My guest today is a lady that is no stranger to logging some serious miles out on the trail whenever she gets the chance.
From hundred milers to FKTs, she has been getting after it for close to a decade and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
I am looking forward to trying to keep up with Lauren Jones on the trails today.
Finding Her Passion
Lauren Jones didn’t begin seriously running until after she graduated from college.
It took some convincing, but a friend convinced her to sign up for a half marathon with her.
Running the race was the best time of her life and she was immediately hooked on the sport.
Lauren jumped straight to the marathon distance after her first half.
Upon completing the marathon, Lauren found that she still had the energy to spare.
This realization led her to start seeing what other distances were out there.
Her search led her to the trails when she found they offered distances beyond 26.2 miles.
Lauren successfully completed a 50k and has continued to climb the distance ladder.
A Whole Different World
Trails were an entirely different beast than road running in a variety of ways.
Lauren was drawn to the low-key nature of the trail community.
While training for an ultra, she met an experienced trail runner that took her under his wing.
He helped to ease her transition to trails, by introducing her to mountain running and overnight runs.
Night running took some time to get used to, but now it’s one of her favorite times to be on the trails.
A spontaneous run-in with a rattlesnake almost kept her from coming back to the trails in the early days.
Thankfully for Lauren, her wildlife encounters have been kept to a minimum since that day.
The aid stations at ultras have been another added bonus of doing trail races versus road races.
Lauren had qualified for the Boston marathon, prior to fully switching over to trails.
She couldn’t miss the opportunity to run the race.
Boston did not disappoint in terms of crowd support, but aid stations were severely lacking given what Lauren had experienced on the trails.
Following Boston, Lauren wasted no time returning to ultras.
She continued to progress in distance with 50ks and a 50 miler.
Her training continued to go smoothly each time she jumped in distance.
One day, after a few beers, Lauren took the leap and signed up for a lottery for a 100-mile race.
As luck would have it, she got in on the first try.
Lauren was excited to attempt her first 100-miler, but also overwhelmed at the logistics.
She toed the start line in 2019.
Lauren lives and trains at sea level, but the race was in the mountains with considerable elevation.
She didn’t train adequately for elevation heading into the race, nor did she do any research about the course.
The first major climb of the race crushed her and she was chasing course cut-offs from there.
Her body may have been able to continue, but she was mentally done and dropped from the race after completing over 60 miles.
Lauren learned first-hand that ultra running requires just as much mental strength as they do physical.
Lauren went back to Leadville in 2021 hoping to get her redemption.
Leading up to the race the second time around she fixed the mistakes that led to her not finishing the first time.
The fixes included more consistent training, familiarity with the course profile, and more mental training.
The altitude still affected her performance, but the strength she gained in the other areas led to her success.
Lauren crossed the finish at Leadville 100 with over 2 hours to spare.
Her fear of failure was a key component in pushing her forward throughout the race.
To most runners, 2020 will be remembered as the year that all races were canceled.
Lauren wanted to do something to keep her motivated to run and that is how she came up with her FKT (fastest known time) attempt.
The Pinhoti trail is located in Georgia and holds a special place in Lauren’s heart.
She has run on the trail more times than she can count and did her first 50-mile race there as well.
Lauren had a week off in October of 2020 and decided to try to run the entire Pinhoti trail (350 miles) in the FKT.
Leading up to the attempt, Lauren struggled with how to mentally prepare for such a big effort.
The first few days of her run went really well and she felt great.
As she neared the 200-mile mark, her left foot began to get painful.
Lauren battled severe pain for 60 to 70 more miles before she finally had to officially end her FKT attempt.
Finding The Silver Lining
Lauren was overcome with emotion at being unable to finish her FKT attempt.
She allowed herself to be disappointed, but she also chose to be proud of what she did accomplish.
The experience was incredible even though she didn’t finish the run.
Lauren completed 280 miles which were further than she ever thought she was capable of running.
The desire to attain an FKT was still there leading Lauren to make a second attempt on a different trail.
Her second attempt took place on a portion of the Appalachian Trail located in Georgia that was about 75 miles.
The weather was perfect, she felt amazing, and ran the FKT beating the men’s record.
East Coast Ultra
Lauren and her partner are in the midst of a big venture.
As ultra runners, they have found that there was not a local running store that caters to their needs.
When in need of gear or shoes for running on trails they had to buy items from various stores both online and in-person.
In response to their experiences, they are working on opening East Coast Ultra Co.
They want to not only open a store but also give runners the full community experience.
Their goal is to help people feel comfortable on the trails.
In an effort to begin doing that, they have already hosted the first East Coast Ultra Co group trail run.
Along with being the first full-service trail shop in Atlanta, they also have big goals for eventually hosting running camps and races.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- East Coast Ultra Running Co.
- GUTS Atlanta Fat Ass
- Pinhoti Trail Slam
- Pinhoti 100
- Cloudland Canyon 50 Mile/50k/Half-Marathon
- Lookout Mountain Trail Race
- Georgia Jewel
- Leadville 100
As Always, I’d Love to Know What Stood Out to You From this Episode! Let Me Know Your Takeaway in the Comments Below!
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