skip to Main Content

Get Your Run On

With Coach Frankie Ruiz

Season 12, Episode 12  | November 17, 2020

Regardless of your age, speed, geographic location, or economic status, running can be a lifelong sport. Coach Frankie Ruiz, co-founder of the Life Time–Miami Marathon, shares his top tips for training, whether you’re a new runner or getting back into it, as well as how he uses his love of running to inspire others and improve his community. Plus, he tells us what he’s been up to now that most athletic events have gone virtual.

Frankie Ruiz

Frankie Ruiz is the chief running officer and co-founder of the Life Time–Miami Marathon, which began in 2003 and now hosts upward of 25,000 runners. He’s also a long-time cross-country running coach and the creator of the world’s largest weekly free run club that’s powered by Nike and runs in the South Florida area.

If you’re new to running or revisiting the sport after some time off, Ruiz offers this advice for safely and strategically getting started so you can enjoy the activity and avoid injury or burnout.

1. Start with time, not distance. Instead of focusing on the number of miles, use time as a measure. Ruiz says 20 minutes is a good starting point for most beginners — but listen to your body and start with what works for you.

2. Let your body be your guide. Run at a pace where you can comfortable hold a conversation. If you’re panting or breathing hard, you’ve gone too long before pulling back; slow down or walk.

3. Strategically schedule training days. Run those 20 minutes three times a week — but space your sessions out by about 48 hours. Closer together can lead to burnout, while further apart can cause your body to reset and “forget” about your previous training.

4. Progress on a healthy timeline. Over four to five weeks, add a few minutes at a time — say, two minutes — to get from 20 to 30 minutes. You’ll increase slowly, but healthily, so you can enjoy the training and stay in control.

More Like This

Illustration of running gear, including a water bottle and tennis shoe.
By Rebekah Mayer
Try this “beginner’s running recipe” from Life Time Run to get yourself race-ready.
A woman runs up a hill.
By Nicole Radziszewski
This high-intensity workout takes hill repeats to the next level.
A fit man running outside.
By Matthew Sanford
Here’s how to turn running into an integrated mind–body exercise.

Transcript: Get Your Run On

Season 12, Episode 12  | November 17, 2020

Jamie Martin 
Welcome to Life Time Talks, the healthy-living podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, editor in chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine.

David Freeman 
And I’m David Freeman, the national program leader for Life Time’s Alpha program. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey, but no matter what we’re working toward, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving forward in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.

Jamie Martin 
In each episode of this season, we’ll break down various elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, and health issues. We’ll also share real, inspiring stories of transformation.

David Freeman 
And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond who’ll share their insights and knowledge, so you’ll have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.

[Music]

Jamie Martin

A quick shout-out to our sponsor, HOKA ONE ONE®, a footwear and apparel brand with a mission to empower all athletes to feel like they can fly. I’m personally a fan of HOKA’s EVO Rehi’s. It’s a pair of super lightweight running shoes that offers just the right amount of cushion and support without feeling heavy and bulky and that’s something I’ve really struggled with over the years as I’ve been on the hunt for good running shoes.

In uncertain times like these, HOKA knows movement can provide an important outlet, both mentally and physically, as well as a crucial perspective about our circumstances. Head to hokaoneone.com and follow @hokaoneone on Instagram to see examples of how HOKA athletes everywhere are finding inspiration, motivation, and joy in daily movement. That’s hokaoneone.com.

[Music]

David Freeman
Hey, everyone. I’m David Freeman.

Jamie Martin
And I’m Jamie Martin.

David Freeman
And welcome back to another episode of Life Time Talks. We’re super excited about our conversation today, as we’re going to be talking all things running with Frankie Ruiz. He’s our chief running officer for Life Time’s Miami Marathon.

Jamie Martin
This was such a fun conversation, David. And I don’t know about you, I’m a runner, not a competitive runner in any way, and I personally just learned a ton from Frankie about easing back into running, maintaining the activity, and it’s got me inspired to start running with more regularity again. So, any thoughts that you had and then we’ll intro Frankie?

David Freeman
Yeah, I just love the fact that he brought in community and how he spoke on so many different demographics from all over coming together with a common interest and all of these other things are just put to the side. And currently in our state of state, with so much division, bringing people together is such a key element right now, and what he’s doing within his community is amazing.

Jamie Martin
Absolutely. I think he talked about localizing and getting connected with not just the people in your community but the places and taking care of those spaces as well as part of his mission.

