Gediminas Grinius, Ultra-Trail World Tour Champion 2016

After serving in Iraq, ultra running helped Gediminas Grinius to combat post-traumatic stress disorder. It helped him to relax and cope with problems and tensions.
 “I started to run for meditation purposes, however as time went on my running evolved into an exploration of my boundaries.”

“I have never thought that I could race with the world’s best like equal, because I’ve never been a runner or athlete myself.
 However, I must admit, that reading and watching the media about pro-runners, I imagined one day running among them.
 So, I guess being a dreamer, patient and stubborn, I have made it come true.”

Currently (2017) Gediminas is ranked number one in the Ultra-Trail World Tour.
 Gediminas was born and lives in Lithuania (25.07.1979), with his wife and two sons.

 100km 7 valley run (POL) (2013), 2nd Time 9:02:50
 172km Grand Raid Reunion (FRA), (2014), 4th Time 27:24:54
 Ultra Trail World Tour 2014, 3rd
 127km Transgrancanaria (ESP)(2015), 1st Time 14:23:37 — New record
 161km Western States Endurance Run (USA) (2015), 4th Time 15:40:55
 53km Chudy Wawrzyniec (POL) (2015), 1st Time 4:32:21
 178km Ultra Trail Mt.Fuji (JPN) (2015), 1st Time 20:40:58
 Ultra Trail World Tour 2015, 2nd
 100km Vibram Hong Kong 100 (HK) (2016), 3rd Time 9:53:51
 125km Transgrancanaria (ESP)(2016), 2nd Time 13:45:08
 119km Lavaredo Ultra Trail (ITA) (2016), 2nd Time 12:23:06
 170km Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (FRA), 2nd Time 22:26:05
 Ultra Trail World Tour 2016, 1st

First & Favorite
 First race: Vilnius Half Marathon 2007
 First 100 mile race: UTMB 2014
 First international race success: top 10 at Zugspitz Ultra Trail 2013

Favorite race: UTMB
 Favorite distance: 100 mile
 Favorite gear: Compressport calf sleeves, Altra shoes resoled with Vibram Megagrip
 Team / sponsor: Trail Running Team Vibram and Altra Footwear elite 2017 Endurance Team

 Strong skills: start slow, negative split, pacing by feel
 Skills to work on: running technical terrain like mountains, hiking steep climbs

“My most important short term goal would be spending more time with my family.
 Ultrarunning is a demanding sport and with all the training, travel and races, it’s getting harder to spend more time with my family.”
 “Usually, I travel to races with them and like to think that it is our holidays, which we all love, but sometimes reality is different: kids miss their father and wife her husband, who is somewhere on the trails, but not with them.”

“I also would like to be a good running coach and inspire more people with my training camps.”

 Tarawera Ultramarathon (update: 5th place in 8:23:18, January 2017)
 Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50 Mile (update: 2nd place in 3:58:31, March 2017)
 Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT)
 Maxi Race
 The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail
 Grossglockner Ultra Trail
 Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB)
 Cappadocia Ultra Trail

From those races Madeira Island Ultra Trail, Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and Cappadocia will be his focus races.

 Break the record for the 170 mile Tahoe Rim Trail FKT, since 2009 held by Kilian Jornet (38:32).

 Break the U.S. Grand Slam of Ultrarunning record, the total time for Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville Trail 100 and Wasatch Front 100, since 2013 held by Ian Sharman (69:49:38).

Weekly routine
 Besides his full-time office job as an analyst in the Lithuanian military, Gediminus runs a coaching company, called the Trail Running Factory.

“Sharing my passion for running on a next level; that’s how the Trail Running Factory was founded.
 It started with training camps, then personal coaching. Later we added online coaching as well.”

“Besides all that I found a new thing, which is public speaking, so I do some corporate speaking for big companies. I’m doing kind of motivational talks, trying to transform my experience in running into daily business and to show how running can even help to deal with daily stress. And how running actually can bring business to a higher level.
 I really enjoy entertaining people that way.”

“I’m a busy guy. Life used to be slower when I was younger. The older I get the more things I got to do.
 I wake up early, bring the children to school, then my wife drops me off at the office.
 To avoid the traffic jam I run 20–25k back home from work, which is basically my training.

In weekends I bring my youngest son to football, and the oldest goes swimming.
 Then I do some social networking on Facebook, promotion of trail running, my sponsor, myself and my coaching company.”

