T+T: Gabe you are a high school teacher with two small kids, how do you find both the time AND the motivation to pursue long distance running at such a high level?
GJ: I am very intentional about how I spend my time. My days are carefully crafted so that I am a good husband and father, I get in the training that I need, and that I don’t lose my teaching job! Balance in life is critical, but particularly so for an ultra runner—I take great care into putting my energy and effort into things that really matter to me, and not wasting my time and things that don’t.
T+T: Last year you set the FKT on the Wind River High Route, a run that is much more difficult and rugged than many of us can imagine with 30,000ft of gain over 97 miles primarily off trail above 10,000ft elevation. What did you find to be the toughest aspects of pulling off such an ambitious unsupported run?
GJ: The Wind River High Route is outrageously challenging from a physical standpoint, but I was really pushed to my limits on this one mentally. I went the better part of three nights with no sleep, and I didn’t bump into more than a handful of folks—needless to say I felt fairly out of my mind by the finish! In those situations it is really easy to lose your motivation, or lose focus, but this route required 100% concentration and commitment for 47-hours straight, and that was exceedingly difficult for me.
T+T: You are no stranger to mountain 100 mile races. Of all the events you’ve completed which was your favorite?
GJ: Oh goodness there are so many amazing events out there! Hardrock 100 was a race I dreamed about for years before I got the chance to run, and it exceeded every expectation I had, so that is definitely one of my all-time favorites. Lavaredo Ultra Trail was probably some of my favorite running ever—the Italian Dolomites and mountain running culture are tough to beat!
T+T: Which races or FKTs that you haven’t done are you most excited about trying to do in the coming years?
GJ: For the past two years I have been planning on running one of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc series of races, but the pandemic got in the way, so hopefully I can realize that dream in 2022. Ultimately I hope to use running and racing as a way to travel and see the world.
T+T: You live in Lander WY, at the door step of the Wind River Range, some of the most awesome mountains in the US. It’s also one of the coldest places during the winter. How do you manage to train and stay so fit when it’s below 0F routinely?
GJ: The seasonality in Lander is no joke, with temps getting into the -30F degree range every winter and reaching 100F degrees in the summer. When conditions are more challenging, self care becomes extra important. Having the right winter gear goes a long ways, and a hot shower and horchata after a January run are critical. For the heat of the summer, hydration and fueling are super important, but I find just plain staying cool even a bigger task. Most of my runs end with soaking my head under our well water hose—it’s so cold it literally take my breath away! But maybe my best advice is to just accept that the weather is out of your control, and be grateful for any and all time outside running!
T+T: For runners who are maybe just getting started in trail running, but dream about one day running a race like UTMB or Hardrock, what are your best three pieces of advice for building up to such monumental runs?
GJ: It’s all about consistency, balance, and the process. What I mean by consistency is that fitness for events like UTMB or Hardrock are not obtained through just one big effort, or even one training season, but are usually the culmination of years of training—you have to be playing the long game. However, consistency is going to be really tough to achieve if you don’t have balance in your life—and I mean all aspects of life, including family, relationships, work, nutrition, and so on. You can maybe get away with a lack of balance for a little while, but if you are in it for the long haul and want to be the best version of yourself, it is critical to give all aspects of your life the attention they deserve. So clearly preparing for a huge mountain event is a big process, which means there will be lots of highs, but definitely some learning experiences and setbacks along the way as well. Understanding and accepting that progress is rarely linear, and challenges are part of the process, go a long ways in helping you stay focused, committed, and motivated for that big goal event.
Thanks so much Gabe for taking the time to answer all of our questions. We are just super pumped to have you as part of our coaching team. We know that our T+T runners who have the chance to work with you are going to be really lucky athletes! If you want to keep track with Gabe and what exciting runs and adventures he’s getting into follow him here on his Instagram