So a little bit about Frankie before we get into the episode. Not only is he the chief running officer for the Miami Marathon, but he’s also the co-founder and co-creator of the signature event that began back in 2003. Additionally, he’s a long-time cross-country running coach and also the creator of the world’s largest weekly free run club that’s powered by Nike and that runs across the South Florida area, at least when we’re not in a pandemic.

So, like we said, we covered a ton of ground in this episode, Frankie talks about virtual events, he talks about trends like plogging, which, David, were you familiar with that before this episode?

David Freeman
I was not before this episode but I love the concept, though.

Jamie Martin
So we’ll wait and let you guys hear about that directly from Frankie in the episode. So, without any further ado let’s dive into this conversation.

David Freeman
Allow your minds to run wild. Let’s go.

[Music]

Jamie Martin
Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Life Time Talks. We are so excited for our guest today. Frankie Ruiz. Frankie, thanks for joining us.

Frankie Ruiz
This is awesome. I’m glad to be on.

Jamie Martin
We’re so glad to have you. Before we dive into running because we want to talk about all things running, including just the sport itself and events and all the other things that come along with it, we want to know a little bit more about you and how you got into running yourself and how you’ve managed to take this passion of yours and turn it into a profession, so let’s start there.

Frankie Ruiz
Well, let me start off by saying that I’m not fast. So I want to get that off the table in case everyone wants to go in that direction. I took up the sport, basically because I thought everyone else was staying away from it. I just felt that it was different enough when I took it up. Maybe I was about 10 years old that my dad first invited me on a run. I have to say, the sport’s evolved a lot but I still kind of feel that way. As many people that do running it’s still different enough because it’s still pretty unique to the individual. So I didn’t go down the traditional route of team sports, although I played them all. Instead, I went down this sort of cross country, track and field route. Along the way, I realized also that I had this passion for organizing events.

I organized a haunted house at a very young age after Hurricane Andrew, one of the largest natural disasters to South Florida. And this haunted house we put together with garbage that was lying in front of our homes because we had our neighborhoods ravaged by the storm. I asked my parents, can I just turn our front yard into a haunted house and our garage and so forth? It turned into something bigger than that with sponsors. Then I started repeating this year after year, and we had a couple thousand people lined up in front of my parents’ house in the suburbs of Dade County. I just said this is something I have to stick with.

So I realized that I had that passion and then I still had the running passion. So I started coaching at a high school and stuck with it from there, bumped into some event organizers out of Italy, and they asked me to organize a 5K and I said sure. Next thing you know, I was in a room with a couple partners and we decided to organize the first edition of the Miami Marathon in 2003. That first year we had about 3,400 runners and owned now by the Life Time company. We are now in our 18th year, or would have been our 19th edition, of organizing what has become one of Florida’s premiere marathon and half marathons.

Jamie Martin
How many people are running the marathon in the average year now?

Frankie Ruiz
The first year we were at 3,400, so I have to say that to put it into perspective, and now we see the weekend combined when you have the kid’s mile, the 5K, the half, the full, upwards of 25,000 descend to Miami-Dade County that day. So it’s a pretty unique combination of distances and runners that make up that 22, 23, 25,000, depends on the year. But last year we blew that number out. So we had a record year last year.

David Freeman
Wow. Talk about running towards your passion. You said that you found your passion and then when you kicked it off in 2003 and now looking at where we’re at today, growing from 3,400 to 25,000 that’s a huge feat in itself. So congratulations on that, getting people moving. Running is a staple in so many different sports. It’s near and dear to me. I ran track. I was on the other end of that spectrum, so I was fast. I wouldn’t say as fast as my wife but that’s another story for us to share a little later.

Frankie Ruiz
Where did you run at?

David Freeman
I’m from North Carolina. I played football at University of Richmond so I had a choice between football or track for scholarships, so I chose football but still there was running involved there, too. Love running, but just thinking about it being a staple in so many different sports. You said it, too, regardless if you’re a sprinter or long distance or mid distance runner, it’s something that is in all of the different types of sports or majority of sports. So let’s talk about some of the health benefits of running and why someone might want to get into running.

Frankie Ruiz
My first thing to that is I feel when asked why running for a middle-aged person, let’s just say, and I say it’s because it’s something you can do for the rest of your life. Then when I’m asked why running for a young person, I say because it’s something you can do for the rest of your life. That I think is, to a certain extent, why I find this to be so appealing. I can teach something to someone and for the rest of their life they can go to it regardless of their economic situation, regardless of where they’re at in terms of geography. It’s something you can do so easily. We like to say it’s the most democratic of all sports in that you have a race where you might have the fastest runner, the wealthiest runner, and the poorest runner all at the same start line. I think that makes it pretty special.

