Episode 181- Ultra Romance: Man & Myth

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Episode 181- Ultra Romance: Man & Myth

“The bicycle gear, and the wheel, and everything it just increases your own power and makes you a superhero!”

-Ultra Romance

Ultra Romance is known by many names, Ronnie, Benedict, Poppi, etc., and this Instagram sensation, if that is even the right word, has captured the fascination of thousands through his depiction of the bicycle as lifestyle. A few years ago he captured my fascination and I have been following his human-powered, bikepacking adventures ever since. The ultra-endurance cyclist spends most of his time traveling the country, riding far. Today Ronnie, as he asked me to call him, and I sit down to pull back the curtain on the character, the myth, the persona that he presents on Instagram and delve into the philosophy he has built through all of the time that he has spent in the saddle, living simply. Consider this episode as part one of my discussion with Ronnie, as I have much more that I want to explore and discuss with this fascinating man.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Ultra Romance:
ronsbikes.com
Instagram: @ultraromance instagram.com/ultraromance/ 
Instagram: @ultraromance_mach2 instagram.com/ultraromance_mach2/

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Episode 180- Steve House: Training for the New Alpinism

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Episode 180- Steve House: Training for the New Alpinism

“You can really make huge strides just by sticking to the simple concept of consistency.”

-Steve House

This week’s episode is the complement to last week’s, as it tells the other half of the story behind Training for the New Alpinism and Uphill Athlete. Steve House was the climber who Scott Johnston, last week’s podcast guest, was coaching when they both decided to share with the world the training techniques that had been so beneficial for Steve. That idea eventually became Training for the New Alpinism, their new book Training for the Uphill Athlete, and their coaching company Uphill Athlete. Steve himself is an accomplished climber who built a name for himself through practicing alpinism, ascending mountains via the most aesthetic lines while leaving as little a trace as possible. While the idea of alpinism may sound simple, it is actually one of, if not the, hardest and most complex endeavors that a human being can attempt and Steve became one of the best in the world at it. He brought that experience in the mountains into his work with Scott to build a training framework that is both practical and beneficial. Today Steve and I delve into his story, the sport of alpinism, community, overcoming challenges, consistency, and how to train smart to achieve your goals.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Steve:
stevehouse.net/
uphillathlete.com/

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Episode 179- Scott Johnston: On Training

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Episode 179- Scott Johnston: On Training

“Every good training program needs to have qualities to it: continuity/consistency, progression, and modulation.”

-Scott Johnston

Scott Johnston is the co-author, along with alpinist Steve House, of the bestseller Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete (2014) and the recently released Training for the Uphill Athlete: A Manual for Mountain Runners and Ski Mountaineers (2019). Both Scott and Steve are the co-founders of the endurance and mountain sports coaching company Uphill Athlete, as well. I first heard about Scott and Steve by hearing about Training for the New Alpinism, which changed the training landscape for alpinism and endurance sports in general by applying tried and true training techniques from more conventional sports to endurance sports. With their new book, Training for the Uphill Athlete, they are continuing to shift the sports’ perspective on training for the better. Today Scott and I sit down to discuss his story, his experience with skiing and climbing, and how he became fascinated by training. We explore how he developed his own training framework, how he took that framework to successfully coach athletes like Steve House, and how he and Steve took that framework and provided it to the world with their books and coaching.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Scott:
uphillathlete.com/

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Episode 178- The Born to Run Special

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Episode 178- The Born to Run Special

Each year in May, the Born to Run Ultramarathon Extravaganza draws people from the world over to a small valley, nestled amongst oak woodlands, on the Central Coast of California. After stepping onto that ranch, you enter an entirely different world, a world of passion and of community. Born to Run is a highlight of my year and is now much like a family reunion for me. This year was hallmarked by a juxtaposition between wild, chaotic moments, like wheelchair jousting, lucha libre wrestling, or moshing to Metalachi, and quiet, calm moments, like running 30 miles, making new friends, and simply hanging out. That dynamic shaped my Born to Run experience for the positive because it gave me a healthy mix of both sides of the spectrum. Today I tell the story of my Born to Run adventure, incorporating various voices from the event answering the simple question, “What is Born to Run to you?”

