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  • 2023 Holiday Gift Guide

    Some of my favorite things from my sponsors for this holiday season - complete with my available discount codes for each brand (in the images). Happy Holidays from mine to yours! Best Recovery Tool- I just started working with Lagoon back in September and I couldnt' be happier to be partnered with them. The founder and CEO, Ryan Hurley, cares about me as both and athlete and a person which is something that I value deeply. As a fun side note, Ryan has also been a great business mentor to me. As a successful entrepreneur with Lagoon, I have a lot to learn from Ryan! Based out of Minnesota, Lagoon's mission is to help you optimize your sleep to help achieve your best performances. Personally, sleep is my #1 recovery tool. I sleep A LOT (9-10 hours a night) so I've had a lot of time to get acquainted with my Lagoon sleepwear and it's the best! The coolest thing about the Lagoon pillows is that based on your sleep goals, body shape/size, and sleep preferences different pillow styles are recommended to you. I matched with both the Otter and the Fox Lagoon pillows. Click HERE to take the Lagoon sleep quiz and be on your way to optimized sleep! Best Run Tech- This was my 5th year as a COROS athlete! I was one of COROS' first athletes back in 2018 so they have been the one and only watch sponsor for my entire pro career so far. Talk about support! But honestly, the COROS watch is better than any other watch I've used (and I have tried all of the competitor brands). The battery life on the Apex Pro 2 is unparalleled. I only have to charge my watch about once a week. The watch also acquires GPS signal quickly which is very good for impatient people like myself. COROS also has lots of fun watch faces to pick from and now even comes in a dusty pink color (ooo la la). Aside from good looks, the ability to create routes in the COROS app and upload them to my watch for turn by turn navigation has significantly lowered my chances of getting lost during a race. Fun fact: I even used this feature during the VK at World Champs this June! And now, a new HRV automatic monitoring feature has been released. This means that if you have the Apex 2 Pro or Apex, then your need for an additional HRV tracking wearable is obsolete. COROS also released an arm band heart rate monitor this summer. This was a great add for someone like myself that wears sports bras. It stays put and is much easier to put on and take off compared to a chest strap. And yes, the HR monitor accuracy is just as good on the arm band as it is on chest strap alternatives! Shop the APEX 2 Pro Shop the COROS Heart Rate Monitor Best Run Snack- Bare Performance Nutrition is yet another new sponsor for me this year! BPN was started by Nick Bare, a US Army veteran. BPN has a wide range of supplements and recently released both the GoGel and GoBar as on-the-go endurance fuel. The BPN creatine monohydrate, G.1.M sport endurance drink mix, and their vegan protein powders have all become staples in my nutrition routine. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't the most excited about the on-the-run snacks. Both the GoGel and the GoBar fueled me during my escapade at the El Cruce 100k, 3-day, stage race a couple of weeks ago. I aimed to consume 1000+ calories during each stage of the race and my trusty BPN run snacks (plus endurance drink mix) helped me get there. Shop BPN supplements (and snacks!) Best Training Log- You didn't think I could make a gift guide without shamelessly including my own product, did you??? I really am passionate about my Training Log + Planner and I do believe it is the best and most holistic training/life tool out there. The power of putting pen to paper and writing things is often undervalued and overlooked in our current digital age. I truly believe that using a written training log has been one of the most important contributions to my success as an athlete and my mental health as a human being. So much so, that I even wrote a blog on how I think it helped me to become a 2x World Champion! Anyway, this is the 6th edition and I can't thank everyone enough for their support of my small business. If you haven't gotten your copy yet, what are you waiting for?! Shop the 2024 Training Log + Planner (with stickers designed by Sara Grace Studios) Best Shoes & Apparel- Saucony has my heart! I have been apart of the Saucony familyl for all but one year of my professional career. That's 4 wonderful years! Not only has Saucony been supportive of me through multiple world and national titles, they have also supported me when I missed making the Olympic team by just a few seconds, when I had to pull out of a World Championship due to injury, and when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Many of the core people that work at Saucony have become dear friends and are people that I consider myself lucky to know outside of the wins and losses of competition. The Saucony family is one I sure am proud to be apart of and I can't wait to rep this brand (and show how great their products are) for many years to come! Now for the shoes: I picked the Ride 15 TR as my gift guide recommendation because it's a lesser known all-terrain shoe from Saucony. As a hybrid road and trail crossover athlete, this shoe is my spirit animal. It also happens to be one of the most used shoes in my rotation. It has the comfort and and light fit of the traditional Ride with just a bit more bite on the lugs; making you ready to tackle the roads and trails all at once. Also, don't sleep on the Saucony apparel! The new fall/winter 2023 line is my favorite yet and they have really upped their game in terms of sizing, fit, and fabric. All critiques I have had in the past. I will make another gift guide of just Saucony products soon! Shop the Saucony Ride 15 TR (hurry its on clearance!) Best Health Tracker Service- This marks 4 years as an InsideTracker athlete. Over the last 4 years I have had my blood drawn 14 times using the InsideTracker service. With their personalized recommendations, ability to speak with dietitions, and easy to use app I have corrected nutritional deficiencies and other biomarkers to stay on track for peak performance. More recently, InsideTracker has become an invaluable tool for me as I navigated a mystery illness which ended in an autoimmune disease diagnosis. Having the knowledge and bloodwork history to back myself up allowed me to advocate for myself in a medical context that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. On average, it takes 4.6 years to receive an autoimmune diagnosis (source: American Autoimmune Related Disease Association).With the help of InsideTracker, I was able to expedite this process and for that I am ever grateful. Shop InsideTracker Plans

  • El Cruce 100k: am I ready for ultras?

