A Conversational Pace – Bret Jorgensen on Low & High Stoke, Mason Williams, and Aid Stations as a Gateway Drug

When I first started this Conversational Pace series (and really Leggggs in general), I really didn’t have a plan for how it would be managed. Would I just reach out to some friendlies? Would I try to get some “big names?” Will anyone care? I still don’t have any concrete answers to any of that, outside of “maybe,” I do know that using this series as a way to connect with and know more about amateur runners in this community has proven pretty rad.

Case in point, Bret Jorgensen. I first stumbled across Bret’s IG as a suggested follow. After peepin a few shots on his feed and watching a couple stories, there was this blend of humanity, adventure, inspiration, and reality that just seemed to make Bret magnetic. So I did what anyone would do: I cold-reached out via DM, asked if he’d be down to be featured on Legggggs, and crossed my fingers. That brings us here. Leggggs, meet Bret. Bret, this is Leggggs.

Leggggs: Let’s kick this off: Who are ya? Where can we find you? And what do you do?

Bret Jorgenson: I’m Bret Jorgensen. On Instagram, I am @bretfromreallife.

I have two jobs, the first is as a coffee roaster for a small specialty coffee company called Velton’s Coffee. We’re hella small, but if I don’t say so myself, also hella good. The second job is for a little running shop in the Magnolia neighborhood in Seattle called Seven Hills Running Shop. We’re a trail-running-focused shop!

When I’m not working, I’m running some city trails, such as Carkeek and Discovery Park, either solo, or usually with friends from the Cowgill Trail Collective.

Leggggs: Seven Hills, sweet. Another shop I need to check out. Ok, so, what’s your personal mission? If you had to sum yourself up in one sentence, what is it?

BJ: There’s a punk band called Flux that has an album named “strive to survive causing the least suffering possible” and I’d say that sums up what I’m all about.

Leggggs: How have I not heard of Flux? That’s a rad summation for anything, especially one’s self. Alright so, when did you first get into running? Why?

BJ: I got into running in late 2018 (I think). In all honesty, I started running because I was always in awe that people could even run. I smoked since high school, and with my new found lung power I thought that I’d give it a try. It was hard as hell, but for some strange reason I kept trying. My wife and I got fitbits, so I set mine to kilometers because it made me feel better about myself when I could finally run one without stopping. Eventually I was able to run 5K, so I switched it to miles. The rest is history!

Leggggs: That metric system, man. It has its merits. So now that you’re into it, what type of run gets you going most? Essentially, what is your fave type of running?

BJ: Adventure runs! Ridgelines! Alpine lakes! Trails trails trails! I love getting into the wilderness and seeing things you have to work to see. I love the feeling of being a couple ridgelines away from the trailhead, and then being snapped back into reality by a plane passing by overhead, reminding me that I do in fact live in a world with people that I will eventually run back into.

Leggggs: Well said. Well…. said. I’ve thought that same thing on the trails. But never knew how to put it so honestly.
Let’s dig in to your favorite run. What, when, who, how, where, etc.

BJ: That is incredibly hard to nail down. I’d say the one that rings loudest in recent memory would be a loop I ran with Cowgill in June in an area called Teanaway. It had it all. Forest, off-trail ridgelines, sorta sketchy and super steep glissading down late season snowpack, 4 summits, some descents that looked straight out of a Salomon video, finished off by 6 miles of runnable downhill that I somehow didn’t feel completely wrecked by.

Leggggs: Conversely, what has been the worst run of your life? What made it terrible and how did you push through (if you did)?

BJ: Ooh! This one is still fresh. The White River 50 Mile in July. It got super hot, and I was 100% not checked in mentally. I just did not want to be there. The stoke was so low. I tried dropping at 10 miles, but my wife and our friend convinced me to keep going. I knew a friend was working at an aid station at more or less the halfway point which was also the Start/Finish area. I decided to make it there at least. So I did and dropped there. In retrospect, it kinda sucks, because I know I had the legs, but the brain was just not in it at all. The silver lining to it all is now I have unfinished business with this race, so I’ll be back next year.

Leggggs: Great mindset, man. That sounds equal parts awful and, I don’t know, educational? Knowing you had the legs, though, what about the gear? What’s some running gear you can’t live without?

BJ: The one thing I have on every run would probably be my watch. I guess I’m a Coros person? I’m rocking a Vertix right now. 

Leggggs: How about shoes: What are you go-to shoes for road / trail / recovery / short runs / long runs?

BJ: My favorite trail shoes right now are my Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3’s! As for road shoes, I’m not actually stoked on anything, but wear Hoka Mach 5’s for general runs, and Rincon 3’s if I want something soft. For recovery, I have some Hoka Slides!

Leggggs: I got those Oofos for recovery, but considered the Hokas. Maybe will check those out when I am through these.
Okay, so, what’s a quote you repeat to yourself mid-run when shit is getting real real?

