The guardian of the mothership

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“I had an aunt who ran marathons. In fact she ran her last marathon only eight months before she passed away from AIDS in 1993. I said, ‘Someday, I am going to run a marathon’. As the mother of four young girls, I felt like I never had time to train. After a car accident, two lower back surgeries and a rare fungus in my right lung, I was overweight, depressed and needing to cope with the reality that my left leg was permanently numb from the accident. I had a choice to make. I could feel sorry for myself, or I could go for a run. I headed off to a 5K in my old garden sneakers. 59 minutes and 58 seconds later I was a runner. In my book, it’s not about how fast or how far, it’s about getting out there and doing it.

I ran my first marathon only six months after my first 5K. In February of 2016, I ran my first 100K. My favorite part of running is the family that I have gained. Once I learned about crewing ultra races, I found my calling. As an Elite Sports Massage Therapist, I love working with ultra runners. I also just completed a 42 day trek across America as the ‘Guardian of the Mothership’, massage therapist and chef for Pete Kostelnick in his Guinness World Record Breaking Run Across America.”- HOKA fan Cinder Wolff.

Cool Down with Pete Kostelnick: How the Transcontinental Run Record Holder Recovers

HOKA ONE ONE Athlete Pete Kostelnick wowed the world this summer when he broke the record for the Transcontinental run across America. The grueling 3100 mile run took 42 days. This real life Forrest Gump ran an average of over 70 miles a day in his HOKA Clifton 3s. To put that into perspective, Pete ran over 2.5 marathons a day on his journey. Many elite athletes argue that how you choose to spend your rest time is almost as important as how you choose to spend your practice time. This is a concept Pete took seriously on the road, spending all of his time running or recovering.

We sat down with Pete to learn about his recovery routine and how it was essential to his success. We also got the update on how his body has recovered since he completed his record.

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HOKA: What was your recovery routine each day on the road?

Kostelnick: I had an amazing massage therapist, Cinder Wolff, along for the entire run. She also drove the RV and cooked meals. She would do a massage for roughly 15-20 minutes right before I went to bed each night (usually around 6 PM), making sure to pinpoint any areas that were tight, tense, or swollen. It was amazing that I was able to “run through” some ailments, such as a tight hamstring, achy hips, swollen knee, and tendonitis with this approach. Often times we would also ice my shins and calves at night and during lunch break, particularly on warmer days. Cinder also got into a routine of stretching me out first thing in the morning (3:45 am) and just after lunch (usually around 11 am). Nutritionally, I ate A LOT of protein in the form of red meat (to keep my iron up as I have dealt with anemia this year), protein bars, and protein drinks in order to also aide in recovery.

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HOKA: How was the process adjusting once you finished your run? 

Kostelnick: After the run was over I took four days off completely before doing an easy three mile run on the fifth day. I have since been gradually increasing my mileage to as much as 9 miles in one day, but only 20-30 easy miles of running a week. However, I’ve monitored my daily steps more than anything, trying to get about 15,000-20,000 steps in per day on average. I was taking around 125,000 steps a day during the run across the country, so my estimation is that doing an active recovery in this manner may help me recover quicker. My legs were never sore after the run, and I don’t have any specific aches and pains besides some general swelling and tightness, so range of motion is probably the biggest obstacle.

HOKA: How has your range of motion changed since you finished?

Kostelnick: My legs were pretty swollen from all the miles, so I didn’t have much bend at my knees, which I anticipate will come back over the next couple months. At the pace I was running each day, though, it didn’t really matter. I even had a pretty swollen knee for several days near the end of the run that didn’t really impact my running.

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HOKA: How did your body react the first few days when you stopped running so much? 

Kostelnick: My body was actually quite a bit more stiff the first few days not running, especially when I sat in a car for 20 hours from New York to Iowa. I was never sore and the swelling has gone down, but now more of a feeling of elderly joints gradually getting younger again. Having the winter to fully recover will be great.

HOKA: What was it like mentally going from running so much every day to not running much? 

Kostelnick: It’s been quite an adjustment. I was in such a mode of all I needed to think about was getting dressed, eating, and running, that it caught me a bit off guard to go back to normal day-to-day tasks like driving a car, paying bills, and doing laundry.

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HOKA: How has your life or mindset changed since before you set the record? 

Kostelnick: I think I’ve learned to not get overly excited about anything.  In some ways, I had to tell myself at the end of the run to start getting excited to finish, because I had gravitated towards a mindset of not getting too up or down. Sure, I would complain or even yell at times, but internally I had to teach myself to never take anything too seriously or I wouldn’t last mentally. I hope that this run has made me more mature as a runner and even in general. I hope it will also allow me to give back to other runners that gave so much to me in making this run possible.

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HOKA: Do you have any other big records in mind you would like to attempt to break?

Kostelnick: There are a lot of things I have in the back of my mind that I would like to try. The most immediate is perhaps the American 24 hour record and/or medaling at the World 24 Hour Championships in July 2017.  I will need to add at least nine miles to my 163.68 mile 24 hour performance in December 2015.