Lucas Crooks 🌵 Trail Runner/Cyclist

Lucas Crooks Trail Runner Series Sabino Canyon Hike & Run
Mt. Baldy Wilderness AZ

What ignited your passion for trail running? And when did your journey begin?

I moved back to Tucson in 2020 because I was furloughed from my job in Washington DC due to COVID-19. Since I was furloughed, I made a promise to myself that I would train as much as I could, for as long as I could. When I did my first ever trail run up Wasson Peak I fell in love with being out in nature and being able to see things I’ve never seen before. Shortly after that first trail run, I was out exploring trails all throughout Tucson. During this time, I was also training for triathlons so trail running complimented that training perfectly.

Lucas Crooks 225 to 150

If you had a single piece of invaluable advice to give yourself before the journey began, what would you express?

The advice I would give to myself is to be consistent. My fitness journey began when I was 220lbs and trying to lose weight and get in shape. It is so important to be consistent and I didn’t realize that until a couple of years after I got down to 155lbs. Consistency compounds.

What motivates you to get out the door?

It is hard to say specifically what motivates me because motivation comes and goes. Some days I am extra motivated and some days Im not. I would say self discipline is what gets me out the door everyday. My mentor, John Maxwell says, “Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing. That is the Law of Consistency.” If I do need a but of motivation however I do enjoy watching videos of other runners and their stories of overcoming adversity!

Sabino Canyon has so many trails and routes. Some that begin and extend beyond the confines of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Where do you find yourself most often running? Why?

Phoneline Trail | Sabino Canyon

If I am not running around my house on the roads, or on the treadmill (I know.. so boring but 100 degree temps are crazy), I find myself on Phoneline Trail or somewhere in Catalina State Park. I love the Phoneline Loop because I can hit the trails for the climbs and then have a fast descent on the tram road!

On average, how many miles are you putting in on a given week? And what is the ratio of trail to road/track miles?

On average, throughout the year, I would say its around 45-50 miles per week. ~2,500 miles a year. That number goes up if I am training for a marathon and goes down when I am not training for anything specific. Its hard to give a ratio because usually in the summer, I am not doing much trail running, but when it starts to cool off I could have a whole week of just trail running! I like to mix things up and keep things fun!

What was your first race? What was the biggest single lesson of that first race?

My first race was actually a marathon. This was at the beginning of my weight loss journey. I ran the Rock N Roll Marathon in Washington DC and it was the hardest thing I have ever done (probably because I was undertrained and a but over confident haha). After that race, I quit running for like 5 months. I learned so much that first race about burnout, consistency, and having a good training plan (not winging it).

2021 Bryce Canyon Ultra | Lucas Crooks (left) Luis Leon (right)

Since that first race, how big has that collection of races grown? And what are some of the lessons that you've learned since?

Since that first race, I have run another marathon (2:55) done two 70.3 Triathlons, numerous smaller road races, the El tour De Tucson, numerous smaller triathlons, and paced my friend Luis Leon during the Bryce Canyon 100 mile. Although that wasn’t an official race for me, I learned a lot about ultra running and how badass ultra runners are!

El Tour de 2021 Tucson 100 Miler

With all the race distances that you've run? Is there a favorite distance? A preferred surface?

The marathon is probably my favorite distance. It is the perfect distance to push the pace and race with guts. Just writing this gets me excited about racing another marathon!

Gear in general is so subjective. Before we begin breaking down the gear that you use, what is the one piece of gear that is the highlight of your arsenal?

My Garmin Forerunner has to be the highlight of my arsenal. I love my Garmin watch and the data I can collect with it.

Footwear is such a personal preference. Perhaps more than any other piece of gear. With that put aside, what is your preference when running on the trails in Sabino Canyon. Why? And what is it about them that elevates your running?

