Gathered: Winter Running & How Community Keeps the Fire Stoked
Leggggs community members chime in on staying connected and beating detachment during the colder and darker months.
Winter, man. (Like, “Summer, Man,” but, different…) Good start there, Jonny.
I was reading the other day about SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, and how it only, officially, impacts about 5% of the population. While stats are hard to argue with, I just feel like there’s more to it and this is far more widespead than we’re caring to admit to ourselves and each other. I got to thinking, then, about all these emails and posts right now about holiday gift-guides or TeN bEsT tHiNgS tO hAvE iN yOuR cOlD wEaThEr KiT content-forthe-sake-of-content click-grabs. I get the sell sell sell content (because now EVERYONE is a content marketing,) but you lose anything with soul or authenticity approaching connection that way.
So then, thinking about SAD, and thinking about being sold versus talked to, I felt a disconnect. A new thermal layer from Tracksmith is a must (and I’ve asked for a new pair of lined-tights for Christmas,) but that’ll only take my spirits so far. There are still some threats to mental wellness that need addressing:
- There’s a need for extra motivation to get up and get going, whatever that may be, when the days are shorter
- Circadian rhythms are thrown off
- Calendar invites might be accepted, but more oftentimes out of habit without the intention of attending the event
- It’s fucking dark and it’s sad
- Generally, it can just suck to move or think about doing anything that isn’t blanket-related
Winter is either coming, or it’s here, depending on when you read this. And from the illumination of my artifical sunshine light, I decided that instead of sitting around “forcing” myself to run, and generally just be stoked, I’d ask the Leggggs community about all of this. Specifically, and because I need this myself, I want to help relay not only any cold-weather essentials but more importantly, how one stays motivated to run in the dark and cold months. And this, frankly, is a way better approach because I don’t have any clue what I am talking about half the time, and I’m easily dissuaded when the sky is gray. (I wore my Nike Down Parka with shorts all winter last year… which was a great look if you want to give off the allusion of not wearing pants.)
This is about more than gear. This is about maintenance. This is about continuing the charge of finding a connection with the road, the trails, the track, each other, and a passion when the times are both physically and mentally tougher. This is about feeling less lonely in the dark.
On the secret to staying motivated to run in the dark, cold, dreary winter months:
- Usually I’m training for something. What’s worse: arriving at the start unprepared, or just showing up in your training and working through that discomfort? I would feel more pain from just giving up. We don’t do this sport because it’s easy. – Ryan / @ryanyambra
- Running with friends! Always run with friends. – Kennedy / @nickerkenn1
- Running in the dark, in the cold, feels like a little secret. And it’s a special secret when you run with friends or say hi to a fellow runner on your solo run. Only Santa should be out during these hours! It gets harder in January, though, when all the fun is over. – Caryn / @notcaryn
- Having a dedicated crew to brave the bitter mornings. – Xavier / @z_xav_z
- Plan for cool wintery weekend runs. There are some great trails that are even better in the winter than summer and I look forward to them each year. Also, having an early spring race to train for helps – Renee / @go_renee
- A burning hot belly full of a weird mixture of spite and love of the sport. All jokes aside – I love snowy runs! It’s definitely the northerner in me, but winter isn’t so bad. Less people, after a mile you warm up, the post run steamy shower. All magnificent. – Sam W / @samuelwellman
- What’s winter? – Jeremy / @jeremybsmith
- I love winter running. No races to prepare for, no heat stroke, no crowded sidewalks – just good friends, hot coffee, and training purely for the love of the game. – Trevor / @trevhains
- What will get me out the door for sure is knowing I have someone waiting for me at a trailhead. So a good group to keep you honest. Also, running in cold or bad weather inherently makes you a bad ass. – Bret / @bretfromreallife
What is one essential, must-have piece of gear that gets you through the cold runs?
- A good pair of gloves! Water resistant and well insulated. Such an important accessory considering we lose much of our body heat from our extremities. – Ryan / @ryanyambra
- Not a piece of gear, but merino wool was my savior last winter. It locks in the heat but is breathable – truly the best winter running material out there. – Kennedy / @nickerkenn1
- Thick socks are a game-changer. The first body parts to freeze are my toes. And, this might sound silly, but putting ear pods in even if I’m not listening to anything helps to keep the cold air out. – Caryn / @notcaryn
- I love the Patagonia houdini jacket. It’s nice for retaining heat but still breathable so that you won’t get too sweaty and uncomfortable underneath. – Xavier / @z_xav_z
- Absolutely good gloves. I prefer wool, especially merino wool, as they keep your hands warm even when they inevitably get wet. But the real key is to carry more than one pair so I can change out to dry gloves. It’s a quick downward spiral when my hands get cold because then I’m less inclined to try to use my frozen fingers to eat or even change out another piece of wet clothing – Renee / @go_renee
- Tracksmith brighton baselayer is my favorite piece of running gear. Full stop. Summer/winter. Its magic. – Sam W / @samuelwellman
- Not living where it gets cold enough to matter. (but i work in nyc as well, and the answer is good gloves) – Jeremy / @jeremybsmith
- Sam stole my answer – the Tracksmith Brighton baselayer is hands down the most versatile article of winter running clothing. Sponsor me, Tracksmith. – Trevor / @trevhains
- Another vote for the Patagonia Houdini (air), and a good pair of gloves. – Bret / @bretfromreallife
Does anything change in your routine during these months?
