One of the challenges of being an athlete is always trying to find ways to improve, to take things up a notch, and not get caught in complacency. That requires almost constant introspection, being honest with yourself, and not being afraid of making big changes. Going bigger doesn’t just happen, you have to go looking for it. Here are 5 tips for going bigger, and how I aim to make 2019 my biggest year yet.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

There are so many top notch races throughout the Rocky Mountains—Bighorn, The Bear, Wasatch, Never Summer, Scout Mountain, El Vaquero Loco, Sinks Canyon Rough and Tumble, etc. I’d go back to any of those races in a heart beat, and I probably will, but to make a year bigger and more exciting you’ve got to put a little bit more on the line. This spring I’ll be running The Canyons Endurance Runs 100K in April, which is now a Western States Golden Ticket Race, and is jam packed with top notch runners and up and coming talent. I’m not looking to get into Western States, but I do want to experience racing in California on those trails against that level of competition.

My real motivation for The Canyons is to prep for something even more out of my comfort zone: The Lavaredo Ultra Trail in the Italian Dolomites. This is for sure an “A” race for me this year as it is a part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour and always attracts some of the best runners in the world—I’ve also never traveled abroad and racing in Europe is an absolute dream come true for me. After Lavaredo I’ll be racing back in the familiar Colorado Rockies, but definitely out of my comfort zone at the Leadville 100. The relatively flat and fast LT100 is definitely my other “A” race and is sure to be swarming with more high level competition.

Will this schedule keep me on the top of my game? Damn straight. It’ll probably keep me up at night a bit too.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Freshen Things Up

This one can be hard, but sometimes you just have to make minor, or major, changes to get the most out of yourself. I’ve been coached by Ty Draney for the past three years, and what a world of difference that has made! But in any sport there always comes time for fresh ideas and a new approach, and that’s why for 2019 I’m partnering with Carmichael Training Systems and working with two-time Leadville 100 champion, Coach Duncan Callahan. CTS and Coach Callahan bring an amazing level of attention to detail and provide resources and opportunities that I simply could not find anywhere else.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Completely Make Changes

A year ago I was quite content and beyond grateful for the sponsorship support I had from several companies—I definitely did not envision any of those relationships coming to an end anytime soon. However, just because something has worked well for you in the past does not mean it will necessarily continue to work well in the future.

After a year struggling to find running shoes that perform and fit appropriately, on a whim I slipped my feet into a pair of La Sportiva Lycan‘s and knew I had just discovered something special. It also turns out that all of La Sportiva’s mountain running apparel is comfier and fits better than anything else I own. So when I received the opportunity to join the La Sportiva Mountain Running Team for 2019 I was honored and it was a total no-brainer. I’m stoked to be working with La Sportiva and filled with gratitude for their support in helping me realize a dream of racing in Europe at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail in the Italian Dolomites—and racing in the iconic Leadville 100.

So much stoke

More changes on the sponsorship front for 2019 have surprised me, as I’ve honestly really enjoyed the sports nutrition products I’ve been using the past couple of seasons. But the reality is that I really struggled with nutrition at the tail end of Bighorn and Wasatch last year, which led to finishes that were dramatically slower than they could have been. A change was needed on the nutrition front to go bigger in 2019, and discovering Spring Energy has been a revelation. Spring Energy makes amazing whole food nutrition products that taste so good that I always look forward to eating them, and they were exclusively what I used to fuel the Teton Crest Trail FKT and Dead Horse 50 podium finish in the fall. Spring Energy also does an amazing job at supporting athletes, and I am beyond grateful that they are playing a major role in helping me race at the Canyons 100K and Lavaredo Ultra.

4. Don’t Change Everything

Freshening up, changing everything, and only running races that terrify you would probably be a bit drastic—it’s important to identify what truly is still working well for you, and also still enjoy some lower pressure events as well.

In February I will toe the line at the Running Up For Air – Malan’s Peak Challenge (12 hours) which will be a fun and familiar format, and is hosted by the wonderful Ogden, Utah running community. I’ll also keep it local in March by running The Drift (28 miles) over on the snowy west-side of the Wind River Range—which is the highest altitude winter ultra in North America.

No such thing as bad weather

Last year I partnered with Julbo Eyewear for top notch running sunglasses and I’m looking forward to working with them again in 2019. I also discovered the best coffee on the planet with Lander, Wyoming’s own Speedgoat Coffee Roasting and will continue to partner with them as my official pre-everything beverage. Probably the most important partnership of all that I fostered last year was with Wind River Physical Therapy—and it’s no exaggeration to say they’ve got me feeling the healthiest I’ve been in years.

5. Don’t Forget What You’re Really Doing

Of course it is fun to challenge yourself and travel all over the place competing against super talented runners, but really that’s not why I get out the door each day and run. I run because it’s fun, it makes me feel good, and I like to go to beautiful places. That’s it. If I wasn’t aiming to go bigger in 2019, I’d probably run and adventure in the mountains just the same—as I aim to never forget the simple joy of putting one foot in front of the other in beautiful places, spending time with wonderful people, and stopping once in awhile to take it all in.

Fun run

Did I forget something on my list? 

Do you have other suggestions for going bigger?

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and I hope that you find ways to make 2019 even bigger for you too.