I really enjoy sharing what I have learned about ultra running. There is a lot to know and I am always learning.
If you are interesting in starting out, taking things to the next level or really trying to nail an event then let’s talk. I can offer an individualized training plan, approach and methodology that is specific to you, your goals, your life and how you respond to training.
I have a mix of very hard learned self-teaching and professional training that may benefit you.
If you are interested, email me at
Or check out my training plans at RunningTheNorth Training Plans
“What is there to say about Jeff Hunter and his coaching abilities? Let’s look at it this way, I started trail running in May 2012 and in December, Jeff started to train me so that I could “attempt” the Canadian Death Race in August 2013. This was a personal goal to see if I could do it. My knowledge of running was pretty much, put on your shoes and go – A definite
recipe for disaster on longer ultra runs.
With Jeff’s help, I learned how to address my nutrition on those runs: Which electrolytes to use and how often, what to mix in my water to ensure that I would stay properly hydrated and to avoid cramping or burn outs. He instructed me on how much water to drink to avoid hypernatremia. During training, the instructions were clear – Train with what you will use on the Death Race and stick to it. Along with nutrition he also spoke about what clothes to wear, what shoes to use, what back pack to get, which water bottles work and how
to use them properly.
We went on many runs together and spoke about so much in regards to ultra-running. The lessons that he gave were, dare I say, lifesaving. Yes, I did finish the Canadian Death Race as a solo runner in less than 20 hours for the 125km run. There is no way whatsoever that I could have done this without the coaching from Jeff. I would like to think that it was all me
and my sheer tenacity to succeed but credit has to be given where and when due. Jeff definitely deserves the credit on this and anyone who gets coached by Jeff is being coached by one of the best that there is – No doubt in my mind at all.”
“Jeff Hunter, I’ve never seen anyone who actually educates himself as well as he does about ultra-marathoning,” Fraser added. “As a doctor, you might think I’m more qualified but when it comes to ultra-marathon Jeff actually knows more about how …..”
Dr Garnet Fraser
Christmas 2012. I was on vacation with my wife and two young kids, and leading into holidays I spent part of November and most of December fighting off what seemed like an endless barrage of cold and flu symptoms. You know – man cold and flu symptoms – the worst kind. I was discouraged and angry that my immune system was letting me down so consistently. One particularly humbling night as I desperately lay curled up on the bathroom floor, in my utmost lucidness, I declared to myself I needed something significant to shift to gain back the general over health I have enjoyed for most of my life. I was only able to come up with one rational solution – train for and run the Death \Race. I crawled out of the bathroom into bed, and announced to my wife as triumphantly as I could muster, “I am going to run the Death Race.” She has known me long enough that I meant it, and told me to go to sleep.
I’ve always stayed in decent shape. In 2005 I completed a half iron man, in 2007 a full iron man, and every year since my mid twenties (I’m 35 now) have participated in 4 or 5 racing events each year, some short, some longer. I always trained for them as any weekend warrior does – haphazardly, without structure, and fueled by watered down Super Store Powerade and potatoes. I wasn’t sure what I needed to do to complete the death race, but I was pretty sure it was going to mean a structured training plan, improved overall nutrition (including drinking water on a daily basis and consuming breakfast) and strict time management so I didn’t alienate myself from my family. Step one – phone Jeff.
I gave Jeff a call and told him I had decided to do the Death Race and asked if he could offer me some advice on training, nutrition, and everything in between. I had 7 months to train, and had already internally committed to training hard for this time frame. Now I needed a how-to guide. We met for lunch, and I expected to have a bowl of pasta, coffee, and speak loosely about what I needed to do by August long weekend (Death Race weekend). One hour later, I walked out with a rough training program for the next several weeks, a basic understanding of what I needed to do to run far, and physiologically what this meant, and an offer from Jeff to coach me for Death Race. Step 2 – do everything Jeff suggests.