- I become obsessed with fireplaces and warm drinks. I feel like I savor those moments of comfort more during these months. Before and after my run I’ll curl up next to the fireplace with a book and a cup of coffee. It fills my soul. – Ryan / @ryanyambra
- I use my sunrise simulation alarm clock every day. It’s so dark in the morning and having that warm light tricks my brain into thinking that it’s later than it is, making it easier to get up and go. Hot coffee too. – Kennedy / @nickerkenn1
- Less mileage overall. This is a good time for downtime! No need to log hard miles all year long. Let Rudolph wrack up the mileage (ok done with the xmas references I promise!). – Caryn / @notcaryn
- I double down on my activation drills and stretching before and after my runs in order to avoid injury. – Xavier / @z_xav_z
- Yoga makes it way back into my schedule. – Renee / @go_renee
- In the winter i am not opposed to a one way run + SOS call/metro home to avoid a gnarly headwind. – Sam W / @samuelwellman
- I run more bc I prefer not overheating, summers have gotten out of control both at home and on the road. – Jeremy / @jeremybsmith
- I try to do a big strength training block in the winter months – that way I can have quads like Xavier. Usually, 3x a week in the gym – which means slightly less running and/or less intense running. It’s a good physical reset. – Trevor / @trevhains
- Mainly the only thing that changes in remembering to grab a headlamp. Maybe a warm beverage in a hydroflask to look forward to when you get back to the car. Warm apple cider saves lives. – Bret / @bretfromreallife
Thank you to the Leggggs community for chiming in on this one, and I truly hope it helps someone stay the course when the course is iced over (literally and figuratively.)
See you out there, friends.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Listen to Leggggs) someone smash something with your frost hammer / The Playlist
Even in the quest to be less lonely, sometimes you just need to be angry. My daughter has this book where this monkey is super grumpy the whole time, and he doesn’t know why. Turns out, monkey just needed to be grumpy… no reason other than it was a good day to be grumpy.
Enter: someone smash something with your frost hammer. Some days are on, some are off. No reason for it. But on those off days, like when Spilner loses his cool (which is 100% his meal ticket) there’s this playlist, one hour and thirty eight minutes of eardrum assaults and frontal lobe intrusions made specifically for bad-mood-10-milers, but can be played for any affair. Assembled with care and mild frustration by Leggggs community member, Jeremy Smith.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Listen to Leggggs) S’Raining Out / The Playlist
Running in the rain. An experience all to itself, and one that, for your soul, is matched by very few things. Living in Portland, we are lucky enough to have this happen more than a few times throughout the year, and each goddamn time I get to do it, I remember why I love life itself.
I am especially grateful to Leggggs community member, Craig Thomas, for putting together this absolute masterpiece of a playlist that 100% stabs you in the heart on rainy days like today.
(Listen to Leggggs) A Conversational Pace / The Playlist
I only recently found the irony in the fact that, while am pretty adamant about running without headphones, in every single Conversational Pace feature, I ask what someone’s fave running music is. THE IRONY IS NOT LOST ON ME.
That said, since we are running Conversational Paces on the weekly, keep this page and playlist bookmarked as we continue to update and build this together.
A Conversational Pace – Kennedy Nickerson on saying yes, ass-backwards motivation, overcoming “run guilt,” and broken shins.
Kennedy Nickerson came off as the quiet type until she started dropping f-bombs. She is also working with companies to find solution to hopefully end climate change. There’s a lot here you need to know.
I’m currently trying to write the story of why I started Leggggs in the first place. And though each iteration of this origin is semi-different, there’s a pretty strong theme running through the veins of this blog (or online journal if we’re being fancy.) That theme? Well, community for one, but larger than that, this idea of loneliness and seeking connection, whether consciously or not.
I’ll expand on that concept more another time, I also want to say that by no means is Kennedy Nickerson lonely. But when I was introduced to everyone in Van #2, she was the most reserved, until the f-bombs started flying (see below, “greatest run,”). It got me thinking about the quiet person in the room that probably has way more to say if everyone would just simma-down-nah. Or, for those Simpsons aficionados, the little Yakuza guy.
Before I get any more virtuous (oh my lord), let’s talk about Kennedy. I joined Kennedy’s Hood to Coast team this year (Van 2 what), and was immediately intrigued by her soft-spoken manner, especially in light of the overall high-energy in the van. There is a LOT going on when it comes to H2C, so I definitely commiserate with a potentially-quieter personality in this situation, but I was also very appreciative of the balance she brought to the intense day. And when she opened up, both in her insanely talented running, and in her enthusiasm (THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!!!), it was pure magic.
That said, here we are with Kennedy Nickerson. I guess I’ll just say, “you’re welcome.”
Leggggs: Kennedy – Hello and thank you so so much for being a part of this. Stoked to have you. Starting at the top, as we do: Who are ya? Where can we find you? What do you do? All that goodness.
Kennedy Nickerson: I am Kennedy Nickerson, @nickerkenn1 on Instagram, Kennedy Nickerson on Strava! I am a Director at the clean energy and climate policy firm, Boundary Stone Partners, in DC largely working with clean energy companies on finding ways to leverage the government to achieve their goals (and hopefully end climate change).
