A Conversational Pace – Glenn Bona on UTMB goals, murder hornets, and the community of stoke.

You know that part in The Office when Andy says, “I wish you knew when the days were when someone says, ‘Those were the days.’” Or something like that. TFW you look back and realize just how good things were without hindsight being so 20/20 all the time? That’s how I recall the heydays with Glenn Bona, or BONEZ if you’re nasty (and follow him on IG), when we worked at the same agency in San Diego, doing digital marketing bullshit to pay the bills, and before we took to running in the same form as we do now. Though, he was seriously into it and seeing the world on his feet long before I was. IRREGARDLESS. 

“Funny to look back at those pictures and realize how much healthier we are now.” Glenn opines in an IG DM convo we had. Granted, the picture in question is of us in the office break room holding up a bottle of Costco-sized vodka (from Costco because DEAL!) for one of the very-frequent company happy hours. (Nothin like some booze to ply the workers to stay late… But it worked and we were happy. Who’s complaining? Fuck your core values. We gotta eat and drink…) 

But, again, those were those days. And they were fun. But we are here now, and I’d wager we are having a better time. Especially Glenn. “I just want to see the world on foot,” he told me, when I casually asked about his motivation for running. And, now, I can’t think of a better way to see the world. Between UTMB training, Thailand adventures, and doing the digital nomad thing, Glenn (sorta) actually sat down with Leggggs to chat about the above good ol’ days, hornets the size of small cars and the crossroads between digital marketing and running.

full transcript below

Leggggs: All right, sweet. Well, Glenn, thank you so much again. Um, Oh, we had nice today before we hit record. Now it’s not gonna make sense to people. . Um, Awesome. All well, we’re here to do the legs interview. Um, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna start it off. I’m just gonna start firing the questions out and you can just answer ’em as verbose and as grandiose and all the other ose’s as you want.

Glenn Bona: How about hum humble-ose?

Leggggs: You know, I think we should trademark that. All right, cool. So, um, yeah, just starting at the beginning. Who are you, man? Where can we find you online? What do we need to do to figure out where you are?

GB: Yeah, so my name’s Glenn. You can find me on Strava as Glenn Gabriel Bona and on Instagram if you’re into that, at stokes.zip, um, spelled like it sounds.

And then I also have a podcast that I need to, uh, rebirth. It’s called Nomad Wolf. I also interview other trail and, um, endurance-minded people. Me and my buddy, Ben, I’ll talk about him later in this interview… We started up a little side, uh, project that kind of is still figuring itself out.

Leggggs: Sweet lot, a lot of places. Dig it. Yep. Um, yeah, I wanna know more about that, that podcast, so we’ll talk about that in a second. So outside of, uh, outside of podcasting and running and, um, Yeah, just being, being you, uh, what, what do you do?

GB: Yeah, so outside of eating, sleeping, and running, which is pretty much all that I do, I’m an SEO and content strategist at an agency called Omniscient Digital. We help tech and B2B SaaS companies fill up their funnel and also drive conversions and leads.

Leggggs: Nice, Nice. Content, man. Everyone needs content. I love content.

GB: Yeah, content. I know you love content.

Leggggs: That’s good. Um, alright, so, switching gears a little bit as they say. What’s your personal mission like, if you, if you had to sum yourself up maybe in one sentence.

GB: Oh man. Yeah, I had to think this one over a little bit because I did, I want to be too grandiose about it. Like, “You know, if David Goggins is doing this, then what is Glen doing?”

Leggggs: Right? Disclaimer, Glen has seen these questions before now. Spoiler alert. Spoiler alert.

GB: I’ve come prepared. I always come prepared for these.

Leggggs: I love it.

GB: So yeah. I think my personal mission is mostly to put myself in places that I’ve never expected of myself. And then hopefully that inspires others to also put themselves in places, whether that’s physically in the world, so outside of their current bubble that they might just live in. Um, and just explore more of themselves and of the world by foot.

Leggggs: Nice. Um, Okay, so this is a curve ball. Kind of just follow up to that—this is not on the questions list. Um, what’s the first step, no pun intended, for someone to just kind of like, take that, take that leap into exploring the world by foot? Like what it’s like the, what was the tip?

GB: Um, I guess the biggest tip that has enabled me to explore more of the world by foot is to just sign up for a race in a very different city or in a very different place that you’re used to and then just train for that thing and then get to the start line.

Um, I feel like traveling has kind of been, more or less like, I don’t wanna say routine, because everybody’s travel experience is very different, right?

