This summer here at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort we are excited to partner up with an elite team of summer athletes, we’re calling them The Dream Team, as these folks “live the dream” on a daily basis, whether it be biking, running, roping or kayaking, they are training, working outdoors and always enjoying the best of what Jackson Hole has to offer. Throughout the summer we’ll follow Eric Orton on the mountain trails, Will Taggart on the rivers and lakes of Jackson Hole, Crystal Wright into the rodeo center stage, and Andrew Whiteford for some two wheel fun throughout the valley trail system.
Today, we had the chance the sit down with Eric Orton, internationally known endurance runner and trainer. Jackson Hole is home for Eric and his family, and new this summer Eric is hosting two multi-day running camps right here in Teton Village.
AC: Why host a camp here in Teton Village?
EO: I have been fortunate to run in many beautiful places and someone just recently asked me my favorite place to run, and it is here in Jackson Hole and the Tetons. When I first moved to JH and started my coaching business, one of my long term goals was to help JH become a multi-sport mecca, turning more runners on to what JH has to offer. We have word class running that is unique because of the spectacular beauty, but what makes running here so unique is the accessibility to great alpine trails with giant mountains at every turn. This is unique because there are no long approaches or foot hills to negotiate before you get to the high peaks or drop dead beautiful scenery. This allows most any runner to experience a true mountain running experience. Throw in the true wild west feel, some wildlife, and great resort amenities and you have the perfect spot for my run camps.
AC: Why now for a running camp?
EO: Ever since my involvement and the release of the book Born To Run, my life has been pretty crazy. So now that I have finished my own book, The Cool Impossible, I have more time now to devote to running camps, with the hopes to continue to expand upon them. This has always been a goal of mine and a direction I wanted to go, to continue to help runners achieve above and beyond what they think they can with their running and teaming up with JHMR, Hotel Terra/TML, and Marmot was part of this dream and I am so appreciative of their support and enthusiasm for this new path of mine.
AC: What is most rewarding thing about being a running trainer?
EO: The obvious might be helping a runner do well at a big race and achieve that short term goal. After spending 5,6,7 months coaching a runner for a race, being part of their journey to this goal is very rewarding. But for me, the biggest reward is getting to the point in their training where they begin to love the training just for the pure enjoyment it brings them, the day to day discipline are working towards a big goal. They begin to fall in love with the process and they start to see that this is the part that is so rewarding. I tell people, the hardest part of an ultra marathon is getting to the start line. And where this becomes so powerful is once this is experienced, the runner starts to see that they can do way more than they think they can, when emphasis is placed on the day to day process. And this opens up an entirely new way for them to think about goals and what they might want to accomplish with running. This is very exciting and where big dreams start happening.
AC: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
EO: I have to give two. When I was a kid, my father once told me, “can’t, never did anything” and that always stuck with me. And secondly, the most important thing I learned in college came the day after the LAST class before graduation. One of my professors was a Bhudist Monk and I ran into her in the hallway after my last class. We spoke and I mentioned how I had so much to do and was feeling stressed, and she said, “focus on one thing, and do it well”. This forged the mindset for my running/coaching career.
AC: How did the book Born to Run change your career?
EO: The big change was that it catapulted me and my coaching to a worldwide level and placed me in a position to help thousands of runners on a global scale. And with this, I needed to find a way to be able to help thousands of runners, which gave way to me publishing my own training book, The Cool Impossible. And, it has allowed me to become involved with a variety of projects like starting a shoe company, B2R, LLC and to be fortunate enough to be collaborating with some executive producers for a potential TV show series. All of this is fun and exciting, but ultimately, for me it is about helping runners and to help promote running as a great healthy lifestyle filled with adventure. And now, people from around the globe are interested in coming to JH to run with me and experience my “playground” in the mountains.
AC: What running culture are you most interested in right now?
EO: As an athlete and coach for other sports as well, it has always been my training philosophy to look at what other athletes do in their training to see if there is something I can apply to running. For examples, some of my training and strength techniques have been morphed from swimmers, cyclists, and climbers – asking what are they doing that might help me as a runner take a big leap in performance. I think there is still so much to learn, try and apply, so I am very interested in how the brain trumps everything with respect to performance, and look at the Running Monks of Japan to explore how they develop a mindset to run ultra marathons day after day. I am also looking at how mountaineers perform at altitude, specifically the Sherpas, and how they eat to succeed at both aerobic and anaerobic efforts for long periods of time. I am also very interested in following how Native American runners executed very long endurance runs as a form of communication, messaging, and trading. What did they eat, how did they run all day to deliver a message and then turn around and run back home. I think there is much to be learned from these people and how they performed not only physically, but with their thinking.
AC: What do you do to cross train?
EO: Jackson Hole is truly a multi-sport mecca and the great part of this is so many activities are so accessible. This allows me to do all my running, but also have time to do other things. So I obviously love to ski and have always lived in a ski town. My daughter loves to climb and boulder, I have have begun to use climbing as a great way to compliment my other strength training. I also have a strong cycling background, so I try to do as much as I can, either commuting around town or engaging in some snow biking adventures in the winter. And with an eight year old, a trampoline and slack line in the backyard provide a great “be like a kid” everyday.