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This year I participated in the Reno Tahoe Odyssey. The event itself was started by Eric Lerude and was seamlessly taken over this year by Matt Balzer. I love the RTO because it brings runners from all over to our beautiful and challenging area. I love talking to people who have never experienced Reno this way and am grateful for Eric, Matt, and the countless other volunteers that have worked so hard to bring this experience to us.  

I have been on several RTO teams in the past, but this time I was on a 6 person Ultra Team called “More Trauma-Less Drama”. The team really did live up to its name. I was proud of how everyone powered through the night, taking turns driving, navigating, and assisting our pre/post run needs. We look forward to the challenges the RTO offers, while knowing that your team is the first line of defense, while all the other teams and volunteers only add to the bond we feel that is RTO. Add in the fact that you are running around Lake Tahoe, over Sierra Nevada Mountains, and through its historic towns? Epic!  

More Trauma-Less Drama

(Mike Tillbury, Bill Rodgers, Shawn Stimpson, Craig Richards, Conway Wells, Matt Pendola) 

What did I learn from this experience?  

Leading up to the RTO I did follow a good blueprint for the challenge of pacing the total distance for all 6 legs. I practiced a realistic perceived effort pace based on my breathing and got in a few double days so that I would be able to run all 6 legs without hitting a wall.  

As for my nutrition, that needs some work. My 2nd and 5th legs were, well, a little pukey. I did get in plenty of fluids, electrolytes, and fuel between my runs but the main area I need to work on is what foods I can tolerate best when I’m running at RTO effort (with a team goal of running under 24 hours) every 3-4 hours. 

Yet, the greatest lesson I learned was not about me. I lost count of how many success stories I witnessed in real time from some people I did know, and most that I only met in passing, yet will never forget. I talked to a mom who had her first baby over the past year and made it her goal to be on her first RTO team. Despite sleepless nights and full time days she found a way to be a mom first AND train with all those valid excuses left in the dust on Leg 4. WOW! For all of you out there who have overcome obstacles that most of us don’t even know exist, we salute you!  

Finally, I learned that the RTO and challenges like it are contagious and why we want the autonomy to keep coming back.  I learned a new definition of “performance mindset” when my teammates (most over the age of 60) embraced each leg with a smile on their face. Their “shelf life” is an area we can all focus on to enjoy our running adventures now and for years to come, so my next post will give you guidelines on how you can increase your longevity.  

A good start would be to use our free Movement Improvement Assessment. There are 5 easy to follow assessments along with the protocol that will help you improve in any of areas you are less optimal. You can find this @ www.pendolaproject.com.  

If you have any questions you would like me to cover, you can ask me on the free app AnyQuestion, where I serve as a strength coach. https://link.anyquestion.com/pendolaproject or DM me on instagram @ pendolaproject.  

Finally, we would love for you to listen to our RunFORM podcast, where legendary running coach Bobby McGee and I talk about all things running, how you can improve, and why it matters. Don’t miss our episode with Matt Balzer where we discuss the RTO, how to find the best shoe for you, what Matt is doing to train for his 70.3 and more!  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/runform/id1477221948 

As a former competitive distance runner and hotshot firefighter who found himself injured, Matt Pendola relied on strength and mobility training to rehab his own injuries and get back to running pain free. Inspired to better serve others, he has gone on to become an EXOS Performance Specialist, with the distinction of being one of the select few strength coaches in the world who has completed all four Athletes Performance Institute mentorship phases. Matt is also a Licensed Massage Therapist with a focus in sports massage therapy. As a strength coach, he’s worked with elite and professional athletes in a wide range of sports. Matt now focuses on endurance sports with the likes of athletes like Gwen Jorgensen and Ben Kanute. Matt has been featured in Triathlete Magazine, Oxygen Magazine, and Muscle and Fitness Magazine. 

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