"I think it's easy to look at things externally and think success is only about winning, being on the podium, or running some fast time. I'm trying to be a little patient with myself. At UTMB, it took me 3 attempts to get to the point where I was really happy with the way it played out. That's one of the cool things about ultrarunning - you do a race, see all the things you could do better, then go back and try to improve them. I have done everything I can this time to get it right."
Humble words from 2023 Western States runner-up right before she went on to smash the 11-year old course record set by Ellie Greenwood in 2012. Katie's new course record at Western States, on the heels of her breakthrough 2022 UTMB win, has cemented her as one of the top ultrarunners in the world. So how did Katie do it? Let's break it down.
Katie left her comfort zone behind.
Originally from Maine, Katie has been living with her partner - top French ultrarunner Germain Grangier - for 7 years in a remote village in the French maritime Alps. To be in top form for Western States, Katie spent 2 months in Flagstaff Arizona, acclimatizing to the altitude and dry searing heat that make Western so challenging.
Katie worked on her weaknesses.
Western States is a very fast course as ultras go - with lots of lightning-fast, quad-destroying descents. Katie lives and trains on extremely steep terrain, the perfect training ground for UTMB - but not ideal for Western where fast downhill running is a prerequisite for success. So Katie honed her fast descending skills on the trails and fire roads around Flagstaff.
Katie knows what she's in for.
"You're racing everyone else for sure. I want to - you know - win. But you're also fighting against yourself. It is so difficult internally. You're constantly battling your own thoughts. Other people help you bring out your best, but you still need to manage yourself."
The one quality that you quickly realize about Katie is how practical she is. She is fully aware of the undulating challenges she will face during a 16+ hour event - and the tools she will need to use to cope with them.
Katie approaches her performance nutrition like all aspects of her training - scientifically.
Ultrarunning is one of the most challenging endurance sports when it comes to fueling and hydrating correctly. Consume too little, and you will have a meltdown. Take the wrong products and you could derail your performance. And the sheer length of the race only amplifies problems - little ones can become big ones very quickly. To achieve consistent success, you have to master a practical race day protocol that works. This requires a lot of practice called "gut training." Katie and the team at Neversecond optimized her intake at 90 grams of CHO per hour using a combination of C30 Sports Drink, C30 Energy Gels, C30 Fuel Bars and small amounts of real food. We recommend 1-2 gut training sessions per week where you consume the exact nutrition you will use on race day.
Katie prepared for the heat.
C30 Energy Gels
On an average year at Western, the heat in the valley can be downright stifling. Katie performed specific heat-training sessions in the Grand Canyon to ensure her heat readiness. In order to stay properly hydrated, Katie used 1 scoop of C30 Sports Drink
per 500ml of fluid in her bottles. This provided her with a total of 60 grams of carbohydrate and 400mg of sodium per hour by fluid intake based on her 1 liter of fluid intake per hour (the right level based on her predicted race day fluid loss). Katie supplemented with additional salt tabs to accommodate her overall sodium loss. She also employed C30 Ice Gels
to help cool her core temperature and provide some fuel and mental heat relief.
: "Passion Fruit and Citrus flavors for sure!"
Katie's always looking forward to the next challenge.
Katie is back in France and getting ready for her next challenge - OCC by UTMB - in late August. Want to follow what Katie is up to? You can follow Katie