Image Source: Timothée Nalet
Adam Campbell is a former member of the Canadian National Triathlon and Duathlon teams. While Adam still has a passion for triathlon, he made a very successful transition over to trail and mountain running.
I encourage you to check our Adam’s blog. He’s a great writer and provides personal insights on his training and races…with some inspiring photography thrown in as well.
Adam recently finished 2nd at the 98km Courmayer-Champex-Chamonix (CCC) race at the Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc (UTMB) race festival. A huge congrats!
The profile of the race is below. 98km, 3 countries, numerous mountains – impressive to say the least!
What inspired you to move away from triathlon to trail running?
I enjoy suffering in beautiful places and triathlon wasn’t cutting it any more!
I was obsessed with triathlon for about 10 years and I’m still very involved with the sport and will likely toe the line at triathlons in the future, but for now I’m enjoying the new challenge of mountain running and the places that the sport is taking me.
My aim was to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in triathlon, but in about 2004, I realized that I wasn’t a good enough swimmer, nor was I talented enough at ITU (International Triathlon Union-draft legal) racing, to see that dream through. I had lived with and trained with the best in the sport and they were always a step, or more, above me and I didn’t see how I could close that gap, so I slowly started drifting away from competing in triathlons, simplifying my training towards just running.
Throughout my triathlon career, I was curious about marathoning and ultra-running and for some reason, my body type and mind set seems well suited to that style of running. I ran a couple of road marathons, but I have always preferred running trails and mountains, so it made sense to focus on that aspect of the sport. It’s a great way for me to combine my love of challenging my body while engaging my sense of adventure.
Although I owe a lot to triathlon, I really couldn’t be happier with my decision.
Do you have any mentors or other athletes that you admire?
I definitely get inspiration from outside influences. I am passionate about sport and adventure and am a voracious follower of the exploits of athletes in both those areas, so I have an ever growing list of athletes that I admire. My admiration comes mostly from watching others pursue their goals with passion, innovation and integrity and this extends to people beyond sport.
I’ve been fortunate throughout my athletic career to meet, train with and race some of the best endurance athletes in the world and I’ve taken the opportunity and been able to learn from every one of them.
In my immediate circles, my wife, Olympic triathlete, Lauren Campbell, 2-time Olympic medallist, Simon Whitfield and Ironman champion, Jasper Blake have all been very influential in my life and have been good friends and I can point directly to an image of Scott Jurek running Western States as a reason why I began mountain running.
From a mental perspective, how has running impacted your life?
I wrote a blog post a while ago, where I described the “runner’s clam”, rather than the runner’s high, that I experience from running. In it, I describe the impact that running has on me:
Although I can be straining & working hard while running, the fluidity and simplicity of the act, the places my feet take me and the conversations and thoughts that I have while out on a run has an incredibly calming effect on the rest of my life. This feeling of serenity and grounding that I get from running on trails and mountains is largely why I do it.
As cliché as it may sound, it really does have a meditative effect on me and, being a physical person, it’s when I process most of my thoughts, make big decisions in my life (I proposed during a run) and it’s an outlet that I use to manage my emotions. It also makes me happy and I don’t think one can overstate how important it is to be happy with your life.
How do you balance articling as a law student and your running?
I’ve just started my articles, so I’m not sure how it will impact my running, although I did balance running with law school and prepping for the bar exam fairly well.
Running is such a simple sport, that you can do anywhere and it requires very little equipment, so I’ve never found it hard to incorporate running into my day. I also always have a pair of shorts and shoes handy, so if I find some free time, I can always squeeze in a run. The fact that I’m passionate about it and recognize its importance to my overall well-being helps me to be efficient and prioritize it.
The racing and competitive aspect is a bit more of a challenge. I have to plan out my season and pick a few key races that I’ll focus on. I’ll prepare specifically for them and make sure that I plan my holidays around them, so that I can train and rest properly for the event. I’ll do other, mostly local, races, just because I enjoy the atmosphere and catching up with other runners at events, but I don’t worry so much about the outcome. I treat them more like hard training days.