 “I try to do the least specific thing as far from a race, and to get to more specifics, as I’m closer to a race.
 It best depicts my training cycle and periodization.”

Daily run commute 25K work-home
 Weekly total: 120 to 250K (average 180K)

Strength training
 2x p/wk jumps, squats, steps etc. to imitate climbing

Cross training
 cycling (in Spring)

Mental training
 “When my brain tells me to stop I try to come up with counter arguments.”
 ”At the end of the races, I use the hunter and hunted mentality. I try to convince myself that the runner behind me is trying to hunt me so I try to catch the next runner to be the hunter.”

Race specific training
 e.g. vertical gain and hill repeats for the UTMB and tempo runs and speed work for the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail.

Tracking results
 “My goals and my training success/not success I’m tracking with my feeling. It’s a measure that never lies.
 It’s the best option for our body because our body is the most intelligent instrument ever created, so it helps a lot.
 Of course, I also use artificial tools like Strava to track my results and recently I got a coach from CTS, John Fitzgerald.
 It takes a lot of pressure off my head. He creates a training for me that I just have to follow, and sometimes we need to discuss it, but basically he’s responsible for that.”

 “My approach to coaching is that running should be intelligent as well.
 We cannot run like it used to be in old times, you know, big volumes, big miles and no intensity. I believe intensity is vital to develop a runner’s body, you must increase your VO2Max, increase your potential engine, and later on work on volume.
 The principle is to do the least specific things further from the race and the more specific things, like volume, closer to the race.”

Volume is important, but not so important as being intense in your training. There are three fundamentals:
 Your lactate threshold tolerance, maintaining or increasing your VO2Max, and increasing your pain tolerance and toughness, which are kind of related, is more important.

You could say it’s genetics, but toughness can be trained as well. You know, running in rain and cold, pushing higher, you’re not taking coffee and you’re running sleep-deprived, so I think toughness is the most important things.
 All athletes want to be 100 percent ready for the start line, but it’s never the case, and all these things you can be overcome with toughness.

Volume is old fashion thinking. When you’re running at the same pace for long distances, your speed is not increasing, or very little. And basically, when you’re running in a race, speed is important to reach the finish line first and run under cut-off time.

There’s no rule of thumb for how long it takes to switch from running a (half) marathon to running an ultra.
 “It is very individual, and there’s a big difference between a 50K, 100K or 100 miles race. So there’s no one size fits all approach or training plan, to increase distance in an effective and safe way.

You might want some kind of coaching plan or a simplified way to reach your ultrarunning goals.
 But these plans that you can find on Google can be kind of dangerous because they might target at certain types of runners, and that can do damage. So I would strongly recommend a coaching program that takes you as an individual client.

You can hire a coach, like me or Andrius”, Gediminas says, referring to his Trail Running Factory, that offers online coaching and trailrunning camps around the most iconic races of the Ultra Trail World Tour.
 “Then it will be individualized for you.
 We create a plan separately for everyone, that takes into account how much sleep you have, your daily routine, how much time you have, you know, so it should be individualized.”

“Yes, you can coach yourself like I did myself successful for a few years.
 But if you can’t see the progress, if you’re struggling, it means you do something not right.
 Even if you’re a recreational runner you can enjoy some guidance, some tips. It’s not essential for all your life, but to take some lessons and to be aware of some running principles, coaching can be very useful.

The most important thing when you get yourself a coach is to get good advice from him/her, because you’ll probably work together for a long time, so you must like the ideas, approach, even the system of how training is going on and how you are coached.”

 “I don’t have a special habit as I try to live healthy all the time, except for little cheating days during the week or month, or straight after the race season, when I take 2 wks or 1 months off.”

“I try to eat healthy, but sometimes I eat sugar, and sometimes I’m eating fats because health and performance are 2 different things.
 For a healthy life you don’t need to eat a lot of sugar or carbohydrates. I’m more a Tim Noakes fan.
 But in performance, I try to eat lots of carbohydrates, as it is fuel to perform well.
 Without carbohydrates, it’s basically impossible to perform well.
 So I try to combine a healthy fat diet with a not so healthy carbo diet.
 It’s very difficult to keep this balance, because of the busy life we live.
 So I need to plan well for a long term, I even know my races for 2019 and 2020, and stick to these plans.”