But for the most part, I think with social media, you kind of just do things for the gram. You see places for the gram and. You kind of just take the photo and say that you’ve been there and stuff like that. And in essence, I think that traveling has been… it still serves its purpose for the person experiencing it, but I feel like we’re almost doing it for other things and maybe the wrong things.

And why I push for racing in different places is because the phone’s away, you’re just interacting with the environment. You’re seeing things by foot that you normally wouldn’t see if you weren’t running a race there.

Leggggs: Oh, good call, man. Like so yeah, exploring the new city by foot instead of by car, by tourist charter or something like that.

That’s really cool. I like that. Yeah. Um, all alright, good segue into another tip: why did you get into running or when did you get into running, and then why?

GB: Um, so, you know, I’ve done the casual half marathon in San Diego years before I actually took running seriously. So I first legitimately got into running when I was training for my first marathon, just because I thought a marathon was such a huge feat in my head.

And it still is. Don’t let me downplay anybody training for a marathon or doing that sort of effort.

For me personally, it was a bucket list item. I wanted to do one before I turned 30, and I thought it was just gonna be a one-and-done thing. But during the whole training process, I noticed that the more things that I had on my plate, whether it was like training and also work and other things, the more I was able to just, you know, stick to my guns and stick to commitments.

And I don’t know, I just found out more about myself in that process, and I just wanted to keep that process close to me and just fall in love with it even more. So it just became more serious after that.

Leggggs: Yeah, definitely. Um, Yeah, that’s a good story. In the last interview we had, the guy mentioned that, getting into running, working at an aid station, for instance, was kind of like a gateway drug to getting into the whole scene.

Similar, yeah. Training for a marathon…getting that routine, understanding what your body can do. Pushing and pushing and then being like, “Holy shit, I did it. Yeah. Let’s what else it can do, Right?”

GB: Exactly. It’s always going after that curiosity. Going after that curiosity always makes life way more interesting.

Going after that curiosity always makes life way more interesting.

Glenn Bona

Leggggs: I dig it. What type of run gets you the most stoked? What, what gets you going in the most? What’s your favorite?

GB: This answer is, Yeah. This answer is pretty short and sweet: Long runs on the trail with.

Leggggs: Boom.

GB: Boom. It’s exponentially better when you share it with someone because the struggle is just shared and spread amongst everyone. And I’m not saying that we always struggle together, but like other people will always uplift the other one during that long run.

And I don’t know, it’s just a good excuse to be out in nature experiencing things again with just the environment and the sensory overload that is being out in nature on a trail with your friends. You don’t know what you’re gonna see. You don’t know what the weather’s gonna be like that day, and you always come back with a story to tell. And I just, I just love those like five-hour or longer missions where you’re just out there and you don’t know what the day is gonna bring, but it’s gonna be awesome.

Leggggs: Yeah, like, nothing to answer to except for those around you and your legs. Basically. Just keep going. Yeah. Yeah.

GB: Your legs with 4g’s!

Leggggs: That was not a product placement, I promise. Alright, so then on that note, um, do you have like a particular favorite run that stands out in your mind from one of those five-hour missions? Who was it with? Where was it?

GB: So this was, I think back in October. I was training for my first a hundred miler, and I was with two friends that, were also training for the same a hundred miler. It was a race that was supposed to take place in December of 2020…? 2021? We’re in 2022 now, right?

Leggggs: Time’s a flat circle. I have no idea…

GB: Well after Covid. It’s just like…the covid years… I think it was 2021. Anyways, so we are both training… or all three of us were training for our first a hundred and, it was during our peak training week.

So there was like a three-week block where you’re just after fitness… you’re pushing your limits. So me and my two friends set out to complete a 50K, which is about 30 miles running a mountain loop up in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. You could do three loops and that would land you 40K.

But if you make it down on the other side of the mountain, that adds a little extra to give you the 50, right? It turned out to be 55, but we can go into that later.

Anyway, I remember just recognizing that I was in the best shape of my life, right? And doing 30 miles on Saturday and following that up later was 16 miles on Sunday, with also like 13 miles on that Friday. I was just like, “Yeah, no problem. This is gonna be fun,” Right?

Um, the problem was I gave blood on that Friday after I did 13 miles, and I stupidly just didn’t account for that at all. While I was doing the 30-mile effort, I was, well, not charging. I was like power hiking the second loop. And for some reason I was just was completely out of it, I felt super lightheaded. I was fueling, so I knew it wasn’t a bonk or anything, but I was just struggling, hardcore. And the two friends that I was with, I wouldn’t say that they weren’t physically there. They were pushing and I wasn’t able to keep up, and I knew something was off. Then all of a sudden it just hit me. I was like, “This probably has to do with the fact that I gave blood the day before, you know? Why did I do that? I messed up my fitness,” and in my mind, I was like, “It was for a great cause, blah, blah, blah.”