Although I try plan my races, I’ve also found that I can’t be a slave to a day to day program. My work load can be unpredictable, so I have to be a bit flexible with my schedule, piling on miles on days that I have more time and accepting that some days all I can fit in is a 30 minute jog. I also have to listen to my body quite careful and really back off the pace and effort if I’m feeling tired. I do a lot of very slow miles because I’m mentally, or physically tired, but conversely, I’m not afraid to push the pace on days that I’m feeling good.
I’m also very aware not to spend hours sitting at a desk, hunched over my computer. which absolutely wrecks me. I get up a lot, stretch, read while pacing in my office etc…I’m not afraid of coming across as a bit odd!
What running related injuries have you had and how did you overcome them?
Despite training hard and running fairly high mileage for a consistent period of time, I haven’t had any serious injuries that I can think of (knock on wood). I tend to get sick or worn down, rather than injured. My biggest issue is anaemia, especially when I’m running big miles. I tend to have very low iron stores, so I have to be very careful to stay on top of supplementing and eating iron rich foods like leafy greens, organic/natural red meats, prunes etc…
What healthy eating habits do you have and what resources do you use for nutrition advice?
Lauren (my wife) is a huge food fanatic and just loves cooking and preparing local, clean food, so I defer a lot of meals to her when she’s around. I’d say that meeting and marrying her was probably my biggest healthy eating habit improvement. Unfortunately, she’s on the road at training camps and races a lot, so I have to fend for myself during those times, but she keeps tabs on me by asking what I’m eating, or planning to eat and makes almost daily suggestions while she’s away. She holds me accountable.
As for resources, I’ve been part of the 7 Systems team since it’s inception and take a supplement pack after hard training, when I’m feeling run down, around travel or going in to races. I’ve also been very fortunate to connect with Flora Health and take several doses of Udo’s Oil a day, as well as other supplements of theirs. The team at Flora are a great resource and it’s amazing having access to their products and being able to talk to the knowledgeable and passionate crew there. Both companies have been fantastic at creating products designed at the needs of endurance athletes and really support and understand the sport and overall health.
Aside from that, as I said earlier, I’m surrounded by very knowledgeable people, like Jasper and Simon and am always online, digging around for advice. There’s a wealth of experience and wisdom available online that I try to critically assess and apply to my specific needs and life in a realistic and sustainable way. That said, I don’t beat myself up if my diet isn’t perfect day in and day out and I allow myself the odd treat.
The biggest challenge that I still haven’t entirely figured out is race nutrition. I try to keep it very simple and listen to my body as I go, but it’s an area that I could improve on. It’s definitely not always healthy, with me consuming incredible amounts of gels and sugary, caffeinated drinks to sustain me along the race. Luckily, racing is such a small part of my overall running routine that I don’t think it impacts my health that badly.
Do you listen to music when you train? Any favorite singers / bands?
I almost never listen to music when I run, but I do listen to the odd podcast, or the CBC. My favourite Podcasts are: “This American Life”, “CBC Radio’s Q” and “Slate’s Political Podcast.”
What are you favourite trails to run?
- BCMC trail to the top of Grouse Mountain., Vancouver, BC
- Rubble Creek to Black Tusk, Whistler, BC
- High Trail, South Chilcotin mountains (BC)
- Mt. Doug, Victoria, BC
Any favourite training tools or pieces of equipment that you use?
I’ve been very lucky to have fantastic product support from Arc’teryx Equipment, Salomon running and Suunto. They are all very innovative companies, that seek practical athlete input on their latest designs and ideas, so I’m lucky to often be trying out prototypes and new designs and giving feedback.
I’ll spend a lot of time in training using and testing product, thinking about what I need, what I’m using, what I like about it and what could be improved, so that on race day I don’t have to think about it. I’ve learned that the more simple you can keep things in racing, the less things can go wrong.
My current favourite items are the: Arc’teryx Motus Crew SS shirt, the Salomon XT wings SLab 3 shoes and the Suunto T6 watch.