A Conversational Pace – Jeremy Smith on running in Japan, vintage meshbacks, and doing good in a world of capitalism.

Jeremy is the co-founder of Standard & Strange and one of those people in your life that will never bullshit you but always give you shit when necessary. He’s also an appreciator of a good shower beer, well-made clothing, and running through the streets and hills of Japan.

In my younger days (read: early 20’s), I seriously cared about “men’s lifestyle and fashion.” This came to life in the form of the Momentum of Failure, a blog about, well, men’s lifestyle and fashion. And goddamn it was a fun time in my life. Parties, booze, eating disorders, brand partnerships, and, honestly, best of all, lasting friendships. (Queue FRIENDS FOREVER by Zach Attack.) 

One of the best connections made was Jeremy Smith, now Founder and Owner of Standard and Strange, then Founder and Owner of Cedar Cycling (which is not around anymore sadly), and also the first person I knew to really call a brand out on their bullshit. “Ideated in the USA and made in the USA are two different things entirely, bro.” (Editor’s note: Jeremy may or may not have actually said this. I don’t remember every convo we had. But there was a lot of this type of back and forth…)

Over the last 10+ years, we have remained friends. I send him links to shit I want to buy. He gives me the reasons I should or shouldn’t, then mocks me for asking honest questions… but in a way that’s what a good friend should do, right? RIGHT? Right. Recently, our conversations have been geared towards running; injuries, products, mileage… all that good stuff. And I couldn’t be more stoked to have him sound off in the Leggggs community. So, today, let’s talk about wide shoes, Japanese clothing, Damn Yankees, and whatever else comes up. 

Leggggs: Jeremy. Hey dude. Thanks again for being the actual first person to agree to do this feature. You said yes before I even started Leggggs, and it only took us 4-5 months to make it happen. Record time for us. So let’s just. Who, what, where why…

Jeremy Smith: I am Jeremy Smith, and you can find me at my poorly updated Instagram, @jeremybsmith, and professionally at my shop, @standardandstrange (standardandstrange.com). Don’t bother with LinkedIn or Facebook. I co-founded and run Standard & Strange; we deal in the best of the best in Japanese brands for leather, denim, and boots, along with a few other brands that fit into our goal to sell only the best.

Leggggs: I’ve known you for a long time, since back when I ran the now-defunct, Momentum of Failure blog. And you’ve always had good words of wisdom when it came to doing good, and not being a piece of garbage in the world. What would you say your personal mission is?

JBS: That’s tough. I think as I age, I’m more concerned with doing good in the world, and being a role model for my industry on how you can participate in capitalism without being a complete piece of shit.

I’m concerned with doing good in the world, and being a role model for my industry on how you can participate in capitalism without being a complete piece of shit.

Jeremy Smith

Leggggs: There’s that precision. So, why we’re here sorta, is to talk a bit about running. When did you first get into running? And why?

JBS: It was first in middle school, then seriously in high school. I didn’t love team sports but wanted a sport. Plus the portability of it appealed to me—no need for anything other than shorts and shoes at the end of the day.

Leggggs: That’s definitely a huge bonus feature of running. Depends on who you ask, I guess, but it does have a relatively low buy-in compared to, hockey, or something with a ton of pads and shit.
So that said, what is your favorite type of running that you do?

JBS: I love running when I’m traveling for work – I think my favorite runs are in Japan; in any environment, urban or city. 

Leggggs: Hell yeah, man. Anytime you send me your pictures from a Japan run, or I see your Strava, I get jealous. Stoked to get out there someday. With work-travel runs being your fave type, what’s been your favorite run in general?

JBS: I did a 10k in the countryside / small town Japan. Headed to the local river from my friends’ house and just followed it, grabbing a pocari sweat at every vending machine along the way. It was very chill and scenic.

