A Conversational Pace – Ryan Yambra on Rational Optimism, Running Tights, and Rose City Track Club

Back, back, way back, I used to have no friends because I had just moved to Portland from San Diego. I shouldn’t say I had NO friends. I had a few, but also, it’s sorta tough making new friends when you’re nearing 40, just moved to a new place, and pretty regularly like to watch Always Sunny on Hulu versus “attending local events.” All this to say, it wasn’t until I ran the 2021 Portland Marathon that I got introduced to Rose City Track Club (mainly because some dude in an RCTC singlet passed me around mile 16, and I vowed to find out who it was…)

Who I was trying to hunt down wasn’t Ryan Yambra, the marketing lead for Rose City Track Club, but it is who I first started talking to when I realized this club even existed.

Leggggs: Hello hello! Stoked to chat with you, Ryan. Off the bat, can you just give us a quick intro and where we can find you?

Ryan Yambra: I’m Ryan Yambra. I’m the marketing lead for Rose City Track Club in my spare time. And for work, I’m a public servant! I work as a spokesperson for Multnomah County. I am online at @ryanyambra.

Leggggs: Not to get all grandiose with you, but, what is your personal mission in life? If you had to sum yourself up in one sentence, what is it?

RY: My personal mission is rational optimism. My goal is to spread awareness about the real progress made to alleviate human suffering on a global scale. And the work that must continue to further improve the global standard of living.

To sum myself up in one sentence, I am a coffee fanatic, bibliophile, and endurance junkie with an ice cream problem. 

“Screw loose, shit together”

Ryan Yambra

Leggggs: When and why did you first get into running?

RY: I originally got into running to get in shape. I lost 100 pounds in the process. Then I ran my first race and everything changed. Now I’m training to run a sub-3:00.

Leggggs: What type of run gets you going most?

RY: [I love] trail recovery runs. Nothing makes me happier than running easy on a trail in Central Oregon, surrounded by ponderosa and the smell of the sage and juniper.

Leggggs: Damn. Now you got me wanting to hit up Central Oregon. That sounds downright delightful. On that note, tell me about your favorite run ever. What, why, where, how, who, when….all that.

RY: Ascending from Lake Louise in Banff, Canada and running through the Alberta Rockies this summer on a road trip with my girlfriend. My jaw dropped when I found myself surrounded by the jagged peaks. In that moment, I felt THIS was what trail running is supposed to feel like!

Leggggs: Just gonna let that one resonate and remain for a second…. damn. Alright, back to it: What, conversely, was the worst run of your life?

RY: January 2022 – slipped on ice while running in Hood River and bumped my knee. I got prepatellar bursitis that took months to go away!

Leggggs: Ouch, man. No bueno. What is some running gear you cannot live without?

RY:  Honestly, any pair of running tights with a good set of pockets on the thighs.

Leggggs: I second that. Pockets, GOOD pockets, are everything. Let’s talk shoes. What are your go-to’s for road / trail / recovery / short runs / long runs?


  • Road speed and long runs: Saucony Endorphin Speed
  • Recovery: Saucony Endorphin Shift
  • Trail: Hoka Speedgoat 
  • Honorable mention: Altra Escalante

Leggggs: I run pretty exclusively in Nikes, so hearing no Swoosh on your list intrigues me. Dig. Okay, so what’s a quote you repeat to yourself mid-run when shit is getting real real?

RY: “Screw loose, shit together”

Leggggs: I have no idea what that means, but it also makes perfect sense? Now to get to some controversial shit… Headphones or no headphones when running?

RY: Headphones! I love listening to podcasts about economics, finance, politics, anthropology, astronomy, history, etc.

Leggggs: I get you. That said, what’s your pump-up music for running? What’s your perfect song?

RY: “Physical” by Dua Lipa or anything by Charli XCX. Or “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard!

Be sure to check out the Conversational Pace playlist to hear all these jams.

Leggggs: How do you convince yourself to run when you really dont feel like it?

RY: Running feels like breathing now. I just do it. But it can always be motivating to think about the reward I’ll feel afterwards.

Leggggs: Just do it should be a motto or something. Speaking of just doing it, what races are you eyeing in the near or not-near future?

RY: I had a disappointing CIM in 2021. I think I have some unfinished business with that course. I also want to check out the Newport Marathon. I love the Oregon coast, and it sounds like this race punches above its weight! I also just registered for the 2023 Houston Marathon.

Leggggs: Bucket list place(s) to run:

RY: Zion, Utah and Sedona, Arizona

Leggggs: What no-bullshit advice would you say to inspire a person to start running?

RY: It’s going to hurt sometimes. The human body is way more resilient than you think. Know the difference between pain and discomfort.

Leggggs: Who do you have to thank for where in your running journey?

RY: Marc Jolin, the former director of Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services. He inspired me to run purposefully and introduced me to a running community.

Leggggs: Finally, any parting shots for the Leggggs community?

RY: Everyone should cultivate a daily practice in their lives. Running can fill that role for many people. I encourage everyone to use running to explore their spiritual side, and use this gift to cultivate their WHY!

I want to thank Ryan for not only dedicating his time to speaking to us today, but also for being the one to kick off the Conversational Pace series.

Find Ryan and learn more about Rose City Track Club* here:

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