So the health benefits associated with that, I think that there’s a feeling of inclusion. There’s this feeling that I belong to something that’s a little bigger than just myself, and that I think is probably first and foremost. I mean I guess that translates into physical benefit, but I have to say it’s certainly a mental one that I tend to lean people into.

David Freeman
Awesome. When you think about that broad range of a demographic, like you said from a social economic standpoint, you still think about community. Now these different individuals can start to intertwine with one another and probably engage beyond the actual race itself. With Miami being one of the largest free run clubs in the nation, how do you keep it safe and enjoyable when you bring all these individuals together?

Frankie Ruiz
Well, we’re on pause now, so I have to say that. We’re on pause for COVID because our groups were upwards of 600, 700, 800 even at times every Tuesday night. These groups were meeting up of all walks of life. I mean people would drive an hour just to come to run a 3.5-mile run with us. But as far as safety is concerned, we’d send them out in groups and we had leaders and warm them up. We’d talk through if it was a first-timer that was coming out, and we’d use the sidewalks, although most of the time we’d take up half of a lane of traffic. But we’ve been doing it for 10-plus years, and it’s sort of expected in downtown in Brickell that every Tuesday night there’s this massive gathering of people, I don’t even call them runners, I just call them people that come out and enjoy some time with one another.

David Freeman
I’m curious as far as over the years, like you said, it’s grown so much. What do you think the key ingredient is for the community being so strong? What would you say?

Frankie Ruiz
I think the fact that nobody’s judging you. At least not down here. I can’t speak for all the other run clubs around the country, but here it really didn’t matter if you were you or me, if you were the fastest or I was the slowest, it didn’t matter and we’ve always made that a point. We’ve made it a point to make sure that everyone kind of recognizes one another. Pre-COVID we used to shake hands or give a high five. We’ll probably change that once we start up again, but there was this connection that people had with one another. I think that allowed it to grow beyond just let me get my watch and log 3.5 miles here. It really became about that connection with one another.

Jamie Martin
The accountability and that sense of belonging is something that’s so powerful in a health and wellness routine, but then to have that as a missing piece right now because that community is not there, how are you helping people stay accountable or encouraging people from a distance right now with all that’s happened with the pandemic and everything being kind of postponed or put on hold?

Frankie Ruiz
It’s obviously been a challenge and it’s somewhere where I’ve never been. Admittedly, I think everybody’s in the same boat, so to speak. We’ve had Zoom runs where folks have just joined me on a coached guided run. We’ve encouraged a lot of tagging and social posting of their own runs safely done with masks and everything that goes with it along the way these last few months. We have sort of put out guidance as to how you might go on your runs at maybe different hours of the day or different routes and explore areas where they’re a little less crowded to give people that sense of safety.

So we’ve done a little bit of that and then I have to say there’s been a lot of education along the way as well of what running should look like if you’re doing it by yourself because everyone was used to going to a run club, being told exactly what to do. So there’s been a lot of dialogue between myself and different runners and social posts and whatnot. Like hey, how do I do an interval workout or how do I go on my long run if I don’t have my group that we used to go out together. Where can I do it safely, especially even women in the area. I usually go on my run at night and I don’t have a group to run. Where should I go?

So there’s been a lot of education on that front. So a lot of sharing of ideas has come a long way. Yeah. On the accountability side, you mentioned that, I just encourage people to use whether it’s the Nike Run Club apps or the Strava apps or even their Instagram account. Just telling people that you’re running inspires others. Obviously, call it humble bragging but truthfully, it holds you accountable and then other people are like you know what, this is a good time to be healthy, let me see if I take this up. There’s a sharing of information and hopefully you bring a friend into the sport during this time.

Jamie Martin
We’ve seen huge rises in people running since the start of the pandemic. There’s been something of a resurgence. So obviously it’s getting people out there, inspiring them to do it, and we want them to do it and we want them to do it safely from avoiding injury and not overdoing it too quickly. So what advice do you have for people who are, I’m going to try running, it’s something that’s accessible, I can do anywhere. How do they avoid not going too hard too fast and burning out? Because I know I’ve personally experienced that over different periods of my life, and I’d love to hear a little bit about that and how you’re encouraging folks around that.

Frankie Ruiz
The biggest reason, and I’ve heard this several times, it’s not just my original thought, but one of the biggest reasons people stay away from running is that they are somewhat afraid of it. There’s a certain fear that comes with it either because they don’t know enough about it or because they had a bad experience when they were younger maybe. They were punished using running. You might agree with football, you lost a game and we’re going to do sprints. The person was just so sore the next day and just had this fear of it because not something you progressed into and they threw it at you.