Leggggs: Definitely googled pocari sweat, thinking “beer…” Seems like a superpower drink or maybe a smartwater. Either way, I don’t find the word sweat to be at all jarring in this context for some reason. What, then has been the worst run of your life? (Seems so dramatic and need to edit this whole line of questioning…)

JBS: I wanted to knock out a 20k for my 45th birthday, and had just gotten over a case of salmonella. It was weirdly hot in the bay area that day, and I blew up before mile 5, ran out of water, got heat exhaustion, got lost while delusional from the heat, and somehow buttoned up the 20k a few blocks from home.

Extending on this, the last 6 months have been hell until I quit my antidepressant. It felt like my legs had just gone away completely, and I was struggling to get through more than a 5k and could barely get under 10min miles. 3 weeks off and I’m starting to work back to my 8min/mile training pace.

Leggggs: Dude that is rough. On both accounts, but especially the antidepressants thing. Glad you’re on the mend now, man. This seems like such a mind-numbing question, but what is some gear you can’t go without when you’re running?

JBS: There’s very little I really need. What I pack is always my phone carrier, Jabra sport earbuds, obv shoes, and always, always my vintage Stroh’s Beer meshback.

Leggggs: “Obviously shoes.” Yes, that goes without saying, sorta. But, since it was said, what are your go-to shoes for road, trail, race, etc?

JBS: Hoka Clifton 8 / Speedgoat / Rincon / is my lineup. Adding some Mach 5 next. Shoutout to every shoe brand that refuses to make their good shoes in wide widths. 

New contenders for me – full reviews soon. The brand black kaiju (sized up 1 whole size to get my width) and the Saucony Endorphine Speed 3 also gets enough width ½ size up

Leggggs: Thanks for the tip on Brand Black, btw. Their lux slides look ridiculously comfortable, among the rest of their lineup.
Back to you – Do you have a quote you repeat to yourself during a run when shit is getting real?

JBS: Not really. In high school, I’d get a song from the Damn Yankees stuck in my head on repeat all the time during races, which I blame the school bus radio for.

Now it can be stuck in your heads too, Leggggs peeps.

Leggggs: Man, I LOVED Damn Yankees. High Enough was a banger. Speaking of music: Headphones or no headphones when running?

JBS: Always headphones.

Leggggs: You’re the first to declare absolutely one way or another on that topic. Appreciate the forthrightness. So what, then, is your music of choice?

JBS: Right now: ASG – Gallop Song, Early Man – Fight.

Leggggs: Two bands I have not heard of. Sweet. And yeah I could see how that would get you going…
But, how do you convince yourself to run when you’re not feelin it?

JBS: I work out 6 days a week with a minimum bar of 20 minutes of running. My rest day, I try to rack up about 5 miles of walking.

Leggggs: And what about race plans or goal runs… What’s on the horizon?

JBS: None but I’ve got some non-race plans – run up and over Mt. Diablo here in the bay, and then Kobe-> Osaka next time I’m in Japan. Long term goal is to from bottom to top of Japan for my 50th birthday, looking at about 90 days to do it.

Leggggs: Like I said, I am in for that, either part of it or all. What about bucket list places to run?

JBS: See above. But also I’m good with wherever I’m running, so I don’t have a hit list for that.

Leggggs: Fair, fair! Since I have looked to you, and still do, for no bullshit advice, what do you have in terms of words of wisdom for anyone looking to get into running?

JBS: If you can run a block, you can run a mile. Won’t be fun at first but it will get easier and funner.

If you can run a block, you can run a mile. Won’t be fun at first but it will get easier and funner.

Leggggs: Winding down, who do you have to thank for where you are in your running journey?

JBS: My wife and their daily streak has been motivational for me to keep on going. Also the general Instagram running community for reminding me to get out and move my legs.

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

JBS: All runners with wide feet should band together and gang up on the shoe companies for not offering us the top-tier shoes.

Legggggs: Fair enough, and I wish you the best in that endeavor. Seriously. That isn’t sarcasm.

I want to thank Jeremy for spending time with us today and agreeing to be a part of the Leggggs story. Be sure to check out Standard and Strange as well as give Jeremy and the shop a follow on Instagram.

Good things. Good things.

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