The Tour du Mont Blanc is the most beautiful trail I have ever run…or so people tell me. Most of this rugged ribbon of singletrack I have only seen at night, while deep in a gel fueled haze while racing the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc. I’ve seen hallucinations on the trail and seen others vomit, I’ve felt the intense spirit of sport, but I’ve never seen much of the grander this place has to offer. I dream of someday doing the TMB the slow down and sip the espresso way. I’d love to soak in the afternoon sun at Refuge Bonatti, or grab a Coke at Champex-Lac, I’d love to chat with the caretakers at the refuges, or take time to just sit quietly and breathe in the alpine inspiration of the high country.

Honestly, I’m as guilty as the next person. The gun goes off, the race plan goes out the window. Any coherent logic of starting at a casual pace, or drinking calories early, or taking it easy on the first climb evaporates like the ice cubes in your hat in that last hot ultra.

About a week ago we launched a little contest, basically the contest read,

“Some of you have great years of running, and some of you may have had brutal seasons. @trailsandtarmac wants to hear those stories. If you have a friend, running buddy, family member or coworker who really crushed it this year working hard toward achieving their personal goals you can nominate them for a gnar-boss of the year award! If you had a rough year, maybe a few DNF’s, some major blowups or Injuries we want to hear those stories, and what you learned too! You can win the Epic Manure award!!! Nominate a friend for the Gnar-boss award or nominate yourself (because hopefully your friends wouldn’t do that!) for the Epic Manure award! So, to nominate email a brief paragraph or two with a photo to”

Well the response was pretty awesome.  We learned a TON by reading the responses, and we also realize there was no way we could choose just one for either the Gnar Boss Award or the Epic Manure Award.  By far the biggest thing we learned was there was hardly any difference between the GNAR boss Award and the Epic Manure Award! Both awards highlighted these runners individual trials and how they dealt with major discouragement and never quit in the face of adversity.

Summers never seem to last long enough. Not that I dislike winter, on the contrary, I LOVE winter. If I were not a runner, I would be one of those skiers chasing storms from the Northern to Southern Hemisphere searching for powder and steep lines 12 months a year. When I say summer is never long enough I mean as a runner, all the coolest, raddest, most fun trails are high up in the mountains where snow can linger long into July and August. There is a short window of time to tackle what has become a fast growing list of MUST DO mountain running objectives. A person could have worse problems obviously.

Mile 107: Nothing left.

Coach Alex Nichols

Photo Credit: Irunfar

We could not be more pumped to have Alex join the Trails and Tarmac coaching team!  He brings with him a depth of racing experience covering all types of terrain and distances. Alex’s  racing style is something that we have respected for a long time. He always runs his race, pacing impeccably well, and usually ends up dismantling fields in the second half. His intelligent thoughtful style spills over into his coaching. Alex has been the women’s distance track and assistant men’s and women’s cross country coach at Colorado College for the past six  years. There he has coached 7 out of the 9 conference champions in the schools history. He’s coached women to school records in the mile, 5k, and 10k! We know that with Alex’s incredible experience in training for and racing all distances as well his years of successful coaching at Colorado College that he’s the perfect fit as our newest Trails and Tarmac coach. We did a short interview where you can find out a bit more about Alex, what he’s bringing to the table, and why you want him to coach you! If you are interested in learning more about being coached by Alex or any of the Trails and Tarmac coaches you may fill out this questionnaire.


Trails and Tarmac is very excited to be bringing on Jenn Shelton as our newest running coach. To say that Jenn is highly experienced in all running disciplines would be an understatement. She has competed in short fast races on the track, run grueling 100 milers all over the world, she’s covered 220 miles of the hardest high mountain trail America has to offer, and she’s qualified for the US Olympic marathons trials. This only touches this tip of the iceberg.

There is no doubt Jenn has  a wealth of knowledge and experience hardly matched in the sport of running. But more than her personal running Jenn’s enthusiasm for running, her zest for life are second to none. Through injury and triumph her spirit rarely loses its luster and this characteristic shines through in her coaching and the athletes she has worked with. A relationship with your running coach is far more than just about the minutes and miles. Bringing Jenn into the fold of Trails and Tarmac was a no brainer as she not only has the technical ability to work with a diverse group of athletes but her fervor will motivate and encourage everyone who has the opportunity to work with her.

We’ve asked Jenn to answer a few questions so that you can get to know her a little better and see if her coaching style is right for you. If you are interested in getting in touch with us at Trails and Tarmac and to see about the possibility of working with Jenn as your coach you can fill out this questionnaire.

For me being competitive with intentions of placing highly at races has always sat atop the priorities list. Over the past few years I have seen that this may be an error if I hope to ultimately find satisfaction in 100 mile racing experiences. I decided to make finishing the race a priority, not necessarily above competing at the highest level possible, but on the same level. Setting this intention has helped me an enormous amount when during the course of running 100+ miles things go south and being competitive no longer is possible. My finish at the 100 miles of Istria is a story of the intention to finish the race no matter what.

