Podcast: Episode 70 with Katie Arnold

By Mario Fraioli |

“The way I approach running, it’s totally a joyous pursuit for me—which doesn’t mean that every day is happy, but I do it because I love it and I feel good when I run, and the racing is just a fraction of it. I had run all summer training on the happiness principle, where if I’m training happy and not stressed and I’m enjoying it, then I’m training strong and I’ll be healthy. And so that was just a reminder to let it come from within and to tap into that deep pleasure I take in running that really has nothing to do with competition.”

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Excited to welcome Katie Arnold to the podcast this week! The 47-year-old Arnold is one heck of an ultrarunner—she won the Leadville Trail 100 last year in 19 hours, 53 minutes and 40 seconds, which, incredibly, was her debut at the distance—and earlier this year she was second at the Ultra Race of Champions 100K. She’s won numerous other races throughout her career, and is hoping is to run the CCC—a 101K race that goes from Courmayeur, Italy to Chamonix, France—as part of the weeklong UTMB festival of races in late August.

Arnold is also an incredible writer: She’s a contributing editor and former managing editor at Outside magazine, where she worked on staff for 12 years, and currently writes the Raising Rippers column about bringing up adventurous kids—of which she has two of her own—for that publication. Arnold has also written for the The New York Times, Men’s Journal, ESPN the Magazine, and numerous other publications. She recently wrote her first book, Running Home, a memoir about her relationship with her father, grief and resilience, adventure and obsession, and the power of running to change your life.

We covered a wide range of topics in this conversation: “smile” and “flow,” what those words mean to her, and why they’re important when she races; reverse goal-setting and how this strategy sets her up for success; balancing competitive running with the rest of her life; her “real life training plan” and how that helps prepare her for races; the importance of observation and paying attention to what’s going on around her in life; how death can wake us up to the powerful realization that everything is changing all the time; her new book, how it came to be, and what she hopes readers take away from it; and a lot more.

Related links, references, and resources:

— Follow Katie on Instagram and Twitter.

Check out her website and learn more about her new book, Running Home.

— “For me, running is a teacher. If I don’t run for a few days, I miss it, on the inside. It’s how I think; it’s how I feel. It’s how I think about how I feel,” Arnold told the L.A. Times in an interview. “But for you, it could be something else. It could be walking. It could be run/walking. And it doesn’t even have to be physical. I think we have to figure that out, what are we moved to do in this moment.”

An Elite Athlete’s Real-Life Training Plan: “If I was going to have any hope of finishing Leadville, I’d have to figure out a way to turn my challenges into strengths,” Arnold wrote for The New York Times. “I didn’t have a coach, and the longest distance I’d run to date was 62 miles. What I needed was a plan. I decided to use the best one I could find, custom-made just for me: my life.”

— “I didn’t think it was possible to stay in the flow for 20 hours, but I felt great,” Arnold told PodiumRunner about her experience at the Leadville Trail 100. “We kept putting distance between us and I was just in the flow. It wasn’t like we were hammering to get out in front. I was just running in my own body and the gap widened. By Mile 87 I think it was, we were 30 minutes ahead and it just lengthened from there.”

This episode is brought to you by the VCU Health Richmond Marathon. The event, which also includes half marathon and 8K options, takes place in Richmond, Virginia, on November 16th, 2019. Whatever distance you run, Richmond provides phenomenal course support, great fall scenery, awesome finisher swag, and supportive spectators. I know from my experience running there last year that when you run Richmond, you get it all. The marathon is a mostly flat, fast course, top-25 Boston qualifier, and it ends with a beautiful, downhill riverfront finish. Runner’s World called it “America’s Friendliest Marathon” and they certainly live up to this distinction. Start planning your race experience today and save $10 on your registration fee—it applies to the marathon, half marathon, and 8K—by using the discount code “morningshakeout” when you check out at RichmondMarathon.com.

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

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