Leggggs: That sounds wildly important. Good on you for being part of a good mission. And speaking of a good mission, what’s yours? A personal mission…
KN: I don’t know if I have a personal mission, but I love being a ‘yes’ person and I think that’s a huge part of who I am and how I’ve gotten to where I am in life. All of the last minute opportunities I’ve said ‘yes’ to have been some of the best experiences I’ve had so far in life… ‘Yes’ to getting a Master’s degree when I had to quit soccer my senior year because of injuries, ‘Yes’ to moving to DC from Boston on a whim to work at DOE, ‘Yes’ to adopting my dog Meatball the day I met him, ‘Yes’ to running Hood to Coast two months out from the race date, etc.
Leggggs: I was right-now-years-old when I realized you only accepted that Hood to Coast invite somewhat last minute. Figured you were along for the ride since the start! Yes is so fucking powerful but way harder to put into action. So, again, good on ya.
And now for an incredible segue, being a yes person had to mean saying yes to running at some point. When did you first get into running? Why?
KN: Not to be dramatic, but running used to make me cry. I played D1 soccer in college and, for events that I won’t rehash here, just seeing a track would make me feel nauseous. I was also injured multiple times during my career and, as I was coming back from my last one, my coach at the time told me that I just shouldn’t bother anymore and that I’d never be able to play (or run) at a high level ever again. What maybe he saw as ass-backward motivation was the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me not run again until 2020.
Leggggs: That’s pretty powerful, Kennedy. Not being sarcastic at all. To go from “makes me cry” to making a mess of the Hood to Coast course…. I hope that coach is now sitting at home crying about how wrong he was, ass-backward motivation or not.
KN: Then I met Trevor, who LOVES running and it took me a while to get it but when you see someone you love loving something so much, it makes you want to love it too. So he helped me get past those mental barriers and find the joy in running again. I also met some other amazing people through running (shoutout @ne_trackclub and @dojoofpain), which reinforced the idea that running is fun even more, and here I am about a year later and just ran my first marathon and had a smile on my face the entire time!
Leggggs: That’s incredible. Truly. And we’re going to have more on Trevor in a future Conversational Pace, so thank you for priming the pump there.
So now that you’re up and… running… (oof), what type of run gets you out the door fastest? Fave run essentially…
KN: This most definitely is a hot take, but Friday morning long runs have become my favorite runs (shoutout to my DC Girl Gang). Yeah, we have to wake up at 4:30 to get 20 miles in before a work call at 9:30, but there’s something oddly satisfying about being that productive on a Friday and then having the whole weekend to sleep and eat and recover. I also really just enjoy any run that involves gossiping with friends… I learn a lot on those runs!
Leggggs: That is ambition. And I love it. So then if that’s your fave type of run, what has been you favorite run in general?
KN: I’ve only been running seriously for about a year, but I find it extremely hard to believe that any run will ever beat my second leg of Hood To Coast this year. The air was crisp, I was chasing people down in pitch black darkness with a headlamp on just listening to the sound of my feet and breathing. It was the middle of the night, my second leg, and there was over 600 ft of elevation gain over 6 miles, and I just remember getting into the van afterwards (far earlier than anyone expected me to finish, by the way) and saying “THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!!!” Probably my first official runner’s high.
Leggggs: I remember that so vividly. In the van, we were driving up those hills going, “This is fucking crazy. This sucks. WHAT ANOTHER HILL C’MON….” But when we passed you in the van, your stride and face told another story: Just sheer confidence and determination, mixed with a bit of excitement and intrigue. It was awesome to watch. Then you crossed the finish line… Man, I got goosebumps just thinking about that. Good shit.
We can live on this high for a second longer, but I do want to ask about maybe the worst run of your career thus far.
KN: This is where I’ll tap into my college soccer days, I guess… The worst one was probably the day after we lost a game we shouldn’t have lost and our coach had us come in the next morning to do full-field suicides for 90 minutes. Teammates were puking and crying left and right… and then I woke up the next day and my shin really hurt. After two weeks of playing through some of the most intense pain I’ve ever felt, I got an x-ray and it came back that my shin was broken.
On the bright side, I now have an intense appreciation for being healthy and able to run with no pain!
Leggggs: WHAT IS WITH THESE COACHES? I get motivation, but… Two weeks with a broken shin? How were you not keeling over every step? Hats off to you, Kennedy.
Shifting gears a bit, what is some running gear you can’t live without?
KN: I am obsessed with my Saucony Endorphin Speeds. My ride or die trainers! Also, merino wool in the winter. It’s the only option.
Leggggs: And continuing, what are your go-to shoes for trail/road/race, etc?
KN: Saucony Endorphin Speeds, obviously, for all of the above. Though I love the Endorphin Pros too, and I’m a big fan of the Nike Alphaflys for racing.
Leggggs: Noticed we had matching Alphaflys on Hood to Coast. High five. So, when things are getting real during a run, what’s a quote or something you tell yourself to keep you going?
KN: I think all I said to myself during the Chicago marathon when it got hard was “COME ON, KENNEDY, COME ON” over and over. It worked!
Leggggs: Love that simple power of self-motivation. And there’s something about saying your own name over, “Me, I” and the like. 3rd person for the win.
Here’s the lighting rod (which again really isnt, but I have opinions): Headphones or no headphones when running?
