Run Eat Sleep. That’s the life of a runner, the name of Tommie Runz’s podcast, and it sums up his belief that running consistently, eating healthily, and sleeping well are the foundation for achieving your running goals. He traded an “alcohol based” lifestyle for mindfulness and veganism, and in the pursuit of a BQ (which he’s earned), discovered the importance of gratitude and balance.
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“It makes Toy Story look like an afterthought, literally.”
There are plenty of running movies, most – if not all! – of which have runners as the main characters. What if the running shoes were the stars? Tommie has an idea for a film from a decidedly unique perspective. If this becomes the biggest movie of all time, remember, you heard about it here first!
“This feels really good on my body, but it feels great on the spirit.”
Determined to qualify for the Boston Marathon, Tommie kept training even after his intended qualifying race was cancelled because of Covid 19. His single-minded focus led to overtraining and a tibial stress fracture that took him out of running for months. He turned to yoga to stay in shape, “and that was like this kind of gateway to ‘oh, this feels really good on my body, but it feels great on the spirit.’” The rabbit hole of YouTube led him to meditation videos, and when he was able to run again, he decided to bring mindfulness to running and to the rest of his life.
“I’m not saying, don’t have a goal and have this burning desire to do something, but the gratitude part in that and taking a step back a little bit from it makes you just kind of prioritize it differently.”
Tommie never lost his “insane desire to qualify for Boston,” but incorporating mindfulness and meditation into his running has “made the whole experience just a much more grateful, gratitude based process.” Instead of obsessing on details, he says,” if you take a moment to zoom out, you can see this bigger picture, you see the beauty of the whole thing.”
“Realize you only can control you in this moment. You can’t control you tomorrow, you can’t control you yesterday, you can only control you right this moment and just live in that and make the best decision, the next right decision.”
In January 2017, Tommie decided it was time to give a “non-alcohol based lifestyle” a chance. It was the toughest thing he’s ever done. He had to find out who he was again, didn’t know who a sober Tommie was or could be. About a month into it, he started going to the gym and lifting weights “because I just felt like I just needed to reset and tell my body, ‘hey, we do care, don’t die on us,’ you know?”
The next year his sister-in-law suggested that they try a vegetarian diet for a couple of weeks. He agreed, then within a few days went vegan. Giving up alcohol had been a huge energy shift, but veganism was an even bigger boost.
As another part of his healthy lifestyle, he applies Alcoholics Anonymous’s “one day at a time” philosophy to running. Thinking about your marathon goal on day one of your training plan is too daunting, but if you stay in the moment, take one step at a time, heed the words of the serenity prayer to accept the things you can’t change, have the courage to change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference, you’ll get there.
“One of these days I’d love for someone’s first race experience, especially some person of color, to be like, man, there’s so many of us.”
Tommie had gotten to the point of lifting weights six days a week, and was ready for another challenge. When a client asked him if he’d be interested in running the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon to raise money for Move for Hunger, he said “yes.” Training for it led to a stress fracture in his foot, but determined to race, he ignored doctor’s orders, put some KT tape on it, and finished in good time.
The experience was cool and fun, but looking back, he wishes that it had been a little more diverse. Not that he felt out of place, but it would be nice, he says, to run in a race where “everyone feels like, hey, this is where we all belong.”
“2020, it was obviously a crazy year with the pandemic. And it put everything in perspective. It made a lot of people zoom out and say, ‘Oh crap, now what’s really important here?’”
Running became more than something that Tommie did for sobriety, fitness, or health. As he realized that he was running with more people who looked like him, and started talking to more people on Instagram, he began to wonder if he might have something to offer in the sense that people would see what he was doing and try it for themselves. He started thinking that he needed to do something that would show his kids that maybe they could do something crazy and succeed.
He started a clothing company, Chip Time Running, and the response to his “Run Eat Sleep Repeat” shirts made him realize that people needed help not only with running, which he had expected, but also with eating a decent meal and getting a good night’s sleep. That surprise discovery led to his podcast, The Run Eat Sleep Show, where he has conversations with experts who share advice on running and recovery.
“We have to normalize Black bodies in the outdoor space in general.”
When Tommie goes out with a running group, people are “excited to see people like us out there and doing something positive and it’s cool that that happens, but at the same time, if you take a moment, you realize this is kind of crazy because it’s not normal yet.”
Tommie brings authenticity to everything he does, including his podcast. He wants his guests to feel that being there is worth their time, but he’s not trying to impress them. He asks the questions that he’s interested in because he knows that other people are probably thinking the same things. As he says, “I just try to approach it as just normal as hell, you know?”
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“Thank you” to Tommie. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.