- ABOUT US
“It was a really fun experiment because I don’t think anyone thought that I could have done it…In the beginning, I couldn’t maintain under 5:20 pace for four miles so I’m so far away from this thing. But, the training became reckless in a sort of fun way. When you have a goal that’s unrealistic, you sort of just have to throw yourself at it. There’s no time to think or build up slowly. One of my biggest strengths as a runner is that I’ve been fairly durable – knock on every piece of wood around me – so I knew I could probably click off some 100-mile weeks. I could probably double as often as I had time to. It progressed pretty well. The workouts started going a little bit better. I ran a half marathon in October just under 5:20 pace. So I went from not being able to maintain seven-minute pace in March to running a 5K in June at 5:25 pace to a half marathon in October at 5:20 pace. So I was getting closer. I was getting to this point where no one would really think someone who runs a 60:50 half marathon would ever have a chance to double that but the progression was really exciting for me. I knew that wherever I landed at the end of that journey, that it would have been a hell of a ride either way.
Spoiler Alert: I did not qualify. I ran 2:26 at the end of it at CIM. I blew up a little bit. At the end of it, I was super pumped on running. To bring it full circle, setting that unrealistic goal made a very beautiful journey out of it because I sort of forced myself into falling back in love with running, into more self-belief than I’ve had in quite some time. I found that all other aspects of my life were really positively affected by the journey as well.”
Pat Jeffers captivated me on Instagram in his pursuit of an Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier last year. He used #OTQorHospital to document his training. But what made the whole journey special is that in March 2019, he could barely hold a sub-7 minute per mile pace while he was running with a team in the Speed Project. Once he got re-motivated with running, he started making some major leaps in training. This goal was a longshot and his training was all geared for that type of marathon pace even though he’d suffer through it.
Spoiler Alert: He didn’t achieve the goal but did end up running 2:26, which is very impressive. What you’ll hear in our conversation is more about the lessons learned in the process and why it’s OK to take those shots and set those goals. He’s running a marathon in November and raising money for SisterSong: The National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.
Enter Pat’s prediction contest by donating any dollar amount to his GoFundMe campaign here. (Sister Song is an organization fighting to eradicate reproductive oppression for Indigenous, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Arab and Middle Eastern, Latinx, and queer women and trans people) If you predict Pat’s time and come the closest to his result, he will send you a one-of-one of piece of running memorabilia – the only one that exists. Worth it.
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– “Somewhere in college, I made it my mission to work or be in the running industry. I circled Nike as that opportunity. I would say that this started as a passion and I wanted to turn that passion into what I did for work. I was fortunate enough to get a job at Nike and move up through the ranks…I think there’s an inflection point for me where work and my passion for running – work really took over. My own love of running and my own relationship with running started to deteriorate as I worked 24/7, 365 for the Swoosh on running. I’m definitely so grateful for that but I think a couple of years ago when I left Nike, once I really got over the hangover of sleepless nights and working non-stop on all things running, I was able to sort of re-invest into my own relationship with running.”
– “For me personally. I’ve always identified as a runner but I also, especially more recently, seen the limits of that label and how even someone like me who is a lifelong runner – I sometimes kind of cringe a little bit at that label because I think that it presents a bit of a narrow view into who a person is. I guess more recently, I’ve resonated with that person who runs a lot but wants to do more than just be a runner.”
– “In such a niche sport, where basically out of all the people that run maybe one percent would call themselves runners. I think we’ve got to spend more time with the 99 percent and find ways to appeal to those individuals and show them different sides of the sport and different ways in.”
– “It’s so crazy that in a time when all of the races are canceled, all of the meetups and most of the group runs (basically all of the opportunities for people to meet) have been canceled but there are more people running than ever before. As somebody within the industry, business is good. It’s really a testament to the power of running to help people stay present and help people during difficult times. There’s a quote from Born to Run that basically says a lot of the running booms in the United States have come off horrendous times in our history. Whether it’s 9/11, after that you saw a tremendous boom in trail running. During this period right now with COVID and everything going on, you’re seeing a tremendous amount of people going out to run. Where do I see it going? I’m really excited for where running is going. I think the fact that more and more people are running and are using running in a multitude of different ways…I think you’re seeing more people turn to running in less and less normalized ways. It’s not just ‘I’m going to sign up for a marathon. I’m going to train for 16 weeks and I’m going to do this thing.’ I think there are more and more ways into running than ever before and you don’t necessarily need a race. You don’t necessarily need a group.”