All of that. Anyway, we made it to the top, and there’s this little village on top of the mountain. The town is called Khun Chang Khian. That’s where we load up on snacks, coffee… and we also have lunch up there. It takes 10 kilometers to make that loop back to the village.

So you hit the village, do 10kms, and then you’re back up there.

We get back to the restaurant, and all of us were just completely dead. It was super hot. I think it was like 1:00 PM. Peak Thai heat. And all of us were just so out of it. I come in last, and then all of a sudden I just see my buddies just like sprawled out. And then I just start laughing because I was just like, “We’re just insane. This is awesome that we’re like all struggling together.” I remind them that I gave blood and they were just like, “Well, you’re here and you made it.” And that was just like a really good reminder that, you know, you could still, I don’t want to, you know, uh, recommend giving blood and like training, but it’s just amazing how like the body and the mind can sort of overpower and push you to your limits and all of that.

It’s just amazing how like the body and the mind can sort of overpower and push you to your limits

Glenn Bona on giving blood then running 30 miles in thai heat

And it’s just awesome to, again, share that suffer with, two other people that, you know, we’re training for this really big project. And to see it pan out and have the memories like that, it’s just incredible.

Leggggs: I think the name of this episode is gonna be called like, “Do not recommend donating blood before running 30 miles” or something. It’s a work in progress. I’ll work on it.

GB: We can make it more click baity… but I mean…

Leggggs: 10 reasons not to, but number four will surprise you. Um, dude, that is, that’s one of the best running stories I’ve ever heard. I’m not gonna lie, I’m not just saying that because we’re recording or because you’re on camera.

That’s fucking awesome.

GB: You should hear my next one.

Legggs: Is that the follow-up about the worst running story? Let’s just jump into it since this…

GB: This one’s gonna blow that, that first one out of the water. So this one took place a week before the best run of my life, right?

It was with one of the training partners that came up. His name’s Joseph. The other one was Tara, by the way.

Anyways, I was having a really solid training day with Joseph. We did a 50K on Saturday, and then this Sunday one was just 24. So like, kind of half of that. Right? And we are doing the loops up in Khun Chang Khian, except this loop goes all the way up to the summit called Doi Pui, and there’s a segment on Strava where you do 800 feet in about 1.5 kilometers. So it’s a good amount of vert. It’s also really rocky and rooty. So it’s really great training for how the terrain is supposed to be at Thailand by UTMB. Anyways, we like celebrate, we’re like pretty thrashed because of just the weekend, and we’re just gonna head back down and have some beers and stuff like that.

On the way back down, I notice just this huge buzzing thing around my leg, right? I didn’t think anything of it. And then I just like moved my hand, like right next to my thigh and like, I didn’t violently swat it away, but I like moved it and then all of a sudden I just feel this hot electrical knife searing pain in my thigh.

And I just yell. “What the fuck was that?” Right? And, I didn’t even think like about the buzzing thing. I was like, “Okay: one – it’s not a snake because it’s not on my ankle.” And then before I knew it, I was just getting like, hammered with other stings, and then I just freak out.

My buddy called it “cartoon mode” where he just saw me like flail… my poles are strapped to my wrist, and I’m just like charging this downhill segment that’s incredibly technical, and I’m just like running, yelling, flailing… something that you would see out of the movies or a cartoon, right?

Then all of a sudden, I just hear in the back of my head, because my buddies behind me, “Oh shit.” And then all of a sudden he starts yelling. And running, and we’re just like running for our lives pretty much.

So we’re just sprinting down this, this trail and eventually I think I…yeah, I outrun these hornets… these massive hornets, and I feel thrashed. I got this thing on my head, my arms, my back, my legs. And once I get to a clearing and there’s no hornet around me, I look back and I’m just waiting for my friend. I’m yelling my friend’s name. “Joseph, are you alright?” Eventually, he starts coming out of it, coming out of the brush. And then he was just like, “Dude, that was fucked.”

And then I was like, “Yeah, we gotta go. Like we gotta…”

I’m thinking we have to seek medical attention. And it sucks because the trail is somewhat so technical that it would probably take us maybe 20 to 30 minutes to get back to the village that we usually stop and eat at. And we’re obviously freaking out, running down. I remember hearing one of my friends say that he runs with an EpiPen because he’s allergic to bees. I’m not allergic to bees. My buddy isn’t allergic to bees. It was just like a really frantic time. I remember getting back into town, going to this little hole-in-the-wall cafe, and then just pointing at enlarged bumps on my arm and stuff like that.

