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Q&A with Ultra Runner Adam Kimble

dam's last steps as he finished his run at (in) the Atlantic Ocean!

This is the second of four chapters we're publishing about Adam Kimble's successful run across the U.S. this year. We published the first chapter on August 16. As background, here's an introduction to Adam's amazing story:

Ever heard of Adam Kimble? The Chicago-area based, 29-year old finished his run across the United States on April 14 – nearly 2,500 miles in just 60 days. While this was 14 days short of the 36-year-old record he was attempting to break, his feat and completion – particularly considering the injuries he suffered just a few days into the run AND his limited years at ultra running – was no less amazing.

Why did you want to run across the U.S.?

Initially, I conceived the idea for this run because I wanted to push myself further than I had ever done both mentally and physically. In the early stages of planning, however, I saw what an impact we were having on the community around us. I quickly realized that the run was meant to be about inspiring and encouraging others to achieve the "impossible" in their lives!

What did you learn about yourself during this journey?

More things than I can name! Some of those things include my understanding of personal pain tolerance, how my body responds to extreme fatigue and lack of sleep, and how hot the desert gets in February! There is one theme that surrounds almost everything I learned: I couldn't have done it alone! The encouragement and strength we drew from everybody supporting us was ultimately what got us successfully to the Atlantic Ocean.

What did you learn about other people – your wife and other crew, and people you met along the way?

I learned that the love and kindness of our neighbors is greater than we ever imagined! It was truly incredible to see the daily sacrifices that each crewmember made to help the team achieve its goals. It was absolutely overwhelming to witness all the ways our community (in-person and virtual) banded together and showed us that they were with us every step of the way.

What’s the most important thing you’d like others to take away from your huge accomplishment?

With faith, hard work and the support of your community, anything is possible!

Will you attempt to break this record again? If so, when?

I definitely hope to make a record-breaking attempt again. We learned so many things as a team and it only seems right to put that wisdom to use! As far as timing, I think it will be a few years from now, at the earliest.

What will you do differently with your next attempt?

The biggest thing I would change is our plan for treatment and recovery. We would definitely have a physical therapist travel with us the entire way. We would also pre-plan visits to different clinics along the route for check-ups and treatments. Traveling out of the way to find physicians ended up being an inefficient use of our time.

Assume you know about Lisa Smith-Batchen’s recent attempt at the same record?http://runthenation.org

Lisa is a great friend of mine! She is the race director for the Yellowstone-Teton 100, which I ran in 2014. I was heartbroken to see that her attempt ended early as a result of something completely outside of her control (gallbladder surgery). It's a testament to the fact that this record is such a lengthy and difficult endeavor, with so many obstacles that can get in the way of that finish line.

What have you done since finishing your run on April 14?

In terms of physical activity, I've been excited to get moving again! I initially took off about ten days to allow my body to rest and catch up on sleep. After that I began weight training, doing yoga and fluid running in a pool. It feels great to be active again! Outside of that, I've also had the opportunity to speak to various churches and schools about my experiences. It's been an absolute joy!

What are your race plans going forward?

My 2016 races following the journey across America included dressing up like Papa Smurf and setting a Guinness World Record at the Rock n' Roll Chicago for the "Fastest Half-Marathon Dressed as a Television Character," and most recently a 2nd-place overall finish at the Burning River 100 in Ohio. I also completed the Wausau Marathon and in doing so, qualified for the 2017 Boston Marathon. Next year, my schedule for the first half of the year includes the Zion 100, the Boston Marathon, and if the lottery goes well, the Western States 100!

Do you think you’ll go back to a full-time job soon (in your previous industry, event management?) or are you focused on professional running for now?

My career focus has definitely shifted away from event management. I loved organizing events, but ultrarunning has truly stolen my heart. As aforementioned, I've been fortunate enough to book several public speaking engagements and hope to increase those opportunities as the year progresses (adamkimble.com/booking-inquiry). I'm also beginning to coach other runners (adamkimble.com/private-coaching) while continuing to run a lot of races myself. My passion is to inspire others to go after their big goals and dreams!

What did you eat on an average day during your journey? (Please be as detailed as possible.)

An average day looked something like this:

  • Breakfast #1: Canyon Bakehouse bagel (with peanut butter, honey and cinnamon), one banana.
  • Snacks: Clif bar, Trail Butter, Clif organic energy.
  • Breakfast #2: Egg scramble (with bell peppers, onions and hash browns), Gardetto's or salty chips.
  • Snacks: Clif bar, Mamma Chia drink and Clif carb chews.
  • Lunch: Bowl of Greek yogurt (with granola, peanut butter, honey and pumpkin seeds) and three hard-boiled eggs with soy sauce.
  • Snacks: Kit's organic bar and mixed nuts.
  • Dinner: Grilled cheese and salad.
  • Snacks: Gatorade Carb Energy Chews and Clif bar.
  • Post-Run: Recovery smoothie.

Just one of Adam's many, many, many bowls of granola during his 60-day run across the U.S.Add paragraph text here.

What foods did you eat most often and what were your favorite things to eat during the journey?

I couldn't get enough eggs, yogurt and peanut butter! I also craved salty snacks fairly often. My strangest indulgence was ice cream, because I hardly ever eat ice cream in my daily life!

Besides your health challenges, what were some of the biggest obstacles you encountered on your journey?

Perhaps the biggest obstacle for me was overcoming the mental barrier of wondering if I was doing permanent physical damage to myself. Under any other conditions, I would have stopped and rested when I had such severe pain. However, that wasn't a viable option for us because we were trying to finish as quickly as possible. So, we used our sporadic doctor visits and phone calls with my physician in Chicago to ensure we were making the right decisions tied to balancing our running goals with maintaining good health.

Did you listen to music or podcasts when you ran? If so, please share your favorites.

Music and podcasts were huge for me, which is funny because I never run with music when I race in ultramarathons! My music was all over the map. I would go from Christian rock, indie rock and oldies, to hip-hop and rap. I used anything I could to draw motivation from. My go-to podcast was the Tim Ferriss Show – lots of excellent interviews with people from all walks of life.

How did you use and benefit from using Ember?

The Ember device helped our crew maintain confidence about my internal health even when I was experiencing external injuries. We used it nearly every morning to check my hemoglobin and pulse rate to make sure everything seemed normal. We would also use it at night to monitor how the physical stress of the day had affected me and factor that information into our plans for the next day.

Select the Ember model best for you here.

Adam taking his measurements with Ember at 4:21 a.m., before starting his day's run.

What was most helpful to you about using Ember?

The most helpful part of using the Ember was the immediacy of the hemoglobin readings. Whenever my hemoglobin was lower than normal, there was typically a correlation to a decrease in energy and higher fatigue. As such, our crew would respond to those readings by adding (giving me) more fuel throughout the day!

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