Gracias,

Jarod Contreras

Special Thanks:
Luis Escobar
Chris “Tarzan” Clemens
Tyler Clemens
Michelle Evans
Chris Harper
Fraser Koroluk
Kaori Peters
Scott Kufferath
Tracy Thomas

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Music: purple-planet.com/

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Episode 177- JB Benna: At the Intersection of Ultrarunning and Christianity

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Episode 177- JB Benna: At the Intersection of Ultrarunning and Christianity

“Suffering purifies you if you accept it as God’s will.”

-JB Benna

Over the past two years since the last time my friend JB Benna, ultrarunner and filmmaker, and I spoke on this podcast, we have both undergone quite dramatic shifts in our personal journeys. Shifts that have been both good and bad but that have both landed with spirituality. Today JB and I explore that journey and how Christianity has come to play a major role in JB’s life. Now I know for some of you, reading that we are going to discuss Christianity may rub you the wrong way. However, I advise you to keep an open mind and listen with curiosity to this conversation that, when it comes down to it, explores the relationship between spirituality and ultrarunning. JB and I delve into what God and Christianity mean to him and to me, how suffering can be seen as a teacher, and the various forms that spirituality can take in one’s life.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find JB:
journeyfilm.com/
tmrrealestate.com/
Instagram: @jbbenna instagram.com/jbbenna/
Twitter: @jbbenna twitter.com/jbbenna?lang=en
Facebook: JB Benna facebook.com/jbbenna

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Episode 176- Trust in Those Around You

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Episode 176- Trust in Those Around You

After heading back home to Los Angeles for Mother’s Day weekend I began to think a lot about the people in my life and what roles they play in helping me to be my best. Those that are in my circle, my friends and family, are those that I turn to for advice and support and they do the same to me. Trusting in that support from the people in your life that mean the most to you is a vital tool in living better. Bottling everything up or solely working through it on your own are not healthy tactics. Instead, rely on the people around you who are positive influences on your life and work to be the same to them. Join me today in a quick reminder of the importance of your circle.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 175- On the Importance of Functional Exercise

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Episode 175- On the Importance of Functional Exercise

Throughout my journey of personal betterment I have found that a key tool is to list out what is working and what I can improve upon. This tactic led me to realize that I am have not been incorporating functional exercises, bodyweight workouts, at all into my running regimen. To improve as a runner you cannot only focus on running, you must also put in work outside of the run. Strengthening muscles throughout the entirety of your body allows you to become a more well-rounded runner that can confidently and safely tackle any challenge. Your body is a machine and you have to care for the entire machine, not only a few parts. The complex mechanics of that machine require a runner to be strong from their head to their toes. Today I explore why building strength outside of the run is a vital tool to becoming a better runner.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 174- "Sherpa" John Lacroix: The Honest Voice

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Episode 174- "Sherpa" John Lacroix: The Honest Voice

“The race doesn’t matter, the experience does and we shouldn’t be creating situations where there’s exclusivity, we should instead be creating experiences where there’s inclusivity.”

-”Sherpa” John Lacroix

John Lacroix, known in the ultrarunning world by his nickname “Sherpa John,” is the founder of the Human Potential Race Series, the largest race series in Colorado and the fifth largest in the nation. This series focuses on providing an “old school” atmosphere to their events and incorporating a strong sense of community into the experience. Preferential treatment is not given to front runners at the event, every finisher is given the same award, there is no prize money, and times are recorded by pen and paper. John’s unique approach to his races extends to the approach that he takes to the ultrarunning world at large. He is unafraid to speak his mind openly and honestly, always making sure to support his opinions with evidence. This propensity towards brutal honesty has led John to rub some people the wrong way and for him to become a polarizing figure within the sport. John’s experience in the sport, having run or race directed ultramarathons for the past 15 years, leads him to speak wisely on all things ultrarunning, which is exactly what he does in today’s wide ranging discussion.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

humanpotentialrunning.com/

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Episode 173- Discipline For the Little Things

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Episode 173- Discipline For the Little Things

Sometimes a quick reminder that the small things matter too can be the best help. Join me today as I explore why the little things that you do in life, like crossing the street or pushing in your chair after a meal, are what count. Those are the moments when you train your self-discipline and commitment. By paying attention to the little things, you better yourself to be disciplined in the big things, like a daily workout or meditation.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 172- Itemize Your Life

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Episode 172- Itemize Your Life