Sometimes you meet people who have a vast amount of knowledge on a subject(s) and all you want to do is escape their presence because their main goal is to let the world know what they know. Jeff is the opposite of this – he is the definition of humble. One of the first long runs he had me complete was 2 hours and 50 minutes (sweet lord I had a lot of work to do). That same weekend Jeff ran back to back 50 kms. I commented over email how awesome that was. His response was, “forget about me, how about your 2:50!” The information he offered was/is timely, relevant, and not overwhelming. Throughout the next 7 months, I followed the training program he put me on religiously – my wife would argue obsessively. If he said run 4 hours, and I returned home in 3:58, I would do a one minute out and back to complete the workout for that day. I received graphs that plotted my progress – an aggressive training plan but not crazy he said. I transformed my eating and sleeping patterns. Several months into training, my wife officially told me that running makes you lame. C’mon, going to bed at 8 on Friday night to get up and 330 to run 5 hours isn’t lame, is it?
Jeff knew exactly what my capability was as my training progressed. 7 weeks into training I ran a 50km race and he asked what time I was hoping to finish in. He said that if I ran conservatively I would come in about 30 minutes ahead of that time. In the end I finished 4 minutes from where he said I would. As the weeks went by it was eerie how well he knew my fitness, and adjusted my training plan accordingly.
August long weekend approached, and I felt prepared. I was confident in my nutrition, I knew I had the base to complete the distance, and just needed to put everything together, The knowledge I received from Jeff enabled me to train extremely efficiently, and I was able to sidestep painful lessons in areas such as nutrition based on the knowledge and experience he imparted to me. One week before the race, I found myself again having lunch with Jeff, this time talking not training, but race strategy. He again asked me my goals for finishing times. I said it was to finish – period. He said that if I ran a smart race, I could finish in 16 hours 30 minutes. In my head I again thought he was over estimating my ability, but for the past 7 months he has been dead on. I decided to pace the race at a 17:30 finishing time.
Step 3: Finish Death Race. In the end I finished in 16:18. I felt good most of the race, and finished strong, Jeff waited for me at the finish line, and extended a hand to say good race. I gave him a hug and said thank-you. He told me that it was acceptable to throw up after running an ultra. As my coach, I wasn’t about to stop listening to him now, so I walked 30 feet from the finish line and proceeded to get sick. I was now an ultra runner, if only for that day. I accomplished the goal I had set 7 months earlier. I was still employed, my wife still loved me (no matter how lame I had become), and my kids who are 5 and 1 still thought I was stronger than superman (albeit a trimmed down version). There is no way this would have happened without guidance and support from Jeff. In the grand scheme of life and human accomplishments finishing the Death Race is absolutely insignificant, but it is my accomplishment, and an experience I will always have – not so lame if you ask me.
I have trained for and competed in a dozen ultras since 2010. For the first three years I coached myself through trial and error. During the last year, I had a coach and a real training plan. The first three years were good, but this last year was amazing. Why? Jeff Hunter.
I ran my first ultra in June 2010, The Scorched Sole 50 km in Kelowna. My goal…..to finish the race. Being naïve, poorly trained and inexperienced actually helped. I finished second overall, but I finished on fumes, I was barely running, and my muscles and joints were screaming. This was from a lack of training and knowledge. My solution. Just continue to run more and longer until it gets easy.
2011 was more of the same. I ran more and raced a few more 50 km and 80 km races with some success, but did not have the nutrition figured out, and my legs and joints were always destroyed early in the race.
2012 rolled around, and my goal for the season was Sinister Seven, 148 km! I continued to train using my method. I was running 50 km to 90 km a week with a few over 100 km. However, every run looked almost the same. About 70 to 80 percent effort. Nothing slow, and nothing fast or really hard. I completed Sinister in 23 hrs, but it was a death march for the last 30 km. My legs were trashed 30 km in, and I was puking for the last 25 km. I finished, but I was a mess. After that race I knew my method was not working. I asked Jeff for advice and he had the answers. I trained more with him and fed off his advice. I purchased a HR monitor (Garmin 310XT) so that I could pay more attention to my effort. He started a hill repeat session once a week and explained HR training and eccentric muscle contraction training. I took it all in, but I was still convinced I could continue to train with an unstructured plan. I continued to run hill sessions with Jeff, and run the trails with him all winter in the snow. He knew my determination and my ability, and he finally told me how much I could improve on a structured plan. I wasn’t buying in. I thought I was fine, but more importantly, I did not want to be nailed down to a plan and have running become work. I have a wife and two young kids (5 and 3), and I knew fitting in planned runs would be tough. I was wrong!
