Training Thoughts
& Lessons Learned

-Dan Button

Runnin' Down A Dream (8-8-23)

This past weekend our little team plus many, many volunteers, supporters, and sponsors hosted our second edition of the Boise Front Trail Runs. 300 inspiring folks came out to run the trails 6,000 feet above Boise!! It was a ton of work, but I'm truly honored to be part of the current team stewarding this classic local trail race. I could easily dedicate an entire post to the race and all that went into putting it on, and I probably should. But throughout race week this year I had to keep pinching myself to stay focused, because a week before the race I found out that I had been selected to compete on the US Trail Team going to this years' NACAC Trail Champs!

For the past couple years, I've been more and more invested in my career goals and the incredibly fulfilling sustainability work that I've been fortunate to work on. Running hasn't necessarily taken a back seat as I have continued to train just as hard, but I've had to limit the number of races I do. My long-time running goal has been to qualify for a US MUT (Mountain Ultra Trail) team and to that end I chose to go after a spot on the US Team going to the 50K World Champs this year. I needed to get in based on a time qualifier since I couldn't make it over to the US Champs in NY; long story short, my race attempt did not go well. The course I chose was not ideal, my shoe choice was even worse, and I ended up struggling across the finish 12 minutes away from my goal time. After a month of regrouping, I decided to hop into the US Trail Marathon Champs in NY in hopes of a top 2 finish and a spot on the World Team going to Innsbruck. With only a month to prepare, I did my best to get in a ton of vert and prepare for the relentlessly steep and technical race. On race day I started out controlled for once, but despite that I still found myself struggling to pick up the pace as the race went on, eventually running out of fluids multiple times on the long stretches between aid stations. I finished 13th and about 40 minutes from the team spots but did get to cheer on my good friend Jackson Brill who made his first US Team.

When I got back from NY, I did some soul searching and found that I was so burned out that I didn't even want to compete anymore. I love running and even training hard and that fire hadn't gone out at all, but I felt that a big (if not permanent) break from competition was in order. Having signed up for CIM back in January I planned on enjoying trails all summer and then putting in a marathon block just for the fun of it and to keep the workouts pointing towards something. When a friend sent over the resume call-out for the NACAC team spots I didn't even submit my resume initially, still feeling that the dream was just not going to happen. Boise Front, combined with some work projects and the endless house project list, was keeping me busy and satisfied. After about a week of thinking about it though I realized that the passion was indeed still there, and I decided to throw my hat in the ring. For the past two years, I've almost exclusively raced trail marathons and 50ks and have come to love the 3-to-4-hour hard effort and I do feel that on my day I can still compete with just about anyone. So, with all that being said, LET'S GO USA!! I cannot put in words how much it means to have the opportunity to represent my country internationally, but I can say that I intend to get the best out of myself in doing so!

What Exactly is ESG? (8-30-22)

ESG is essentially a framework used for viewing the risk, responsibility, and long-term sustainability of a business. It builds off previous ideas like the “Triple Bottom Line” of People, Planet, Profit in the 1990’s, which was followed by The United Nations standards for responsible investing in the early 2000’s, which itself led to more “Corporate Social Responsibility” discussions in boardrooms and on Wall Street. And eventually to the use of Environmental, Social & Governance in the 2010’s and on (but maybe not for much longer as extremists and those with valid criticisms have both questioned the use of the phrase recently) Corporate sustainability efforts will live on though no matter what terms we use to qualify and judge them.


The E stands for Environmental and is usually used in combination with sustainability. When we talk about a long-term approach to using the resources found in our natural environment, we’re talking about using them more sustainably and renewably. We live in a finite world so if we use up every resource that we extract from the planet in just a single use, we will eventually find ourselves in a world without the resources required for survival. Naturally then, a big part of the ‘E’ is researching ways to become more sustainable with the materials we use and the environments we interact with (forests, rivers, oceans, etc.) And for the resources that we use, seeking ways to lower the amount waste we generate or emit (solid wastes, gases, chemicals, and other wastes) and finding renewable ways to use that 'waste'.


There is a whole lot to unpack in the second letter here, but in short, the S stands for the social side of a business. How a business treats their employees, suppliers, communities, and customers is a big part of that. Among the many topics covered under ‘social’ are initiatives such as promoting employee diversity, fostering cultures of inclusion, promoting positive community impacts, and fair & equitable wages. Some specific examples would be protocols for employee safety, community volunteer programs, transparent hiring policies, and employer provided/funded educational opportunities. There is a long list of what can be covered under social, but most of the topics in this umbrella ultimately affect the culture and perception of the company. Just as with the environmental side, these programs must be reinforced through the governance of the business to be effective.