And then she’s speaking in Thai, and she was just like, mimicking the hornet. She gives me ointment. And then we were just wondering if we could get a ride down from the top of the mountain to the closest hospital. The cafe owner pulls out his pickup truck. We get in—it takes about 40 minutes to get to the closest hospital because, like I said, we’re at the top of this remote mountain.

And the city of Chiang Mai is a really windy drive back. And while we were in the pickup truck trying to calm ourselves and looking at our wounds, my buddy, Joseph stupidly pulls up an article. “Dude, those are Asian giant hornets. And a tour guy died from getting too many stings.” And now we’re counting our stings.

This tour guy had 20, my buddy had 15 on him, and I had 10 on me.

We get to the hospital, and we do blood work. We’re fine. My buddy has to stay over at the hospital just because he’s like 55, training for races like these. And yeah, that was the worst run of my life. Also makes for a great story.

But it gets even better.

So I forgot to say, on the best run of my life, we go back to the cafe of the owner that drove us to the hospital, and we’re sitting down having lunch. It’s amazing that we’re back out there training the week after this incredible experience.

But we go back to the cafe owner, and he obviously recognizes us, and he just has this huge smile on his face. His name is Yaah. And we’re like, “Yaah, you’re happy to see us? We’re super thankful for you taking us to the hospital.” And then he was just like… he had this huge smile on his face and then he was just saying, “กิน (kin)…” something… And “กิน (kin)” in Thailand, or in Thai language, means “to eat.”

And we were like, “Eat? Eat what?”

And then he pulls out his phone, and he shows us his dinner from days before. And he actually went back up to that spot, smoked out the hornets, cooked them, and ate them. And he sealed the hole. So with Asian giant hornets, you couldn’t see the nest because they actually nest underground, right?

Leggggs: I’m looking ’em up right now, by the way.

GB: So he smoked them out, emptied the whole nest, ate them, and then covered the whole with concrete.

Leggggs: Oh my God.

GB: Yeah. This guy… we called him a superhero. We called him Superman and… Yeah, they’re huge. They’re terrifying. They’re the real deal.

Leggggs: Wow. Oh my God. Wow. Well, I’m glad that you only had like 10 and your buddy only had 15 because it sounds like 20 was the tipping point there. Jesus dude. That’s intense.

GB: Yeah, it’s, it, it is intense. It is, uh, a story that not too many people know about. Um, but it’s, it’s been like, you know, about a year, uh, removed since the experience.

Easily, the best story that I can lend.

Leggggs: Yeah, no, I appreciate it, and I’m sure everyone that’s listening will a little appreciate it too.

I guess that’s kind of a good segue too into the next question about gear. Um, outside of like an EpiPen, what’s some gear that that you can’t not run with? Or what’s some of your favorite running gear?

GB: So the gear that I’m probably most obsessed with is the Naked Belt. And it’s pretty much just a runner’s belt. You essentially can strap on anything from your poles to your bib. I keep all my food, or even my cell phone. I even brought like a little film camera on my hundred-mile run in that belt. And now it’s just that essential piece of gear that I would recommend to anybody. Even though I have like a really great Salomon pack, that’s 12 liters for longer missions. I had that plus the naked belt for my 100K at UTMB, and then also the hundred-mile, and it was just perfect. Easy access for your food or your gels or whatever you’re bringing for shorter runs or for longer runs. I love it. Like if I’m wearing basketball shorts on a run and there are no pockets there, I sometimes use that… just use my naked belt in conjunction with no pocket pants or shorts.

To just go out…like it acts like, you know, I can keep my wallet and my phone there, and it’s just easy access.

Leggggs: Yeah, dude, I can just like imagine you out at the club or something with no pockets in your pants, but you’re like, “Whoa, I got it.”

GB: I got it. I, I’m there. I’m always prepared, you know…

Leggggs: “You want my id?”

GB: Exactly. I’m a huge convert so… Running belts in general, but the Naked Belt, I highly recommend it.

Leggggs: All right. Good to know. What’s your footwear looking like? What are your favorite shoes for different terrains? What are you wearing for the road? On the trail?

GB: So, I’m a believer in mixing up your footwear, right? So in terms of differences in stack height, I sometimes train with Altra running shoes because they have that zero foot drop. I don’t run in it all the time. Um, but I like to mix up, um, the stack height and also just the shoe. Um, what I race in is usually a Saucony just because of the foot shape that it, uh, lends to me because I have pretty wide feet.

