Podcast: Episode 212 with Ruben Sança


“I didn’t want running to be, for me, this thing where I went three years really, really hard and then after that just signed off. I wanted running to be sustainable and that’s what I tell a lot of the athletes that I coach: it’s not a one-year thing, it’s a lifelong commitment. So that’s what I wanted my running to be and for me, I know where my talent level is and I know that in order to get to that next level I need to work really hard. And I knew eventually injuries were going to come along. For me, the hardest thing was trying to stay motivated and stay in the game. After working a full day you’ve got a lot of stuff going on and you’re trying to make sure that you’re finding time for yourself, finding time for others, and to do all these other little things that regular people do.” 

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This week’s episode is with Ruben Sança. Ruben and I go back a ways: When I was a senior at Stonehill College we recruited him pretty hard to come run at our school. He ultimately ended up going to our rival, UMass Lowell, where he went on to have a great collegiate career as a 4x All-American and three-time New England champion. It turned out to be the right choice for him as Ruben now works at his alma mater as the Director of Student Life & Well-Being. After college, Ruben made some big jumps as an athlete. In 2011 he represented his home country of Cape Verde in the marathon at the World Championships in South Korea and the following year he competed in the 5000m at the Olympic Games in London. In fact, it was during those Olympics that I first spent some meaningful time with Ruben and got know him a little bit. Ruben has also finished in the top-25 of the Boston Marathon twice and still competes regularly on the New England road racing scene. In August, he and his five-year-old son Greyson broke the Guinness World Record for running a mile with a stroller, clocking a 4:32.2 at the High Street Mile in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Even though he’s five years younger than me, Ruben is someone I look up to for the example he sets through his actions. He works incredibly hard, makes time for the people and pursuits he cares most about, and he does it all with humility. In this conversation, we talked about his recent Guinness world record and how he shares running with his son. Ruben told me about growing up in Cape Verde, moving to the U.S. when he was 12 years old, and what it was like settling into the Dorchester and Roxbury neighborhoods of Boston. We discussed his experience running in high school and some of the challenges of being a distance runner in the inner city, why he chose to run at UMass Lowell and his relationship with coach Gary Gardner, and how he was thinking about his pursuit of competitive running after college. Ruben also explained to me how his relationship to running has evolved over the years and how he fits in training at a high level around family and a full-time job, establishing his nonprofit foundation that focuses on integrating sports and academics to make a sustainable impact in Cape Verde, and so much more. 

Ruben Sanca: Port Running | Instagram | Twitter | Strava

the morning shakeout: Instagram | Twitter

Mario Fraioli: Website | Strava

This episode is brought to you by:

— New Balance. The new Fresh Foam X More v4 is a maximum cushion shoe with a responsive ride that I’m really enjoying for recovery runs right now. It’s super plush but also incredible light. It’s available in both men’s and women’s sizes on newbalance.com or at your favorite run specialty retail store. 

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

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