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Questions and Answers

I'm always asked questions, from the people I come across, in my every day life, and they're usually the same. I thought it might be helpful to address those questions here, so more people could benefit from my answers.

Do I take supplements?
No, I do not take any supplements whatsoever. I don't even take multi-vitamins. Based on all of the current literature I have read, there just isn't any need.


How fast do I recover from a tough 50 mile ultramarathon?
My recovery time has gotten better and better as time has passed. I started out making a lot of mistakes in my nutrition and it took a huge toll on my recovery time after a race. It was taking up to 2 weeks to recover fully. As it stands now, I'm usually recovered within about 12 hours of a race and ready to train the next day.


What's the biggest thing I've learned nutrition-wise over the last 4 years?
This is a tough one because I could go on and on. When I first started out doing marathons, I would be shaking uncontrollable at the end of the race, barely able to stand, cramping up beyond all belief. I had muscles that severely cramped that I never knew could cramp. It would take hours before I'd feel normal again. I usually took on quite a bit of caffeine while I raced, at least one GU packet with caffeine every 45 minutes. I also didn't hydrate enough leading up to the race and most of the time went into races dehydrated, more than I should have been. This took a tremendous toll on my recovery.

Fast forward three years into my running, I had a friend who could not take caffeine at all. To my amazement, he was finishing 100 mile ultramarathon distances without caffeine of any kind. I decided to give it a shot and to my amazement, I would no longer cramp up, shake, feel nausea or feel like the Grimm Reaper was standing next to me after a race.

To this day I'll only use caffeine sparingly. I will only use it close to the end of a race. I will only use it when I know I am properly hydrated. And that alone has made a world of difference.


Just saw your YoutTube video and it re-inspired me. My goal is to BQ. I've got 5 marathons under my belt and a PR of 3:20, I'm trying the Maffetone method this time around ,any advice?
Obsess about your goals. Make sure they are very clearly defined. Reinforce them in your mind many times a day, even when you are sick of thinking about it. Surround yourself with those who have a similar goal and will motivate you to act. Those who will help to keep your momentum going. Model what you do off of those who have already accomplished your goals. Training is 80% your psychology and 20% the mechanics. Respect the percentages and train accordingly. Do that and I have no doubt you will either find a way or make one. Create a belief system that empowers you. 


Around the weight training I would like to clarify what percentage can I use? and second are there any exercise to avoid? For example in" you tube" says that leg extension is bud for runners. What is your opinion?
Avoid nothing. just make sure that whatever you are doing promotes symmetry. Also remember, that you should cycle the weight-training and don't hit the running hard on the days you weight-train. Weight-training will compromise your muscles on the day you do it, and to then go and run hard will cause injury. I would stick to 7-10 reps and start very light and increase the amount of weight you use each week. You can actually start with resistance training and do no weights at all. All of this will be trial and error. What works for the guy that made the YouTube video may not work for you. What works for another body type, or another experience level, may not work for you. No matter what you do, be calculated and write everything down. You manage what you measure.


How does one do 200+ marathons triathlons and Ultras in 4 years?? that's one every week. how do you not get injured?
I did marathons in the same day in different cities. 1 in the morning and 1 at night. 100K Ultras back to back in the same weekend 5 hours apart. Marathons on consecutive days for 7 days in 7 different states. I did full Ironman Triathlons with 24 hours of rest in between in different states. I ran 40 miles in the Grand Canyon with pneumonia. The following week I did a 50K Ultra at altitude and then the Long Beach Marathon 7 hours later. The Ironmans I did were a day apart - with a guy who did 50 Ironmans in all 50 U.S. States in 50 consecutive days - with 5 kids and his wife in an RV and next to no support. (James Lawrence) I stopped getting injured. I stop needing recovery time and my body just adapted. Once you cross a certain threshold and you remain consistent, you become virtually indestructible. Only those who risk going too far can ever possibly know how far one can go.


Hi Greg, I ran my first 30kms, 700m elevation yesterday. 15kms on flats has been my max up until this point. I started running at the start of Dec and have been feeling pretty comfy with my pace at that distance. At the 20km mark yesterday my body began to hate life and broke down on itself. After this point I did not enjoy the running.  I didnt enjoy the running so much so that all I could think about was the mourning of my bones. There was never a question about finishing because that's not in my nature. I finished the run thinking, I don't want to run where I am not able to enjoy the running. Today, I want to ask, how do you enjoy the running at such great distances? Is it about learning to enjoy that pain? How do you stay motivated where there is a loss of enjoyment. Are you not supposed to enjoy it at large distance? I am aiming to do my first marathon in June but would ultimately love to run ultras.
In the end, you have to figure out "why" you're running and get absolute clarity on it. Absolute clarity on what your ultimate goal is. All actions will stem from it. Liking the thought of ultrarunning and thinking it would be a cool thing to do is much different than being on a mission to complete an ultra no matter what. (Not that you are saying that, but you get my point.) 