“I eat fish and eggs but not red meat or chicken. I should point out that it’s not because of an ideology or something. I just think that it’s just better for my metabolism. I first started it back in 2001. Then, when I joined the Special Forces, it was mandatory for me to eat anything including all kinds of meat. That period ended around 2003 and I’m having this diet since. So, I didn’t do it to be a better runner because obviously there are a lot of great runners who have different diets. You just need to find what fits you best and I found out that this was the best approach for me.”

“I eat basically everything I want. My food perception is based on my feelings and my taste. The only thing I exclude is chicken, beef, pork or rabbit. Sometimes I eat fish because I’m addicted to Sushi.”

As he’s not counting carbs strictly, he can’t give a percentage of his fats, carbs and protein intake.
 “I think each diet has kind of few benefits, so if I’d choose it would be a healthy one, like keto, paleo or fat diet.
 But for performance you need carbohydrates, so it’s kind of impossible, although some athletes won’t agree.

In my daily life I try to implement more fat in my diet, but when I get closer to a race, on my training peaks or when I’m doing intensity training, I include more on carbohydrates, because I think it’s the best fuel yet for performance.

And during a race I’m only running on carbohydrates because it’s like rocket fuel which powers us, which brings out our performance at top level.

Of course, after each training and big races I implement a lot of protein, just to rebuild the muscles which are damaged, to be ready to train and run next time.”

 “Sleep is the biggest problem I struggle with. For a trail runner like me, 8 to 9 hours is optimal to fully recover and fully enjoy the training.
 But in reality, I sleep 4 to 6 hours, because of my Trail Running Factory, my social life, and the hours I spend for my work in the office.”

“Recovery and injury prevention is kind of a personal thing.
 If you got the time you can monitor it yourself, based on your feelings.
 If you’re tired after a training block or intensity training, or if you have kind of problems in your life, you need more sleep and rest to recover properly for the next training.
 That’s why I have a coach. His role is to monitor your recovery and to monitor or you’re injury-prone and to do the best to avoid that.

The most intelligent tool are you, the runner, because you know and feel your body the best.
 The problem of that is actually that a lot of athletes, a lot of runners, have a huge pain tolerance, and we’re tough. So we’re trying to run from injuries, and we run when we’re sleep deprived is when the problems happen. That’s my problem as well. That’s why I need a coach, to monitor me. He’s like an addition tool to me.

So when I’m tired according to my power, my heart rate, my pace and performance of training, he says I must stop and don’t have to train. That’s another good reason to have a coach and why I recommend getting a coach for others as well.”

Race routine
“Before a race, I drop everything and go to bed early to sleep eight hours.”
 Gediminas tries to travel at least one week prior to the race, to catch up with sleep and to adapt to the climate change and weather.

I don’t have big jet lags. My tip is that if I’m traveling somewhere I straight away start to live the rhythm and time zone of the location I’m going to, starting in the plane.

“Of course I need to recover and taper. It depends on the race, but it is from 1 week up to 2 weeks. I noticed that for me like a 10-day recovery works the best.”

Gediminas has quite a strong stomach that handles gels pretty well, so that’s his main source of nutrition during most of his races. Sometimes he eats solid food, when he get’s hungry.
 “When it comes to training I don’t eat anything up to 3 to 4 hours. It has two sides to it. I believe it teaches your body to utilize more fat but on the downside, it may have a negative effect on your recovery.”

Taking running to the next level
 “My best tip to take your running further is to have a dream, follow that dream and be patient.”

Thanks Gediminas for your great lessons for running and life!

Want more exciting stuff? Just join the journey and I’ll keep you posted:-)

 How to crush your next challenge!

Resources / further reading:

Training and coaching by Gediminas Grinius
 Trail Running Factory
 Trail Running Factory on Facebook

Gediminas Grinius on social media
 Ultra-Trail World Tour
 Suunto Movescount
 Ultrasignup Race Results
 Trail Running Team Vibram

Gediminas Grinius: 2016 Ultra Trail World Tour Champion Interview
 From Iraq to the UTMB — a unique trail running story
 Gediminas Grinius Pre-2016 Transgrancanaria Interview
 Gediminus Grinius obsession with the Western States 100
 Get to know Gediminas Grinius
 Top ten training tips from Gediminus Grinius for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB).
 Should endurance athletes go keto? Ketosis and ketogenic diets for endurance athletes

Originally published at Running Your Life.