2021 has been an exciting year for Running for Real.  We’ve changed direction a little bit, but one thing that remains constant is our sense of community and our desire to make everyone feel included and welcome.  Our theme for the new year is #Together22, and we’re looking forward to getting to know you all better.

Another change is that the Running for Real team has grown.  To help you get to know us better, the team members have chosen podcast episodes from the past year that especially resonated with them.  We hope that you enjoyed – or will enjoy – them as much as we did!

Listen to the Running for Real Podcast here:

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From Kat Mackay, Community Manager:

Special Edition NYC Together Run 29

2021 was the year that the Together Runs, initially called “Guided Runs,” started being produced, so I think we would be remiss not to mention them!  This particular Together Run was incredibly special though; after so many months of races being cancelled, postponed, or held virtually, being able to vividly feel the buzz of an eager running crowd and listen to the stories of runners from so many different places was really something else.  This will be an episode I come back to again and again during the long winter months when it’s difficult to remember why in the world I signed up for another marathon!

Jon Green: Green is the New Bronze – R4R 264

To be completely transparent, I am a huge fan of Molly Seidel, not just for her impressive running career, but also for her incredible bravery and strength while overcoming disordered eating and injuries that could have prevented her from ever racing again. So needless to say, I was really excited to listen to this episode with Molly’s coach, who is also the head coach of Atalanta, and he did not disappoint! One thing that I really appreciated about Jon was how he constantly sought out mentorship and advice from other running coaches throughout Molly’s training; I think this demonstrates how important it is to be bravely vulnerable about what you don’t know yet and to “stand on the shoulders of giants,” so to speak. I also loved how he created a safe space within these plans for Molly to have some off days; it really shows that it’s possible to work with a world-class athlete without needing to treat them like a machine; that it is in fact possible to enjoy the process, play with it, and see results far beyond what you could’ve ever imagined. 

From Maria Vargas, Strategy and Philosophy:

Running Realized Episode Three: The Inner Disconnect (Shaun Martin segment)

There was never any debate as to what I wanted to feel when I ran my first marathon. I wanted to feel what Shaun Martin feels when he runs. What he said the Navajo people feel when they run. Running, as he describes it, is a bridge between nature and humans. Between Mother Earth and me. Between Father Sky and me. While running and human become one. 

In his poetic narrative, Shaun describes how running feels and what it means to the Navajo people. How it’s woven into everyday life. How we can actually harness our human powers to connect our breath and our feet to the earth and feel its energy.  How the air we breathe meets our core. How the energy from the earth is picked up by our feet and also meets our core. To me, that simplified running. It’s air and energy, human and nature. Our lungs pumping air and our feet carrying our bodies in a rhythm. 

When I was planning my first marathon, New York City, I was thinking about the feelings I wanted to feel. I didn’t want to feel nervous, anxious, or even excited. I wanted to feel present and balanced and in rhythm with my body and the earth. I realized, what better way to feel that than to start my race off with Shaun Martin’s episode in my earbuds. 

So, I got my hands on the raw version of his podcast episode and took out the intro and the ads (sorry, Tina!) and saved it as a song on my phone so I could listen to it offline.

Shaun’s words carried me through the first mile of the marathon. Carried me over the Verrazano bridge. That bridge is silent, as there are no crowds. Only you, the sound of other runners’ feet, and the sights of Manhattan, looking innocent in the distance. 

That podcast set my tone for that long race. Connected me with the core reasons I run. Reminded me that running isn’t about the race. It’s about the connection between myself, my body, and this earth. That even through the hardest moments, my breath and my feet will carry me. It made me smile. 

From Kelsey Wang, Head of Design:

Mishka Shubaly: We’re Here Because We’re Not All There – R4R 267

“What are you training for? …The muscle I’m trying to keep in shape by running is the muscle between my ears.”

This episode impacted me because it is exactly where I am in my running journey right now. And I know for a fact many people are in this same situation – running has consumed our lives because it’s trying to cover something up or fix something. Or maybe we hold onto running because it can take us away from our problems. What I like is Mishka’s honesty in the episode, and how he knows that he’s still not in a place with running that lets him say, “ I GET to run today.”

