From Couch to Ultra with Nathan Maxwell

Telling people that you run marathons usually prompts some dumbfounded expressions, but tell them you run ultras and, let’s face it, they’ll probably think you’re nuts. But that’s just a day in the life for Georgia native, Nathan Maxwell.

Like a lot of runners, Nathan started running to get in shape. He did a few 5K’s and then decided to try his hand at the half marathon. That was in 2012.

Since then, Nathan has completed 44 ultra marathons, 9 marathons, and 3 100 milers. He’s a self-proclaimed ultra junkie, and he loves sharing his adventures and promoting an active lifestyle on his blog and Twitter account under the name Social Shark.

On this episode, Nathan will share with us a little about his journey, how to transition from the marathon to ultras if you’re so inclined, and how to stoke the fire if you feel your passion for running starting to fizzle.

While running an ultra is no easy feat, it is manageable and possesses some surprisingly accessible entry points for those who want to dip their running toes in gently.


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Questions Nathan is asked:

3:22 Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

4:39 Where in South Carolina are you?

5:30 When and how did you get into running?

7:42 Was it love at first sight with ultra running?

10:33 How was the transition into ultra distance?

13:24 How do you train for ultras?

15:37 How do you avoid injury and fatigue with such a rigorous race schedule?

18:57 How can runners be more conscious of how to tune into what their body is telling them?

21:03 What advice do you have for runners who are struggling mentally with their training?

24:19 What advice would you give our listeners aspiring to transition from marathons to ultras?

29:00 How do you break down a 50-mile race in your head when considering race strategy?

34:27 How do you push past hitting the wall in a long race?

37:55 Your favorite mantra (which sits at the top of your website) is “When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble” (Proverbs 4:12 NLT). Can you tell us a little about this and why this is significant to you?

39:53 How did you come by the name Social Shark?

41:42 What did you set out to accomplish with your blog?

43:46 What would you consider to be your proudest achievement to date?

46:13 How did the Uwharrie 100 Miler go?

49:33 What’s next? Any big races on the horizon?

Quotes by Nathan:

“My weekly mileage isn’t quite as high as even typical marathon runners.”

“I really listen to my body and make sure I’m doing the right thing.”

“You can set smaller goals (like) ‘I’m gonna run a certain amount of miles in the next 30 days’”

“You’re not gonna run the same pace in a half-marathon that you would in a marathon. Just do the same thing as you move up to some type of ultra distance. Expect that you’re going to run slower.”

“Find an ultra that’s out there that’s a 6-hour ultra. The nice thing about those events is that they’re very relaxed very chill.”

“Being able to be mentally prepared and ahead of time saying, ‘I’m going out and doing this thing.’ It would be so much harder if you were going out there to only run 20 miles and then you got to the 20 mile mark and somebody said, ‘Just kidding! We’re actually doing FORTY today.’ That’s where, mentally, you’re going to be completely devastated and not be able to get through it.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run

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Mentioned in this podcast:

Nathan Maxwell – Social Shark Homepage and Blog
P90X Fitness Program
Ultra signup website
Uwharrie 100 Miler
Nutcracker 12-hour ultra NC
Follow Nathan on Twitter
Follow Nathan on Instagram

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