This week’s guest is Nikki Hiltz, a returning favorite who came on the podcast for another great Run Your Mouth x Citius Mag crossover to talk about coming out as non-binary, being a role model at a time when trans and queer youth are under attack, and their training and racing plans as they gear up for the 2021 Olympic Trials. This was a really engaging, really informative episode and I hope you’ll enjoy this deep dive into Nikki’s experience.
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In a Very Special Episode of the podcast, Ben Crawford and Matt Wisner, the co-founders of the New Generation T&F magazine, came on RYM to get deep into the philosophy and inner workings of track and field media. No subject was left unaddressed, which at times made for a revealing and uncomfortable conversation, but one that will definitely make you think. We also got into high school stories, the Mountain Dew mile, and Matt’s season opener and had a lot of fun along the way.
Ben Crawford is a University of Oregon student and photographer who rose to prominence on the running YouTube scene with his coverage of the Men of Oregon’s summer training and manages a channel with over 40,000 followers.
Matt Wisner is a 1:48 800m runner and 3:42 1500m runner who ran for Duke University before transferring to Oregon for his final year of collegiate eligibility. He was briefly the facility record holder at the renovated Hayward Field when he won his section of the 1500 at the Hayward Opener this past weekend.
How they define ‘new generation’:
BC: There’s definitely a big gap between people who are like ‘social media is bad’ and people who say ‘the sport’s dying.’ Social media is the future; if you brand yourself and are able to showcase your personality you’re able to get more fans and in turn be able to make more money, create more revenue. And obviously, the faster you are on the track the better it’s going to work out for you.
MW: We hear all this talk about ‘pushing the sport forward,’ but to us, pushing the sport forward means both more fans and more engaged fans. What’s going to make people watch a [whole] 5k? If you know the runners in the race, if you have stakes and know their personality and what they’re up to, you won’t take a bathroom break during the 5k.
On the value of running Youtube:
BC: Providing content that’s new, and fresh, and different is valuable. It may appeal to a lot of people or to a small subsection, but the act of doing something different and putting yourself out there is inspiring for people to see and say, ‘If they did that, I can go and do something of my own in the sport.’
On placing controversial figures into context:
MW: We want to cover things journalistically, and if something is noteworthy and interesting, we want to put it in our magazine. You have to hold people accountable for their words, but at the same time we also genuinely want to know what people think. Ultimately, depiction is not endorsement, and people can and do speak for themselves.
On running culture:
MW: There are so many different cultures within ‘the sport,’ and we want to depict all of it. We want to be wary of defining the culture narrowly, but at the same time, the quirky weirdo distance runners are what drew me to the sport in the first place. I was this kid who hated the boys’ soccer team and wanted to go hang out with those weird kids who were boys and girls and, y’know, shaved their legs sometimes.
BC: You want to make [running culture] inviting to have mainstream appeal… you want it to be fun and not too weird or too serious [….] You look at Track and Field News and those other magazines, and it’s very much defined by a dominant culture. People say ‘running is the sport for everyone,’ but you look at what’s portrayed and it’s [narrow.] If you want to change it, one of the first thins you have to do is make it so anyone can look at it and say, ‘that person reminds me of myself and I feel inspired by them.’
This week, the newest member of the CITIUS Mag podcast family comes on Run Your Mouth to talk about his ideas for changing the sponsorship and marketing models of track and field, his college highs and lows, playing in a band, and everything in between.
Noah Droddy is a professional marathoner, Indiana native, and style icon who hosts the podcast D3 Glory Days with college teammate Stu Newstat. Most recently, he finished second at the 2020 marathon project in a personal best of 2:09:09. This episode is full of hot takes and good stories and you won’t want to miss a minute.
On going into the Marathon Project with an expiring shoe contract: “I went into the race with that attitude that I was fighting for my life in the sport, which, as much as I hate that stress, has worked out well for me before in the past when I have these clear stakes and I can rise to the occasion.”
On building the sport by changing the sponsorship model: “You really have to burn down the sponsorship model […]There are so many things we’ve done to make the sport niche and benefit only a few people, like logo restrictions for example, but if you make changes to get more eyeballs on the sport, we could be NASCAR [….] Right now, we are all kind of dependent on the shoe industry; the only ‘path’ to making a living is to sign a shoe deal. I think we’ll really know the sport is in a good place is when people are signing sponsorships with companies not endemic to running.”