KN: Typically I go no headphones. Like my race shoes, I like saving my music for when I really need a boost. Plus I mostly run with friends and we constantly chat on our runs, and, to echo Xavier, it’s really weird to run with other people while wearing headphones???
Leggggs: That is such a weird phenomenon. But, because music is such a vital part of life, what are your go-to pump-up jams?
KN: My Body by Young the Giant is the best song IMO for when you’re starting to hit a mental wall and need an extra push.
Leggggs: Alright. It has been added to the Conversational Pace playlist. Thanks for the rec!
Shifting back to motivation, what gets you going when you really don’t feel like running?
KN: This depends… Part of healing my relationship with running was allowing myself to take days off without feeling guilty. But I also set really high expectations and goals for myself that require planning and consistency. So I made a deal with myself that I would at least get one speed workout and one long run in each week, and whatever easy runs I could throw in the middle were just gravy!
Leggggs: That self-discipline is amazing. I suffer from the same guilt of taking days off. Strava notifcations makes it harder. I love this approach though. Might cop it.
Where. doyou hope you get to run someday?
KN: I’d love to get into trail running I think, but that’s not possible in DC so I would definitely have to travel for it. Send recs!
Leggggs: Come back to Portland and stay longer this time. Bring the Dojo, even. I can get us to Forest Parkin about 10 minutes from my front door, and it’s easy to spend an entire day getting lost in there.
KN: Also, the NYC marathon. Other than the obvious reasons of it being an iconic and electric race, both of my parents have run it and I want them to see me run it too.
Leggggs: Hell yes. Maybe this next year?
What no-bullshit advice woudl you give to someone that is looking to get into running?
KN: Start slow and don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison really is the thief of joy and I think that’s most true with running.
Leggggs: Thief of joy. I have to work that into the title of this thing somehow. Well put.
Who do you have to thank for where you are in your running journey?
KN: I am SO thankful for my incredibly supportive parents, Trevor, Northeast Track Club and the Dojo of Pain, and of course my DC Girl Gang!
Leggggs: What races do you have lined up, or on the radar?
KN: I’m planning to focus on the half marathon distance in Spring 2023 followed by the Berlin marathon in the Fall, then Boston in the Spring of 2024 thanks to my Chicago BQ! Hopefully another Hood to Coast in there, and ultimately the NYC marathon at some point.
Leggggs: I’m in the Berlin lottery, so maybe we’ll run there together. That seems so amazing.
Finally, anything else you’d like to mention? The floor is yours:
KN: Vote this November!!!!!
A huge thank you to Kennedy for chatting with me today. So many good reminders in here, as well as relatable moments. That guilt of not running everyday… that’s real. And I am glad to know I am not the only one. Be sure to give Kennedy a follow on IG and Strava to stay up to date with her journey.
A Conversational Pace – Matt Palmer on half tights, forgetful masochism, and quantifiable progress through dedication and effort.
Matt is a running footwear designer at Nike, a member of the Jacuzzi Boys Athletic Club, reps team half-tights, and talks about the power of just showing up.
One common theme that weaves throughout every single Conversational Pace that makes its way onto Leggggs is the importance of “community.” While this word means a grip of different things to literally every single person on the planet, one commonality shines through: We need it. Regardless of what “it” is and how you personally define the word, community is necessary for survival.
Short story real quick: When I first moved to Portland in 2020 and the world immediately shut down, the search for my community, felt not even daunting, but fucking impossible. I found semblances through RunTrill’s #2milesaday6feetaway efforts, but even that left me running solo and reaching for something more tangible.
Fast forward two years and keeping at the running-while-maintaining-an-active-search-for-community, interesting and incredible people, like pings on radar, just sorta popped up. More on that whole community search in a different post, let’s dive into one of these incredible and interesting people now: Matthew Palmer.
Matt, or Palmer, depending on familiarity level is one of these community-first and immediately-welcoming people that you know you should have met yesterday. I remember my first interaction and sending a cold intro asking him to be a part of the Conversational Pace: “Yeah, I’d love to take part! I saw the one you did with Lauren too. Seems like fun and a cool way to highlight the local amateur scene.” This is the response you dream of when you try to open that door, and from there it just got better. Group runs, professional intros, and now, A Conversational Pace. LFG.
Leggggs: Matt. What is up, dude? Thanks for joining us today. Let’s get it going with the niceties and intros. Who are you, and what do you do?
Matt Palmer: I am Matt Palmer…most of my running friends just call me Palmer (lots of dang Matts out there these days). I’m on Instagram @m.c.palmer and may pop up in a @thejbac post from time to time too.
I am a running footwear designer at Nike. It’s truly a dream job wherein I help enable athletes to achieve their goals by drawing lines that become shoes. I also race middle distance on the track (800/1500/Mile) as part of the Jacuzzi Boys Athletic Club.
Leggggs: Sweet. Seen those JBAC jerseys around the river before, and it’s nice to put some names and faces with the sightings. Let’s talk shotclock… above the game. Your personal mission. If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, it would be…..
MP: Keep showing up and good things will happen. Overcoming inertia to take that first step, to put yourself in a growth environment, is the hard part. Once you get the hammer to the jobsite, swinging it is easy. I’d say my strongest virtues are accountability and consistency, as entirely unsexy as they are.