Governance covers the rules, practices and policies used to manage a business. The company’s board and senior leadership are responsible for driving this from the top down. Ultimately, the first two subjects will be made effective, or lost, depending on the practices and policies used to govern the business. Good corporate governance usually views a robust environmental policy and strong social programs as essential functions of the business. All three areas combine to form a long-term strategy for operating a business, with an eye toward risk management, sustainability, and transparency. 

For more insight into ESG, and how to apply it, check this article out!

Climate Doom & Gloom is Not Productive! (5-2-22)

If you're in your 30s like me, you've probably been hearing about global warming for most of your life. There's a good chance you've also felt very lost on what you were supposed to do with the info you heard. Maybe, you've even been convinced that the entire saga is a political side-show, or maybe you still think that. I'm certainly not going to judge you if you do, it seems that just about every facet of our society has strong political lobbies on both sides of whatever issue. So, depending on where, when and who you grew up with, your perspective could be very different on climate change, or really any other issue I suppose. But one thing that I'd guess most of us have heard, felt, and probably believed is the overall messaging about the climate change crisis. A messaging that has been extremely negative. I'm not going to say that global risks and potential mega-challenges are to be cheered, but the messaging has only seemed to focus on that first point; 'we're in a heap of trouble, humans are the cause, shame, shame, shame.' The doom & gloom approach to climate change awareness.

However, that's not actually a productive message to get people to change, is it? It is a great way to cause fear, panic & depression (just look at recent studies on younger generations and the climate related mental health issues many have) I do get that research and facts need to be shared about issues, but without tying problems to potential solutions, or even solutions that we still need to find, it can lead to no change taking place at all in the end. All the facts in the world about how hard it is to run a sub 4:00 minute mile won't get me any closer to doing it and will almost certainly disincentive me even trying. But sharing the difficulty along with a good training plan (and high-tech shoes and a steep downhill in my case) and I'm going to be much more inclined to start training. That's not a perfect analogy because there aren’t clear solutions or answers to all the issues associated with climate change, but the messaging can, and I believe should, have a more positive and actionable tone. To that point, I highly recommend the book pictured and linked below! It covers some very compelling information and partners that info with solutions we have now (and need to scale or utilize) and with ongoing research we still need for new solutions. 

So, what can each of us do? It turns out, we can do quite a lot as individuals and much more as groups, societies, and governments. Between political action, scientific/technological research, lifestyle and behavioral changes, and community discourse, there is something that just about everyone can do to affect changes on global issues like this. Linked here is a great primer on some of the things we can each do to right away. If you can relate to my experience and climate change has seemed like a hopelessly negative situation, a political farce, or just unrelatable, then I encourage you to pick a negative statistic you've heard about and start researching solutions for it (re: google) You may be surprised by some of the potential solutions that have already been thought of and some of the areas beyond climate change that these solutions can help address. Things like renewable energy sources, clean water protections, extreme weather risk aversion are so broadly beneficial that advancements are desirable even without climate change, but the urgency it brings can be positively used to push these advancements along faster to the benefit of all. I even discovered that I could directly work on promoting some of these existing solutions in my own workplace and home, and I'll bet you find that true as well! I have also included a list below from the Bill Gates' book where he highlights some of the breakthroughs that he believes we still need to find, because I find this list truly exciting to daydream about working on, though I possess none of the technical knowledge myself. 

I'll close with this; the problems are now well published, and the fear factor has been dialed up plenty high, I believe it's high time we chose to focus on positive solutions! In doing so you might even find yourself drawn to an entirely new field of study or career path, or you may realize you were on that path all along and just needed some inspiration and encouragement, like me.

Equity & Sustainability (3-14-22)

a: justice according to natural law or right
specifically: freedom from bias or favoritism

With all that's going on in the world right now, it can feel like what we're doing day-to-day is not that important in comparison. But I'd like to dwell on the words defined in this post and think a little deeper about how and where we can apply them in our lives. In doing so, I hope we can shift from the whirlwind around us to focus on the direct positive impacts that we can make. We may indeed feel small and unimportant at times, but if we use our voices to build up those around us, we can help them feel impactful and valued. Similarly, we may see the challenges facing our quickly developing world and think that the future looks bleak for future generations, but I assure you, some quick research will reveal that a large portion of our world shares those concerns, and many are working on solutions!

