Day in the Life 5; Ultrarunner Donovan Jenkins Attempts a 100-mile Run

First off, a big thank you to those who supported our successful Kickstarter. Because of you we are able to continue making these Day in the Life episodes with vegan athletes!

The Javalina Jundred course is 6 15-mile laps run 'washing machine style': each lap in the opposite direction. The 7th lap is a modified 10-mile loop.

Are you ready for this? You’ve had a preview of today’s episode because I posted about my experience filming with Donovan as soon as we got back from the Javalina Jundred. I mean, can you imagine running 100 miles? ONE HUNDRED MILES ON FOOT! And while 100% vegan. Donovan’s story is a truly remarkable one and it is a pleasure to share this with you. Enjoy!

How stoked are you right now? Don’t you want to turn off your computer and run to the farthest place you can imagine? Donovan really came through on this and I can’t thank him enough for the stokedtivity that he’s giving the world. Wow, just wow. If you truly are ready to take the next steps toward running an ultra, see his personal tips below.

Donovan’s tips on running your first ultra

Make it public—Enlist friends to run with you and tell people about it. When others know what you are doing it can give you a little extra motivation to get out the door and train on those tough days.

Follow a plan—Pick a training schedule appropriate for your race distance/terrain and stick to it as much as possible. Being consistent and gradually building up to your goal are essential for staying injury-free and having a successful race.

Keep records—You can’t follow a training schedule without paying attention to the numbers. Keeping records provides you with valuable information that can help you maximize the efficiency of your training and avoid over-training injuries.

But be flexible and keep it fun—Don’t be too obsessed with those numbers. Listen to your body, take time off, and cross-train as needed. Don’t let the numbers ruin your race or your life.

Spend extra time on your feet—In addition to the training miles and racing, one of the best ways to prepare your legs for a race that can take 24 hours is to spend extra time on your feet every day. If you walk/run a couple miles to and from work, spend all day on your feet, walk to the store, etc., you can easily spend 10-12 hours on your feet a day. Every little bit helps!

Race!—The best way to train for a race is to run shorter races. The more you race the better you will be able to pace and run your own race and know how hard you can push yourself. You also gain valuable and often overlooked knowledge about when to stop and what to eat at aid stations, how much water you need, what you should put in your drop bag, what clothes to wear, etc. There are fewer unknowns as you gain experience. Shorter races are great; learn from them and consider them hard training runs.

Eat the right foods—Reduce high fiber foods for a few days leading up to the race and during the race. Too much fiber may upset your stomach and cause extra bathroom breaks during the run. Also, for a more constant and steady energy source, stay away from the candy and refined sugar. I have better luck and bonk less often when I stick with fruits, potatoes and other real foods, like burritos.

Slow down—Most new runners run their easy runs too fast. Weekly long runs are for conditioning your legs to run long and if you push the pace it’s essentially racing, which is counterproductive if you don’t have the time to properly recover. If you are doing speed work and faster, shorter runs you will be better off keeping your long training runs slower than you feel like you need. Save the long, hard runs for races.

Run your own race—Don’t get carried away trying to keep up with a competitor. The person you are chasing up that hill may be running their first ultra and not know how to pace themselves, or it may be Scott Jurek! Whichever the case, if you stick to your plan and run within your abilities your race will come together as it should. My worst races have been those where I ran too fast at the beginning trying to keep up with someone when I shouldn’t have. If I had slowed down and let them go, there’s a good chance I would have caught them and passed them later in the race. Don’t let those around you determine your actions. It’s your race, run it as you have prepared to run it!

You may be asking, ‘where’s Donovan’s recipe?’ I requested one and what I gathered from his response is that his daily life is a lot like a 100-mile race: he snacks on fruit, nuts, coffee and burritos all day long. He did send me this photo of his work locker:


Maybe if we pester him enough we can get an actual recipe-leave your requests in the comments! You can also harass him on twitter: @Donorun

Lastly, a huge thank you to Donovan for spending the day weekend with us, Aravaipa Running Race Director Jamil Coury (who is also vegan!) for letting us film, all the runners on the course and again our Kickstarter donors who made this possible. See you next time!


Filed under Day in the Life, off-road, race, run, vegan

20 responses to “Day in the Life 5; Ultrarunner Donovan Jenkins Attempts a 100-mile Run

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  2. Leila Walker

    This is amazing! I love the series, and can’t wait to see what’s next!

    Do you have any plans to do a show on Steph Davis? It can feel pretty isolating to be a vegan rock climber — the “cave man” diet is VERY popular, and vegan rock climbers face a lot of open hostility (a recent article in Urban Climber sums up the prevalent attitude: Steph Davis is an amazing athlete who proves over and over that rock climbers CAN be vegan and still incredibly strong.

    Thanks so much for all you do!

  3. Rory Freedman

    Bawling. So inspiring.

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  5. Paul

    Awesome and Amazing! You guys should all be proud of the work you did and are doing. 100 miles is pretty crazy, not to mention the marathon that Matt ran without training for it!
    Congrats and good luck!

  6. Jeannie

    Amazing video! I loved it and will think of Donovan and Matt as I go do my long run tomorrow morning. Maybe someday I will work my way up to a marathon!

  7. Wow! So inspiring! I can barely run 1/2 mile but want to do this so bad!

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  9. Melissa

    Donovan is such an inspiration on so many levels. Great job Matt and Sasha.

  10. Thanks for posting guys. Plant based diets are the way to go for endurance events like this, I’ve seen it first hand! I also found it amazing the correlation Donovan found between eating more humanely and finding peace within himself after being in Iraq! Keep up the good work.

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  14. Susan Kelley

    As a vegan runner who is just getting into ultras, this is very inspiring. Thank you!

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  16. Tina

    I’m all chocked up! So inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

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  18. Very Awesome, Donovan!! Proud of you brother!! Now you’re ready for Rannnger School! I am happy to see you doing what you love in life. It’s always good to see someone you served with doing great and remarkable things outside the military. You have inspired me to look into trail running. Take care and God Bless!! Oh yeah, and bean burritos brother…Bean Burritos!

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