I either run with the Hoka Speedgoats or Nike Terra Kiger. Both are excellent shoes. I like the Terra Kiger for faster paces and the Speedgoats for longer slower paces. If I had to chose just one, It would be the Speedgoats. They are so comfy!

Everyone Runs | Catalina State Park | April 3, 2022

Bottoms and tops. We live in such a mild climate here in the desert. With the assumption that it's not freezing outside...what's the garb your wear?

99% of the time I am in shorts and a tank top. If it gets really hot, just shorts. When it gets cold out you will usually find me in the same clothes. I just add a pair of gloves 🙂

So many ways to pierce the dark of the trail at night. Headlamps, handheld lights, belt lights, and so on. How are you illuminating the trail?

I have only ran at night once haha. I used a headlamp and it worked perfectly.

From the heat of the summer, to the cooler temps in the winter. Whether we are running longer distances, or shorter mileage. There are so many ways for us to haul our water and essential gear. Handhelds, waistbelts, and vests. What are you utilizing (brands/models) dependent on conditions and distance?

For trail running I use the Northface Flight Vest. Its lightweight and can carry a lot! If I need just a handheld bottle, I use the Nathan SpeedDraw.

The watch. That digital device that so many runners utilize as a tool to elevate their running. So many to choose from that it can be overwhelming for some to decide what is enough, and what is too much dependent on their goals (Coros, Suunto, Polar, Garmin, and so on). What are you using currently (brand/model)? And how do you feel it elevates your running? What advice would you give someone that is early in their trail running journey on the purchase of a watch?

I use the Garmin Forerunner 935. I love the watch and Garmin products the most! The data it provides (pace, heart rate, cadence, etc) is very useful and I love looking at it when I am done running. For new runners, I think that’s when the watch and a heart rate monitor (get a chest strap for best accuracy) can be very handy. You can use the two in conjunction to monitor effort and make sure you are running in the correct zones. Once you are more experienced, you can go more off feel and stuff but to initially build a good aerobic base the watch and heart rate monitor will be your best friend!

Everyone Runs Veterans Day Half Marathon | Catalina State Park | November 14, 2021

Are trekking poles an option in your arsenal? For those that may choose to make use of these tools, what would you recommend to them?

I don’t have trekking poles! I have heard they are a life saver though for ultra runners, especially on courses with lots of vert!

Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, Paleo, and so on. So many dietary lifestyles out there. All with advantages and disadvantages dependent on whom you speak to or their bias. Or simply just eating healthy or not. Where are you in this endless debate?

I was Keto when I was trying to lose weight, but I don’t necessarily recommend that diet/lifestyle. like all diets, I think they are a tool that can be used. However, I believe whatever you can stick to consistently to meet YOUR goals, is the most important. With that being said, I am on no particular diet right now. I eat everything. If I were to stick to a diet/lifestyle in the future it would be eating food that don’t cause inflammation and trying to keep blood sugar low and consistent.

Whether it is 110f or 35f, hydration is the utmost of importance. We can go without calories, but we must be hydrated. An added layer to that hydration is electrolytes. With so many choices such as drink mixes, salt sticks, electrolyte capsules, and so do you incorporate electrolytes? And what method(s) do you utilize to stay on top of your hydration?

Unless my run is over 10 miles (or a lot of intensity), I usually just drink water or nothing at all. Then I hydrate after. My go-to electrolytes mix is Skratch. I use Maurten as well but it doesn’t have much electrolytes.

Gels, drink mixes, chews, and a multitude of new options added to the selection of choices before us. Or perhaps you are fat-adapted? How do you stay fueled on the trail? Do you have a formula in which you decide calories needed?

My first run/workout of the day is usually fasted unless its an intense workout. My favorite product to stay fueled is Maurten and Skratch. I don’t necessarily have a formula but id rather over fuel than under fuel!

What nutritional methods do you utilize to recover post-run/post-race?

I take a lot of vitamin and supplements. I always try to eat and drink after a workout! A hot bath is always good if I am really sore!


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