– “I see that there will be more and more adventurous and new formats with the sport moving forward, especially during this time where race organizations, clubs and crews are all finding new ways to run and creating new ways to run among the challenges that COVID presents. I couldn’t be more excited to see all the new ways people are running.”
“I had fallen out of love with running because work had really kind of consumed me – for lack of a better description. I knew that there was going to be a moment where I was going to need to step away from work and re-adjust my work-life balance. I decided to leave Nike and I simultaneously decided to move with my partner, Colleen, back home from Portland. I took a little bit of downtime. I was just working constantly. I was super anxious all the time. I was going to bed at 10 and waking up at 3 to prepare for presentations and meetings. It just wasn’t super sustainable. I was definitely drinking more than I would’ve liked. There were a lot of things from a lifestyle perspective that I felt weren’t sustainable. I realized I needed a change. I slowly started running a little bit more and more, sleeping a lot more.”
OTQ or Hospital
– “It was unrealistic for sure…I think the reason was twofold. After the Speed Project, I had started to run a little bit more and more and fall back in love with running. One of the things that helped me do that was I was doing the types of runs and running that I really love: longer, more aerobic efforts, never touching the track, doing runs in the morning when the sun comes up…”
– “I think when I decided to go all-in on trying to ‘qualify for the Olympic trials’ was sometime in August. I was on a run and I was just thinking I progressed decently from being able to hold sub-seven’s to doing a 5K at 5:25 pace. Again…that’s still a ways away from 26.2 miles at 5:18 pace. I thought, ‘Let me put an unrealistic goal out there and see how I respond to it.’ Shrink the timeline. It’s five months until one of the last opportunities to qualify. I was going to try and qualify at CIM. Let me create some urgency around a goal that seems unrealistic.”
– “The first thing is vocalizing and sharing a goal like that puts a level of accountability on you to go after it. That was the first thing and I knew that even vocalizing it, I knew that there would be people that rightfully so didn’t think I would do it. The accountability to do something that was unrealistic really helped me orient myself toward that goal.
– “The recklessness was just a result of vocalizing the goal. If that’s the goal then I will need to do X, Y and Z to try and get there…I know everybody is different but one thing about my training that I found (I’m 32 so I’m not the young whippersnapper that I was in college) is that I really run by feel. A lot of times I don’t have set workouts planned throughout the week. I work out when I feel good. I decide when I feel good at the earliest when I wake up that morning and at the latest 2-3 miles into the run. What that means is that I typically will workout 5 to 6 days in increments. I don’t do a Tuesday fast workout and then a Friday tempo. I don’t think I’ve workout with a two-day rest since college. That allowed me to be a little bit more aggressive on workout days and to really go with my body. The thing I mentioned before is that I don’t rip track workouts. I don’t rip 400s below 70 seconds. It was a combination of things. I found myself doing a lot of longer efforts to build my aerobic house for a 2:19 effort. The marathon is like 98% aerobic anyway so I would do a lot of 24-mile runs where I’d click down to 5:50s, 5:40s or 5:30s by the end. A lot of my workouts are maybe more impressive from the distance I’m running and the length of time spent at a faster pace.”
– “As I look back on this year or since CIM, in a way, it’s been the most prolific year of running of my life and I’ve yet to race really.”
– “The consistent trend is that no matter how hard you train for a marathon, it hurts a lot.”
Raising Money For Sister Song
– “My partner Colleen and I are expecting a baby. We’ve been doing a ton of reading and looking at the healthcare industry, we can see there’s some pretty horrific stats about how Black mothers are two to five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. It felt like a very apropos cause for this timeframe. Probably a month after the month is over, I’ll probably be holding a little one so I definitely wanted to take the opportunity to raise some money.”
Support for this episode comes from Bakline Running. We’re excited to partner with this Brooklyn-based company that’s making active lifestyle and streetwear-inspired apparel. I’m racing a mile in their performance singlet soon but their hits are their shirts, graphic tees and designs with inspiring mantras like “Me vs Me”; “Nothing But Miles”; “The Future Is Female Runners” and more.
Check them out at https://www.bakline.nyc/ and use code CITIUS for 15% off at checkout.
If you’re interested in sponsorship of the podcast or site, please reach out to Chris Chavez at [email protected]. Package and slots for Fall 2020 and 2021 are available.