So, let's start with a good look at equity; originating from the Latin aequus: meaning equal. For me, equity as a concept is simple enough to translate, pulling right from the Bible (Luke 6:31): And as you wish that others would do to you, so do unto them. If we want to see equity in the world, in our workplace, in our families, we must treat others with the respect and deference that we would want given to us. Now, with that as the foundation, we can build upon it for applications in specific areas. I will focus just on the workplace for now, as that's where my attention has been. And a caveat, there are many others more qualified than me to give advice on growing equality at work, so by no means do I speak as an expert here, but I will try to explain what equity means to me. I think that amplifying the voice and stature of others is a good place to begin, starting with all others i.e., anyone who is not yourself. From there I believe we should look to specifically bring forward those who are given the fewest chances and do so in a manner that's not offensive or stressful for them. To even attempt that, we must first educate ourselves on the others in our communities and workplaces. There are many great resources out there that give specific examples on how to do this, so I'd encourage you to spend some time on the old Google machine or with a resource like LinkedIn Learning to teach yourself some best practices. Here's just one educational resource to start with: How to get serious about diversity and inclusion in the workplace | Janet Stovall  And though I believe our motivations should be seeking justice and good ethics, I do want to mention that ethnically diverse companies perform 33% better than the norm and according to Forbes, they see 24% higher revenues! (Per the video linked above)

a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
b: of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods

First, I just want to point out, I believe that if we want to be a society that keeps growing sustainably, we must have social equity also, which is why I started on that one. 

One major idea for sustainability centers around the concept of a circular economy, like what we see in the natural world, as opposed to what we could call an extraction economy: The ambition level of an industrial ecology is to achieve an ideal state, one which resembles nature most. Such a system would be characterized by “complete or nearly complete internal cycling of materials” (pulled that quote from a fantastic paper, linked here) I think most folks would agree that a system in which resources are not simply extracted and used up would be better for long-term stability and sustainability. However, we'd also likely agree that a society currently operating on a resource-extraction model would find it very risky to make an immediate shift. And that historical moment, is where I believe we find ourselves today. The momentum has swung towards making that shift, but we can't do it overnight. This provides an immense opportunity for those willing to take on a little more risk/expense to become sustainable first! There is a wealth of good information out there online and elsewhere for practices you can make at home, so I'll leave that part up to you. I've been focused on opportunities in the industrial and manufacturing sector, of which there are also many. 

The last couple decades have seen unbelievable advancements in just about anything that runs on electricity; from LED lighting to low/alternating power drives and motors, leak/loss detecting systems and occupancy/use sensors, to name a few. That's all just the beginning of what folks have dubbed Industry 4.0 though, the big advancements are still ahead! (here's a link to brief history of the previous 3 industrial revolutions and quick explanation of what I-4.0 will look like) Many of these "4.0" changes will build on the 3rd revolution's technologies, but they will leverage and optimize them for enhanced productivity, and you guessed it, sustainability. These changes will be essential in driving us towards a circular economy because they will connect our factory floors and provide data on what we're actually doing today, and as the folks at nZero say "You Can't Change What You Can't Measure". Once we know what we're doing now, we can put a strategy together to make the changes necessary. I'd recommend starting with the 'low-hanging fruit' model of making the easiest changes first, to start building a culture of being sustainable as soon as possible. Oh, and to supplement the information that we can get through raw data, business leaders and plant managers should absolutely be talking to the entire plant staff, asking them to bring forward opportunities or wastes that they've noticed. Data is great to have, but it becomes far more actionable when an expert is there to translate it. Sustainability has its economic advantages too, but more prescient is the fact that sustainable companies will be the only one's consumers buy from within a few decades. It's not just a marketing strategy, the largest oil & gas producers have huge departments researching new technologies and areas to move into once fossil fuels are no longer used. It's coming sooner than most might think (but not soon enough, I know) 

My main take-away from all this research has been the realization that building equity and seeking sustainability are not only ethical pathways to take, but ways to operate that set us up for more growth and better performance, too. Let's all look for opportunities to drive these ideals where we work, live, and play, and become parts of this quickly growing revolution!

Managing & Embracing Change (2-8-22)

First, a few statements just to get people riled up:

Do you agree with all the above statements?  If you don't, stop reading now. Just kidding!  I did write those tongue-in-cheek, but I do think they each contain a certain amount of truth. What I am trying to emphasize is the belief that change is an absolute in all areas of personal and professional development. And if we can agree that change is an absolute, then I believe the next broad step is to plan for the management of changes. 

Now you might be saying, "Right then, change is always coming, and we must manage it, fine Dan, I believe you. But why can't I just manage changes as they occur? Embracing and looking forward to changes from the outset is just not me!"

