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Chasing Breakthroughs with Isaac Updike

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This week’s guest is Isaac Updike of Nike and Empire Elite. Isaac is an accomplished steeplechaser who made it to the finals in the last two Olympic Trials, most recently finishing 5th in Eugene in 2021. With a personal best of 8:17 in the steeple and 3:58 in the mile, he’s one of the speediest runners to ever come out of his native Alaska.

Isaac had a rough 2022 marked by two bouts of COVID that derailed his track season, but he came on the show with a great attitude and perspective about his place in the sport, his remarkable longevity as a pro, and his goals moving forward. We had a great conversation about all the ins and outs of the steeplechase and hurdling, as well as covering his relationship with his coaches and athletes, why he proudly wears the blue-collar runner label, and what it felt like to finally earn an individual pro contract at last year’s Trials.

This episode of Run Your Mouth is presented by Nike. We’ve partnered with them to help share athletes’ stories in a way that reflects the different reasons we all choose to run, work out, and find our part of the track and field community. In my conversations with athletes in all events and all levels over the years, one common theme I hear over and over again is that finding the unique ways running brings you joy is the best way to develop a happy lifelong relationship with the sport.

Come run with Nike. For the everyday and common runner, Nike is committed to motivating, standing by, listening to, and helping them from the starting line to the finish line and every inch, meter and mile in between. Whether it’s a local race, a major marathon, or just a run with friends, get out there and run. Just do it. Check out the Nike Run Club app and come run with us.

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NOTABLE QUOTES AND NOTES

On training with Empire Elite:

“My coaches are super receptive and collaborative with their athletes. They have a deep knowledge and you want to listen to them, but they aren’t going to supersede your opinion and what you think is best for yourself.”

On scratching from USAs:

“It’s a point of pride – to go out there and try to represent your country and show all the work you’ve done. But there comes a point where competing is counterproductive and that was the decision we had to make.”

On finding longevity as a pro runner:

“The faster you get, the harder it is to get faster. At a certain point, you have to stack months and years together to have a single breakthrough. But the secret is pretty simple: we haven’t been overtrained and we enjoy it still.”

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