moehl: Thanks.
Amy Clark: Tell me a little bit about how the process that you went through in writing it.
Krissy Moehl: I was approached by Page Street publishing. We were just talking on the phone about how I’m passionate about the athletes that I’ve been coaching for the last five years. I was really focused on this whole, first timer approach. I really like the sparkle that comes into somebody’s eyes. The complete look of disbelief, when they accomplish something they didn’t think was possible. I’ve worked with that level of athlete for five years, and when we were talking about what this book would be focused on, that’s where I was headed. That’s the voice I wanted to take, in terms of who I was talking to. I’ve since learned that I kind of pigeon holed myself, with the title. I’ve had amazing feedback, people are so generous. Telling me that, “Krissy, I’ve run fifty Ultras, and it’s still really helpful to me.” Or, “I’ll never run an Ultra, but I found some stuff that was really helpful, just for my running in general.”
The title is just because of who I am passionate about, when I’m coaching, but it actually seems to be fitting a lot of other people. Which is really nice.
Amy Clark: That’s nice. You’ve been running for fifteen years?
Krissy Moehl: Going on sixteen.
Amy Clark: Ultras. Was it hard to go back? Obviously you coached a lot of first timers, but was it hard for you to go back and think about those first Ultras that you did? Put yourself back in the newbies shoes?
Krissy Moehl: It wasn’t really that hard, I think because I’ve been working with first timers. It’s more of a coaching type voice, or whatever. That’s what I’ve been doing. I do share my own personal story, of my first ultra in there. That was really fun to go back to find. I also want to write a memoir of all these crazy life stories, as some point. They’re on my hard drive, right? I’ve been typing those stories for a while. I’ve had things to reference, and pull, in terms of getting back into that early brain. I think just having had worked with athletes for five years, I had a lot of conversations super frequent in my head of, questions that are asked. What they’re looking for. That’s who this ends up being addressed to.
Amy Clark: Nice. I really enjoyed your stories. That you sprinkle in there. The one about Darcy, with her falling asleep on the trail. That’s what I was going to ask you, if you were going to continue to write. Maybe do a book of all those stories that you have, because you must have so many. International races that you’ve done, so many experiences that you could pen, and do another book with.
Krissy Moehl: It would be a really fun process. I think everybody should write a book. More of the stories that I had pulled out, and then this other process that I’m going through, had more style writing. It’s so cathartic, and you realize a lot more about yourself as you go through it. Even if it never gets published, I will write it. Then, if it ends up being something that I get to share, then that’s obviously better.
Amy Clark: Was there a reason that you decided to do … Like you said, it’s kind of a bible. You’ve got a fifty K training plan, you’ve got a fifty mile hundred k, and then you’ve got a hundred mile training in there. You’ve got it all. Was there a reason why you decided to do all three distances, or ‘ish’ distances?
Krissy Moehl: I wanted it to reach a lot of different people. I have one client in particular, that I got to work with, with her first fifty k one year. Her first fifty miler the next year, then her next hundred miler the third year. That was such a cool process. To be a resource for people, not only for their first ultra, but as they go up in distance. They’re first time at the next distance up, was kind of the motivation for that.
Amy Clark: Nice. It’s very extensive. You’ve got almost six months training plans for each one. It really is a comprehensive book, full of, “This is how long you’re going to have to train for an ultra.” It’s pretty cool.
Krissy Moehl: I get a lot of emails from people saying, “I want to run a fifty k in twelve weeks, can I jump in.” There’s two things that kept me focused when I was writing. I had to do this in two months. I signed a contract December twenty second, and I turned in my manuscript February twenty fourth, of last year. It was really fast. The two things that really kept me … Well, three, one being the first time ultra runners. Second was, I feel like I’ve had so many trial and error. The errors are so painful. Hopefully, by sharing the stories, and hopefully giving the motivations to not go through the same pain. Just learn from my mistakes, that’s what I tried to include. Then, motivating people to listen to their own bodies. Rather than feeling like they need to email me, “Can I jump in at week twelve of this program?”, check in with yourself. Where are you at? Can you?
A lot of times flip the question back on the person. Say, “Well, what have you been doing?” I can’t answer that …
Amy Clark: It’s hard to answer that.
Krissy Moehl: … Without all the information.
Amy Clark: You covered peoples doubts, you covered mentality, you covered so many things that don’t usually get covered in an Ultra book.
Krissy Moehl: Well, there’s not a lot of Ultra books.
Amy Clark: There’s a few out there. Just to go into that, into the head space of an ultra running, and say, “This is what you’re going to experience mentally, when you’re going through.” Was that something that you decided to put in there, because that was important to you?
Krissy Moehl: I think it’s the biggest part of the ultra running process. All of the physical training, and everything we put ourselves through, is one part of it. What actually is happening as you go through the training, and the racing, and the recovery. I think that’s one part of the ultra speak, that doesn’t get addressed much. Instead of, “Okay, here we just finished our first hundred miler.” The first question is, “What’s next?”. I’m like, “No, back up. Slowly.” You just finished a hundred miles, and you didn’t even think that was possible. Acknowledge it, and really be with it. I really feel like mentality is, maybe even the difference, of doing long distance races. Long distance being, like ultras.
