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Disregard for the ludicrous nature of ultras turns into a passion for the sport

“Ultra running is the dumbest thing ever. I don’t know why people do it,” said personal trainer Jodie Wood. Those words were spoken more than five years ago before Jodie, a Roseville resident, hit one of the scenic trails in the Sacramento area. Now she’s hooked. Playing soccer in college kept Jodie fit and familiar with running sprints. Training for distance running started when Jodie joined the Roseville running group gO!. Jodie has a few distance running awards under her belt but she says she has more goals to achieve in the sport that is now a favorite. Jodie shares her training regimen plus the “must haves” she puts in her pack for a long, long run.

Q: So what made you decide to give trail running and ultras a try?

A: I was running mainly for sanity’s sake and I ended up on a few trail runs with friends. Somehow my negative opinion of it was influenced and my disregard for the ludicrous nature of ultras wound up becoming a passion for the sport. It was a very organic and slow beginning that just sort of evolved into this thing for me, now I can’t seem to get enough of it.

Q: What is the difference in training for you when preparing for a road race compared to a trail race?

A: Road race training is usually early morning, fast and furious, performance based process. It’s a grind, which is great in many ways, but not all that enjoyable when looking at the big picture. Trail race training is a process of mental preparation, logistical planning, and is much more of an adventure seeking goal. It’s like planning a vacation that involves hard work and prep but results in some beautiful life experiences in beautiful places, more of a pleasurable endeavor than a chore. Road racing to me now is just a numbers game and I do it to train and/or test my training for the trails.

Q: So far, what is your favorite length for an ultra race and why?

A: I love a 25k. That’s not at all an ultra, but, it is on the trails and I’m good at this distance. Long enough to feel the adventure in the mountains, however short enough to rip the heck out of it and really test myself. My body is also designed for short and fast so it’s really just a feel good. Mentally and physically right now I’m really trying to tackle the 100k distance and growing to love it in unconventional ways. The 100k does not play to my strengths and size like a 25k, but it is such a great challenge that it entices me; lures me in to thinking I can perform well at it and then slaps me in the face with the last 12 miles. Sounds crazy, but it’s a mind game that keeps me coming back for more.

Q: Tell us about some of your ultra race awards.

A: I’ve had way too many 2nd place finishes, basically I’m the first loser as I’ve been told, but then again somebody's got to be the reason people have to work hard for 1st place and that appears to be my job right now! Honestly though, for the most part I’ve done really well in the trail races I’ve participated in and I love being competitive and pushing my limits, versus just running without racing, and it's not about a first place as much as it's about finishing and feeling like I stepped out of my training mode. If I win, get 2nd or 8th or 511th it’s all relative to what I got to learn and experience at each event. They really are my own little adventures each and every time.

Q: Training for long distance running takes a lot of commitment. Do you find it difficult to fit in the necessary workouts to be ready for a race?

A: Not really. The training has to be done or the races just suck. I’ve been there enough to know better by now. I really appreciate the training because running ultra distances is a commitment, you cannot just go out and do well every time unless you are consistent and prepared. For me, ultra running requires a commitment and consistency unlike any other athletic endeavor that I’ve ever cared to attempt and thus is my ultimate challenge. Very few people can just show up and run 100k successfully.

Q: Trail running requires different needs along the route. What are the “must haves you put in your pack?”

A: I carry little Sweet Tart pill sized dehydrated wipes! Yep, that’s right, basically toilet paper for emergencies. I never want to get caught in a messy situation where I have to run all the way back to wherever, with you know what messing it up. And of course water or a filter on really long unsupported runs, running out of water really bites and can make you crazy.

Q: What are your running goals for this year?

A: I’m running my 3rd 100k this year to qualify for The Western States 100 mile race and put my name in the lottery for the 2nd time. I’m also running some really fun destination races this year, all different lengths and terrains mainly for adventures sake and to see other different beautiful places around the world. There’s a great reward for me in making my travels around a trail race. I get to be out in remote beautiful areas and experience new things, new people, new trails, new sights, kick my butt and then drink some new beers after it's all said and done. This seems to just be my kind of party these days!

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