Having spent the past two weekends camping, in Pinnacles National Park and at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterrey, I have had quite a full plate during the weekdays. I wanted to have a present mindset to best enjoy the beauty and adventure of Pinnacles and the chaos and wildness of Sea Otter but in order to do that, I had to make sure that I took care of all of my responsibilities before Friday each week. If you’ve never heard of Pinnacles National Park, it’s a magnificent place filled with incredible trailrunning amongst massive rock formations and views of soaring condors. If you’ve never heard of the Sea Otter Classic, it is regarded as the largest cycling festival in the world and I attended with friends of mine from here at Cal Poly. For their individual draws, I wanted to be present when I was camping in Pinnacles and hanging out at Sea Otter, which led my weeks to be filled with many things to get done. There were a few moments where I was on the verge of becoming overwhelmed and stressed but by applying mindfulness lessons and the all-important tool of to-do lists I was able to stay focused and accomplish what I needed to get done.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 171- Robert Thurman: A Buddhist Perspective

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Episode 171- Robert Thurman: A Buddhist Perspective

“Learn about how to look at the quality of the instrument itself with which [you] learn things.”

-Robert Thurman

Robert Thurman is a renowned Buddhist scholar and the father of actress Uma Thurman. He is the founder of Tibet House US, which is a non-profit dedicated to helping preserve Tibetan culture in exile and to be active against China’s control of Tibet, and founder of Menla Mountain Retreat, which is a healing arts center grounded mainly in the Tibetan healing tradition. Thurman’s extensive knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism, coupled with his deep study of various other philosophies and traditions, allows him to speak eloquently and intelligently on a wide variety of topics. He is able to take the state of our world and frame it in a Buddhist perspective. That way the listener can better understand how damaged our world currently is and how we can improve it through the lessons that can be learned from Buddhism. He uses logic and reason to expose the flaws in many different aspects of our society, from politics, consumerism, and capitalism to science, philosophy, and understanding knowledge, so that we can better go about healing our society. Today’s conversation is a wonderfully wide-ranging discussion that uses Buddhism as the lens to view what is wrong and what is right with the world that we live in today.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Robert:
bobthurman.com/
tibethouse.us/
menla.us/
Instagram: @Bob_Thurman instagram.com/bob__thurman/
Twitter: @BobThurman twitter.com/bobthurman
Facebook: Robert Thurman facebook.com/Robert.A.F.Thurman

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Photo by: Chris Michel

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Episode 170- Nine Trails 35

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Episode 170- Nine Trails 35

Throughout my time here in college, at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I have often felt like I have lost running. Now I don’t mean that I stopped running, I have run a substantial amount while here in SLO. What I mean is that I have been plagued by the recurring feeling that I have lost the running ability that I had during times of my life like the lead up to the Bryce Canyon 100 in June of 2017. That feeling of setting out for a run, knowing that you will enter that pain cave but remaining confident in your fitness to bring you through the discomfort and emerge on the other side better for it. I spent so long tying those two concepts, discomfort and enlightenment, so closely together through running that when I lost that fitness, due to the various challenges I have faced here in college that led running to take a backseat in my life, I felt like I lost running. However, since the New Year I have been training with focus and drive for one goal: the Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run, which took place a week and a half ago. The race, with the 11,700’ of elevation gain that a runner covers across the 35 miles, is known for its difficulty and I was determined to use the race as a platform to reset my outlook, perspective, and mindset on running and on what I was capable of. Stepping across that finish line was a deeply emotional experience for me because it told me that I could still run far, that I still loved it, that I wanted to do more with it, and that I could still learn from it. Join me today as we explore Nine Trails, my experience with that race, and what it taught me.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 169- Andy Van Bergen: The Man Behind Everesting

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Episode 169- Andy Van Bergen: The Man Behind Everesting

“I’m in pain and I’m suffering here and it’s a wonderful thing.”

