Western States 100 winner Cat Bradley on Career Pivots, Self-Belief, and Training Staples

Endurance running is a difficult sport. To thrive, you have to love the training, racing, and lifestyle that high performance demands.

Cat Bradley Ultra Running

Cat Bradley is an athlete that absolutely loves the sport. She’s an ultra-endurance runner coached by Matt Fitzgerald who I had the pleasure of meeting this past August at the Endeavorun retreat in Boulder, CO.

Her resume is shocking, in the best of ways:

  • Winner of the 2017 Western States 100 Miler
  • Winner of the 2017 Canyons Endurance Run 100k
  • Former Fastest Known Time record holder of the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim in 7:52 (first woman to break 8 hours)
  • Winner of the 2016 Rio Del Lago 100 Miler
  • Winner of the 2018 Moab Red Hot 50k
  • Winner of the 2018 Quicksilver 100k
  • Winner of the 2019 Castle Rock Trail Festival 50k
  • Winner of the 2020 TransRockies Run stage race (team division)

I could go on, but I think you understand now that Cat Bradley is one of the best ultra runners in the United States.

She’s sponsored by Brooks and her adventures have been featured in the Denver Post, Forbes, REI, Outside Magazine, Ultra Running Magazine, and many others.

But what might be most impressive about Cat is not her many accomplishments but her journey. She didn’t take the well-trodden path to becoming an ultramarathoner. She took her time and allowed her love for running long distances to blossom, when she was ready.

Cat Bradley on her Journey to Ultra Running

 

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Cat didn’t start out as a distance runner. In fact, she was an 800m specialist at the University of California – Santa Barbara. At about a half-mile, the 800m distance might as well be a different sport than ultras!

Soon, Cat realized that she didn’t love the track. She wanted some adventure and found herself taking time off from her college career to focus on through-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

That’s where she fell in love with mountains, woods, and losing yourself in the visceral beauty of nature.

Within a few short years, Cat’s passion for ultra distances bloomed and her competitive drive propelled her forward. Soon, she became one of the most dominant ultramarathon runners in the country.

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • How she made the switch from 800m track athlete to Appalachian Trail through-hiker to ultra runner
  • The training demands of a 120 mile, 6-day stage race vs. a 100-mile ultra
  • How she mentally grappled with pivoting her running career almost 180 degrees
  • What made her start to believe she could run professionally
  • How she trains for the Grand Canyon R2R2R FKT

Whether you’re about to run your first ultra or you’re a seasoned veteran, you’ll love this conversation with one of the sport’s greats.

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Thank You InsideTracker!

InsideTracker

Our show is supported by our longtime sponsor InsideTracker. Today, more than ever, it’s essential that we’re making the right decisions to keep our bodies healthy. To help us be resilient, prevent over-training, and optimize our running to get the most from it.

InsideTracker is the ultra-personalized nutrition platform that analyzes your blood and DNA biomarkers along with your lifestyle habits to help you optimize your body and reach your goals.

InsideTracker’s patented system will transform your body’s data into knowledge, insights, and a customized action plan of science-backed recommendations. The data can help you determine whether you’re running too much, not enough, or have some other issues that could be affecting your recovery or performance.

I’ve had my own blood drawn with InsideTracker several times and have been amazed at the valuable information that they provide. Not only are the results very detailed, but they also share guidance for how to improve any markers that are out of range.

If you’re ready to take control of your health and optimize your training, InsideTracker offers a selection of plans that best suit your needs with a limited time 25% discount.

Thank you Elemental Labs!

A big thanks to Elemental Labs for their support of this episode! They make electrolyte drinks for athletes and low-carb folks with no sugar, artificial ingredients, or colors. And you can get a free sampler pack of 4 flavors and 8 individual packets when you pay $5 in shipping.

Elemental Labs’ products have some of the highest sodium concentrations that you can find. Anybody who runs a lot knows that sodium, as well as other electrolytes like magnesium and potassium, are essential to our performance and how we feel throughout the day.

The citrus flavor has quickly become my favorite. I’m drinking one a day now to help me get enough fluids in our dry Colorado air. It’s tasty and delicious and I find that I’m not peeing every 45 minutes throughout the day, which might be an indication I wasn’t eating enough sodium.

There’s now mounting evidence that higher sodium intake levels are not unhealthy – and athletes need substantially more than your typical sedentary person. Of course, ask your doctor if you’re worried. But for those athletes running outside in the heat, an electrolyte replacement makes a lot of sense.

They just released their first new flavor of 2021, their most requested flavor, watermelon salt. So check out Elemental Labs to try their new flavor or get a free sampler pack. 

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