I’ve noticed that when I run in Saucony, I don’t lose as many toenails, which is also a good thing.

Leggggs: Toenails just slow you down though. Like, I’m glad mine are gone, you know?

GB: Yeah. . Yeah. Did you surgically remove them?

Leggggs: Uh, not yet, but I mean, at this point…

GB: But I actually did the, uh, the 100K CCC in Hoku Speedgoat 5, just because they have a wide-foot option. But I think I would just keep that for shorter races. I do love the cushion there. Um, but for the most part, I think I’m a huge Saucony guy. Um, but I am, uh, really excited for the, that, what is it? The Ultrafly Trails?

Leggggs: Oh yeah.

GB: They look beautiful.

Leggggs: They’re ah, they look so nice.

GB: They’re super lightweight. I think there’s one review on YouTube by The Ginger Runner, and he loved him. So I definitely want to add that to my quiver.

Leggggs: Yeah, they’re doing a lot of like teaser stuff for that. I mean, Tyler Green’s wearing them a lot, and then yeah, I’ve seen the YouTube and uh, I don’t know… I want ’em so bad. . They’ll come out, they’ll come out. It’ll be nice.

GB: Yeah. Do you know when? Is there like a projected…

Leggggs: I heard 2023. That’s all I’ve heard. Um, but I mean, the way time is going, like we’ve mentioned at, at the top of this, like that could be here tomorrow, so.

GB: Exactly.

Leggggs: Yeah. Awesome. Um, alright, cool.

So, I’m gonna switch it up a little bit. Hornets aside, blood draws aside…what is a quote that you repeat to yourself when shit’s getting real on the trail, or road? Like you just need something to keep yourself going. The “I got this” moment. What do you say to yourself?

GB: So this is like a sort of mantra that I’ve come across on, maybe it was like my third Ultra…it was a 80K and I was still recovering from a pretty bad DNF, my first DNF, the race before.

And the mantra is, “Every step is a step of belief.” And when things get really, really, really tough and you’re thinking like, “Oh, I can’t make it,” you have to think of belief as something that you can work towards.

Every step is a step of belief.

Glenn Bona when shit gets real on the trail

And every step that I took inched towards more of that belief that you could finish a race, or you could get to the next checkpoint. And I, yeah, I echoed that mantra to both my friends Tara and Joseph, that I ran the hundred-mile with and they use that mantra as well. And yeah, I don’t know.

I would think that I would come up with an even sweeter mantra. But that one just fits and works at all times, so.

Leggggs: Yeah, I could see that work on like a mile walk or a hundred-mile run. Like, just, just keep going.

GB: Exactly.

Leggggs: Um, well you have headphones in now, but when you run, what’s your thought on headphones versus no headphones?

GB: I go no headphones. It took a while for me to make the transition to no headphones, but I fully appreciate just, it’s again, like interacting and being like in the environment and just like focusing on your breath or what’s around you.

I also feel like running trails, um, especially technical trails, uh, with headphones. It’s like really distracting. You get out of flow. But if you’re running roads, surely. There are times when I put on a really good set or I have like a playlist and those are really great. But for the most part, um, yeah, people ask me like, Oh, what did you listen to on your 100K? And I was like, “Nothing.” I didn’t even bring headphones.

Leggggs: I brought headphones on my first marathon and realized, at like mile 25 and a half or so, that, um, it was a terrible idea. Because you just kind of miss this, miss the stoke, you miss the whole like, fanfare and people yelling your name and all that. And then like, I’m sitting there listening to an Alkaline Trio song that I’ve heard 3000 times before, but I’m like, “Oh man, it’s pump up.” I’ll listen to it afterward.

GB: Exactly. You can celebrate it during your post-run beer.

Leggggs: Exactly. Yeah. Um, speaking of pump-up music, what’s your pump-up jam? What do you use to keep going? Like you said you put on a good list or set? What does that include?

GB: I actually found this on, you know Satisfy Running?

Leggggs: Yeah, of course. … Uh that’s such an asshole answer, like, “Oh, of course. I know Satisfy.” Yeah, I’ve heard, I’ve heard of ’em.

GB: All right. You pay the prices.

Leggggs: I’ve got a couple of their pieces yeah.