Leggggs: Nailed it. And not just because of the hammer reference. Showing up. Keep on it. It makes things happen. So, tell me, man, when and why did you first even get into this whole running thing?
MP: Probably later than you’d think! I started running a few days a week to stay in shape toward the end of college, but didn’t become intentional with training or start doing races until I moved to Portland 10 years ago at age 24 (didn’t run my first track race until I was 26). The combination of working for Nike, being amongst Portland’s vibrant running culture, and rapidly improving my times (initially) formed a cycle of motivation that I’m yet to escape.
Leggggs: That will definitely do it. Pretty sure they put something in the air here that makes people run. Maybe it’s the total variety of terrain and routes so easily at our disposal. That in mind, what is your favorite type of run?
MP: Speed workouts on the track, for sure. Just give me a handful of fast 300s with plenty of rest, and I am at peace with all the peripheral chaos of the surrounding universe.
Leggggs: How about that peripheral chaos, eh? Not goin anywhere anytime soon. Tell me about your favorite run ever? What, why, where, how, who, when…. all of it, if you want.
MP: I think it would be 2017 Fifth Ave Mile in NYC.
It was my first time in New York City, and it was on the front end of a family vacation (my siblings and parents all live in different places across the US). I believe it was the first time anyone in my family had ever watched me race since I didn’t run in high school or college. I ended up getting second in the B (non-professional) heat while also breaking 4:10 for the first time, winning prize money for the first time, and being on TV for the first time. A lot of lifetime firsts taking place for this little late bloomer in the span of 4 minutes. It was the perfect place to end my season and do a cooldown jog straight to Joe’s Pizza.
Leggggs: That’s incredible. Seriously. Epic setting. Fame and fortune. Pizza. A 4:10… Kudos, man. So if that was the best, what was the worst run?
MP: Probably every Hood To Coast I’ve ever done (I think I’ve run 5 of them?).
Running three long tempo runs within 20 hours on zero sleep is neither my strength nor my joy.
Leggggs: What pulled you through H2C?
MP: The team aspect certainly helped me minimize my self-pity and squeeze out all remaining aerobic capacity at 5am to not let the other 11 runners down.
We had a decade-long Corporate Co-Ed Champion streak to maintain after all! “It won’t fail because of me,” I perhaps muttered deliriously at some point.
Chalk it up to traumatic experience compartmentalization in order to explain how I kept going back the subsequent year, like some forgetful masochist.
Leggggs: Forgetful Masochist is now the name of this interview. I ran Hood to Coast for the first time this past year with a crew out of DC. Had a blast and want to do it again. But what was the biggest learning experience for me was having the right gear. From shoes to blankets, it was a game of comfort strategy.
What is some gear you cnnot live without?
MP: Disclaimer: I work for Nike, so buckle up for some #biased selections.
I am on Team Half Tights, so if I am running fast or racing, it’s gotta be in some Nike Dri-Fit Aeroswift Half Tights.
On the flip side, I am partial to the cheap Nike Everyday crew socks (6-pack, baby!) instead of the fancy ones.
Lastly, once the weather starts to turn in autumn, I am the first person to put gloves on and the last one to take them off in the spring. I don’t have a specific favorite pair, but keeping the fingers cozy is a priority.
Leggggs: I just got a pair of gloves from Nike. I’m a serial offender in forgetting to put gloves on and always find myself burying my digits deep in my palms to the point of cramping. Stoked to not have that happen this year.
I feel like I may know the answer, at least from a brand POV, here, but what are your go-to shoes for different terrains/run types?
MP: I started my running career being all about minimalist shoes, but as I’ve grown in experience (read: gotten old) I’ve steered more toward the traditional trainers. The Pegasus 39 is my latest go-to for everyday road miles (even messed around with them for some 400s while traveling in Europe this summer).
On trails, I split time between the Terra Kiger 8 and ZoomX Zegama depending how far I’m going.
For workouts, I do most of my tempo/longer intervals in the Zoomx Streakfly. Despite dabbling with “super spikes”, all my track PRs are still in the Mamba 5 so gotta give a special shout-out to that underrated champion.
Leggggs: I mentioned this on Instagram, but those new colors for the Zegamas and Kigers or out of sight, man. If you had a hand in that, bravo. Shifting gears, now, off of… gear… let’s chat about motivation and inspiration for continuing your running journey.
What is a quote or saying or even grunt that you repeat to yourself mid-run when shit is getting real?
MP: During tempos and long intervals, I routinely remind myself in the first half that “it doesn’t get worse from here” meaning that this is as painful as it will be, so if I survived the last rep/mile, I can survive the next one too. Nothing fancy, but a practical reality check.
Additionally, I often say (half-jokingly) that “if it was easy, everyone would do it”. Helps re-align the perspective that the hard part is where the progress is made, where you graduate beyond the ability that was naturally given to you.
Leggggs: I am nursing an injury right now, and before I went to the doctor, a buddy of mine that knew I was seeing the ortho, texted me and said, simply, “It will only get better after this.” So it’s apropos that you say that, and I couldn’t agree more. I wish I had that mindset last year.
When you’re repeating this saying to yourself, are you with or without headphones? Meaning, are you team headphones or team no headphones when running?
MP: Nope nope. Many of my runs are done with company, so when I am running solo, I take the opportunity to be digitally disconnected and aware of my surroundings/invasive thoughts.
