We chat to the guys who are Nuzest Athletes as well as the Founders of V&B Athletic on how they manage to fit ultra-endurance training into their busy schedules

The pair of running fanatics started their journey together in 2010 when they both met at Original Bootcamp. As the years went by the two competed in many events namely, Tough Mudder and Spartan Race, as well as their first ultra-marathon (49km) in New Zealand. After over 6,000 kilometers spent competing in various endurance races together in distances now ranging up to 180km the two have developed their own training methods to complement their busy lives. Here’s how they do it.

  1. What does a typical week look like for you? Does it involve school drops, business meetings, training sessions?

Jase is full time in V&B Athletic and 100% focused on the business and our clients.  DJ has a full time role as head of the Australian real estate group at the law firm Baker McKenzie, so as far as V&B goes, Jase does the lion’s share of the work and DJ helps out as a part-time trainer and with back of house wherever possible.  For both of us the working days are long ones, we’re either up training clients or training ourselves by 5.30am, 5 or 6 days a week and are lucky to be in bed before midnight.  DJ has a 14 year old son and 9 year old daughter, and both of our partners also work full time so each day is about balance and making sure that whatever we’re doing whether it’s work, family or our own training sessions, is quality time – regardless of the actual quantity of each of those aspects from day to day, we’re making sure it’s the best it can be.

  1. How often do you exercise in a week and how much of that is committed to long runs? – i.e. km’s run p.w or p.month 

We each train at least 5 to 6 days a week, and ideally get a long run (20km+) in once a week. Unless you’re right at the pointy end of endurance running, you don’t need to be doing 100s of kilometres a week to be successful and that actually forms the basis for a lot of the training we bring to our clients.  DJ took 3 hours off his 100km time for UTA (or North Face 100 as it was back then) a number of years ago after running less than 20km a week for an entire year.  During that time he was focusing on high intensity training, technique sessions, stairs and soft sand running.  That sort of training is designed to build endurance, fit in with a busy lifestyle and avoid the over-training injuries that so many ultra-runners develop when their sole focus becomes quantity over quality of training.  While we’re always learning and adapting, this basic model has formed the foundation for our own training ever since.

  1. Do you wake up early to fit more in or stay up later? 

This is probably the one thing where you should listen to what we say and not watch what we do!  There’s plenty of research out there showing how important 7 hours of sleep is a night for recovery and performance.  But to fit everything into our schedules, sleep is often what gets sacrificed.  DJ generally gets by on 4 to 5 hours sleep max during the week, and Jase is not far behind.  Basically we’re getting up early and staying up later in order to fit everything in.  What we have found personally though, is that a lack of sleep can be compensated for by a great workout.  We’ve tested it numerous times and are convinced that 4 hours sleep with a good quality high intensity workout, means that we will be happier, healthier and more productive at the end of that day than we are with 6 hours sleep and no work out.

  1. What’s your work schedule like? 

Pretty crazy.  14+ hour days are a regular occurrence for DJ and as a partner at an international law firm, there’s very little time that he is not at least contactable or needing to check emails.  While Jase has a slightly more flexible schedule, his days are just long as with regular training commitments at the beginning and end of each day, all the time between is filled with planning, meetings, individual client work/sessions and the thousands of other things that come with building a fitness business and brand.

  1. Do you decide what events you want to sign up to over the year and train for them, or are you more spontaneous?

A little of both. We usually have a couple of key events that we want to do every year or every second year, but we find it very difficult to say no to people, so often end up signing up for events on the spur of the moment.  We’ve actually got a rule now that we’re not allowed to sign up for a race within 7 days of finishing (or sometimes not finishing) a race. You’re either on such a high from finishing, or so annoyed that you’ve had to withdraw, that the temptation is to sign up for not just the same race but half a dozen others at the same time…takes a few days to come back from that.  We do have a couple of key charity events that we like to be involved in every year and are gradually moving to keeping our personal endurance events for specific charitable causes, or to acting on the sweep team for events – which lets us enjoy the endurance challenge while helping others, and takes away the pressure of having to be right at the top of our game and competing.

  1. Do you have any tricks for keeping on top of things, i.e. anything that makes you more efficient?

Good time management is about setting expectations with others so you don’t get to a situation where you suddenly have 5 things that all need to happen at the same time.  Prioritise and communicate so that everyone knows what they can expect of you and when they can expect it.  For things that are really important to you, make a time and stick to it – for us that’s our personal training – Jase locks in regular sessions immediately following morning training, DJ has very early mornings before work and before his kids are up for school, so the chances of a conflict with other priorities are minimised.

  1. Do you encourage your kids to get involved with fitness?

Absolutely.  Neither of us were that sporty as kids so it’s not something that we want to force on others but we think it’s critical to lead by example and encourage as much participation in physical activities as possible (both for our kids and others).  DJ recently took his son to Bali with him to help out with the support crew for the Bali Hope Ultra – an 84km overnight run across Bali to raise funds to put local kids through school. He’s come back talking about signing up for the City 2 Surf and maybe running a bit of the Bali run with Dad next year!  There does have to be a balance given how impressionable kids are – our emphasis with them is always around the health benefits of fitness and the experiences you can have – not about diet (other than eating a healthy balance of all goods – which includes the “naughty” stuff on occasion too) or appearance.

  1. What’s your next event you’re training for and what does that training look like?

DJ has a 900km 6 day bike ride coming up in November with the Steve Waugh Foundation, as well as the World Surf Lifesaving Championships in 2km soft sand racing.  Jase has a couple of shorter trail races towards the end of the year. Both of us will be returning to Bali early next year for the Bali Hope Ultra and have a number of ultras coming up which we’ll be running as “sweeps” rather than racing.  Our long term goal is next year’s Great Southern Endurance Run – a 180km monster in Victoria with over 11,000m of ascending and the same of descending.  Apart from some specialized bike training, the schedule of events means our actual day to day training doesn’t have to change that much – there’s lots of variety, most sessions are short (60 minutes) and high-intensity, functional (using lots of muscle groups and particularly working on building core strength) and aimed at continuing to build strength without overly bulking up – stairs, soft sand, bodyweight plus weekly yoga and monthly massages for recovery…all the good stuff!!

  1. Do you have any nutrition tips for endurance athletes?

Everyone is different when it comes to this stuff, but ultimately it’s really not that hard.  Eat a good balanced diet with as few processed foods as possible, plenty of fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water (not just on event days but every day) and indulge in moderation every now and then.  For endurance events it becomes much more of an individual game – some people can eat anything on a long event, others need to stick to gels or food replacement drinks to avoid stomach issues.  The critical thing is to never try anything new on race day – experiment in training, figure out what works for you and then go with that, plus have a treat of some sort waiting for you at a predetermined point of the race.  For us, we both love a white bread vegemite sandwich at the half-way point of a big run – preferably with a layer of salt and vinegar chips on it!!

About David ‘DJ’ Jones

Long-distance cyclist, endurance athlete and V&B Athletic’s resident soft sand running specialist, DJ is “glass half full” when it comes to training, always encouraging his clients to dig that extra bit deeper and achieve extraordinary results.

About Jase Cronshaw

Endurance athlete, mountain biker and part-time rock climber. Jase follows a “firm but fair” approach for getting the best out of his clients and believes that just one run can change your day but many runs will change your life.