On how running D3 shaped his running future: “I was not a good enough high school athlete where I could’ve joined a competitive Division 1 program and so D3 was really my on-ramp in continuing to run [….] my junior year, I qualified for nationals for the second time and ended up finishing 9th. That was one of those moments where I was like, ‘maybe I’m better than I thought I was,’ and it allowed me to dream bigger […] to redefine my own potential.”
This week’s guest is Josette Norris of Reebok Boston Track Club. Josette is a middle-distance runner, New Jersey native, and Georgetown University alum who recently made a big splash by qualifying for the Olympic Trials with a 10-second personal best in the 5,000m, running 15:19 at the 2021 Texas Qualifier. We talked about transitioning to professional running in a pandemic, what it’s like to be engaged to another professional runner, and the sweet garage setup the Reebok Boston group has in Charlottesville.
On breaking through after 2020:
“The biggest positive that I could take away was having that extra time to get to know my coach and my teammates better, to train, and really just to get stronger. I wasn’t seeing those results in those few races that we had last spring but I was very hopeful that by this year, all the work that I’d put in would pay off [….] It’s been a blessing for me in a way because now I’m having this breakout in an Olympic year, when last year I’m not really sure, because it would definitely have been harder for me in my first year as a pro.”
On ‘full circle’ moments in her career:
“I ran my first ever indoor meet at the Armory in high school, and I got to make my pro debut there 15 minutes from my hometown. I have all these little moments where it’s like – this was meant to be; everything I’ve dreamed about is happening.”
On learning from her fiancé, Olympian Robby Andrews:
“I look up to him because he’s done so much in the sport that I want to do personally, and it’s been so great to have that support system in him as we’re both chasing our dreams together. It was really cool during the pandemic since we were together all the time and doing our training together [….] We have a really good system of both doing our own thing as professionals, and he’s really inspired me and helped me get to where I am today.”
This week’s guest is Amos Bartelsmeyer of Nike and Bowerman Track Club, a 3:53 miler who represented Germany at the 2019 World Championships. We talked about his path from Saint Louis to Georgetown to Seattle and finally into the professional running world and how he got there. We also talked favorite race memories, go-to cocktails, the story behind the “Oats and Hoes” Instagram account, and more.
After graduating Georgetown University in 2018, Amos Bartelsmeyer moved to Seattle in hopes of being coached by incoming University of Washington coach Andy Powell. Despite being unsponsored, he was able to find a training group and came into 2019 on fire, eventually earning a Nike sponsorship and a spot at the 2019 world championships representing Germany. Since September, he’s been a member of Bowerman Track Club and recently ran 1:49 in the 800 and 3:38 in the 1500 in his first races in over a year.
Amos is racing at the Trials of Miles Texas Qualifier presented by Citius Mag this weekend. In advance of the meet, Trials of Miles and Citius are teaming up to raise money for relief organizations doing work in Texas following the past week’s extreme weather and power outages. You can learn more or donate at the links below:
This week’s guest is Eric Avila, a member of Golden Coast Track Club who’s currently in Flagstaff for a training trip where he’s meeting up with some of the country’ best milers for workouts. Eric is a 3:36 1500m guy who recently has found some success in the 5k, running 13:18 in December at the Sound Running track meet. We talked about his shift in training, as well as his love for speed suits, his NAIA roots, and his pitch for the Taco Truck Mile in a great conversation recorded a few weeks ago. Eric will be running the 5,000 at the Citius Mag x Trials of Miles Texas Qualifier on February 27th – catch him on the free livestream in less than two weeks!
On coming from a NAIA collegiate background:
“That chip on my shoulder has always and will always be there. I’ve always kind of thought of myself as blue collar because of the hard path I took. When I got out of college, Bowerman, NOP, OTC, they were the new Oregon Ducks. You kinda have to to be able to believe on yourself on the line.”
On shifting his training toward the 5000:
“A lot of times, I have decent closing speed over the last 150 meters but I haven’t been strong enough to be there to utilize it. So with this more aerobic training, I’d love to take a real crack at the 5k, but I think it’ll help in a fast 15 as well.”
On racing distance races in a speed suit:
“I did it for one race, and I won. And afterwards I was like, well shoot. I have to wear this again. And the next season I did a long [East Coast] indoor trip for 3 weeks and I thought I’d packed my singlet, but I’d only packed my speed suit. So every race that season I raced in the speed suit and since then, I’m the speed suit guy.”
This week’s guest is Molly Seidel, flying high off her 1:09:20 half marathon personal best in Las Vegas last weekend and the announcement that she’s signed a new contract with PUMA. We talked about her first race in new shoes, the inside scoop on the professional contract process, and a surprisingly deep conversation on the challenges of sharing on social media. We also covered the “pants vs. tights” debate, the possibility of a “beer 10k,” and Molly puts her Instagram crush on blast in advance of Tokyo 2021.