Or you saw your friend posting on Instagram doing a marathon and the next day you’re like I’m going to go get a pair of shoes and I’m going to run 10 miles, but you had not yet run 10 minutes. So that brings me to my first point, which is start off by time not by distance. We’re overly connected with GPS watches and smart watches, which is great but people tend to say I’m going to do miles, or if you’re listening to us outside of the states, you’re going to do kilometers. I say to that person just go by time because time takes into account the environment and it takes into account how you’re feeling, it takes into account your effort and it’s not being guided by I have to finish this many miles that are arbitrary, to a certain extent, unless you’re being guided through this stuff.

So I would recommend 20 minutes is a good starting point for folks. The way you’d handle those 20 minutes is that you would start the actual run or maybe even a brisk walk for a complete newbie and get to a point where you can’t have a conversation. That’s the point where you kind of want to slow down. That’s where you want to pull back. That’s sort of if you’re looking at a speedometer, that’s where it red lines. That’s where you don’t want to be when you’re starting off. So if I hear myself panting and breathing hard, I’m sure some folks saw that video the other day of the guy seeing the cougar on the trail and he was panting. Imagine yourself panting that way. If you’re there you’ve gone too fast too soon.

So once you get there it’s OK to slow down or even walk. I know there’s different programs out there for run/walk, I’m just saying go by how you feel. Don’t look at the watch say I’ve been running only for three minutes, I need to run for five. No. You know what, if your panting began at two minutes you start your walk and do this for a full 20 minutes. Usually, 10 minutes out away from your home or park or wherever it is you’re at and then turn around and come back. Those 20 minutes I would repeat for at least three times a week.

This is where we make a mistake with running. Folks do it on Monday and then they don’t do it again for another four or five days and they feel horrible on that fifth day when they start again and they’re like I’m just not getting better. It’s just like going and lifting or doing a workout, whether it’s a high intensity workout, your body’s going to take some time to get used to it, but we have this tendency to think that the body gets used to it if you do it once a week. Well, I’m here to tell you 48 hours may be pushing it a little past that. Your body sort of resets a bit and you don’t want to go too much more beyond that because it detrains itself, so to speak.

Again, pick three days of the week, hopefully they’re not consecutive so you give yourself a little bit of a break. Maybe it’s Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, or something like that. You’ll see after four to five weeks that you can start to add some minutes to that 20. A little bit at a time. It’s not adding 30 minutes to your 20 minutes, adding two minutes at a time. I have somebody now that’s running with me and she started off running 20 minutes. She’s now at 30 and it’s taken her about three months. But she got to 30 healthy, she got to 30 enjoying it, and she got to 30 basically being in control and not having to think, because I get the question how do I control my breathing. The reason why your breathing is out of control because you’re not in control yet.

The point is to get you to a point where you enjoy running. There’s all these shirts that say running sucks and running’s boring and all this stuff. So we’re going against the grain here but the reason why the grain exists is because people don’t give it a progressive timeline. They want to bite off way too much. They don’t assess their own fitness and they just start looking at miles. I’ve got to do 10 miles today. Well, why do you have to do 10 miles today? No, I’m training for a marathon. Well, maybe you’re not ready yet.

That negotiation you have to have with yourself early on because once you make the mistake, you’re out for six weeks. Once you get some tendinitis, or you get another overuse injury, or you get shin splits, or something else, it’s six weeks now of doing nothing or going and transitioning to some other exercise. But bang for your buck, if you do this right, it can stick with you for the rest of your life. And 30 minutes of running a day, or three times a week at least, will just give you so much more life. You’re just going to feel better going up the stairs, getting in and out of your car, doing your interval workouts at the club. All those things are going to change if you can put some of this steady running into your life.

Jamie Martin
There’s something that I’ve been reading or hearing about is often people will go to running before they’ll go to strength training, for instance. But I’ve also heard, start with strength training, train to run first because it can be hard on your body if you’re not conditioned, at least to a certain degree. What are your thoughts on that?

Frankie Ruiz
That approach is fine. Everyone’s going to be a little different on the spectrum. Age, obviously, and I’m not talking about physical age. I’m talking about your fitness age. Is strength training something you’ve done in the past? If it is, then maybe you have some good memory there. You know more or less what you need to follow or if you do have a trainer you can kind of get through the strength training portion of it because last thing you want to do is something that’s going to completely hinder your ability to do endurance work. So you need somebody that knows a little bit about that. But I think they can go hand in hand.

They don’t necessarily have to go one before the other. That’s why I’m saying maybe just three times a week and the other two, three times you bring in the strength training. Or it’s only 20 minutes of running, which people refer to as cardio, and I remind them everything is cardio, even what we’re doing here, but let’s call it running for what it is, let’s give it some credence here. But you go ahead and you do those 20 minutes and then you go lifting or go to the strength training. There’s nothing wrong with that, absolutely.