GB: So one of their playlists, they have this song called Ecstasy of Gold by Ennio Morricone, and literally, before every big race, I listen to that, and it just gets me in the moment. It’s just, it’s one of those classic songs that you would hear in old vintage film. Like a vintage cowboy film. And I relate it similarly to, you remember that movie Gladiator? Where he squats down, and he picks up the dirt, and he like moves it in his hands like this? And he just gets like, ready, gets in the zone. I put on that. And that just like gets me into the right zone. Into the right, like “I’m gonna crush this,” or, “I’m gonna finish,” and yeah, it’s awesome.

Leggggs: That’s awesome. Um, yeah, like put your, put yourself in that moment. Any song that can do that, that’s a, that’s a winner right there. That’s good. Mm-hmm. . Um, so before that moment, like when you’re sort of talking yourself into getting into running or like, not getting into running, but going for a run, getting into an activity, how do you convince yourself to, to get up, get out the door, do it? What’s your wisdom there?

GB: To be honest, I think right now I don’t need much convincing at this point. It’s more like, if I can get my shoes on, then I’m out the door. Right? So I think the biggest step is just to put your foot in your shoe, and that’s all the convincing that I need. I think for the most part, this is just a lifestyle at this point. Right?

And I remember before I found running or before I got into running, I was always looking for that one hobby or that one sport that would take me into my old age. I thought it was gonna be golfing. I thought it was gonna be surfing. I thought it was gonna be a bunch of other things, right?

But now it’s like most of my time outside of work is just focused on, “Did I get enough sleep so I can run the best? Did I eat enough? Did I eat the right foods so I’m not having diarrhea when I run.” Or something like that. You know, it’s always related to running.

Even my work, even with, you know, SEO and content marketing…if you don’t publish pieces that are optimized for SEO every week, then you’re not gonna see the effects over six months of your work. Right? And it’s all the long-term game. It happens every single day. So I don’t really need too much convincing, and I hope people just put on their shoes and get out the door.

I hope people just put on their shoes and get out the door.

Glenn Bona on inspiration to run

Leggggs: Did you just equate running to SEO?

GB: Yeah, dude…

Leggggs: That’s the ultimate crossroads. That’s great. Well done. Well done. I was waiting for it. It’s kinda like the Hackman/Caine theory from PCU. Like you can figure out those crossroads. All right. I dig it. . All right.

What’s a place…You’re all over the place. You’re all over the world. Um, your Strava is the most inspirational one, maybe, I follow but, what’s your bucket list place to run? What are some places that you haven’t checked off the list yet?

GB: So, um, the main one that I really, really want to do is the hundred mile Ultra Trail Mount Fuji. You pretty much go around Mount Fuji, and, what’s so interesting about it besides the place and the terrain, and it being an international race with people that I’ve never met, but I’m excited to meet…and also the food that, at the aid stations, like, “what do they have there?” Like, do they have noodles? Am I just gonna be fed sushi? This is gonna be awesome. I don’t know.

Leggggs: Just wasabi flavored Gu gels…

GB: I might get diarrhea then… I might

Leggggs: That might do it. That might do it.

GB: Yeah. That might do it. But what’s so interesting about that is they have a firm rule against using poles. And I just found out about that, and it’s, it’s terrifying, um, to think that like, “Oh yeah, you can’t use hiking poles during a race that is somewhat set in their rainy season.” Um, so I just imagine like a, a bit of a mud fest without poles. That terrifies me, but it also excites me.

Leggggs: Do you know why there’s no poles?

GB: I don’t know. Um, I actually don’t know why. Yeah. If there’s a…

Leggggs: What about people just like helicoptering around….?

GB: Ha yeah HIM! Disqualified!

Leggggs: That’s interesting though.

GB: You can’t even use a branch from a tree or a stick to like use as poles that you like find…

Leggggs: Must be like something new, like your own physical capability. Not the native, third-party…

GB: It’s probably gonna take me a while to feel like I’m at a certain level of fitness. Obviously, is gonna take a ton of training without poles to just get used. It’s almost like, uh, headphones, right? Like you get used to not running with headphones. Maybe you used to not running with poles.

Leggggs: I’ll add that to the questions moving forward.

GB: Yeah… and then two other races that I’m excited about. The Lavaredo Race which is through the Dolomites. That is really interesting to me just because I’ve never seen the Dolomites. Or the Pyreness. So those are mountain ranges that I would love to do a race in.

And then lastly, Western States just for the culture.

Leggggs: Yeah. Yeah. That seems so rad. Awesome. Good stuff. Um, alright, so you, uh, you kind of dipped into this a little bit, but, um, like putting your shoes on is just the first step, the tipping point into kind of exploring the world by foot.