On priorities when signing a contract:
“When I was going in, knowing that I was in a position of power, the only two things I knew I wanted were that I wanted to keep Boston as my home base and I wanted to keep Jon Green as my coach. Those were the only two things that were set in stone, and any company that didn’t allow me to do those things were an absolute ‘no.’ I think that knowing my values and knowing what’s important to me made the whole process so much easier.”
On Puma’s carbon shoes:
“Right now, shoes are such a big part of the game [….] that was a big thing for me in my signing decision. I want to make sure that I’m wearing the best thing possible when I step on the line in Sapporo this summer, and I needed to make sure that what I’m racing in is going to put me on the same level as the people around me in terms of shoes. And I’m fully confident in that.”
On having a complex identity as a public figure:
“The assumption that anybody has to be just one thing is just fundamentally flawed. You have to appreciate that people are complex and messy and change over time. Having a little bit more empathy and understanding for the people around you is the most important thing, both in real life and on social media.”
This week’s Run Your Mouth is a little different – To celebrate 3 years and 50 episodes, we have a special bonus “Inside the Podcast” edition. The “guest” is host David Melly, and frequent co-hosts Dana Giordano and Ben Bosworth interview David about the story behind the podcast, from its origins to its most controversial moments to its best and worst episodes.
David shares the inside scoop on his favorite guests, what it felt like to become a target of Internet harassment, and how he reacted when Meb Keflezighi crashed his birthday Zoom. Enjoy this episode with a lot of never-before-shared tidbits, or celebrate RYM’s third birthday with a journey through the back catalogue.
This week’s guest is pro triathlete and elite runner Morgan Pearson. Morgan is a graduate of the University of Colorado and one of the founding members of Tinman Elite who now has his sights set on representing the U.S. at the 2021 Olympics in the triathlon. We talked a bunch about the unique quirks of triathlon training, how it feels when he does come back to running and beat a bunch of pros, his hot takes on social media, and of course, the origin of the nickname “heartthrob.”
On training mostly solo: “I kinda had this breakthrough after college when I was training more by myself… it wasn’t like I was a better runner or more fit, but I think I was doing the workouts more properly for me, but I also think there’s that mental aspect. Training by yourself – that’s hard. Doing an 18-mile long run by yourself… there’s no way around it. That’s hard. You’re going to be ready to race as a result.”
On balancing commitment with levity: “I can be serious about training 5 hours a day, but I can also laugh at myself. I’m killing myself to do this, but it’s really not that important in the grand scheme of things. It’s great to be able to motivate and inspire people, but I don’t need to be so serious about the time. I can still have fun and laugh and poke fun at myself and poke fun at other people.”
On social media’s role in running: “If it gets people into running or excited about the sport, that’s great, I’m all for it. But let’s not make the goal ‘have followers on social media.’ Let’s make the goal ‘break 4 in the mile,’ or ‘qualify for Olympic Trials,’ or whatever you’re trying to do. Let’s never forget the best parts of running.”
This week’s guest is Heather MacLean of New Balance Boston. Heather is a Massachusetts native and graduate of UMass Amherst who’s burst onto the scene in her first few years as a pro, running 4:05 in the 1500 and 2:00 in the 800 this year despite limited racing opportunities.
We talked about the importance of shaping your own narrative, what makes pro running in Boston special, and much more (Dunkin’! Tiktok! Relationship tips!) in a fun and wide-ranging episode. Heather has a fascinating and unique perspective and you’re sure to enjoy this episode.
On the benefits of training in Boston:
“We have a unique opportunity where our coaches don’t mind working together, so a lot of the time the coaches of the running groups in Boston are working together [….] these are the people we’re going to be racing on the elite level, so by learning from each other and working together we become better athletes. It makes our teams really unique in the sense that we’re able to recognize the value in working with other groups and it makes us all stronger.”
On balancing the personal and professional in social media:
“I definitely struggle with that a lot. In this day and age, especially in our sport, it’s great to build a brand for yourself, but it’s a give and take. You have to sell a little bit of yourself in order to build that brand. It take a lot of effort, a lot of energy, and you have to just make sure it’s not taking aware from your work and mental health day to day.”
On storytelling within running:
“I think it’s great to recognize the different stories within our community, and sometimes that’s not done enough. Athlete’s in this sport don’t necessarily have a narrow path to what they’re doing now, and we should let more people tell their full story.”