- Miriam Diaz-Gilbert
Review of Rob Steger's Training for Ultra
In his self-published book, Training for Ultra, first time writer and middle-of-the-pack ultrarunner Rob Steger shares what propelled him to start running and to quickly take on trail ultras. Rob writes a chronological account of his running events from 2015 - 2018 beginning with his second to last place finish in his first half-marathon and ending as a 2018 Moab 240 finisher.
Rob is overweight, not yet 30, and enjoys playing ice hockey. Three years later in 2015, a broken ankle and his father's "brush with death" as the result of a heart condition propels him into the world of ultraunning as a middle-of-the-pack runner.
Rob signs up for half-marathons, marathons, 50Ks and longer distances at lightning speed. He even signs up for his first 50 miler before ever running and finishing a marathon. He attempts to finish the Burning River 100 miler. Not as prepared for the grueling challenge as he thought, Rob drops down to the 50 miler.
On the way to his fast-paced journey to the world of trail ultrarunning, Rob discovers he is not always prepared for many of these races. He doesn't know how to "carbo-load" and hydrate properly. He suffers injuries and has a few DNFs (did not finish) during this three year period.
Undeterred he reads books and watches ultrarunning videos. Rob changes his eating habits, becomes Paleo, and keeps training and registering for challenging trail ultras. Along the way he "finds acceptance" in the trail community where, he writes, "I belong."
In Training for Ultra Rob shares the ups and downs of running, and the stresses of life and family responsibility. He simplifies his life by getting rid of "stuff," changes jobs, and relocates with his wife and young son to Colorado. While simplifying his life of material possessions, he amps up his ultrarunning life and continues with his "aggressive monthly race progression."
Training for Ultra is an exercise in passion, albeit, extreme and unrestrained at times. Rob has a tendency to run more than one ultra a month. If you want to improve your health, running is a good start. However, speaking as an ordinary ultrarunner who's been running over 30 years and running ultras the last 14 years, it's OK not to be as extreme as Rob.
While Training for Ultra will inspire readers, it might also leave them wondering about Rob's training regimen. He does not share any specifics about how many days and miles a week he trains and the importance of building up endurance. Rob does not include the finishing times of the races he writes about, but he mentions his time at the 2018 CCC in Chamonix, France where he finished in 489th place with 4 minutes to spare in 19:56:04.
Rob writes, "I've been a runner for three years. Before that I could not run a mile. I was overweight with horrible blood pressure with dangerously high cholesterol. Stress was ravaging my body and my life. I decided to change everything...Running has become a major passion for me...My life became balanced (still extreme, but balanced)."
Training for Ultra reads more like a collection of detailed chronological journal entries and race reports than a memoir. If you are a newbie to the ultrarunning world or a middle-of-the-pack runner, you'll enjoy Training for Ultra. Add it to your collection of running books and be inspired by Rob's transformation.
Tune in to Rob's Training for Ultra Podcast
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