But what’s some of the no-bullshit advice you would give to someone if they wanted to start running?

GB: Yeah. So, um, pretty much I would recommend this to everyone and I wish I jumped into this sooner, but find finding a local run club or a Facebook… Just having friends in the community to do the activity with just keeps you in the stoke and just keeps you in the sport much longer.

Having friends in the community to do the activity with just keeps you in the stoke and just keeps you in the sport much longer.

Glenn Bona on the importance of community

I remember training for trails before I even knew other people in Bangkok did trails. And that was definitely a lonely time. It was great for like your own personal mental training, but to like keep the stoke alive, you definitely need to do it with other people, right? So like I, I saw you, uh, join a camp and also do races with other people in a group, and that’s just a completely different experience than just training and doing a run by yourself.

Still very valuable to do that; those runs by yourself…don’t get me wrong, but that added element of just having friends to do it and having a group to share your stuff with is just massive.

Leggggs: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. Man, it’s such a cool community. Like even through this whole little Leggggs experiment, whatever I’m calling it right now… making these connections…I’ve been running sort of by myself for so long and one day I was out on the trails and I met this one dude and that turned into knowing, or getting introduced to the Hood to Coast team that I was on and all that goodness. But yeah, man, it’s interesting. It’s half like actively seeking and then half just being open to sort of like being cool with whatever comes your way kind of thing. So I can’t agree more with that.

Um, um, so speaking kind of on that, you’re far along and your running journey is more of a lifestyle like you said, but who do you have to think for where you are right now in your running lifestyle journey?

GB: So there are two people that I want to thank. Um, and then there’s a wider community that I want to thank. Actually, three people that I wanna thank.

So first up is my buddy Ben. He was the first one to convince me to get back into training, get back into running, and eventually go for my first marathon. He was doing the Bangkok full marathon, and then he was like, “Hey Glenn, do you wanna sign up and train together? You can do the half marathon, I’ll do the full.” Then once I finished that half marathon, it was my first international race. Because I was thinking like, why would I run in Bangkok? It’s like so hot here, right? Anyways, after I finished that race, all he said was, “You’re pretty much halfway to a marathon, you might as well just knock it out if it’s in your bucket list?”

And him just being like, “You’re just halfway there.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll just continue training.” And that was a huge shift in my mindset.

Then the next is, I want to thank my buddy Darren, who was the one that challenged me to do a 100K Ultra with him just weeks, tt was two weeks, after I did my first 50K Ultra. And, you know, I accepted for the wrong reasons. I think. I didn’t respect trails, really. I thought I could just, David Goggins my mindset through it. But really my body wasn’t fully recovered from my first trail experience. So I got to 65 kilometers in that race. And my body, my body just completely shut down, started cramping up in the worst way. And it just felt like I couldn’t overcome, I couldn’t… mindset my way through the rest of it. And yeah DNFing was literally not part of my vocabulary. I didn’t even know what the acronym meant until like, that day. And I never thought it would be like part of my vocabulary, you know, thinking that I was like, so mentally strong or like, that just wasn’t part of my persona at all.

And yeah, it just got humbled really quick. And um, that experience kind of just served as a cornerstone memory for me because now I just do races that put me in really beautiful places, are organized really well. Um, I also respect the courses a lot more and I also respect the training that I do.

So yeah, I just love that memory of me DNFing. It’s just, it’s really catapulted me into just training smarter and harder and for better races. So, yeah, that, that was huge.

And then the third person is probably my coach Zoë Rome. Right after I DNFed, about a month after feeling sorry for myself, I was like, “Okay, there are better ways to train for races other than just going for a long run.”

So one of my friends from San Diego, her name’s Tys, she was like, “You should listen to the DNF podcast by Trail Runner Magazine.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s perfect. I want to hear about other people, other athletes DNFing and all of the things that they learned from it.”

And the host of that podcast was Zoë Rome. I just reached out to her. She was coaching. Her running club or running community is called Microcosm Running. They’re based outta Colorado. But everybody’s from all over and we just celebrate each other and the Facebook group is like super active. And Zoë has just been pivotal in shaping my training plan, checking up on me every day through the training plan and just giving me tips and helping me learn and all of that. So I’ve a huge appreciation for her and everybody that’s part of that.

Then lastly, this is a community shout-out: Bangkok runners.

I wouldn’t be able to run the trails in Thailand without them because they’ve shown me all the cool spots, and there are some really great expats. It’s mostly a club of expats, but there are obviously a bunch of other Thais that run within Bangkok runners and it’s just a great community full of people that come from great backgrounds, and it’s just been awesome.