BJ: There’s a quote from a runner named Ladia Albertson-Junkans that I wrote on a piece of paper and kept in my pocket during the Canyons 100k, which is now sitting on my refrigerator that says “embrace everything as it is, as it comes.” That’s a pretty solid mantra if you ask me.

Leggggs: Yesssssss. I couldn’t agree more. The lightning rod question now: Headphones or no headphones when running?

BJ: Depends on the situation. If it’s a run commute, or something on roads, probably headphones. Trails, probably not.

Leggggs: On the topic of tunes, What’s your pump up music for running? What’s your perfect song?

BJ: For me, the perfect running song is Classical Gas by Mason Williams. It’s an instrumental built around classical guitar, with a super rad chamber-pop sorta horn section. A freakin banger I tell ya what.  As for pump-up music, ironically it’s probably Pictures of Success by Rilo Kiley.

Leggggs: How do you convince yourself to run when you really don’t feel like it?

BJ: Knowing that there’s someone waiting on me usually helps, so during periods of low motivation, I like to hit people up and make a plan to run. Usually early, like 6:30 am or something. That way, I have to wake up and meet them, otherwise, I’m a jerk. Other times I remind myself that I have never once regretted a run. Other times, I try to be kind to myself if the reason for not wanting to run is injury or burn out. I’m trying to do this for a long time, and I’m trying to have it bring joy to my life. If I truly don’t wanna get out, I just won’t. 

Leggggs: That accountability thing is a good trick. Gonna steal that when I make more friends.
What are some of your bucket list places to run?

BJ: Colorado and Peru are the first that come to mind. That and one of the UTMB races.

Leggggs: I’ve been getting some amazing answers to this question, so I am stoked to hear your answer: What no-bullshit advice would you say to inspire a person to start running?

BJ: I don’t know if I’m the sort of person to give anyone advice haha. I am however just so stoked on running, and adventures, that if someone had a little sapling of interest in the sport, they might be inspired to go out and see what it is I’m so damn excited about. Running is one of those weird things that if you’re on the outside looking in, the appeal is not apparent at all. Like, why would anyone wake up early just to “suffer”? Though if someone is already curious, and is looking to maybe get outside and see what it’s all about, I’d suggest volunteering at a local trail race. The community is so welcoming, and honestly just the best thing out there, I don’t see how anyone wouldn’t want to become involved in some capacity. Working aid stations is a gateway drug.

Leggggs: 10000000000% yes. Just be stoked. Who do you have to thank for where you are in your running journey?

BJ: My friend Christopher Gregory. When I felt all alone, and ran by myself all the time, I would join some random group runs I found on meetup and stuff, and I never really felt like I belonged. I eventually did some runs with the Salomon run club, but that ended. I did another group run, and Chris recognized me from the Salomon runs. I was standing all by myself and I heard my name. So I ran with him that night, and eventually met up and did some runs just him and I. We went on to have a great summer of adventures, and now he’s a dear friend of mine. I credit him with breaking me out of my shell. He’s the best dude.

Also my wife, Jenny. She puts up with a lot of early morning alarm clocks, and my constantly stinky self.

Leggggs: Wives, man. Unsung heroes. And speaking of stinky selves, what races are you eyeing in the near or not-near future?

BJ: I was supposed to run my first 100 Sept 17th, but I injured myself a while back and the training took a hit. So I’m running the Teenyway 50k that day instead. I’m eyeing the Gorge Waterfalls 100k next year though. If I can get into CCC, I’ll hella run that.

Leggggs: I am doing the Gorge Waterfalls 50K, so I may see you around there if you do the 100K. Alright, what else do you want to get in while we got some time left?

BJ: Arc’teryx Seattle hooks me up with shoes and other running gear. On top of being a rad brand, they are doing so much to promote races and runners in the PNW, and they are such a valuable resource for community and advice.

Obviously, ya’ll should follow Cowgill Trail Collective on Instagram and Strava. If you ever need your stoke stoked, that is the group to do it!

Seven Hills Running Shop! Even if you’re not trying to buy shoes, if you were to come in and just ask for trail recommendations, or advice for your race or whatever, every single person that works there would be more than excited to help out!

Leggggs: Any parting shots for the Leggggs community?

BJ: I think it is super important to be kind to yourself. So much emphasis is put on “crushing that race” or “ripping that trail.” I think it’s beneficial to remember that everything we do in the running world is totally extracurricular. No one is making us do this, and at the end of the day it’s no one’s business but our own. If anyone makes you feel less than because you’re not running as fast as someone else, or not running the same races everyone in your Strava feed is running, then F them. Ain’t no one got time for that. Running is hard. It’s as simple as that. I’m proud of every single person every single time they show up. Be proud of yourself too.

Massive thanks to Bret for taking some time to chat with us. Give him a follow on Instagram to stay up to date on his epic adventures.

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