Running takes on a different meaning for all of us. Whether it’s your avenue for community, exercise routine, way to explore, or profession—we all find our own reasons to get out the door. This month, your two RAD leaders got together to chat about why we love the sport. At first glance, our incentives may seem drastically different—one of us is a professional ultra runner (hint: it’s not Heather 😉) and one of us is training for her very first half-marathon. But while our running journeys are unique, the shared joy of getting out there was evident throughout our conversation:
Why do you love to run?
Adam: Running has really formed me into the person I am today. Whether I’m training with a group or running on my own, I learn more about myself through it all. It’s helped me learn how to work through obstacles and difficult situations; I can honestly say that the sport has made me into a better person.
Heather: I see running as a way to explore, enjoy nature, and get to know myself better. I’ve learned so much about my relationship to athleticism, to my community, and to my own body through the sport. I love the community aspect of it; I run regularly with women in town, and I think it’s such a cool way to get to know each other on a deeper level.
What motivates you to run (e.g. races, expeditions, beautiful views, etc.)?
Adam:As a coach, I think motivation is really interesting; it’s fascinating to understand what drives my athletes to keep running. For me, my motivation flows throughout the year depending on what I have planned. Sometimes it’s about racing and expeditions, and other times it’s about experiencing time in nature and the joy that brings.
Heather:The exploration of being outside and feeling more alive! Also being a part of a running community is really special.
Do you have a running goal that feels impossible but you hope to someday achieve?
Adam: I ran the Gobi March Stage Race in 2015 and that experience kicked off my love for stage racing. My desire to run a stage race was initially inspired by the Marathon Des Sables, which is considered one of the toughest foot races – it’s six days and runs over 156 miles through the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Endless sand dunes, rocky jebels, white-hot salt plains, carrying what you need on your back in self-supported fashion. I do well in heat, and I think the race bridges the gap between my interests; I love racing mountain hundreds, mixed-terrain hundreds, and stage races. So, my impossible goal is to win the Marathon Des Sables.
Heather:Well, I’m training for my very first half right now! So my goals look a little different haha. After the half, I might start eyeing a marathon. It feels scary to say out loud, but I would love to get a BQ one day.
Where is your favorite running trail?
Adam:The Tahoe Rim Trail. I’ve spent a ton of time training on that trail. In 2020, I broke the record on it; it’s my home, it's an iconic trail, and it has some of my favorite views of all time.
Heather: My favorite place to run is on the coffee farm where my parents live in Tanzania. I grew up there, so it’s filled with memories and nostalgia. It’s at the edge of a forest, and the rolling hills and dirt roads are stunning.
As a pro runner, how do you balance your goals and training expectations with being present in the sport and finding joy in it all?
Adam:The fact that I’m a coach really helps; all my athletes are training for different things and are in different places. Being a part of their journey helps me see things in a different perspective. Our recent pop-up in Chicago was really special too. Talking to RADs, first-time marathoners, seasoned pros, etc – those interactions mean a lot to me as they help keep the excitement fresh in my mind.
As you train for your first half, how do you balance your goals with being present in the sport and enjoying it?
Heather: It’s been really helpful to run with a community of women who remind me to not be too hard on myself. I have a race-pace goal, but especially since this is my first half ever, I’m trying to really just soak in the experience and not get overly worried about time.
What is the single greatest lesson running has taught you?
Adam:That it’s all about the team. Through all the ultras and expeditions I’ve experienced, I’ve come to learn that while it might look like an individual sport, it’s really all about the team surrounding you. The sport is a team game, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
Heather: Running has taught me a lot about balancing goals and ambitions with self-kindness. I’ve come a long way from being too hard on myself, and I’ve learned that running with a community of like-minded people is a truly meaningful experience.