In his 20s, Trevor Fuchs was out of shape, smoked a daily pack of cigarettes and chowed down on a typical American diet. Motivated by his young children and fearful of leaving this earth too soon, Fuchs embarked on a quest to become healthier and more fit.
And, boy, did he ever.
Now 37, Fuchs is a champion, plant-based vegan ultra runner. He has won the Wasatch 100 twice and recently placed second at the HURT 100. This summer he will compete in the competitive Hardrock Endurance Run, his first time at the highly coveted race.
Fuchs traces his connection to running back to his childhood, even though he had left the sport for a while.
“My dad was a pretty serious marathoner back in the 70s,” he recalls. “As kids, we grew up in the running culture and were on the Boulder youth track team. When I moved to Utah, I lost touch with the sport and moved on to hockey and other activities.”
About a decade ago, Fuchs recommitted to fitness. “I rediscovered my love for running on roads and eventually I found my way on to trails. The first time I ran off road, I fell completely in love with it. I am drawn to the solitude of high places and the sounds the earth makes when it thinks no one is listening.”
Falling in love with ultras
Fuchs has found his niche deep in the solitude of the mountains. In addition to his Wasatch wins, he took first place at El Vaquero Loco last year and has several other podium finishes.
In 2014, he ran his first ultra marathon — the Wasatch 100 — finishing 22nd overall, just under 24 hours.
“I fell in love with the old-school, low-key, tough, and gritty culture,” he says of that first ultra. “I get a kick out of running on challenging terrain in circumstances that may not always be ideal. Possibly in an unhealthy way, like Lieutenant Dan giving his middle finger to the storm in Forrest Gump, ‘You call this a storm?!’”
He prides himself on being a grinder. “I’ll never be the fastest runner, but I’ll grind it out until my legs are stumps. I’m drawn to races that are notoriously difficult ... extra points if they are known for possible inclement weather. A’ole Makou E Ho’ohikiwale Kela! (We wouldn’t want it to be easy!)”
HURT so good
Speaking of HURT, Fuchs finished second there in January, an improvement over his fifth-place finish there a year earlier. It’s a highly technical looped course with roots for days, which creates a challenge for runners who follow specificity training.
“There isn’t a lot you can do to train for the technicality of that course without just running on it,” Fuchs admits. “Before I ramped up my mileage and vert to its peak, I spent a lot of time working on my overall leg strength with squats, deadlifts and things like that.”
As he approached peak training, he added a lot of vert with 2,000-foot repeats.
“My peak runs were in this format with 10,000 to 12,000 of climbing to get my legs ready for the constant climbs and descents,” he explains. “To an extent, training in Utah on the snow, ice and mud helped to prepare me for the crazy muddy conditions we had on race day. The key to this race is having strong legs and an unbreakable will.”
Fuchs will put that physical and mental training to the test this summer in Colorado at Hardrock. He’s looking at a strategy with lots of high volume weeks and long, sustained climbs.
“I think that the best way to train for power hiking is to get out and hike, with weight when possible and safe,” he says. “There is a local peak that I like to summit here that is steep, rugged and overgrown. If you follow me on Strava, you’ll likely see multiple trips to that peak per day in the early summer.”
The secret sauce for recovery
Though he’s not a masters athlete, recovery plays a pivotal role for Fuchs and his audacious training plans. He uses a combination of resting properly, nightly foam rolling and eating healthy.
“I generally wake up feeling pretty good if I’m staying consistent with foam rolling,” he says. “I dabble in yoga, but I honestly tend to feel better when I’m not making stretching a focus (beyond specifically tight muscles). I’ve found that BCAA supplementation helps speed recovery and avoids DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) especially when adding strength training to the regimen. I think the biggest keys to recovery are good sleep and eating well — and enough!”
Fuchs has not only changed his fitness from when he was in his 20s, he has also revolutionized his diet. Like running, the change did not happen overnight. But he can trace it back to when he owned and operated a food truck in Salt Lake City where a local cheese manufacturer sent 10 pounds of various cheeses to try in various recipes.
“I remember eating so much cheese in a matter of weeks that I felt sick,” he says. “I decided that I wasn’t going to eat any dairy for a few weeks and see how it felt. After it made its way out of my system I became a totally different person. I spent most of my life thinking that stomach pains and constipation were normal. It turns out that I could avoid that discomfort altogether by eliminating dairy from my diet. That was probably the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moment for me.”
Protein, B12 and more for vegans
For endurance athletes considering a move to plant-based diet, there are often concerns about getting enough protein, Vitamin B12, iron and other key nutrients.
“Just know that it’s actually really easy, and if it’s something you’re conscious about, you’re very unlikely to ever become deficient,” Fuchs says, adding that he gets enough protein and iron through beans and legumes.
He admits that getting B12 is “trickier to get through food sources,” so he takes a supplement every few days. He also takes kelp (for iodine), Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, zinc and algae-based DHA.
All in all, it’s a pretty simple approach. Fuchs keeps meals simple. For example, one of his go-to meals is a salad in a large mixing bowl made up of kale, spinach, chard, arugula, pea shoots, red cabbage, beets, carrots, bell peppers, tamari marinated tempeh, sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
“If I’m extra hungry I’ll bake a potato in the microwave as well,” he says. “It sounds like a lot, but it comes together in a few minutes, is delicious, and provides a ton of nutrients to jumpstart recovery.
“I just make sure that I eat a large variety of foods through the day, with a little extra focus on including a protein-rich food in each meal such as tempeh, tofu, beans, nuts and nut butters.”
Name: Trevor Fuchs
Hometown: Ogden, Utah
Number of years running: 9
How many miles a week do you typically run: 70
Point of pride: I’ve had several people tell me in the last few years that I have inspired them to run. I’m not sure a better compliment exists. I’m sure I’ve also inspired people to not run by posting videos of toenail removal on Instagram, but hopefully the balance is in the positive.
Favorite race distance: 100 miles
Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: Oatmeal with blueberries
Favorite piece of gear: Raidlight Resolutiv pack
Favorite or inspirational song to run to: Welcome to the Jungle — Guns 'N Roses
Favorite or inspirational mantra/phrase: “Suck it up, Buttercup!”
Where can other runners connect or follow you:
• @trevor_fuchs on Instagram
• Trevor Fuchs on Facebook