    From Sub-Ultra to Ultra: My El Cruce 100k Journey Last week, I embarked on an incredible adventure – the El Cruce 100k, 3-day stage race. It was an incredible experience from start to finish with epic views, people, and nights spent freezing in a tent to boot. The Challenge of El Cruce 100k El Cruce 100k, a name that resonates within the ultrarunning community as one of South America's most reknowned stage races. The race name translates to the crossing and previous historical editions saw racers cross the border of Chile to Argentina, covering 100 kilometers of distance over 3 days. While this is technically an ultra-marathon distance, it broken up into 3 days as a stage race making each individual day technically a sub-ultra distance. So, I am not sure if this totally counts as "running an ultra", but for the purposes of this blog I think it gave me a good amount of insight into what a one day ultra might be like. As someone who thrives in the classic mountain running discipline and sub-ultra distances, I was a bit skeptical when Saucony asked me to attend and race the El Cruce 100k. But alas, the allure of Patagonia's challenging terrain, breathtaking scenery, and the chance to step outside of my comfort zone and try a new race format drew me in. The 2023 edition of El Cruce was also taking place just miles from where I won my first World Championship title, so having the chance to revisit that magical place (and see Argentina again, one of my favorite countries) was convincing enough for me to make the trip. Goals: Friends, Food, and Fun The moment I laced up my shoes for the first stage, I knew this was a different ball game. I was lucky that two of the winners from Saucony's Project Peak challenge were good friends from home; Leah Lange and Keelah Barger. Having these two by my side, and my twin sister along on the trip as our crew chief, meant that the nerves for the race were low. This was a positive, where usually at the sub-ultra distances I don't have friends that I plan to run the whole race with and the vibes are not all that chill. Some other main differences that I noticed, compared to mountain races, were that in this race I had to carry ungodly amounts of fuel with me. In mountain races, I generally do not need to eat all during races. During El Cruce, I planned to carry and consume 1000+ calories each day. We estimated that each day, which consisted of about 21 miles and 5-6k feet of vert, would take 3-4 hours so you can work out carbs/hour on your own if you want. Because I am still coming back from some major health issues and an autoimmune disease diagnosis that sidelined me all of this fall, I didn't plan to race with much intensity. My goal for this race was just to have a good time running with my friends, enjoy the views, and complete the 3 days of racing without having a disease flare up. Secretly, I also wanted to see what this whole ultra-running thing was about and if it was something I would be interested in. Reimagining what a "race" can look like In sub-ultra distances, it's often a sprint of focused intensity. Vertical kilometers are like running an 800m race for 50 minutes (read more about the excruciating pain of VKs here!). In mountain races, I would say the feeling of intensity is more similar to an all out 10k or half marathon. It was strange to go into In El Cruce, where the distance, terrain, and fueling were the biggest challenges and time and intensity was less of a factor. I also think that probably mental fortitude plays a different role in both disciplines. With sub-ultra racing the mental fortitude required is more like "how long can you tolerate holding your hand on a hot stove?". With ultras, I have gathered that the hot stove metaphor isn't as applicable. With ultras it seems that your mental energy is mostly directed towards moving forward at a steady pace, not getting overwhelmed by the sheer distance of the event, all while making sure you are checking in with your body and fueling frequently to avoid bonking. More new things: not warming up before a race! With sub-ultras you have to be ready to run fast right from the get go. With El Cruce we had time to work into our steady pace and lots of time to chat and eat. Over the course of almost 11 hours, I developed amazing friendships running with Keelah Barger and Michelle Reddy and had the privilege of learning a lot about them. We also shared snacks, advil, airplane arm photo ops, and pee breaks together. This is a memory I will treasure forever and definitely not something that I have experienced in a sub-ultra race! In races in the past, especially mountain and sub-ultra races, my mindset has alwasy been "let's see how fast and how hard I can run this". Not surprisingly, I can be quite a competitive person, so letting people pass me on the trail and focusing on snacks and fun instead of competition took almost constant reminding. But by the 3rd day out on course in Patagonia, I realized I needed less and less reminding and the natural gratitude and enjoyment had really started to take over. This is something I am proud of. Instead of an on/off switch, I now think that maybe my competitive nature is trainable and is more akin to a dimmer switch. In all areas of life, I think this is advantageous. Yet another nugget of wisdom that 100k has given me! Some other race firsts, that are more unique to the stage racing format, came in the form of camping in tents in between stages. I am a HUGE camping fan. It is literally one of my top hobbies, if