This is fun because I am now in the 100 + 400 club. I just thought I’d throw that out there before we get started on this chapter.
When I first started working out, I didn’t know how runners trained. I had no preconceived ideas about how you were supposed to train to run a half marathon or marathon. I didn’t even know what an “ultramarathon” was. I was only familiar with the Couch to 5k program. I just went to the gym and did what my coaches told me to do. Mostly that consisted of your typical old school CrossFit style workouts. A lift like squat, deadlift, press would come before a workout with kettlebell swings, squats and pull-ups. I loved it.
The typical m.o. back then was to drink your pre-workout, get super fired up and lift some heavy weights when the big lifts came up in the workout. One of our friends, Chris Moore (RIP), had a powerlifting group in the gym back in the day and in the regular CrossFit classes I took a few cues from them. Jump around, get super fired up, take your shirt off, and hit your lift. It was awesome. Something I’d never experienced ever in my life. I loved it. I loved getting stronger and lifting big weights. I’ll never forget pulling a deadlift with 3 plates on each side for the first time. Here’s me pulling 345 for a PR back in the old gym for the first time.
Hopefully that video gives you an idea of where I was coming from when I ran my first ultras. Can you imagine? A guy is going to run his first 50k or 50 miler and this is the environment he’s coming from? It’s so awesome! But I didn’t know any better. I never thought that I should be running more or not lifting so much weight. I just did what my coaches told me to and nothing else. I never questioned my coaches Mike, Doug, Rob or Ashley ever. I told them what I wanted to do and they told me how to get there. I never did anything extra without telling them. I just followed their prescription.
So the 345 pound video above was in April 20th of 2011. I ran my first 50 miler on April 16th 2011. Later that year in September I’d pull 400 for the first time:
I’ll never forget pulling that 400. I remember my coach and friend Doug Larson was watching me and he was on the phone with someone. I heard him say, “Holy shit, Von just pulled 400!” It made me feel so good.
Anyway, I remember heading into my first 50K at Sylamore in February of that same year, 2011. I approached it exactly as I had approached any of my lifts in the gym. I took my pre-workout and was pacing around the parking lot of Anglers before the race started like I was going to kick someone’s ass. I was going to crush this race! These days I enjoy the company and the community, but back then I approached it the same way I would approach a workout or a deadlift PR. While I was pacing around waiting for the race to start, I started looking at the people around me. I wondered how many of them could deadlift as much as I could. Most of them were pretty skinny.
That idea stuck with me and later that year I’d start thinking about starting a blog. I sent Mike and Doug an email and asked them what they thought about the domain names I’d come up with:
It’s not lost on me that now “Beefcake” runs this Lift Heavy Run Long company. I’ll tell that story in another chapter, but we can safely blame Mike Bledsoe for saying he liked Lift Heavy Run Long the best. I bought the domain and started blogging.
I started looking for runners who could run 50 miles and also were really strong. The only people I could find initially were my coach Rob Conner and a guy named Kris Kepler. Kris was one of the owners of CrossFit Central in Austin and Rob was my coach that wouldn’t stop challenging me to do more distance. I decided I’d make a club. At first me and Rob would be the only members. I was proud of it no matter how silly it sounds. Who can deadlift 400 pounds and run 50 miles in the same year? It just seemed crazy. I guess it was.
So that’s where this whole Lift Heavy Run Long concept came from. Now we have a giant and amazing community of people, and I just can’t believe how awesome it is. But now you know where the whole idea started.