Podcast: Episode 202 with Tommy Rivers Puzey


“The moment that you realize that pain is your ally rather than your enemy, and you weaponize that and you use it against your competitors, and you use what it is that you personally are feeling as a gauge of the pain you’re inflicting on them…it’s exactly the same thing. That’s the way that I viewed it: As though the deeper I could push myself into that state of discomfort, the harder I could push back, the more effort I could put in—not as though it would make a difference, because you don’t cure cancer by running, you don’t cure cancer by doing pushups, you don’t cure cancer by whatever it was that I was doing to try to  inflict pain on it—it was just a f*ck you more than anything, you know?”

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I’m not even sure how to set up this episode with Tommy Rivers Puzey so I’ll just tell you that it’s a long, winding, and at times heavy conversation with someone I deeply respect and admire about life, death, cancer, identity, hope, potential, love, gratitude, and more that I feel privileged to have had in person and that I am honored to share here with all of you. 

We recorded this conversation the day after this year’s Boston Marathon, which Tommy finished in 6 hours, 31 minutes, and 54 seconds. For those of you who don’t know, Tommy wears a lot of hats: he’s a husband and a father, a philosopher and physical therapist, and mentor and inspiration to so many, myself included. He’s also an incredible endurance athlete with a resume that’s too long to list here but, for context, in 2017 Tommy finished 16th at Boston in 2:18:20. Fast forward to the summer of 2020, and Tommy was fighting for his life in an Arizona hospital after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma. He spent weeks in a medically induced coma, endured multiple surgeries and numerous treatments, and lost 75 pounds over the course of several months, but he survived. Not only that, he’s now in remission, regaining strength every day, and living a very full life, all of which we talk about in this episode. 

Note from Mario: For more on Tommy and his story, please check out this episode of The Rich Roll Podcast and this New York Times article by Talya Minsberg, both of which were published after he finished the New York City Marathon last fall. Also, I highly recommend this recent Outside article on Tommy’s return to this year’s Boston Marathon, written by my good friend and former colleague, Brian Metzler. Finally, I encourage you to check out the Team Rivs collection from Tommy’s sponsor, Craft. All proceeds from this collection go to support Tommy, his wife Steph, and their two daughters. I bought a hat and a t-shirt a while ago, both of which I wear with pride.

Tommy Rivers Puzey: Instagram | Twitter | Run With Rivs Collection

the morning shakeout: Instagram | Twitter

Mario Fraioli: Website | Strava

This episode is brought to you by:

— New Balance. If you’re looking for a workhorse to run most of your miles in, look no further than the FreshFoam X 1080 v12. This shoe has the perfect blend of cushioning and responsiveness, it’s lightweight, it transitions smoothly, it has the most streamlined fit to accommodate a wide variety of foot types, and it holds up to heavy mileage week in and week out. The FreshFoam X 1080 v12 is available in both men’s and women’s sizes on newbalance.com or at your local run specialty retail store. 

The WineShine Half Marathon & 3.9-Miler. The inaugural event, which starts and finishes at the Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa, will be held on July 16, 2022. Not only will you run by some of Napa Valley’s most storied vineyards along the Silverado Trail, you’ll also get the chance to sample some of the area’s best varietals at the post-race festival. Registration is now open at wineshinehalfmarathon.org. Use the code MARIO when you check out and save $15 on your registration fee.

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

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