We talk a lot on our website about communication, gps data, and training. These words and ideas need to be elaborated on and described in more detail so you really understand what it is the coaches at Trail and Tarmac actually do. Here is a glimpse behind the scenes in the Trails and Tarmac coaching kitchen.

Meet Camelia and Sarah: Trails and Tarmac’s Newest Coaches

Trails and Tarmac is excited to be bringing on two new coaches! We decided to expand our team for a couple of reasons. We have grown a lot and we make sure that every athlete receives a quality experience and the attention they deserve. Keeping our coach to athlete ration low ensures that your coach will provide quality feedback, look at all of your runs, and have you ready and confident for race day.

Trails and Tarmac is a team of coaches. One of our core values is learning from other runners. Camelia and Sarah have spent years learning the ins and outs of all aspects of distance running. They work with athletes, understand the sport, and are currently pursuing their own very successful running careers. Meet Camelia and Sarah!

Camelia Mayfield

Two reasons you love training and racing on the road and two reasons you love training and racing on the trail.

Road/track- it doesn’t lie. I love track workouts and road workouts because you can tell exactly what your times can equate to for racing. When I ran the 10k in college, I loved that each lap you could just focus on a lap split and nothing else- no elevation, no huge variables, just the pure competition. My road marathon was the same way. It was a huge mental advantage to be able to just focus on one mile at a time.

Trails- the trails have always had my heart. There is nothing as satisfying as looking at a mountain from the bottom then getting to the top and taking it all in. I love the unknown of a trail race as well. The time is relatively meaningless from one course to another or even one year to the next depending on conditions so it really is about pushing yourself and enjoying the journey as much as possible.  I love being able to see remote areas as well. Sometimes it hits me on a long run that I could be miles from the nearest human and it’s both exciting and scary to have that sort of independence.

Favorite type of workout, and why it benefits you and distance runners in general.

Long runs. I think long runs whether you are training for a 10k or a longer trail race are important. These are just as mental as they are physical. I can either dread my long run after a week of workouts and work or they can be a retreat into the wilderness. It also is a good chance try to meet up with friends and just explore and also test out nutrition for racing.

 Whats one training mistake you have made in the last few years? Describe what you learned from it.

Something I am still struggling with in my training is not taking enough recovery time after races. I ran my first road marathon in May 2016 with a pretty exciting performance and time. I was eager to get back into training for a big trail marathon in Slovenia about 6 weeks later (on top of dealing with moving apartments and other life stress) and ended up hurting my hip flexor pretty badly. I still finished the race, but it wasn’t the performance I was hoping for. I have always had some imbalances in my hips, so if I could go back in time I would have taken more downtime after my road marathon to make sure everything was firing normally before ramping up training again. Following my first 100k, it has been a similar situation. Now, even 7 weeks post-race I am still feeling some fatigue when I try to push it. I’m learning to not have too many expectations for training and go with the flow.

Sarah Bard

Two reasons you love training and racing on the road and two reasons you love training and racing on the trail.

I love racing on the road because on the road I feel free and unencumbered and fast. I can turn my mind off and just relax into a pace. I like training on trails because I feel like they require me to listen more to my body and to the world around me, instead of focusing on a specific pace. The terrain becomes an additional challenge to explore, and with which to adapt. Both are beautiful places to be and provide diversity in both training and racing.

Favorite type of workout, and why it benefits you and distance runners in general.

I have a love/hate relationship with wave tempo workouts. I think they can be one of the more challenging, and daunting to see on a training schedule. However, I think they build a lot of confidence and help athletes hone in and feel comfortable with their goal race pace. I like to structure my wave tempos so that the ‘slower’ portions align closely with that goal race pace, so that the athlete (and myself) associate race pace with recovery. Inevitably, these workouts always leave me feeling strong and settled, and happy with my efforts!

Whats one training mistake you have made in the last few years? Describe what you learned from it?

I’ve been running and racing since I was young and feel that I know my body, my strengths, and my weaknesses better than anyone. Because of this, I coached myself for a number of years. I had good results, so I don’t think this was necessarily a ‘problem’, but in retrospect, I may have shown more improvement with a coach by my side. As I’ve transitioned from primarily racing the marathon distance to ultramarathons of 50 – 60 miles, I realized my mentality toward training made its own (unconscious) shift.
Having a coach is not necessarily to tell you more about your body than you already know. But coaches can be useful guides, excellent cheerleaders and motivators, and good advisers. They’ll help save you from yourself when you want to push too hard, and they’ll be more realistic about your strengths and abilities and bolster your confidence to expand your goals. They have experience and will do the background research to help you navigate workouts and races, so that you can focus on yourself. I believe in myself more when I have a coach, someone alongside me helping me both physically and mentally.