As a runner, California-resident and 2008 U.S. Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy Boulet (41) doesn’t like to be defined by distance or running surface. Not only does Boulet enjoy mixing up her running, she excels at it, with wins at short road races to ultra distance trail events and just about every option in between. When she’s not running, Boulet is in the lab creating the latest tasty flavor of GU for her job as director of research and product development of GU Energy Labs. We caught up with her to learn what motivates her and about the gear that keeps her going.
Gear Institute/Pattillo: You capped off a successful 2014 with an impressive win at The North Face Endurance Championships 50-miler! What in store for 2015?
Magdalena Lewy Boulet: I am committing myself in 2015 to bigger challenges and building on what I have accomplished in 2014. I am mentally and emotionally ready to train for the 100-mile race distance. My dream is to qualify for Western States Endurance Run this year. When I was a research assistant at GU Energy Labs I frequently witnessed Ann Trason’s collaboration and fine tuning of her fueling strategy for the WSER race with the former owner and founder of GU, Dr. Vaughan. Ann is and always was a true inspiration, and now, so many years later, I want to experience what it feels like to endure the 100 mile Western States Endurance Run.
GI: Long races mean long training runs. What are some items that you always carry when venturing out for a training day?
Boulet: First is my Garmin Forerunner 620 watch. I am so impressed with all the critical data I can track and use to optimize training.
CEP compression socks are scientifically designed to reduce muscle strain during training and also improve blood flow for faster recovery time.
My Patagonia Nano Puff Vest—I’m in love with this product now. It’s an all-around functional piece of apparel that makes me happy. It’s easy to pack, is comfortable as my post-training outfit and, sometimes, when I happen to be in uncomfortably cold weather, I will run in it.
GI: Your hard work has paid off with solid sponsorships. What’s some of your favorite gear from sponsors?
Boulet: Currently I love training and racing in the HOKA Challenger ATR. I do a good portion of my training from my house and have to run roads to get to the trails. This light shoe performs great on and off the trail.
GU Roctane Energy Drink is what I rely on for fueling to optimize my performance. Supplementing with essential amino acids in addition to fueling with fast absorbing carbohydrates keeps me sharp and alert during long events, and the dense caloric composition of this drink allows me to keep my nutrition planning simple, which is ideal. Roctane drink is my choice for during demanding activities.
The UltrAspire Spry Race Vest is my favorite hydration-pack because it is versatile, light and compact. I like to travel light, and this pack allows me to optimize efficiency and encourages me to pack only most essential items like my GU energy gels, light rain jacket and a headlamp. More space and I feel over-packed and irritated with too much gear on my long training runs or races.
I can’t train without my Oakley Radarlock Edge sunglasses. Training with sunglasses means I can relax and enjoy my run without squinting or stressing my face.
GI: You excel at distances from short to long and road to trail. Thinking about your gear, what changes and what stays the same for different surfaces and distances?
Boulet: There are many new surfaces I have explored in my first year of trail running and recognized the need for aggressive traction on my shoes when I run technical terrains and also lots of cushioning to support the elevation gain and loss during specific trail training. I also had to learn to run with a hydration vest, carry my GUs and carry handheld bottles. This was a big adjustment for me when stepping up from marathon training to longer trails races, but I learned to optimize my fueling strategy by dialing in timing of when I consume my sports nutrition.
GI: Do you have a lucky talisman you carry for races?
Boulet: No. I visualize my family waiting for me at the finish line and that is what keeps me wanting to get there as fast as I can. I love seeing the proud face of my son and my husband when I cross the finish line.
GI: Racing internationally means more logistics. What are some must-haves you bring with you to help with the pre-race experience, the race itself or recovery?
Boulet: I always bring my French press and my favorite local coffee to start with a cup of good coffee, my NuttZo nut butter for snacks, and GU Recovery Smoothie for post-race and, of course, a swim suit in case there is an opportunity to jump in a body of water.
GI: Is there a running trend that has you particularly excited?
Boulet: I am most intrigued and excited by the dramatic increase in trail running participation. So many new runners exploring the beauty of what trail running has to offer is putting a big smile on my face. Runners are crossing over from roads and discovering the many awesome benefits you can gain from training and racing on trails.
GI: What drives your running?
Boulet: Finding your best self is what matters in the end. There is room for more trail runners, road runners and cyclists to join the mission of staying healthy while enjoying the journey. I think if you make it a lifestyle, you will never regret the commitment. There are no shortcuts to any place worth going, right?