Get to know Alex (The Hammer) Ho
He’s easygoing, relaxed, and upbeat. But, don’t let his casual demeanor fool you. Alex (The Hammer) Ho is for real.
It’s hard to believe that Alex once suffered from exercise-induced asthma and LOATHED running. Now he ‘hammers’ hundred milers and recently won the Marin Ultra Challenge 50K. He also runs his own outdoor fitness company (Revision Athletics).
Read on for the lowdown on Alex’s journey towards becoming a runner and glean a few nuggets of wisdom from ‘The Hammer’.
1) How did you get into running?
Funnily enough, I used to hate running (with a passion). I grew up with exercise-induced asthma and any sort of endurance running was out of the question.
Years later (2010), I took an outdoor bootcamp that involved a lot of running and strength training. It was via this experience that I eventually found the enjoyment of logging miles on my feet.
In 2011, I decided to sign up for my first race(s) and tackle a 10K, half marathon, and full marathon. After conquering the marathon, I was convinced to sign up for a 50-mile trail race that December and had a blast. I was hooked on running (especially on trails) and haven’t stopped since.
2) What is it you enjoy most about trail running?
I love the feeling of being out on the trails removed from traffic, technology, and the craziness of every day life. There is a sense of peaceful meditation when all you hear are your footsteps and the sounds of nature.
Additionally, there is always a feeling of accomplishment. Even if it’s just a few miles, I always feel like I got out, I moved forward, and did something positive for myself.
3) Do you have a favorite distance you like to run (and why)?
I love running 100-mile trail races. To date, I’ve done 3 of them. They are extraordinarily hard. But, the feeling of accomplishing something most people can’t even comprehend is pretty amazing.
Running 100 miles is also a great way to see parts of the country that you’d just never see otherwise. Not only is it fun to race 100 miles, but the structured training schedule required to prepare for 100 miles provides a great excuse to go explore more trails.
4) You recently won the Marin Ultra Challenge 50k. Tell us a bit more about this experience. Was this a surprise to you? Did you do anything differently from previous races?
Winning the MUC 50K was a bit of a surprise. I had it on my calendar as simply a training race for the Gorge Waterfalls 100K. I was hoping to just run a strong, steady race.
From the beginning, I ran at a comfortable pace letting others take off. My goal was to finish the race feeling like I had something left in the tank. My focus on running an easy pace at the start would give me a good shot at achieving this goal, I thought.
By keeping a steady pace, I was able to slowly pick people off from about mile 15 on. Additionally, my nutrition plan of GU’s and water worked perfectly. It also helped that the weather was a bit cooler and drizzly, so I didn’t overheat. The stars aligned. It ended up being a near perfect race for me.
But, the win was still a surprise. Ultimately, I think coming into the race relaxed and allowing myself to start slower than I normally do was the biggest contributing factor to my win.
5) What's your favorite place on the planet to run?
I’d have to say the Marin Headlands and Mount Tamalpais. Both spots have some amazing trails to run on. It’s also a short drive from my home in San Francisco, so the accessibility can’t be beat.
This being said, my favorite running experience was the 119k race I did that ran from Courmayeur, Italy around the southern part of Mont Blanc to Chamonix, France. Running (and a lot of power hiking) in these mountains was simply amazing.