Runners tend to forget their upper body so maybe you just focus on maybe that core to upper body area so you don’t overdo it on the legs if you’re relatively new to this stuff. Body weight exercises will work just fine as well.

David Freeman
You’re speaking my language now. You’re going to see all the passion come through. Everybody’s going to feel this. What Frankie was saying and also what Jamie was saying, the big takeaway I would say is you said time. Making sure the time is there and the consistency, too. I actually like taking words and making them acronyms. When we look at time, I used this earlier in the week with a group of coaches I was working with, it’s Things I Master Every Day. So when you think of what it is that you’re focused on for that day, if you were to say alright, let’s go run for 10 minutes, that’s the focal point, understand the why behind it, and understand the bigger picture.

If it’s three months later that I’m now running 20 minutes that’s the end result but the time that we’re putting in consistently throughout the week is what we need to be focused on. Another thing that you sad that I love as far as the training age. For everybody to understand training age versus the biological age. So David, for example, I’m David, ya’ll, I’m 37 years old. If I started training, whether it was running or strength training at the age of 10, you’re going to take my actual biological age and the age that I started training and you’re going to subtract that 10 from that 37. So I’m 27 years old as far as training age or fitness age, as we mentioned earlier.

So understand that, too, if you’re very green and brand new to some, understand whatever you might be seeing on social media or out in the club, in the gym, understand that that is something that you can arrive at eventually, especially if you’re green. So understand the process, the consistency and the time that you have to put in for those things. So being patient within that process and enjoying the journey.

Then I love how you said cardio. People always reference it as cardio. I say metabolic training. Just think of how we can . . . because when you say cardio, to your point, we’re breathing right now and we’re talking to one another so we’re doing a form of cardio. Just the type of energy system training. I correlate it to a car. So when we think of a car, when you think of zones one to two, I said that’s the engine. So that’s kind of like your base for individual running or working out, whatever it may be. That’s your base. That’s your engine and that’s where you’re utilizing the main energy source as far as fat as your primary energy source.

Then you go into what we call the gears. If you guys know how to drive a stick, understanding gears, how to pace yourself. So that’s more of that zone three, a happy medium between a base and then when we’re about to go into the high intensity. When we look at zones four and five that’s that NOS button. If you press that button you’re going. But everybody knows, if you watch Fast and Furious, it’s not lasting too long. It’s probably a short burst of 10 to 20 seconds and then you’re done. So I just love the fact that you kind of tied all those different things in as far as what people should be looking for when it comes to training and general. Thank you for sharing that. I’m glad we were able to dive a little bit deeper on what that means.

Frankie Ruiz
I’ll take your car analogy a step further and relate it to the question about strength training. The frame of that car is important. The frame of that car is where you affect your nutrition and you affect your chassis, your strength itself. So that car now can go so far. I love when we talk running with cars. I’m not the car expert but I love to hear, more or less — I drive a car everywhere so I definitely can relate, but that’s excellent. Then you mentioned time. I want to say one more thing about time because some folks, especially in the states, because I’ve heard differently in Europe, they see the workout or their workout time as some sort of task. I think of tasks as things that take my time, right — they take them. Running is an investment. It’s going to give you back more than you put in.

It’s so awesome when I hear that somebody says I started running and I feel better. That, to me, that’s what an investment is. You put something in and now you’ve got more out of it than what you put in. That takes some time, for sure. I always tell runners in the middle of their workout, I’m like you’re going to get this time back and then some.

Jamie Martin
You get that return eventually and you’re not always going to see that when you start putting that time in. It might be that three months like you referenced. It took three months to get to 30 minutes. That’s OK. But it’s that you did it in a way that’s sustainable and that you can stick with, hopefully, for the long-term. Sustainability when it comes to health and wellness is so, so key, because when we can’t sustain it we fall off, and then we stop. We want to help people sustain along the way and hopefully grow their investment in it, too.

So I want to shift gears, ha, that’s tied to the car, right?

[Laughter]

Frankie Ruiz
We’re turning this into a car podcast.

Jamie Martin
That’s where we’re going. I know nothing about cars. But shifting gears a little bit to talk about the Miami Marathon. So it was recently announced that the 2021 marathon has been canceled for this year. It’s the first time that’s ever happened since you started in 2003. You’re not alone. Obviously, there’s so many events that have been canceled. So how are you and your team, as you’re supporting people through this, adapting and finding additional ways to kind of keep the celebration of that event alive and keeping people engaged with you?