Ultras are like any other goals in life and there are goals that are niceties and goals that are musts. I promise you, when your purpose becomes greater than the cost and the pain, you'll do it. We all function the exact same way at lower levels mentally. We're wired that way. 

On the pain front. It will get better, much better. Part of the discipline is to incrementally build your base conditioning. When you do too much or race in conditions that don't match your training conditions, pain is inevitable. For me, yes, some of the goal is to see how much pain I can tolerate but another aspect of it is to find a way, or make a way, to keep going and avoid the pain all together. To find a strategy to manage it at the very least. To become more efficient. 90% of the ability to keep going revolves about recovery. And you arent going to recover quickly if you keep beating your body down. Eventually your mind will connect up the pain with the action and it will convince you that the cost outweighs the value. You'll have 1000 reasons why you should stop which makes the need for having that one reason that much stronger. The reason has to resonate with you at the deepest levels of your mind. It has to almost attach on to your reason for living. We all have core values and beliefs, and we will do whatever it takes to live those beliefs out, even at the cost of ignorance. Once you know the mind works that way, you can develop a strategy to make yourself act. 

Back off the things that are painful for now. Train more. Work on the mental aspects of training. Ultrarunning is 80% your psychology and 20% the mechanics. It is truly a mind, body and spirit synergy. But you have to train the mind as well. More than the body. The last thing Ill leave you with is this, because it always helped me when I would go through very dark times in ultras. When you make friends with your pain, you'll never be alone.


Hi Unger, I am a huge fan of your athleticism and motivation. I am a trail marathon runner and completed a fair few sky marathons like the mt Olympus one. 

I am writing to you as I have reached a rough patch. I have currently hit a ditch with my training. Recently I have upped my weekly mileages and began training very hard for the Great Wall of China marathon.

However, working full time, I have been mentally and physically drained. Recently I have developed a serious chest infection not being able to train for a few days. Not only has that distressed me a little I also have lost motivation in my training. Not being able to find a balance in my social and training life i question the thought whether giving up so much of my social time is good for my inner happiness. I love running and I love the freedom it gives my conscious. Although lately I have not had that feeling making I become more of a chore than anything.

I just ask what general advice can you. Give me your thoughts as I see you as a major influence in which I finished the mt Olympus marathon. Also I have developed an annoying fear of cigarette smoke, which is random. I cannot go anywhere where their is smoke because I believe it is detrimental to all the hard core work I put in to running, which again effects my social life and carries itself as a burden.
Meditation and latitude. The issues you have are because you don't have a very defined purpose that means more to you than the cost and the pain you're going through right now. You need to recalibrate your mind and focus. Write down your goals, what they mean to you, and why they are a must to achieve. Get absolute clarity on this. Once you get clarity, you need to meditate daily. Find quiet time, free of distraction and feed your mind the goals you've laid out and why you must achieve them. Whatever it is, it needs to pull you towards it. When you don't have this, it's like getting behind a broken down car and having to push the car by yourself with no real destination or reason why you're pushing it.

Training is a mostly mental discipline. The mental aspect of training far outweighs the physical. An extraordinary life requires an extraordinary mindset. An extraordinary mindset produces extraordinary results. Remember that this kind of training if 80% your psychology and 20% the mechanics.

Once you get clarity, the inner conflict will disappear. Until then, you do yourself a disservice by not being mentally aligned.

Latitude = Give yourself a break. If you don't feel well, back off. The worst thing you can do is push yourself when you don't feel well. Back off the physical training and work on the mental. YouTube has guided mediation and regular meditation. I can't stress getting absolute mental clarity enough. It is the difference between those who succeed and persist and those who quit.

Be ok with the fear of smoke too. Be ok with who you are and how you are. Self-acceptance is another huge hurdle in order to achieve true success. Nothing is forever. It may just go away in its own.

The ability to keep going is not about overcoming beatings over and over again. It's about finding a strategy to outsmart the beatings and your inner demons and to keep your momentum going, however small sometimes, in the right direction.

And in the end, if you can't find a way, you make a way.


I've seen news reports that say marathon running is bad for your kidneys, so much so that you shouldn't do it. What are your thoughts on this?
Just so you runners starting out are armed with the correct interpretation. It's just the opposite of what you would think. Marathon distance (at a moderate pace) and longer (to a point) modulates (suppresses/damages and then rebuilds stronger) the immune system, neurological function, testosterone levels and multiple endocrine functions. It does this in a fairly controlled manner, the result of which, is a stronger immune, neurological repair and enhancement, higher testosterone and better endocrine function.

Only those who seek to justify their own inability or laziness would have an agenda and a say to the contrary. Don't let the poison of the media and the American culture influence you. Do your research. Experiment and above all else, act.


Have a question for me? Let me know and I will do what I can to answer your questions.

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