Leggggs: Boom. That’s the best explanation ever.
That said, though, what music gets you amped up to either run or just, fuckin be rad?
MP: This usually occurs in the car en route to either a hard workout or a race. Something flagrantly obscene like “Backseat Freestyle” by Kendrick Lamar or something galactically epic like “Gravity’s Union” by Coheed & Cambria are common choices.
Leggggs: Niiiiiiiiice choices. Added those to the Conversational Pace playlist. When you are just not feelin a run at all, what do you do to get yourself out the door and going?
MP: Having friends to run with, whether a recovery run or workout, brings accountability to show up and also helps the mile/reps pass faster. This was the greatest unlock that inspired me to join a running club and training group. The pull becomes as much about the social connection as it does the physical activity and that can be a real treat.
Leggggs: Only recently really understood what community means in this regard. Seems so obvious, but damn if it isn’t sorta hard to come by.
Okay, we’re getting close to the end here, so let’s talk ideal states: Bucket list places to run…
MP: Was lucky to check one of them off this summer by running some trails in Chamonix, France!
Additionally, I would love to do a workout on the track in St. Moritz, Switzerland and do the Enchantments (in North Cascades) as a single-day trail run eventually.
In the spirit of keeping the dream alive, I hope to get in as many more races at Hayward Field as I can before I hang up the spikes. No place like it.
Leggggs: Saw your IG and noticed you were in Chamonix. I could end the interview now out of sheer jealousy, but we’ll keep going…
Say, I wanted to start running right now. What no-bulllshit advice would you give me to inspire me?
MP: “It doesn’t getting easier, you just get faster, but… you DO get faster”
One of the most rewarding things I find about running is how quantifiable the progress from your dedication and effort can, and most often will, be. And the measure doesn’t need to be relative to others! When you line up at a race, it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum result of winners vs. losers. Everyone has a shot to PR or achieve something new, and the effort of the person next to you will help maximize your own.
Leggggs: Well fucking put, man. Damn. Makes me want to quit and start all over. Let’s get to some gratitude now… Who do you have to thank for where you are in your own running journey?
MP: Firstly, my father, Keith, who blessed me with some natural ability yet didn’t push me into running growing up. Finding it on my own terms as an adult has allowed it to grow sustainably with my life and ambitions. I think I will be doing it for a good while from here on.
The first and only coach I’ve ever had, Elliott Heath. I’ve learned everything I know about training and racing from him and there is no way I would have willingly subjected myself to this many mile repeats or Michigan workouts without the obligation of his training group. He makes me better at what I’m bad at.
Lastly, the Jacuzzi Boys Athletic Club, who give me a balanced perspective on competitive running. They have offered me the high school/college team environment I never had, promoting both the competitive group effect and the post-run beers vibe (just don’t tell them I don’t drink).
Leggggs: Secret is safe with me, Matt. Hear that everyone? Shhhhhhh.
What races do you have coming up?
MP: I’m currently on the mend from a series of Summer “inconveniences”: a strained adductor followed by a rough bout with COVID followed by a sprained ankle (just two weeks ago). So nothing on the immediate horizon, just trying to get back into shape with some strong fall base training.
Would love to take part in Club Cross Country Champs in San Francisco in December (as much as I can ever say I would “love” to run a 10K) and then the main focus would be indoor track meets in the Dempsey at UW leading into another (hopefully) long outdoor track season focusing on 800/1500.
Leggggs: I feel like adductors are a practical joke. Like, “Yeah go ahead and run. You were built for it! … JK!” Anyway…
Anyway – FINALLY: Anything else you want to promote right now? Be as shameless as you want, please.
MP: I also want to highlight a local non-profit, Go The Distance, that promotes recovery from addiction through running. They lead bi-weekly runs for residents of various treatment centers in Portland showing the multi-faceted benefits of running to physical health, mental health, and sense of community. I’ve been volunteering for them for the past year and have gained a new perspective of the difference running can make in someone’s life. Check them out at https://www.gtdgothedistance.org/ or @gtdgothedistance on IG.
Can’t thank Matt enough for agreeing to do this interview having not known me better than a perfect stranger before saying yes. The insights shared here are quite amazing, and I hope they help anyone reading with any stage of their running journey, or really, just life in general. Pretty adaptable when I think about it…
I am sure you will see him out and about if you’re ever running through Portland. And if you do, don’t hesitate to say hello.
A Conversational Pace – Renee Janssen on community, history podcasts, swollen tongues, and 24/7 sweat & dirt.
Renee Janssen is the co-owner and race director at Go Beyond Racing, and Founder/Director at Trail Mix Fund.
Back in April, after I first registered for the Haulin Aspen trail marathon, I went down a rabbit hole, or maybe opened Pandora’s Box (?) a bit, on finding more trail races to run. That’s sorta kinda how I found Alpenflo, but it’s most definitely how I found Go Beyond Racing.
I remember thinking, “Well, if I’m gonna drive 3 hours to Bend, I might as well make the most of it and see if there’s a race at Smith Rock or something. Plus Craig has talked about that race a million times, so I should check it out.” (Craig rules, btw.) Between rewatching every Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode, taking my professional break from the 9-5 life, slipping in a daily 15 miles of running, and somehow getting really good at making scrambled eggs (I was a trainwreck up until this summer), I started peepin’ the Go Beyond site to see just what the hell they had going on over there.