Well, that's been my attitude as well, for much of my life. And if I'm being honest, I sometimes slip back into that mindset now. So, I can't fully convince you to embrace change simply through words or even by sharing experience. However, I will share some examples which might get you interested enough to start the journey (and if you're paying close attention, that itself would be embracing a change, so I'll go ahead and pat myself on the back :D)

I'll start with the easier example, embracing positive change. Do you want to be better at something in the future? If the answer is yes, then you have an excellent motivation for embracing changes. Desiring positive changes might seem like a no-brainer but often with goal setting we get caught up in the excitement of the intended result and we don't look forward to the individual changes we'll need to make to achieve that result. To combat this, I've tried to shift my excitement from the end-goal to the individual changes required. I do keep that final change/goal in mind but looking forward to each smaller change is like rationing that Halloween candy out until Thanksgiving, small treats each day are nice! And in my case, the final change/goal is my stomach ready for two full pies by the 4th Thursday in November. I highly encourage others to embrace each positive step in any change journey and to celebrate them all equally. This is also a good area to practice giving encouragement to others! Celebrate your friends and family member's growth, whenever you get the chance! 

Now, let's look at the other end of the change spectrum, negative changes. These are the ones that you don't plan for, they just pop up uninvited, but oh do they love to pop up! It's impossible to tell you that you should look forward to negative things happening, so that's not what we're going to do here. Embracing change in general does leave us open to the possibility that some changes will occur that we did not hope for. Experience tells us that these changes are inevitable, so with that out of our control all we can really do is choose what our attitude will be in response. A wise and valued friend introduced me to the Finnish concept of sisu, a word that does not translate exactly to English but can be summarized as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness all in one. I believe that Sisu is an attitude we can build into ourselves with practice, just like the Fins do. When injury forces us to alter our training plans, when layoff forces us to alter our professional plans, when a breakup forces us to change our relationship expectations, we can choose how we respond. Choosing an attitude of gratitude (trite sayings aside) is hugely beneficial when we are forced to embrace negative changes, so take a look back at some positive events and even write them down if that helps. Another practical step, embrace some new and different positive changes! When I can't run, I usually start reading new books, cooking, and taking online courses. Jot down a few ideas now that you can set aside for when you need something new to fill your time and mind. The final trick I employ to deal with negative changes is usually the most powerful one for me, helping and thinking about others. Nothing gets me out of a negative change funk better than investing in other people and becoming a part of their positive change story. 

So, that's what I got on embracing changes, brought to you by a collection of business books, online courses and Bible based study guides. I hope these concepts can help turn you into a change embracer as much as they have me.

Setting & Achieving Goals (1-3-22)

Disclaimer: If you've only been running a short time, I'd highly recommend getting a coach to help you choose goals and create training plans. Most coaches offer online options and tiered programs, based on skill level and time available. There are also a number of great books and training plans available, if jumping right to a coach is too big an investment right now. I'd be happy to recommend some coaches if you are interested in one and for training plans my top choice is:

With that said, let's talk about goal setting!

Here I've broken the goal-setting cycle into some quick bullet points for easier reference:

Quick Backcountry Hike

Mores Mountain

We love our local mountains, and the way they are managed. Having grown up riding the over developed, long lift-line resorts of New England, the resorts here in Idaho are a breath of fresh air. Don't get me wrong, we are still proudly born from ice, but we are in love with the mountain west.  

One of the things we like the most about Idaho mountains is the freedom to explore them, from summer runs and hikes to going off-trail in the winter. Yesterday was our second time going in the back this winter at Bogus Basin and we had a blast. Mores Mountain is the peak next door to Shafer Butte and the summit can be accessed with an easy 1 mile hike from a shoulder on the backside of Bogus. The snow was crusting over on our way down. as the sun was also going down, but we still loved every minute of it. We'll be back for some more soon, and hopefully so will the snow-clouds.

2018 Fall Races - Ultra Season!

Collection of shots above from various races and adventures we went on over the fall in prep for our first 50 miler. Didn't get many good pictures to show from the actual 50, but we did get results that made us happy! 

We've both been training with the Boise Billies since April of 2018, but did not start getting individualized training from coach, Matt Laye, until the build up for the 50, starting in August. Matt had us do some things we'd never done before, and we loved almost every hour of it, despite bonking a few times as we learned how to fuel on 4-5 hour runs. Without giving away all of the secrets; two of the big changes were back-to-back long runs and going by elevation as well as mileage/time on feet with our weekly goals. We can both truly say that, though the 50 mile race was indeed our longest run ever, we had 2 or 3 training runs that really felt harder. That's not to say we were banged up by the time we raced, because we actually felt rested and right at peak fitness on race day, with nothing to stop us from crushing it. 

Speaking of crushing it, Sumner came away with the win and a course record as well as placing 5th overall in her first 50 miler! I hung on for 3rd overall after not eating a big enough breakfast (like a total rookie) and bonking hard only 18 miles in.