Born to Run Coach: In Conversation With Eric Orton
We had the great pleasure to share the trails of our Oaxaca experience with world-renowned running coach, mountain runner and author Eric Orton.
Following this adventure, we sat down to talk about all things running, training, life and adventure.
Eric talks about the impact this experience had for him, and gives us amazing advice regarding training, nutrition, personal philosophy and simplicity.
How and why did you start running?
- I’ve always been a runner, I remember being on a field day in fifth grade as a kid and always being one of the faster runners and I’ve always run; whether its training for other sports like football in college, so I’ve always been running for that; I was the sprinter -track and field- and moving to Colorado really exposed me to the endurance world and I really got interested in mountain running and ever since that is all I wanted to do is run in the mountains and run races in mountains and trails and explore as well as train so it’s been a great way to also create a career for myself in coaching athletes.
What’s your day-to-day approach to running regarding running and nutrition?
– I do a lot of heart-rate training with my athletes so we control the intensity with heart-rate and speed so they’re always training at their own level of ability, which is really important. And then we kind of work backwards depending on what their goal race is, as far as how long we need to train to accomplish the goals for that race, and we integrate the nutritional aspect, which involves the everyday nutrition of you should eat in your meals and how that is important for fueling your running and your training, so you’re able to perform with good energy. I do a lot with eating well and clean, trying to get away from a lot of the sugars that are so detrimental to all societies. I focus on just really trying to have my athletes eat clean and natural foods; they can make a choice whether it’s meat or no meat, but a lot of vegetables and a lot of balance between fat, proteins and carbohydrates.
In all this time you’ve been running, have you developed a personal philosophy towards running?
– Yeah! What I’ve kind of become known for is blending the strength training and how important that is for running and really dialing in how important our feet are in strength for healthy running and applying that to run-form and how important it is for longevity and performance and then the whole performance aspect of training athletes for races, so I combine those three aspects which leads to their own performance in longevity and health of running. All three are very important: how we use our feet, how we use that for strength and the actual physical run-training for specific races.
10 years ago you came to Mexico for another running adventure, which turned into a book. We want to know how does It feel to come back and what has changed in you this time?
– 10 years ago when I went to the Copper Canyon I had no idea what that would lead to, and it changed my life. It changed my career, it put me in a world stage to allow to help many runners and that has been life-changing. At the same time people asked me if I would go back to the Copper Canyon and I said no, it was a once opportunity that was very special and I wanted to look forward to going back to Mexico in another way, but when this opportunity came about, I was so excited because I had just have a good internal feel of how things might work and the people I get associated with, and the project that just really tugged on my heartstrings that this could be something special, and it was and to be able to run in the Oaxaca community and see how people get excited about running and about their own community.
It made me reflect on that what was special very for me is the fact that I come from a tourist town and to see how these people want to grow eco-tourism here and how important running can be. I was amazed by how excited they are to share what they have, it was very unique to get to know them.
How did you find about Aire Libre and what made you want to be a part of it?
– I have a special friend who lives in Mexico City, Javier, and he came to one of my run camps last year and we’ve gotten to know each other very well and I’ve become his coach and gotten to know I’m not quite sure how that conversation started, but the Aire Libre team approached me asking if this is something I wanted to do, and coming from Javier, I knew they were good people and I always trust my gut instinct, and it just sounded exactly what I wanted to get involved with.
Tell us about your experience here in Oaxaca.
It’s such a hard question, because every day continues to tell a story and even every section of the run that we has its own little story, whether it was the rain; I hate running in rain and it rained all day the first day and I’ll always remember that ,because I hate running in rain and now I love it because of the special experience and in the bond that you always have with runners, getting to know them and getting to know the locals that we ran with. And seeing this tremendous terrain that is completely different than I’m used to running it was so special for me. Also to learn about a different culture, the simplicity that people live their lives here is so inspiring and if we can we can take bits and pieces of that simplicity and how people just always have a smile on their face and how food could be so simple every day but so good…there’s a lot that we can learn from these people that we can take back in and integrate into our own lives so I think, side from spectacular running , it’s about how we can become better people.
What impression do you take on the way people live out here and the way the communities are managed?
– I live in a mountain town and I understand that special feeling that has the simple life and to see it on this level is so inspiring and I think it just brings everything back to that life should be simple and we sometimes overtax ourselves and we often hear that music is the international language but I think running is the international activity or sport and with the eco-tourism that’s happening here I think we can bring people to be active and to see unbelievable trails, but also to bring them back to a simple lifestyle where they can’t use our phones and it’s just living day to day. As a group we kind of joked that the last three days seems like a lifetime and I think when you slow things down and you’re so in the moment and focused on what you’re doing at that time, life slows down and I think there’s a lot of joy in it and I saw that in the people there.
Is there any piece of advice you would like to give to the runners and aspiring runners that follow Aire Libre and that are part of this community as well?
First and foremost to get out here, I mean it’s unbelievable, the terrain you can adventure through is endless and so diverse; it can be as extreme as you want it to be. Create your own adventure, pull out a map and create your own little itinerary of adventure running like we did. From town to town, experience the food, it’s unbelievable and it will be an amazing experience.
Eric Orton has a passion for adventure and challenge.
As a mountain runner, world-renowned run coach, and author, Eric has spent a lifetime exploring human potential and the limitless possibilities of the body and mind.
Based in the outdoor adventure paradise of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Eric personally coaches athletes online around the World, from recreational racers, competitive age groupers, to elite ultra marathoners. All abilities welcome.
As the coaching star and a featured character in the worldwide best selling book Born To Run, Eric authored his first book, The Cool Impossible, as a way to help runners put it all together and become strong, fast, healthy runners who can challenge themselves to their own Cool Impossible goal and run beyond limits.
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