Matthew Genitempo on Running

1. How did you get started with long distance running?

I found myself in a rut around the beginning of summer 2006. I was overweight and I wasn’t taking care of myself. I just put my shoes on one day and went out for a run. It started with 1 mile a day and by the end of that summer, it had turned into a semi-obsession.

2. What did you like about it when you started? Has that changed over time?

I enjoyed that I could do it by myself. There was no reliance on special equipment or other players. I could just throw on a pair of shoes and hit the road. It’s that straightforward but it’s also simultaneously difficult. It requires the discipline and self-motivation to push yourself from one point to the next. It’s deceptively simple.

That aspect of running has remained constant. In a way, running prepares you for things that are going to test you in a larger way. Your running discipline becomes applicable to other challenges and also puts other difficult tasks in perspective.

3. What have you struggled with in regards to running?

The first mile. Getting started has always and will always be difficult. If I can get past that, then I can (or at least it feels like I can) run forever.

4. How would you describe the emotions and feelings of a long run to someone who has never experienced it?

I recently just finished a fifty mile ultra marathon outside of Moab, Utah and that felt like I underwent the entire spectrum of human emotion. There’s flat-out infantile anger, all the way to extraordinary gratitude. No matter how excellent or dreadful the run is, there’s an unmatched euphoria when it’s all over. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted going on a run.

5. As you are running, what's going through your head? What are you thinking about or telling yourself?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s whirlwind of emotion, but I really do try and be grateful that I’m able to have the time and energy to do it. A simple acknowledgement can really take you a long way.

6. Do you listen to music while running?

I try not to. I usually listen to music or podcasts on days that it’s difficult to get out the door. As odd as it sounds, sometimes running feels like a privilege – just to have enough freedom in the day to go out for an hour or two and just run. It’s like I totally understand the physical and emotional benefits, but sometimes I feel that there are more important things to be done and for some odd reason, if I can educate myself with a podcast or listen to a new record, then I can justify the run. It’s totally ridiculous. Most of the time I like to run as minimally as possible and just listen to my steps and my breath and hopefully enter into a state of relaxed performance.

7. Do you compete? Why?

I usually run two or three races a year, but I’m just in competition with myself. Sometimes my ego will flair up during races and I’ll push myself to pass someone, but most times I have certain distances and times that I’m trying to attain.

8. Have you had a coach?


9. Tell us about your favourite local training routes.

A friend of mine recently brought me to one of his favorite routes in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and it was a helluva time. We essentially parked on one side of the mountain and hitchhiked to the other side of the mountain and ran up and over, back to the car. Point to point runs are my favorite.

10. Do you enjoy running anywhere? Or are there things that make a particularly good route?

I prefer being on trails but if I’m visiting a new place, I like to wake up early and run around and learn the lay of the land.