Leggggs: Nice dude. That sounds incredible. So when I get over to Bangkok, you’re gonna have to show me around and introduce me to some of these people. Cause it sounds absolutely thrilling, to be frank. So in terms of training, Zoë helping you with some training plans, what races do you have coming up that you want us to keep an eye on?

GB: I guess the next big race that I plan on doing is in December. It’s the Thailand by UTMB. I’ve done the 80K and I’ve done the hundred mile. But I really wanna work on my speed, so I’m gonna do the 50K and see if I could just, you know, give it a really good, fast effort. I’ve never really… most of my ultras and my trail runs have just been to finish.

And just to… you’re always gonna enjoy the race, but for the most part, I think now that I feel like I’ve gotten a hold with my trail legs and all of that, I definitely want to kind of test the upper limit of how fast can I go?

Leggggs: I just, I just wanna call this out real quick cuz we started sort of at a marathon being your bucket list item. And then training to get to that like 13.1 basically. And then your friend saying, you’re basically there, just keep going. And now you’re talking about, “Well, I wanna just do a 50 K to work on my speed.” Like that’s a pretty sweet transition to go from like that’s my bucket list to like, okay, fuck it. I’ll just try it. “I’ll just do a 30-miler because I’ve gotta work on my speed anyways.” That’s really awesome, dude. That’s really, I don’t know, it’s just kind of… it’s cool to like actually see the progression come to life. That’s really rad.

GB: So yeah, it’s even cooler….Not to toot my own horn a little bit, but I ran my first marathon in 2019 and it’s 2022.

Leggggs: Damn, dude.

GB: So like, it’s crazy to know like…to find out what you’re capable of if you like really double down on a sport. And it just gives me a wider appreciation for people that like specialize in something, whether it’s a hobby or it’s their career or building a business. Like I have much greater profound respect for people that put in the hard work to do the things that they do.

Leggggs: Yeah, man. Well, you’ve done it. So I’m stoked and I think, uh, people, you know, listening to this are gonna be stoked too, hopefully. So that said, what, what else do you wanna share? What, what else do you wanna talk about? Um, I mean, you can do a shoutout to Nomad Wolf when you get that podcast back off the ground.

GB: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I do actually have a couple of episodes that I do need to release for Nomad Wolf. One of ’em is with Lucy Bartholomew you from Soloman.

I guess like some parting words… If you’re thinking about getting into running or just getting into a sport or getting onto the trails… I feel like it’s just opened up a completely different world for me and a different world to see more of the world. You know, I, I’ve spoken about this earlier in the podcast, but you know, it’s running is a great forcing function to just get you out of the house and even more so to put you in places you might have never dreamed of expecting yourself to land in. For example, I don’t think I would’ve gone and seen the Alps if I didn’t have the dream to run the CCC at UTMB. And I’m just beyond grateful to not only see the Alps from a tourist perspective, but to like circumnavigate it, well halfway circumnavigate it, from Courmayeur, Italy through Switzerland and ending in France in like one of the biggest running events of the year. And yeah, it’s just, you know, you have a ton of fun when you dedicate yourself to something like that, whether it’s running or even whatever that challenges you.

Running is a great forcing function to just get you out of the house and even more so to put you in places you might have never dreamed of expecting yourself to land in.

Glenn Bona on the unexpected benefits of just putting your shoes on

So I just challenge everyone who’s listening to see more of the world through these events. Make friends along the way. Have fun and make memories.

Leggggs: Dude, it’s what it’s all about. I love it. Glenn. I can’t thank you enough, man for sitting down with us. I really, really, truly enjoyed this. And I think we’ve got a lot of great stuff here and hope this inspires some people to, to get out there and, I don’t know, see the world on the on their feet, man.

GB: A hundred percent. Thanks for having me on and I’ll reach out and we’ll get you on the NomaD Wolf podcast.

Leggggs: All right, that sounds perfect, man. Um, alright dude, Well have a great rest of your day. Safe travels back across the ocean and we’ll be in touch.

GB: Sounds good, man. Take care. Take care everyone. Bye.

2 thoughts on “A Conversational Pace – Glenn Bona on UTMB goals, murder hornets, and the community of stoke.

  1. Omg I was just thinking of that scene. I believe it goes “I wish they had something that told you it was the good old days, before you leave them.”

    I constantly feel like my past is the good old days, no matter how painful it was. Which gives me appreciation for this moment right now. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    1. Ha – thanks for the correction. Knew it was something like that. It’s a great line

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