by Joel Patenaude
It’s not every day you see a man running with ski poles while pulling a tire. But there he was, trudging up the hill on the sidewalk past my daughter’s elementary school in Middleton, Wisconsin. After dropping my progeny off, I chased down this curious sight.
I expected this gentleman to be a hardcore athlete. And he was, and then some. Rather than interrupt his run, I did a quick interview of Lee Dalgety, 44, as he ambled down residential side streets. He said he was nearing the end of a 9.5-mile run, pulling the tire the entire way.
In the video below, Dalgety said incorporating the dead weight of a tire was a “natural progression” from training with friends who pulled their gear in sleds at the recent Tuscobia 75- and 150-mile and Arrowhead 135-mile ultramarathons.
Dalgety said he did neither of those events, instead continuing his training for Infinitus, a 552-mile, 10-day trail race in Vermont next May. As “a warmup” he said he will do the 200-mile Potawatomi Trail Run in Pekin, Illinois – an event he failed to mention he won in 2015. (Dalgety also won the 200-mile tBunk Endurance Challenge in LaGrange, Wisconsin, last November, according to an online results agregator.)
Please forgive the shaky video that resulted from my running backward while holding my phone as I talked to Dalgety.
Despite moving to the U.S. from Africa seven years ago, Dalgety said, “Winter is still a new experience for me.”
So why make winter running harder by dragging a tire?
Well, tire pulling is a training technique long employed by some top ultrarunners. “Using a tire drag is the best form of sport-specific cross-training a runner can do,” argues Marshall Ulrich, who did it prior to his 3,063.2-mile, 52.5-day run from San Francisco to New York City in 2008 at the age of 57.
“When you pull a tire, you change the points of resistance and load on your body, and you train your muscles in a way that’s slightly different from your regular running gait,” Ullrich states, before listing other benefits and instructions for making a tire drag. (Keep in mind, Ullrich is as famous for his ultra accomplishments as he is for having all his toenails surgically removed so they wouldn’t cause further discomfort during his voluminous running.)
The resistance a tire supplies is akin to running hill repeats, although these workouts offer different benefits as well.
Joel Patenaude is the editor of Silent Sports magazine.