Persistent forward progress – that’s the life mantra of ultramarathon runner Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, a WDA member dentist in Weston.
A graduate of Marquette University School of Dentistry, but born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, Dr. Hoffman got his start at competitive running on the track and cross-country teams at his high school. He would step away from this hobby during college, only to pick it back up again in 2010 as a way to get in shape to referee youth soccer. As a goal-oriented individual, Dr. Hoffman would soon sign up for a half-marathon to give more structure to his training – a race that would pique his interest in the world of ultra-running.
“After a few years, I decided to step up to the entire 26.2-mile adventure – a full marathon. After a few of those, my coach asked me, ‘Have you ever thought of doing an ultra? I think you would be good at it.’ As it so happened, I was already researching where, when and how long local ultras were, so that just spurred me into action.”
An “ultra” is just as you’d expect – it’s longer and more demanding than a traditional marathon. While the length of ultramarathons vary, one can be defined as any footrace longer than 26.2 miles. In addition to six full marathons, Dr. Hoffman has completed three ultramarathons – two 50-mile road races in Michigan and one 31-mile trail race in Wausau’s Rib Mountain State Park.
“Preparation for an ‘ultra’ is really a four- to six-month process,” said Dr. Hoffmann. “Each week, I increase the mileage in my running routine to acclimate my body to the amount of time I’ll be on my feet come race day. The longest practice runs I’ve done in a single day have been 30 miles. During the winter, my treadmill is used quite a bit, as it’s not worth risking a potential injury and being unable to see patients just to be able to say I ran outside.”
Although an appropriate exercise routine is key in getting yourself ready for a race, there are mental and dietary preparations to consider, as well.
“Diet-wise, I make sure I’m taking in enough calories during the week – protein, carbs and veggies,” Dr. Hoffman said. “Nothing really specific that I avoid or binge on, though my favorite pre-race meal is shrimp fried rice – it just sits in my stomach well.”
Mentally, Dr. Hoffman claims that the most beneficial thing to do is break up long runs into shorter increments and to not think about how much is left – much like how he approaches performing long dental procedures. Dr. Hoffman also likes to distract himself during races – not dental procedures – by wearing headphones and listening to music and history podcasts.
“It’s important to focus on how much you’ve finished, and not what remains. Whenever I talk to patients about this crazy hobby I have and tell them how long these races are, ‘50 MILES?!?’ is their usual reaction. I am sure to let them know that there are parts of the race I walk, especially hills.”
For Dr. Hoffman, dedication to these competitions has been a sort of therapy and a great way to clear his mind and decompress after a long day/week at work. “I feel privileged to be able to have the time to train like I do, and my profession allows me that time. My approach to both practices of dentistry and ultramarathons are the same – just keep moving forward, even if you’re only walking.”