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  • Writer's pictureBetsy

Happily Working Hard: Embracing the Sufferfest

Lessons learned from interview with “Fake Pro Runner” Matt Fitzgerald

Hi FitFooters! Hopefully you were able to join us last night for a chat with author Matt Fitzgerald about his experiences training, living, and racing with a professional running group in Flagstaff, AZ called Northern Arizona (NAZ) Elite. This experiment is chronicled in Matt’s latest work, Running the Dream, now out at bookstores everywhere (and on If you want to catch the replay, head on over to Instagram (@sudashoes) and you will find the interview on IGTV.

Here are a few of the many nuggets of wisdom Matt shared with us:

1.) Parents give us lots of great, if imperfect, lessons.

2.) Teammates provide a safety net of support and friendship and inspiration.

3.) Happiness breeds success.

4.) Feminism is a muscle that gets strengthened by respectfully being witness to women doing amazing things.

Some other highlights:

· Jeff Johnson, who was employee #1 at Nike was one of Matt’s high school coaches in the 90s. (Jeff Johnson also helped previous Instagram live guest 2-time Olympian Andrew Wheating get started in the sport.)

· Matt self-labels himself as an injury-prone runner as a way to accept reality and to move forward despite his physical limitations. Matt discusses his mind set when he inevitably does find himself painfully injured in the throes of marathon training and how he comes out of it.

· Recreating a professional running experience involves lots of specialists: physical therapists, massage therapists, psychologists, nutrition experts, pacers, and teammates. These resources are invaluable to helping us all become better versions of ourselves and are worth the investment.

· One of Matt’s hardest workout while training with the team was: 7 x 1000 meters at threshold pace, (somewhere between a 10k race pace and ½ marathon pace). Followed immediately by a 1500 meter (almost a mile) time trial (go as hard as you can). Due to timing, all the men started the time trial simultaneously and Matt found himself at the starting line next to aspiring Olympians. This intimidating situation was embraced and as Matt said “there was no place I would have rather been”.

Hope you all get a chance to read Matt’s book and that it sparks something in you to give yourself permission to invest in your passions regardless of whether you think you can be the best at something. Search for your best and be prepared to be surprised!

There you have it! Stay well, FitFooters!


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