2013. My goal? The Canadian Death Race, 125 kms. Jeff, Aaron Bond, Steve Staves and I were all going to run the Death Race. Jeff put Aaron and Steve on a structured plan, but I was still resisting. Feb 4th, 2013, I finally bought in, and it was the best training decision I ever made. First of all, it made training easy because I never had to decide how far to run each day, or think about when I might do that long run. Jeff gave me a plan and I followed it to the km/time. (Time based training). I just did what he prescribed and made it work. Those long runs were sometimes 5 to 8 hrs, but I always did them. Sometimes it meant 3am or 4am starts, but they got done. There were so many other aspects of training that Jeff taught me that I was never doing on my own.
Jeff gave me the option of placing some races in the schedule to replace some of the long training runs. This would also give me a chance to practice race nutrition, hydration, and gear. He then built my plan to incorporate them. First up was the Dirty Duo, March 9th, on the North Shore of Vancouver. A tough technical trail run with some good climbing. He said it was my style of course that would build on my strengths, downhill technical running, and challenge my weaknesses, climbing. We sat down and came up with a race plan, including what to run with, bottle(s) vs. pack. Then we talked finishing time. I told him I was confident I could do it in 5 hrs, and my goal, if things went great, was 4:50. I based this on three other runners that had completed the DD the previous year whom I knew I was comparable to. Jeff listened, then said he thought I could go under 4:45, but I later found out he was really thinking 4:30. He knew my fitness, he knew the course, and he knew my ability. I finished 4th in 4:18. I was shocked, and I was completely convinced that his training plan was the reason. Wow, if he could produce results like this in 4 weeks, what would 6 months do for me? I was about to find out.
Jeff had me on an aggressive plan. I questioned him quietly, but never deviated from his instructions. The taper into Dirty Duo included short, high intensity runs right up to the race. I would have backed off weeks prior and eased into the race, but his plan worked for me and Aaron Bond (who he was also training). Next up was the Death Race for Aaron, Steve Staves, myself and Jeff. He was training all three of us at the same time, but we were all very different runners with different running backgrounds and abilities. He tailored each plan to fit us specifically. Mine was more mileage (time) because of my previous ultra experience. Again, another aggressive taper leading up to the DR with high mileage the two weeks before and short high intensity runs the week leading up to the race. We sat down a week before the race and built a racing plan for each leg of the Death Race. This included what to eat and drink and how often, and what to have ready to go for my crew at each Transition Point. He said we would build 3 plans with splits for each Check Point along the course (which included more than just the Transition Points). We had a “if things don’t go well” time, a “goal” time, and a “fast” time. We started with a goal time. I poured over past results, looked at comparable runners, and runners that I knew were faster than me. In my head, I had 17 hrs, but I wanted to push myself a bit. I told him 16:30. He was kind of shocked. He said “I think you can do it in 15 hrs”. Now I was shocked. I knew my ability better than him, so we settled on 16:30 for a goal, and 15:30 for a fast time. We threw out the “if things don’t go well” time.
Race Day, and things started bad. I had stomach issue the entire race, and did not feel like I had a good race at all. However, my training carried me through. I was climbing better than I ever had, and moved through the technical sections quickly. I finished in 15:03. I was stunned! Jeff was not. Again, he knew what I could do, and he prepared me for it.
Does Jeff know his stuff? You would be hard pressed to find anyone more knowledgeable about ultra running. He studies, researches and understands every aspect of it and its effect on the body, and more importantly, he loves to share that information. He is passionate about the sport, but just as passionate about helping others succeed in it.
Reid Roberts, Physical Education Teacher