not #1. But I would be lying if I said I had ever camped in a tent the night before a race. Typically, I strive to make the nights before big races a comfortable experience with lots of good food, a nice comfy and warm bed, and maybe a fun movie. Unfortunately, we hit a cold snap during our nights in the tent and with temperatures dipping down into the 20s (fahrenheit) and probably not enough layers on, the nights were VERY cold to say the least. After shivering for a few hours pre-dawn, and huddle up next to my twin sister, Maddy in our 2-person tent, the last thing I wanted to do was go run 20+ miles for nearly 4 hours. But you gotta do what you gotta do! This was an important lesson on being flexible and reminding myself that I can still do hard things in less than ideal circumstances. A profound lesson that I think ultras probably teach many people! This camaraderie among fellow runners, the beauty of the untamed landscapes, and the raw, unfiltered moments of pushing through boundaries, on top of all of the laughs and snacks of course – all of it begged the question: Have I caught the "ultra" bug? The Ultra Bug: Have I Caught It? The answer isn't as straightforward as the trails we ran (which were actually not straightforward at all becausee the exact routes were never released so we just followed flags the whole 100k). El Cruce 100k was a profound experience that left an indelible mark on my running journey and I will always have a special place in my heart for Argentina and all of their kindness & carne. In fact, there was so much carne (Spanish for meat) that by the end of the trip our mantra was "No mas carne" (but it was delicious nevertheless). While I may not be ready to declare full allegiance to the ultra community, the seed of curiosity has been planted. The allure of ultrarunning, with its unique blend of physical and mental challenges, has left me contemplating future endeavors. Right now, I feel like I have a ton of unfinished business left in the sub-ultra and road scene, but I think that ultras are definitely going to be a part of my running journey in the (far off) future! To all the runners out there, embrace the challenges, relish the moments of triumph, and keep pushing your boundaries to try things outside of your comfort zone. The journey is as important as the destination, and sometimes, it takes a 100k to truly understand just how endless the possibilities can be. Airplane arms! xoxo Grayson P.S. If you have done both sub-ultra and ultra races before I'd love to hear your take on both in the comments!

  • The key to becoming a World Champion? A written training log.

    It's no secret that becoming a World Champion in anything requires a lot of dedication and self-discipline within your craft, whether that's chess, running, or another competitive pursuit. As a 2x World Mountain Running Champion, I can say from experience that this is undoubtedly true. But dedication and self-discipline are really the "what" in the World Champion equation and I want to show you my "how". Call me old fashioned, but I use a written training log and I believe that it has been integral to my success. My training log has carried me through not 1, but 2 world championship titles so I know that it works. I started using a written training log at about the same time that I started running in 2014. As a 19 year old newbie runner, my first ever "training log" consisted of a wall calendar hung on the door of my dorm room closet. My goal was to run 1 mile a day and then I'd draw a line through the day to signify it had been completed... Man we have come a long way since then! From the wall calendar I upgraded to an actual spiral bound booklet designed for logging training. Finally, in 2019, after several years of using these other training logs, I decided to create my own based on the following tenets: Grayson's 3 Tenets of Success Organization was my safety net- After spending 5 years as a student athlete, where I studied civil engineering, I knew that if I didn't stay organized and on top of all of my running and schoolwork I wouldn't survive. Having a daily planner for my schoolwork and appointments, and having a separate written training log, accomplished this goal (albeit in a bulky and cumbersome way). My motivation and self-discipline comes from within- It is common for coaches to use Google sheets, Training Peaks, and other apps as a means of electronically disseminating training plans out to teams and individual athletes. My experience in college, and as a pro, has been no different. While this is an effective way for athletes to see what the training plan is, very often things don't go as planned and deviations from the set plan should be recorded. On top of that, I realized that for me to stay motivated, I had to find intrinsic motivation rooted in personal growth and introspection. "Were my reps this week not only faster, but feeling smoother than last week?". Writing down how my workouts unfolded, what I felt, what I thought, and any other personal notes from the session was a great way for me to build long lasting self-discipline and motivation at the same time. Success and poor mental health cannot coexist- I have been open about my struggles with mental health because I think this is a conversation that everyone should have; especially in the context of athletics. I realized early on in college that if my heart and mind were not on board with what I was doing, then it didn't matter how fit I was; I would never reach a level that I would