Stage running the Appalachian Trail and dropping the lone wolf mentality!

An Accidental Shift?

Stage running the Appalachian Trail and dropping the lone wolf mentality!

This past winter, I was visiting my son at college in Phoenix. About a month before I went, I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram and happened to see a post by Boundless Endurance that it was the last day to sign up for their Arizona Running Camp. It happened to be the following weekend of visiting my son, so I thought, huh! Why not sign up and kick-start some spring training on the glorious desert trails?

I arrived at camp not realizing that this was a group of runners who were working with Boundless Endurance coaches. Many who have known each other from prior races and years on the trails. I had started following Boundless on social media after running the Leadville Heavy Half the past two years. I had seen their information while in at the races but did not have a coach or really a clue what this was all about. I had been a runner my whole life, but often trained like a lone wolf. Doing races with friends and run groups from time to time, but nothing real organized and certainly not following a disciplined coach approach.

In true trail runner spirit, the group of campers welcomed me in, made me feel comfortable, and motivated me by learning all that they had accomplished over their time of working with Boundless coaches. I discussed how my husband and I had signed up for an Appalachian Trail (AT) stages running event in the spring, but hadn’t really thought through what my training for 70 miles should look like. That’s often true of how I had done most of my running. Lone wolf, working hard, but not really having a plan and often going into races undertrained. I’d always finish, but not at the most distance I could do or hitting my time potential. Over the course of listening to the stories of how coaching profoundly impacted the runners to push and achieve more than they could have, the wheels started turning.

Fast forward and Coach Brad invited me to join their every other week group coaching call to talk endurance fueling since my company A4 Health does sports and performance nutrition. During the zoom call with these amazing humans, including those I met at camp, I felt it was time to drop my lone wolf mentality, as well as my undisciplined approach to training, and hire Coach Brad.

This past May, with 2 months of coaching, I completed the 70 miles of every root, rock, slippery stream, and elevation the AT could throw at me. It wasn’t easy, but when I was dealing with an IT band issue towards the end of the stages Coach Brad wrote to me, “remember why you came.” With those words of wisdom, the intentional training plan I had been doing, and the encouragement of my fellow Boundless runners and husband, I did more than I ever had and fought to the finish.

What’s next? Diving past marathons and hitting ultras. I have my first 50K trail in July and some alpine short and high altitude this August. Being part of the Boundless group, I am watching and listening in our meetings what my fellow runners are preparing for LV100. Will this be me next year? Only time will tell, but it wasn’t an accident meeting this group in the AZ desert and I can’t imagine being a lone wolf doing the next push in ultra.

Christina Jax

@christinajax (IG)

@A4healthcoach (IG)

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Photos from the AT!