Frankie Ruiz
Yeah. It’s interesting that you ask that because it’s fresh. Obviously, we made the decision but it’s interesting on how we keep people engaged. You mentioned a little bit earlier about sustaining your involvement in running or commitment to running. It’s not easy to tell people to commit to something for 24 weeks of training for a marathon or 16-week program for a half. So usually around this time we were in the process of being cheerleaders. We were motivators. We were out there at the running groups and handing out water and promoting the motivation that they had initially to make sure that they stick with it. A lot of runners, they commit and two weeks into it they’re like this is too hard and not for me and I’m turning around.

So as a team down here, one of the things we have begun to focus on is obviously the promotion of a virtual goal. I hate using the word virtual, but a virtual run is what everyone’s recognizing these events as now, where they still do the run. So it’s everything real about it that you can imagine because you’re doing it on your own watch on your own time, but it’s still a real run. You’ve still got to put that time and that mileage in there and we will still send you a medal and we’ll still give you your shirt, we’ll make you feel as if you did the real thing. Again, not something we’ve been accustomed to seeing, but I think seeing the world majors and so many events doing this, it’s made it a little bit easier for people to accept. In fact, they’re somewhat encouraged by it, and here’s why I think, I think they’re more encouraged about doing a virtual run because it finally has to be a connection about them. It’s not all the music and the hoopla and the crowd, although that is awesome, because we’ve been doing it for 18 plus years and I think people love it, but for a change, they have to really discover why is it that they run. Why is it something they continue to wake up in the morning to train and do? So a lot of my conversations either through Facebook Live or Instagram posts or whatnot is always asking people to keep asking about their why and their motivation because that is going to evolve. Initially, it may have been to lose weight, but that’s not going to get you out of bed on your sixth week of training. It’s just not. That’s too . . . I don’t know. It’s tangible because you’re losing weight, but you look out the window and you see gray skies and you’re like I don’t know if I should put on my running shoes. You look and you say I’ve got to lose some weight, I’m going to keep running.

Instead, I ask people, I say reframe that a bit. Why do you want to lose weight? Is it because you want to walk down the aisle with your daughter? You want to live longer to see something else in your family? You want to inspire a coworker? I mean get a little deeper into your why rather than so superficial. Initially that’s OK, but later on you need to keep asking.

David Freeman
I love how you touched on that. I mean I want to stick a little bit more on the virtual piece. So in person we know we worked all the way up to 25,000. When I did the math from 2003 to now, is roughly adding around 1,200 people each year. When you think of a virtual aspect, you can do 1,200 in a day. So when you think of the impact and the opportunity from a virtual side of it, what have you seen so far that is working and then where do you see areas of opportunity?

Frankie Ruiz
So everyone talks about running booms. That’s sort of terminology that’s been used since the ’60s and ’70s. Different marathons have led to running booms. Shoe companies have helped create some of this boom. That boom, in this particular moment, is relatively global, this idea that everybody’s affected by this. But knowing that now an event like ours could definitely appeal to everyone, it could go beyond that 1,200 or go beyond the 25,000 because, one, I can take a capacity because you’re doing it on your own time, your own way, your own everything. So I definitely think that this is an opportunity for race organizers such as us to bring more people into the fold.

Sure, the motivation might be a medal, might be a shirt. I mean those are all just little things that contribute and they add to your sort of bag of motivators, but that global spectrum of running now has never been bigger. We need to keep inviting people to join in this sort of global movement, especially at a time when we’re so divided. This could be one of those areas. This is the sport that could unite people right now through these virtual experiences. So one of the things we’re seeing working out, there’s a lot of challenges, there’s a lot of mileage and minute challenges, people running across the country in terms of miles, there’s backyard challenges, there’s a bunch of cool things that are coming.

I never thought that innovation would have happened so quickly in a sport like ours that’s somewhat archaic. I mean running shorts, shoes and sports bra — there’s not a whole lot more to it. Maybe now the watch, but it hasn’t been this tech-heavy athletic or activity. I think to a certain extent these challenges and these long runs and so forth are capturing our imagination. So here at Life Time with the Miami Marathon, that’s where we’re heading. We’re trying to capture their imagination with some new events. We have one now called Fit Giving now for Turkey Trot or for Thanksgiving time.

We’re working on sort of repositioning the way the Miami Marathon’s going to look. In a week we’re going to unveil that and all the benefits associated with a virtual run. Learning from some of these others. So you asked which ones are working. I know the Chicago Marathon’s got some pretty neat stuff going on. New York. I mean virtual medals and the way that they’re delivering the messaging on audio, the apps. I mean there’s even integrity to these things because people are like how do you really know that I was running?