consider a "success". Racing takes a lot of mental and emotional energy and if you show up to the start line mentally or emotionally drained, then your physical fitness can only take you so far. Knowing these 3 things, while lugging around a clunky planner AND a separate training log everywhere I went, led me to the very natural conclusion that I should make my own training log that combines these two books into one. Thus, the Training Log + Planner was born. There are certainly a lot of alternatives out there to a written training log. I am actually a huge fan of Strava and use that every day. I also use a Google sheet with my coach as our way of communicating my day to day training plan. However, there is something about the tactile experience of physically writing in a training log that you can't get from any online/public platform. My written training log gives me the space and platform to cultivate the 3 tenets of success that I identified early in my career, and that I still rely on to bring me success to this day. In order to build the motivation necessary to be dedicated to my craft, I like to see consistency and quality sessions stack up, week over week, in my training. Apps make this super easy and with one click of a button, your entire workout is effortlessly uploaded from your watch to your online profile; you don't even have to think about it. But herein lies the issue: you don't have to think about it. Do you think that World Champions mindlessly upload their training into an app without thinking twice about it? I know that I don't and I'd be willing to bet that I'm not alone. A lot of key questions and data points are left out in this process of easy and mindless uploading. Questions like: What was the weather like and did that influence your workout? If you are a female athlete, where are you at in your cycle? What was your perceived exertion compared to the measured heart rate? What is the state of your mental health and self-talk before, during, and after this session? A written training log gives you a judgement free zone where you can be introspective and honest with yourself while answering these questions. The experience of putting pen to paper in a private manner is a great way to avoid the comparison trap of social media and focus on yourself. I like to think of myself as a horse with blinders on where distractions and judgements have been removed so that I can focus on what makes ME the best athlete that I can be. It is NOT about how many segment KOM/QOM's I achieved, or if my workout qualifies as a certifiable Sexy Strava Workout, or even if it is a workout that my top competitors might be doing. Giving myself this space, and building my mental health based off of intrinsic feelings and thoughts, is the most sustainable way for me to get to the top level and stay there. Supporting your mental health and cultivating motivation through self-belief and self-confidence (without needing to flaunt that to the internet) is a champion's mindset. In addition to cultivating good mental health habits and positive self talk/image/confidence, my written training log is also my best tool for goal setting. Setting a huge goal, like wanting to be the very best in the entire world at something, is intimidating. I would guess that for many people, the intimidation factor, and feeling of being overwhelmed by the goal itself, stops a lot of people from ever setting huge scary goals. Every January, in the judgement free zone of the "Goals" section of my training log, I like to sit down and write out my big scary goals for the year. In 2019, 2022, and 2023 this list of goals included "Win World Mountain Running Championships". I'll admit that even now, when I write these goals down, there is a lot of self-doubt tinged with self-judgement to work through. However, I know that if I can commit to nailing my 3 tenets of success, and focus on process oriented achievements, I can go anywhere I want to go. By using the habit trackers and graphs to track trends in my training log, I am able to break huge scary goals down into bite sized chunks. It gives me daily, weekly, and monthly goals to shoot for. In addition to accomplishing the day's run, these process goals also might include things like: yoga 2x each week, lift 2x each week, sleep 8-9 hours each night, eat 20g of protein more each day. Setting achievable and process oriented goals, and tracking them in my training log, allows me to find success and motivation in the journey towards my bigger goal. It also helps me avoid burnout (its hard to get burned out when you feel like you are accomplishing goals every day!) and stay motivated throughout the season. This is one way I find joy in the process. At the end of the day, it is the journey that matters, not the destination, and keeping track of the highs and lows in my training log helps me keep the long journey in perspective. If you have made it this far, thank you for letting me share a bit about how my mind works and how my training log has helped me accomplish some of my biggest and scariest goals. I fully believe in the power of a written training log as a tool for success and I hope that I have convinced you of that as well. Even if my training Training Log + Planner isn't your style, I hope that you can find some other form of written log that helps you enjoy the process of accomplishing your wildest dreams! And always remember, airplane arms or you're doing it wrong! xoxo, Grayson

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