Colorado’s Leadville 100 is one of the most imposing ultrarunning events in the world -- 100 miles all over 10,000 feet above sea level. On the starting line of this grueling race running coach Art Ives, 59, received a dose of inspiration that would fuel his running and approach to mentoring for years to come.
“In the late 1990’s I met several 70-something runners who were joining me at the starting line of the Leadville Trail 100,” says Ives. “I was so moved, I knew from that day forward I was a ‘lifer’. Hence my coaching slogan, ‘Run Forever’.”
Boulder-based Ives is equally accomplished as a competitor and as a coach. His approach combines a wealth of research and personal experience along with modern training techniques. His training programs also consider the importance of mental and spiritual strength -- a vital part of staying focused during epic running events.
When asked about his own inspirations, Ives reflects on some of running’s greatest moments.
“I have always loved Olympic moments like Billy Mill’s 10K victory in Tokyo 1964, Frank’s marathon gold in Munich [in] 1972 and Seb Coe’s 2nd consecutive 1500 meters in Los Angeles, 1984. My blog roll reflects how Ethiopian, Scandinavian and Native American running have always fascinated me," Ives says. "However it was my involvement in trail ultra running that changed everything for me by expanding my sense of the human body’s limits and potentials. The fields in some of the ultras where I raced or paced were so steeped with talent that I had a first hand window into the sport like no other. I think of Ann Trason as the greatest athlete I have ever been around. The lifelong friends I made with runners like Steve Peterson, Randy Whorton and Kirk Apt were all part of it.”
Ive's natural talent as a runner has influenced the development of a positive, progressive approach to coaching runners.“I’m at my best when coaching a group on the run,” says Ives.“Having said that I will always appreciate the self-contained joy and sensation of running alone. Fortunately I get to do both.” The website for his coaching enterprise, The Way of Running, is a great place for runners to learn more about his methods.-- especially those who have seemingly plateaued.
Since his programs are targeted towards runners who are serious about performing at their personal peaks, Ives offers this advice:
“Keep it simple. Find a coach who knows how to protect their runners from getting injured. Run in beautiful places, follow a balanced training schedule be consistent with your long runs and practice good form and pace judgment. Always keep it at a pleasant effort and always have some semblance of foot-speed in your weekly program.”
As for his personal running, Ives says his favorite runs are the ones that happen in his own Colorado backyard, such as the Switzerland Trail, a high altitude trail in the small town of Gold Hill. “My favorite workout is a 20 - 30 miler in cool weather. I like the freedom of it. Cruising through the fall colors of the mountain parks and farmland here in Colorado lend themselves to this experience.”
Balancing the appeal of road or trail runs, Art’s answer was rather democratic. “I love ‘grand traverse’ long runs that connect from trailhead to trailhead via whatever roads are necessary to get to there and back. If you run them right you can activate new and deeper muscle tissues with each surface change – leg speed & smoothness on the road – strength & agility on the trails.”
It comes as no surprise that a runner whose motto is “Run Forever” is still going strong. Some of his favorite events are the Western States 100 and the Mount Taylor 50K and he has global aspirations for the future. “I’m going to run in Yellowstone,” Ives explains when asked about places where he’d like to run. “Canadian Rockies, Ireland and Australia are other places that come up for me.”
Combining the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of running has elevated Art Ives into the kind of enlightened runner who still strives for big things. Some of his goals include a sub-3:00 marathon and/or completing another 50M or 100K distance competitively. Given his dedication, it is obvious Ives still has many, many more miles ahead of him. And in time, he will no doubt be that 70-year old runner toeing the line at Leadville, inspiring a new generation of athletes.