Dig, dig, dig and I see that Go Beyond is responsible for the Portland Trail Series, which hit my to-do list after finishing my first run in Forest Park. Also, and maybe even cooler (just as cool), has to be their Lastest Not Fastest “race”: A last-person-standing trail race where runners complete a 4.5-mile loop every hour at Tumalo Canal Historic Area in Central Oregon. I want to do it, but biffed on the timing so will have to wait until next year. In the meantime, we’re going to chat with Renee Janssen, co-owner and race director at Go Beyond Racing as well as the Founder/Director at Trail Mix Fund about an exploration for wildflowers, an unexpected love of History-based podcasts, trail stitches, and another nod to the importance of community (sensing a huge, and unsurprising, theme here).
Leggggs: Renee – Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of the Conversational Pace. Excited to have you. As we do, let’s start with a quick intro, and a bit more about yourself.
Renee Janssen: I am Renee Janssen, @go_renee and @gobeyondracing and at the start and finish line of every Go Beyond Racing race. I am the Co-owner and race director at Go Beyond Racing, and the Founder/Director at Trail Mix Fund.
Leggggs: So glad you’re here. Alright, so, your personal mission: Something that sums you up. What is it?
RJ: I don’t really have one but I believe in being kind and doing good, and getting sweaty and dirty as often as possible.
Leggggs: That is definitely one. Dig it. What brought you to running? Why’d you get into it and when?
RJ: I started running after college. The company I started working for had a Hood to Coast team so I joined the team. I ran roads for a while, got involved with the Red Lizards (a Portland running club), eventually did a couple marathons. I knew I needed to mix things up instead of just pounding pavement all the time and discovered Adventure Racing and that was my thang for a while. I really was passionate about that sport and may still be doing it if I didn’t become a mom (priorities changed). After my kids were born, I got into trail running and haven’t stopped.
Leggggs: That Hood to Coast race… it’s the stuff of lore. It works itself into so many running stories, I feel like. Or people bring it up somehow. Truly dazzling.
Between the pavement pounding, adventure racing, and trails; what type of run gets you going the most?
RJ: Give me a mountain trail with wildflowers. Throw in some good downhill and I’m in heaven.
Leggggs: Sounds ideaaaaaaaaaaaaal. On that note: Favorite run ever – Where, when, who, why? All that good stuff.
RJ: This is an impossible question for me. I have so many favorites.
The Salmon River trail outside Welches is an all-time favorite. I enjoy taking people on this for their first time. The giant trees, the river flowing beside the trail. There’s just something about this one that I connect with. I also really like the Yocum Ridge trail up Hood. That view when you pop out near the top is so incredible. The Loowit around Mt. St. Helens is also on top (our Volcanic 50 course) – I love the different environments you go through as you make your way around the volcano. Gunsight and Surveyor’s Ridge, that are part of the Wy’east Wonder race, are also favorites. I’ve put in many miles on the Eagle Creek trail in the Gorge. Just too many good trails to pick only one.
Leggggs: I’m trying to be difficult with that question 🙂 . But I love asking, especially local peeps because it clues me into new spots I may not have heard about yet. Case in point: Yocum Ridge. Now to be equally as difficult: What has been the dreaded run / the worst?
RJ: This question stumped me.
Sure, there have been runs I didn’t enjoy as much and many I complained about during. But I have forgotten them because there are so many good ones. I guess if I had to name one, it was a Mt. St. Helens circumnav on the Loowit trail one hot summer day where I ran out of water. Todd had brought some iodine tablets so we could filter and drink from the streams, but I just can’t stand that taste. I went without until my tongue felt huge and stuck to the roof of my mouth when I finally broke down and drank some of his.
But that is really more about a bad moment during a run. That run was still so fun. Doing it with several friends, eating all the huckleberries, laughing together as we laid down creekside and trailside a few times because of the heat. I suppose my worst run was a little one from the house one morning where I tripped and landed on a piece of concrete buried in the trail and sliced open my knee pretty badly. I had to call Todd to come get me because I was dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out while walking home. Ended up getting 11 stitches!
Leggggs: Definitely a bit of a skin crawl thinking about concrete buried in a trail. ::SHUDDER::
On the topic of being prepared, though, what is some gear you cannot live without?
RJ: I’m a running pack girl. I take pictures on my runs so having a pack to stash my phone in is critical. Plus, I get cold easily and often so I like to have a pack to carry a coat and gloves. I find it so much easier to carry my water in a bladder on my back than in bottles in my hands.
Leggggs: I only recently got acclimated to the running-pack life. Once you get over that initial, “Oh something is there,” it’s oddly quite comforting.
Now on the subject of shoes. This has been way more varied than I thought with past conversations, and that just shows my naivety, I suppose. What are you wearing?
RJ: I like and only own Nike trail shoes. I prefer the Pegasus for the extra cushion these days but run in the Wildhorse often.
Leggggs: Easy as that. Love it.
So when things are getting real during a run, what’s something you repeat to yourself to pull you through the hard parts?
RJ: There’s not one single mantra. It varies depending on the run and my focus. Sometimes it’s about leg turnover so I keep my speed up. Other times I’m telling myself to run my own race and not get caught up in what others are doing. Or I’ll keep reminding myself that it will feel good to finish knowing I gave it everything I could.
