Podcast: Episode 190 with Bolota Asmerom

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“That’s the thing about running. That’s why I started running. My first race, I felt something. I felt something. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this feels [like] something.’ It hurts, but you can feel something again—you’re not numb anymore. And with running, you know how it is, you can always run faster, you can always run harder, so forever you’re going to feel something. This is like a hell of a gift. And fortunately, genetically I have that ability to keep running and running and running to the point where I can just run really fast and hurt for a very long time and sustain that hurt—because that’s what really makes me feel alive. It’s like a drug.” 

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Bolota Asmerom is an Eritrean-American who has called the United States home since the age of 10. The 43-year-old represented his home country of Eritrea in the 5000m at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. In 2004, he finished third in the 5000m at the U.S. Olympic Trials but couldn’t go to the Games because he didn’t have the Olympic A standard, and in 2008 he finished fourth in the 5000 at the Trials after some last lap contact. All these years later, running is still a huge part of Bolota’s life: he still trains and races locally in the Bay Area where lives, he coaches and advises a handful of athletes, and he’s also the co-founder and co-owner of Renegade Running, a specialty running shop and community hub in Oakland, California—which is actually where we recorded this episode. 

In this conversation, which is one of my favorites that I’ve ever had for the podcast, we talk about opening a retail space during the pandemic, creating an inclusive community, and making running and running apparel more appealing and accessible to minorities and people of color. Bolota shared his earliest memories of immigrating to the U.S., he told me how running came into his life and how his relationship to the sport and activity has evolved over the years, he took me through his ups and downs as an athlete and shared some of his thoughts on the state of the sport, and a lot more. 

Bolota Asmerom: Renegade Running | Instagram

the morning shakeout: Instagram | Twitter

Mario Fraioli: Website | Strava

This episode is brought to you by:

Tracksmith. Tracksmith crafts performance running apparel, inspiring publications, and distinct experiences that allow runners to indulge in the sport’s rich culture. Go to tracksmith.com/mario to check out some of my favorite apparel picks and use the code MARIO at checkout to get free shipping on your order while also helping support #LASAVESTRACK. 

Recover Athletics. Recover Athletics has worked with the world’s best sports physicians and Olympians like Meb Keflezighi to design an app that makes prehab fun and easy. In 90 seconds, the app will customize a program for your body and your training with different resistance exercises, plyometrics, and mobility work. No pills, no potions, no BS, just 100% evidence based exercises that are easy to follow on your iPhone or iPad. It’s available only in the iOS app store by searching “Recover Athletics” or at this link.

Music and editing for this episode of the morning shakeout podcast by John Summerford.