My watch knows when I’m not running. I don’t know if you guys have smart watches but it reminds you to run or it tells you, hey, are we running right now? So the technology has gotten relatively important in all this because it’s now not just getting on your bike and running the 26.2 miles to cheat because it knows you’re on a bike. The apps and the phones are checking you heart rate. They’re checking certain things. They’re like wait a minute, this isn’t right, you’re too fast here, you’re beating some elite runners, it’s questionable. So the integrity is also something we’re seeing in events as well.

Jamie Martin
Actually, I was going to ask you about creativity because I think in light of more of these virtual events happening, how are you seeing people who have committed, say somebody had already signed up for the Miami Marathon, because we’re out, people have signed up and they’ve started training. How are you seeing people be creative with how they’re following through? You mentioned backyard events and other things. But I mean it can be hard to say I’m going to do a marathon on my own or even in a small group. What are some creative efforts you’ve seen people put in so far?

Frankie Ruiz
The creativity is something we’re going to help them with, the sharing of ideas. But people are driving out to places they wouldn’t otherwise have run. As I said, they’re bringing the run to places you wouldn’t necessarily see it. Taking it out to trails or taking it out to less populated areas. The suburbs are seeing some of what they call block runs where people are just running around the block and they have their water station in front of their house. So the creativity, it’s certainly forcing people to kind of scratch their head and say wait a minute, how can I make this more fun? The stuff we’re seeing, I mean we’re seeing people setup finish lines, setting up their own, they’re having their kids hold up a finish tape. You’re seeing that across the country if not the world. So we’re going to help sort of disseminate some of this information and share it.

I don’t know. If I was going to go do my 26.2 miles tomorrow and someone asked me where would I do it, I have this little island that is about a half mile — I guess the perimeter is about a half mile or so, and I would do my full marathon on this little island. I’d have to paddle out to it. Actually, it’s a paddle board I would take out there and that’s where I would do it. Maybe that gives some people some inspiration as to where they might go do their races. Don’t go do it the same day because the island is not that big.

Jamie Martin
One at a time. I love that.

David Freeman
So I’ve got a little challenge I’m going to throw out to all of our listeners. I’m going to throw it at you as well, Frankie. When I ask this next question, we talk about the hopes of future for running and your predictions. I know that we as a world have been saying this term new normal. I want us to change that mindset. You think of Roger Banister, the first individual to break the four-minute mile, and that was not normal to do that. Then all of a sudden once he did it, it became oh, OK, normal. So our mindset needs to evolve, which it’s doing right now, and I think a lot of the things that are being thrown at us. We’re starting to great the solutions versus focusing on the problem. When I ask this next question, I want everybody to understand everything is not as normal but we’re going to evolve in these times to come. So when I say what are your hopes of the future of running and what predictions do you have in events to come, what would they be with the evolving mindset that you have?

Frankie Ruiz
So Roger Banister, that gets me thinking especially our modern times now with [name] and some of these folks that have just opened up the possibilities that limits have sort of, that barriers have just been knocked down, and it just took one person, right. Some might say two because the second one that does it everyone’s like now two people can do it.

Running in general is going to have to evolve into not being the same old. I found myself saying that early on, oh, I can’t wait to go back to the old club, or I can’t wait to go back to the start lines of yesteryear, if you will. I think we need to change our thinking a bit and make it more appealing to all these new runners that have joined in and to the existing runners, reengage them, reignite them to find running or to find their fun in running so that they can stay with it. So that’s going to be up to us as event organizers to innovate when the time comes. We’ve had a lot of time, so we’ve been thinking a lot about how to make it safe, but I think now we need to think safe and fun.

For a while, we were like how do we make the event safe? Let’s just do them safe, safe, safe, but safe is actually not all that fun, I have to say. I mean it’s not. If you have to distance yourself 10 feet from the nearest person it starts to lose a little bit of the reason why we all gather. So it’s going to take a little bit of time to get there, but I think once we reimagine these events to adding a little more fun to them, we’re going to grow the sport beyond what it was before the pandemic.

David Freeman
Yeah. I would say everybody listening new mindset versus new normal is how we’ll go about it. That was awesome.

Jamie Martin
I love that. One more thing that you have done, Frankie, with the work you’ve done in Miami specifically has been really around community activism, too, and taking care of your community. So I want to touch on that before we end our conversation today. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about how running has connected you to your community and how you see that in connecting other people? That’s been little things like taking care of your streets better but also things like picking up garbage. So can you speak to those efforts that you’ve made part of your clubs and your own running routine?