Leggggs: Run your own race. I 100% stand behind that and adhere to it.
Now for the dividing line: Headphones or no headphones when running?
RJ: I was a no headphones girl for a really long time, as I preferred to be in the moment and appreciate nature around me. But this spring while training for a race on my own a lot, I really got into listening to podcasts on the Wondery on my long runs. Didn’t know I like history podcasts, but I guess I do!
Leggggs: Sorta bleeds into this question: What’s your pump-up music like?
RJ: We [Go Beyond] like to play Thunderstruck by AC/DC or Ozzy’s Crazy Train at the start of our races. Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine is probably my favorite.
Leggggs: Alright. Florence making another appearance to the Conversational Pace. I gotta listen to them more…
To stay pumped up, or maybe when you don’t feel like it, what do you do to convince yourself to run when you really don’t want to?
RJ: I’m actually really terrible at this. Really bad. For me, I need to have a goal, a race to train for otherwise I’m the first to say skip it. However! If I am digging deep to get out the door, I remind myself that I never regret going for a run.
Leggggs: Same, same, same. And speaking of goals, where are the bucket list places you want to run?
RJ: Hut-to-hut run in the Dolomites in Italy. Been a dream for way too long; need to just make that happen.
Leggggs: That sounds absolutely epic. I hope you get there! And to maybe inspire others to dream big, what no-bullshit advice would you give. to someone looking to take up running?
RJ: Just start, and find a community. Really, the people in trail running are the best part of the whole thing. It may take a few group runs and some social media digging, but I guarantee that there are people you’ll meet that will become such an inspiring and important part of your life, and it’ll be worth the effort you put into it. You’ll go places you never knew about and develop a confidence in yourself you didn’t know was there.
Leggggs: I did NOT realize how important community was/is to running until very recently. Sounds like a no-duh, but I’ve just been hitting the streets solo for so long. Been awesome to find people that support one another. (No shit, Will…)
Winding down a bit, who do you have to thank for where you are in your running journey?
RJ: Definitely my husband Todd. My running journey is about others’ running journeys. Starting Go Beyond Racing and putting on races together with him gives me so much joy and inspiration. I never anticipated owning my own business, let alone one about running, but it has been the best thing ever. And now that my kids are teenagers and able to help out at the races, it just brings me so much joy.
Leggggs: My running journey is about others’ running journeys. Love this so much. What races are you eyeing in the near or not-so-near future?
RJ: With Go Beyond’s race schedule, we have races and events just about every week from May to late October, so my personal races have to be in early spring or late fall. I had a good race this spring and think I should go out while on top. Kidding! I am not currently signed up for anything so probably should do something about that. I generally don’t like to repeat races because there are so many out there and so many places to see. Guess I need to figure something out. Any recommendations?
Leggggs: Speaking of Go Beyond, what races do you want to shed some more light on?
RJ: I’d like to encourage any new trail runners to try a Portland Trail Series by Go Beyond Racing. These races are low-key events that happen on Wednesday evenings in Portland’s Forest Park and are really a good way to get introduced to the sport and start meeting and connecting with that community. We’ve watched people, over the years, come to these races as their first trail race or first time running in Forest Park, worried about being the last finisher. And sometimes they are, but usually not. And they do a few more races and then they try a longer race, and another, and before long, they are running their first ultra distance.
And for those out there who have already got some trail racing experience and are thinking about their first 50K or 50-mile or even 100-mile, we really love seeing and helping people achieve these goals and have a lot of races where you could make that happen. The nearest opportunities are Elk-Kings 50K & 25K, which is coming up this week, and Smith Rock Ascent (at Smith Rock State Park) is in March next year. Lots more on our website.
Leggggs: I will have to get out to that Smith Rock Ascent. Love that part of the state.
Any parting shot for the Leggggs community?
RJ: I’d like to share that the Trail Mix Fund is out there and people should not be shy about using it. It’s a non-profit organization working to improve diversity in trail racing. It pays the registration fee for people from the BIPOC & LGBTQ+ communities and/or for those who just cannot afford to race. Anyone can apply. Anyone can donate too.
I can’t thank Renee enough for sharing her time with us today. The sheer amount of positivity and inclusivity coming through here is beyond compare. I haven’t met many runners that have treated the sport/life as an exclusive cool-kids-club (that’s not to say I haven’t met any… you know who you are), but the reinforcement of community through Renee’s words here is perfect.
For more information and to follow along with Renee’s adventures:
A Conversational Pace – Xavier Salvador on overcoming the soccer bro stereotype, accountability systems, and absorbing cities by foot.
For the final time, I am going to apologize to Xavier for waking him up during Hood to Coast when my flash accidentally went off in the van. My bad, dude. Glad we’re dude-bros now.
Alright. Feelin better…
Xavier is a rare breed. First, he was one of the dudes I was poured into a van with on the recent Hood to Coast escapade (that’s not rare so much as it is just a set-up). But, the amount of friendly-energy that emanated from the guy was beyond contagious. That immediately struck me: I dig when you meet someone that, right away, you’re enamored by how animated and vigorous they are.
And finally, to kill time in Portland before we headed out for our official legs, we stopped at a thrift store where Xavier bought a denim jacket. I just thought that was cool.(more…)