-Andy Van Bergen

In all the time that I have spent adventuring in the outdoors, I have always had a fascination with going up. Running, riding, or clawing my way up the most elevation gain that I can find is always my focus. In many senses I don’t particularly even like the flat or downhill sections, to me it’s all about the uphill and the discomfort that it brings. Thankfully there are many other people in the world who share my fascination and cyclist Andy Van Bergen is one of them. Andy is the head of the Hells 500, a cycling group focused on and almost obsessed with epic hill climbing adventures, one of which is Everesting. Andy himself is the creator of Everesting, the concept where over one continuous run or ride activity the athlete does enough hill repeats, on one hill of their choosing, to match their elevation gain to the altitude of Mt. Everest: 29,029’ (8,848 m). This idea has taken the world by storm in the five years since its inception because of its brutal simplicity. Anybody, anywhere on the planet can attempt this challenge, all you need is a mindset that will propel your body up and down a hill enough times to climb Everest. This idea and the straightforward difficulty of it captured my imagination as well and in today’s episode, we explore what it means to go upwards powered only by your own body and mind. We delve into who Andy is, why he continuously seeks to push his limits, and the mindset that it takes to endure seemingly impossible tasks.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

hells500.com/
everesting.cc/

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Episode 168- Christian Isakson: Going Deeper

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Episode 168- Christian Isakson: Going Deeper

“It’s amazing to me how little some have and amazing even more that the people that have, don’t do.”

-Christian Isakson

My friend Christian Isakson was the very first guest that I ever had on this show, back on Ep. 8 in early 2016. Only a few weeks before that first conversation Christian had crashed on his bike at Ultraman Hawaii, which practically destroyed his body, breaking bones and puncturing a lung. Now three years later, after a long and arduous recovery journey, Christian has returned to Ultraman, racing Ultraman Florida in February and placing 3rd. I realized after he completed the race that it was about time that I should catch up with Christian. In today’s conversation, we delve not into a recap of the race per se but more into an exploration of the mindset behind Christian Isakson. We explore who he is and what drives him to push his body to its limits and beyond. The importance of finding a deeper meaning for racing beyond a T-shirt or medal is vital and Christian is a firm believer in this idea. Today’s episode is a wide-ranging discussion on everything from how he prepared for and executed Ultraman Florida, to the role that his Christian faith plays in his life, to racing for something more than yourself, and to how to endure.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Christian:
christianisakson.com
Instagram: @luke920 instagram.com/luke920/
Twitter: @lukeninetwenty twitter.com/lukeninetwenty
Facebook: @luke920 facebook.com/luke920/

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Episode 167- Tiredness = Sickness: How to Stay Healthy

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Episode 167- Tiredness = Sickness: How to Stay Healthy

When your body becomes run down you are more likely to get sick. That simple truth is clearly apparent when you are fatigued and stressed because often those are the times when you become sick. The science backs this up, with many studies corroborating the fact that fatigue can weaken your immune system, leading to an increased risk of infection. As I am just overcoming a recent cold I have been thinking a lot about the best practices that one can employ to prevent fatigue and therefore prevent sickness. The key is to listen to your body. During times of tiredness and stress your body sends clear signals that you need to slow down and rest. Often, when you don’t listen to those warning signs, you become sick. The more that you can return to center and stay focused on keeping your body healthy the less likely it will be that you will get sick. Join me today as I explore a few key practices to stay energized and prevent sickness from day to day.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

touchingthetrail.com/writings/2019/2/2/why-you-should-wake-up-early
touchingthetrail.com/resources/#meditation

Sources:
mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/immune-system-lack-of-sleep#1
sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150629110803.htm
Janssen, N., et al. "Fatigue as a predictor of sickness absence: results from the Maastricht cohort study on fatigue at work." Occupational and environmental medicine 60.suppl 1 (2003): i71-i76.
Akerstedt, Torbjorn, et al. "Predicting long‐term sickness absence from sleep and fatigue." Journal of sleep research 16.4 (2007): 341-345.

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Episode 166- Using Complexity to Better Yourself

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Episode 166- Using Complexity to Better Yourself

This past Friday I turned 20 years old and now I am officially no longer a teenager. As such, I have been thinking deeply about the paths that we take in our lives. I recognize that my path, throughout my teenage years, led me to do and accomplish more than what is expected of the typical teenager. I have consistently subverted what is considered to be “normal” and that has led me to consider how to continue that practice into my 20s. One aspect of that practice, of living my individuality, that I know will be for certain is that the journey will not be easy, it never is. However, I have come to recognize that that challenge, inherent in our trails, is the key because it is the teacher. By enduring through adversity, engaging with it, and learning from it we emerge from the other side of the difficulty better for it. Join me in today’s episode as we explore the mathematical concept of fractals to illustrate the use of difficult situations as tools for personal betterment.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 165- Luke & Dylan Reiss: Teenagers Shaped by Adventure