Frankie Ruiz
Yeah. I’m a firm believer that in order to fall in love with your community you actually have to allow it to be honest to you. One of the best ways to find that honesty is actually to go out there and pound the pavement and walk the streets and run the sidewalks and take the paths and so forth. You might find the imperfections in the community but that also provides an opportunity for you to do something about it. So throughout the years, rather than just complaining and writing to elected officials all the time saying you do that, you fix that. Why isn’t that clean? Why isn’t that better? We started to take matters into our own hands and we started to basically clean the streets.

We jumped onboard with this global movement to plog and that plogging was basically the act of jogging and picking up garbage. It’s a Swedish term. Now we’ve had probably dozens a year of these cleanups throughout our community where runners get their workout in but they’re picking up as well. That has sort of led into a little bit more of the civic engagement where runners are like, hey, you know what but we should advocate that these sidewalks are ready form because now we have some adaptive athletes that ride with us, I’m going to be an advocate for fixing these sidewalks.

Now they reach out to the politician, but they’re reaching out with a not only firsthand account of what they’re doing but kind of as an authority. Like I’ve been working for the city, I’ve been doing stuff, I’m not just complaining, but I’d like for your help in fixing this. So we’ve had a lot of that throughout the years really. I’m proud of that because there’s so much work to be done. There’s definitely a level of selfishness out there where people just don’t care enough about their community. But I think in part because they’re not coming outside their houses. They’re not sweating on the streets. They just get in their car, they go to the supermarket, and they go back home and they may care a little bit about their neighborhood but beyond that it’s, in their mind, someone else’s problem. I think we’ve changed that mindset throughout the years.

I know here we have a big problem with our bay. Biscayne Bay, we’ve had a number of fish kills these last few months. The water temperature has been much higher than normal, and they’ve attributed some of this to the runoff from our drainage systems and the plastics and everything else that’s going into that bay. So as runners, we depend on nature, we depend on the environment. I mean, that’s one of the reasons why you go outside, you look at the beauty and so forth. So we have a responsibility to call it out and do something about it.

David Freeman
That’s powerful in itself. Always talking about the problem isn’t going to solve the problem but becoming a solution and that’s exactly what you’re doing with your team, individuals down there. So we appreciate you and all of the work that you guys are doing.

Frankie Ruiz
Thank you.

David Freeman
Is it time for the power minute?

Jamie Martin
I think we’re there.

Frankie Ruiz
Are we going to do a workout?

Jamie Martin
We’re going to do high knees for a minute here real quick.

Frankie Ruiz
I’m in.

David Freeman
At the end of each one of our episodes we always leave our listeners with a power minute. We always say if there’s one thing that you want to leave our listeners with, what would that be?

Frankie Ruiz
I want everybody to run. I want everybody to run. That’s my message. I want everybody to pick up running.

Jamie Martin
Cool. So tell us where people can follow you and see what you’re up to, Frankie.

Frankie Ruiz
Frankie Ruiz, any of the social outlets out there, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, LinkedIn, you’ll find me out there. I try to have a slightly different voice in all of them. Most of my stuff is positive. Most of my stuff is about community engagement, celebrating what’s good. Calling out, every so often, things that need to be a little better out near here I’m at. I’m a very localized person, and I encourage other people to do the same because I think once you localize you’re just going to connect better with your community. You’re going to fall in love with it, and you’re just going to be a better person as a result of that.

But yeah, you can connect with me through any of those social channels and if not, you can see me at any of the upcoming real races when they happen. In the meantime, I invite you to join me on these virtual runs.

Jamie Martin
Thanks, Frankie. This has been a fun conversation. Thanks so much for coming on.

Frankie Ruiz
Thanks for having me. It was fun.

[Music]

David Freeman
Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life. What works for you? Where do you run into challenges? Where do you need help?

Jamie Martin 
And if you have topics for future episodes, you can share those with us, too. Email us at lttalks@lt.life, or reach out to us on Instagram at @lifetime.life@jamiemartinel, or @freezy30 and use the hashtag #LifeTimeTalks. You can also learn more about the podcast at thesource.lifetime.life/podcasts.

David Freeman 
And if you’re enjoying Life Time Talks, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Feel free to write a review and also let others know about it, too. Take a screenshot of the episode and share it on social, share it with your friends, family, work buddies, life coach. You get the gist.

Jamie Martin 
Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next time on Life Time Talks.

[Music]

Jamie Martin
Life Time Talks is a production of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life. It is produced by Molly Schelper, with audio engineering by Peter Perkins and sound consulting by Coy Larson. A big thank you to the team who pulls each episode together and everyone who provided feedback.

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at lttalks@lt.life.

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

Back To Top