by Rachel Bell Kelley
Recently Bren Tompkins ran and won Fort Clinch 100 mile in Florida. The course consists of a 10 mile loop through oak shaded single track trail, some road, and a bit of hard packed sand. We wanted to gain a little insight to who he is, and what it took for him to win this 100 mile race. Below he shares some of his race training, nutrition, and how exactly he got into this crazy sport!
RBK: How did you get into running and ultra running?
BT: In 2010 I quit smoking almost three packs a day and gained some weight - then my back went out because of the construction work I was doing and added weight I had gained. I was told I have degenerative spine disease and that I would never be able to run. I'd never really ran before. Because of where I lived I saw people running all the time and guess I took the doctors words as a dare. I'd drive the few blocks to Daffin Park and run walk the 1.5 mile loop then drive home. I'd do that every other day after work. I had no clear goals besides losing weight and maybe to run the Savannah Bridge Run one day. Running also made my back feel better, so I was hooked. Through running I also started meeting amazing people.
RBK: Tell us a little about what your regular week of training consists of.
BT: I run six days a week, usually taking Monday off. I try to keep my schedule the same, so I guess you could say I'm always pretty much training. My usual run is about 6-7 miles. I have one day of easy, one of speedwork on a track, a long run, one with strides last two miles and one day running the 4% grade Talmadge bridge (our only hill). I may throw in some parking garages too or a tempo run every few weeks. My long runs usually are about 12-20 miles once a week. Then I use races like 50k to 50 miles as long runs also. I also ride a mountain bike (the added resistance from the bigger tires are better than a road bike) to/from work 4-5 days a week, adding about 11 miles a day. I try to do lunges and side lunges after runs 2-3 times a week after a run. Nothing fancy, just 10 of each. I usually do 10 jumping squats to warm up for a run. I stretch after a run with pigeon and cobra poses. I do a 30 minute core routine of different crunches, v-ups with hand weights, Russian twists, leg raises, and planks 4-5 nights a week. My diet throughout is usually a high fat diet with no bread, corn, rice or beans in it. I usually heavily regulate my sugar intake and two weeks before a race go sugar free. The no sugar and the fact I only drink water everyday gives me the benefits of the sugar and caffeine boost during a race. This is my standard routine for the most part, I do like to tinker and add stuff to see if it gives me benefits depending on my goals.
RBK: What do you usually eat during a long run or race?
BT: During a long run, I usually don't eat anything. If it's warm out I may take a bottle of Gatorade or maybe a gel. During a race I usually have Gatorade or tailwind in my bottle, I take a hüma gel once an hour, a salt tab an hour, shots of coke cola and bacon. After a few hours I may switch to food and do not eat gels at all. Usually I start drinking water and diluted sports drink so I know I'm hydrated and peeing the right color late in a race.
RBK: Do you have any pre race rituals?
BT: I tend to get really nervous and listen to Eminem's Lose Yourself before the race, maybe a bit of Metallica too.
RBK: What is it that you love about running, what can be difficult about running?
BT: I love how everything just fades away. You're just out there living. Also I really love the people I've met through running! The most difficult thing about running for me is patience, especially in longer races. Something I one day hope to master.
RBK: What would you say to, what tips do you have for someone who is thinking about signing up for their first 100 mile race?
BT: Do it! Maybe sign up for a looped course so you'll always know where your aid is, it takes some of the worry away. Also make sure you've made up your mind about completing it. You run 100 miles with your heart, it's inside you. You have to know you are going to do it no matter what. This will help when it gets to the dark places. You can do it!
RBK: Talk a little about your race, did you go in with a plan that you stuck with? Were there any problems you ran into that you had to solve mid race?
BT: Going into Fort Clinch I wanted to beat my 100 PR of 17:55, but it had been over a year since I'd done anything near 100 miles. Also I wanted to beat my previous Fort Clinch 100 time of 24:32:35. It always bugged me I didn't go sub-24 because that's how I got into that distance, doing 24hr races. So went in to beat that and during the race I had to adjust my pace because the course really beats you up. There are no steep climbs, but with sand in a few spots sand and then the undaunting small hills that go on forever - it beats you up pretty bad. It is a deceptively difficult course. Eventually it took a toll on my knee and by 85 miles it was difficult to run. So I power-walked the last bit until I was able to get ibuprofen to kick in the last few miles. The walking definitely hurt my time, but I was still able to keep the lead and finish.
RBK: What's your must have gear?
BT: My pink tifosi shades, have to have them. I really enjoy my Carsons too!
RBK: What's on your 2017 calendar, what other events or races do you have coming up?
BT: I try to do one ultra a month so in order: Homestead 10x5k, Keys Ultra 50 miler, DFL 12hr, Hot to Trot 8hr are what I have until July now. I'm thinking of another goal 100 for the fall and will plan races to train for that. I've always wanted to do Pinhoti 100 and there's another 100 in the fall, so we will see. My biggest draw back is I live in a place called Savannah, so mountain training can be difficult.
RBK: Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us, any any last thoughts or comments you'd like to add?
BT: First I would like to say that I am very honored that Carson Footwear asked me to do this. When I started running, no way would I have believed I'd complete or win a 100 mile race. I'm a single dad raising two kids by myself and part of my running career I went to college to change careers and worked. My advice would be: Don't ever think that you can't train or make time to better yourself. Sometimes you may have to get creative and that will make it fun. Main thing is be consistent and believe you can do it. The only thing impossible is what you believe is impossible, well and traveling faster than light 🙂
We are honored to have him as part of our team and hope he is recovering quickly!