Amy Clark: Ninety percent metal, ten percent physical.
Krissy Moehl: They say all those different ratios, yeah.
Amy Clark: Ratios yeah. One thing that had come up recently, when I was listening to an interview, or somebody that had interviewed you in the past. You’re attitude when you’re running, you’re smiling. That’s the hope. You’re the smiling girl. It came up in the book too. I was just wondering if that, again, if that is something that has kept you going? The people around you going? Throughout each race, you continue to keep that attitude visual to everyone around you. So that they know that you’re really happy to be out there, and happy to be doing what you’re doing.
Krissy Moehl: I think that, plus it’s also just a good motivation, and good reminder. There are two races in sixteen years, that I’ve dropped out of two races. I wasn’t having a good time, I think it’s that reminder, if you’re not doing it for the right … You pay to be there, and a lot of us doing even. The fact that I’ve been able to piece together an ultra runners salary, if you will. It’s such a “Hodge podge” of pulling all these things together. You choose to be there, so you might as well make the most of it.
Amy Clark: Make everybody around you, realize that you’re enjoying it.
Krissy Moehl: That was the biggest lesson when I came up with that Ted Talk I did in two thousand eleven, which was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. They want you to send a message, but you also have to have your principals of what leads you to that message. Smiling was the first thing that came to my mind. Then, how that impacts everybody else around you.
Amy Clark: I think that’s huge. I think that you coming into an aide station smiling, as opposed to somebody who’s coming in struggling, is going to make everybody around you happy.
Krissy Moehl: Or even if you don’t have it, but you set that intention with your crew. Two thousand nine, my crew was so on it. I had gone out way too hard, and tried to come in and have a big pity party at Michigan Bluff. There was no having it. They were bouncing up and down, and one of them shoved a pop-cycle in my mouth. How can you have a pity party with a red goopy pop-cycle dripping from my mouth. Sometimes it takes a little bit of help from the outside too, to get that smile back.
Amy Clark: What are you planning for your future? You have done all the races that most people haven’t done, I would say. What’s in the future for you?
Krissy Moehl: I like just trying new stuff. I know a lot of people are very habitually, and they like to go back to the same races every year. There’s very few races on my resume, that I’ve done more than once or twice. Mount Masochist, and white river, are the two that I’ve done more than two or three times. Going forward, I keep that mentality of doing different races, exploring different parts. That’s lead to these FKT efforts. That’s a love looking at maps in a different way. I’ve learned about maps, and I’ve learned about terrain, and I’ve learned about weather conditions all through racing. I came to the ultra running world, as a runner, which we’re seeing a lot more of now. When I got into the sport, a lot of people were mountaineers that wanted to move faster on the trails. They had all of these awareness of weather systems, and terrain, and gear that they needed to carry. I learned from a lot of really mountain educated people, and I guess I’m kind of diverting here a little bit.
With so many more runners coming into the sport, we don’t have as many teachers that have that mountain experience. I’m thankful that I got to learn all that in the trail running world, and the people that brought me up in this sport. Now I can apply all of that, to these other adventures in life. Get out in the mountains on my own, with a crew. I always love being with a crew. I’m always known as having this loud, crazy crew. They did such a great job at Tahoe room trail this year, with the social media and stuff. Just fun stuff.
Amy Clark: You’re also a race director which …
Krissy Moehl: Coming up on quick.
Amy Clark: Yeah. Coming up quick.
Krissy Moehl: It’s right around the corner.
Amy Clark: Not a lot of people have both the race structure experience, and the professional running experience. That’s been thirteen?
Krissy Moehl: This is fourteen years, yeah.
Amy Clark: Fourteen years, wow.
Krissy Moehl: One of my friends have teenagers, I have a race that’s a teenager.
Amy Clark: How is that looking for future wise? Are you going to continue to keep that as your little baby?
Krissy Moehl: I think so. I just bought a place. The gypsy bought a home.
Amy Clark: Nice.
Krissy Moehl: It’s three blocks from the start of the Chuckanut 50k.
Amy Clark: Great, congratulations.
Krissy Moehl: I maybe just committed myself for probably the rest of my life. .
Amy Clark: Can it grow, or is it capped off?
Krissy Moehl: I have cap on it.
Amy Clark: You have a lottery, right?
Krissy Moehl: It’s first come first serve, but I cap it at 350. I work with an awesome co-race director , her name’s Christy. Krissy and Christy.
Amy Clark: Nice.
Krissy Moehl: I feel comfortable managing that number, that she and I can really enjoy what we’re doing. One year I did, for the twentieth year anniversary, we did go big. We doubled our field size, and I didn’t double the management side of it. It about killed myself. It was harder than an eight hundred miler. If we do do something, next years the twenty fifth anniversary, and I definitely want to do something. Whether it’s going big, in terms of numbers, or going big in terms of what we provide to the three fifty that are there. Something special for next year. We cap it for our own enjoyment, I think.
Amy Clark: That’s a good size. Three hundred fifty.
Krissy Moehl: I get to interact with most everybody.
Amy Clark: Well thank you.
Krissy Moehl: Thanks.
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