5 Questions With: Chris Russell

Matt Orlando
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Hi everyone! I hope you have been enjoying my “5 Questions With” interview series! It has been a great pleasure to get to talk with some truly amazing people so far, and this week’s interviewee is no different!

This week I am privileged to talk with ultra marathoner, blogger, author and podcaster Chris Russell. Chris lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and border collie Buddy. He has written several running books, including “The Mid-Packer’s Lament” and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy.” He hosts an incredibly successful podcast, “RunRunLive,” which you can find on both iTunes and at his website When he’s not writing or hosting his podcast, he can be found running with the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad Runners. You can find him on Twitter at @cyktrussell.

Despite his full plate, he thankfully found time to share his world with us!

5 Questions With Chris Russell

What led you to start your RunRunLive podcast?

Like everything in life my getting onto the podcasting world wasn’t a straight line☺.  I originally started writing on running topics.  I remember the specific night I first wrote down my thoughts.  It the middle of the winter and I was working in Quebec City, CA.  I had just gone out to do a speed workout in -5°F, with the snow and ice and wind.  I thought to myself how ridiculous that was and how only a runner training for a marathon could understand, and I wrote a story about it.

I casually submitted that story and others to and they began to publish them.  Soon I was writing for CoolRunning.  When Podcasting became a thing I would listen to business and history podcasts on my long runs.  I decided to start doing a podcast first, as a way to give back some of the things I’d learned over years of running and racing, second, as a vehicle to write about running consistently, and finally as a way to practice my content delivery and presentation skills which are great skills to have in all aspects of life.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as a direct result of your website, podcast, books, and social media channels?

There have been so many individual events and experiences that have come to me simply by creating and presenting consistently.  But, all of them circle around the gravity point of making new friends and connections.  The online running community is such a great place with like-minded people and my content creation has allowed me to access these great people.

I am truly blessed to have had the opportunities I’ve had and to have met the folks I’ve met.  I love to travel and I love adventures. It’s a perfect fit for me to be able to parachute into somewhere, hook up with a crew of crazy runners and do some awesome event!

What advice do you have for others who aspire to have a successful blog/podcast with such a strong social media following?

Hah! I’m big on advice!

First, I’ve gotten the opportunities by simply getting up each day and doing the best job I can, with the resources I have, on whatever I have to do that day.  This world rewards consistency.  Consistency of content creation, work and attitude.  Yesterday doesn’t matter.  Tomorrow isn’t here yet.  All you get is today.  Get to work doing the best job you can do today. The rest will take care of itself.

Second, take the long view.  The path to any success is never a straight line.  You can’t get caught up in what’s going on right now.  You have to have a persistence of vision that you can execute to each day.  It’s like training for a marathon.  You have good workouts and bad workouts, but you stick to the plan and trust your training because you have that finish line vision.

Third, (and this is more important as you get older), celebrate every day.  Today may be as good as it gets.  I hear so many people bitching after races that they could have done better. Don’t do that.  Celebrate your wins, your disasters and your near misses because you’ll never get to be here again!

Running an ultramarathon is intense. What lessons did you learn about yourself while training for the your first, and what did you learn about yourself during the race itself?

Clearly a 50 miler is a long race, but I’d put it in a different category then a 100 miler.  When I ran the 50 it only took me 9 hours.  When the ultra-folks run the 100 it’s running all day AND running all night.  My point is, 50 is hard, but it’s doable.

I spent a summer training for the distance and I quite enjoyed it.  All my runs were in the trails with my dog and at a pace that was leisurely.  I found training for an ultra mentally and physically much easier than beating the crap out of myself down at the track for a qualifying marathon try.

The race itself was a grand adventure. We shared the course with mountain bikers (which is how I ended up getting into riding mountain bike ultras as well).  The highs are high and the lows are low and the course was beautiful.

What advice do you have for someone who is considering moving up into ultra endurance events?

Don’t feel like you have to ‘move up’.  If 10k’s are a great distance for you then run those.  I have no desire personally to run a 100 miler.  I’m sure I could do it, but I just don’t want to.  You don’t have to run longer just because all the other kids are.

That being said I would rephrase the insight as ‘moving up to the next adventure’. That might be an ultra-distance for you, but it might be a mountain bike race or a triathlon.  Try everything.  Sign up for some trail races or adventure races or mountain races.  Dip your toes in and do it.  Choose stuff that makes you happy, creates great life stories that you can tell at parties and fits your lifestyle.

Bonus: Given the chance, who would you love to go for a run with, and what do you think you would discuss?

That’s an ironic question for me because I had the opportunity last week as a guest of ASICS America to run with Ryan Hall, Andrew Kastor and Andy Potts.  And you know what?  Once we started running we talked about the same stuff all runners talk about; shoes, races, and training.  That’s what’s great about our sport, it cuts across fame and geographies – it’s the most human of athletic endeavors.

And as I always say “I’ll see you out there!”

Be sure to leave some love for Chris in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on future interviews!