Many of us struggle with what to do with ourselves after we’re done training for a goal. l I appreciate his attitude for keeping life as real as it is. He doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that we’re all a little crazy, but I absolutely love the way that he describes being okay with a pause in your running journey. Knowing that running is always there; existing even if we’re not doing it, so that we can come back to it when we are mentally able. I hope everyone struggling with their mental running journey takes a little humor from Mishka’s lively talk.

From Stacey Saunders, Events Manager:

Kayleigh Williamson: Don’t Let Somebody Else Tell You What You Can and Cannot Do – R4R 270

How do I pick just one?! It was a challenge, but I think I have to go with Kayleigh Williamson. I really enjoyed hearing Kayleigh’s story about how running has become such an important part of her life. Her drive to reach her goals is incredible. The acceptance from the running community reminded me how great the community can be for all levels of runners. It was also a good reminder to take life at your own pace and not to be too influenced by others’ opinions of you. Also, I can’t wait to check out Kayleigh’s book! She is such an impressive young woman who can’t be stopped when she sets a goal for herself.

From Sandy Guiterrez, Creative Content:

Mishka Shubaly: We’re Here Because We’re Not All There – R4R 267

There are so many great episodes to choose from, but the one that sticks out to me is Mishka Shubaly. I’ve been the underdog my entire life and I lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle previously. I can totally relate with Mishka on hitting rock bottom and life takes a turn, and finding the love and passion with running and fitness and being able to bring myself out of darkness. It was inspiring and insightful to hear about his recovery and opportunities to influence an entire generation.

From Jeremy Noessel, Podcast Editor and Audio Consultant:

Malcolm Gladwell: A Little Focus Goes a Long Way – R4R 258

The Malcolm Gladwell episode stood out to me for a couple of reasons.

About 39 minutes in, Tina asked him a bold question, challenging him on some remarks he made regarding Alberto Salazar and Mary Cain. When you hear her begin to set up the question, he seems to dig into his original stance; but when she frames her entire question, I can hear him take pause, like he’s realizing more about the situation, and even says that he thinks Tina is probably right. To some, it may seem like he’s backpedaling, but I prefer to think that he started to think about the issue differently. And he admitted that what he meant was not well articulated.

Another great thing about this episode was that it sparked a healthy discussion on the Superstars page regarding his comments earlier in the episode on mediocrity vs. being “bad” at something. Different people took it different ways; some felt it was very judgmental against slow runners. After listening to it a couple of times, I still don’t take it that way, but can see how others might.

For these reasons, I think a follow-up interview would be great to delve deeper into his thoughts on these comments and reactions.  Hey, he said he loves being wrong.

From Erica De Los Santos, Inclusion Manager:

Jordan Marie Brings Three White Horses Daniel: Running for Cause – R4R 225

An episode that has impacted me is episode 225 with Jordan Marie Brings Three White Horses Daniel. It was powerful to hear her speak to the injustices and suffering of indigenous communities. There was so much I didn’t know and after that episode I made a commitment to raise my own awareness of indigenous rights. It is brave women like Jordan who keep the voices of indigenous folx from being stifled. She’s a force to be reckoned with and I’m grateful for the movements she’s spearheaded. I will continue my own learning and consider how I can shift that learning to action.

From Sally Pontarelli, Content and Operations Manager:

Tommie Runz: You Can Only Control You at This Moment – R4R 262

I’ve been a runner for years, but for the longest time I really didn’t know much about the sport. When I started running in races, I wanted to learn more, and I discovered Tina’s blog and the podcast that she hosted at the time. That led to my joining the #Running4Real Superstars.  I’d never been part of a running community before, and I was nervous about participating at first, but I quickly felt comfortable and I’ve formed friendships through it that go beyond running.

The episode that I chose is number 262, with Tommie Runz. Things that he said about belonging really struck a chord because I know how much being part of a running community means to me. 

 At one point he talked about being at a race expo. When he looked around, he realized how few people there were who looked like him, and he thought that he would love for a person of color to be able to go to a race and feel like “this is where we all belong.”

He was speaking from the perspective of a Black man, but there are so many people who don’t participate in races, or join a running group, or even just take up running, because for whatever reason they feel like they don’t belong.  He made me aware of how many people don’t have a running community available to them, or don’t believe that they would fit in, and think about what can be done to change that.

A big “thank you” to all of Running for Real’s podcast guests, listeners, and partners this year!


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