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Episode 165- Luke & Dylan Reiss: Teenagers Shaped by Adventure

I particularly enjoy finding new lines of questioning to pursue with the guests that I have on my show, to get a unique perspective. In our conversation on Ep. 161, Thomas Reiss and I explored the relationship that he has with his sons which has been deeply shaped by engaging in transformative adventures in the outdoors, much like the relationship that I have with my father. A unique father-son relationship, often shaped by running or some other endurance sport is always a topic of conversation that I enjoy exploring because it speaks so deeply to my own life. So when Thomas suggested that I get his teenage sons’, Luke and Dylan, side of the story I was intrigued. Luke has trekked with his father all over the world, to Everest Base Camp, Mt. Baker, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus in Russia, and the area surrounding Cotopaxi in Ecuador. Dylan has adventured with his dad all over the Sierras and Western US. These experiences, coupled with the fact that they are dedicated athletes in their day to day lives, made them perfect guests for me to sit down and chat with. My conversation with Luke and Dylan delves into how running, international travel, having a strong father-son and family dynamic, adventure, and hiking have shaped them. We explore what it means to have a deep connection to getting out of your comfort zone through adventure in the outdoors shapes a young person’s life.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 164- Using Chaos as a Tool for Growth

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Episode 164- Using Chaos as a Tool for Growth

The relationship between order and chaos has always fascinated me. That dynamic was recently exemplified to me on a train ride from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles. Outside of the train car, a storm raged in full force, with sheets of rain beating the windows, but inside the car, the passengers and I were peaceful, warm, and relaxed. We watched movies, read, talked, or slept while we exerted no extraneous effort to get from point A to point B. That ride got me thinking about our relationship to chaos and how we can form a more beneficial relationship than the one we typically have. Our typical relationship is marked by being swept up in the tide, becoming overwhelmed or stressed, and letting the chaos control us. However, I have found that, through a shifting of perspective, we can approach chaotic situations as tools to better ourselves. Through an exploration of the scientific idea of entropy, my experiences in the hectic downtown of LA, and the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching I explore the usefulness of chaos as an opportunity to grow.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 163- Parables for Within

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Episode 163- Parables for Within

I deeply believe that a key aspect of education is repetition. As such, your spiritual education must include that aspect. Today I delve into a reminder that in all cases both the answers and questions are found within. That the path that is your most fulfilling life is found through learning who you truly are. That act of meeting yourself is one that is painful, emotional, and difficult but ultimately worth it. Using parables that examine the virtue of going within from Buddhist and Hindu perspectives I hope to remind you today that this tool has been discussed for thousands of years and it has not lost its usefulness. Indeed, it is probably the most valuable tool for bettering yourself because it allows you to peel back the layers obscuring who you truly are, through such techniques as meditation, getting out of your comfort zone, and broadening your mind, all of which are ways to go within.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

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Episode 162- Matthew Grills: Don't Make Excuses

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Episode 162- Matthew Grills: Don't Make Excuses

“I motivate myself, I think that’s important. If we don’t motivate ourselves then no external person or thing is going to get us out of bed and get us to do what we need to do.”

-Matthew Grills

For a few years now I have followed Matthew Grills on Instagram and, for some reason, only recently did I realize that this vegan Australian ultrarunner would make for a perfect podcast guest. Matthew was introduced to running by his father, much like me, and the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has deeply shaped their relationship for the better. Exploring these intersections that Matthew’s life is filled with, father and son, running and daily life, family and work, was a focus of mine in today’s discussion. Matthew has built a unique perspective on the world through his many ultramarathon finishes, building his dream of owning and running a cafe into a reality, raising a family, redefining his relationship with his father, and overall learning each day how to be better. In today’s conversational exploration of who Matthew Grills is we delve into each one of these topics, all the while keeping a focus on the mindset aspect of Matthew’s story and how the spirituality behind his journey has played a role.

AUM,

Jarod Contreras

Find Matt:
thetattoorunner.com
Instagram: @adventures_and_activism instagram.com/adventures_and_activism/
Instagram (cafe): @thejourneybargara instagram.com/thejourneybargara/

Support Touching the Trail:
touchingthetrail.com/donate
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