Interview with a runner – Russell James

Russell James is a barefoot runner from Killarney, a rural town of 250 letterboxes S E of Warwick, QLD, Australia on the foothills of the great divide just below the main range national park.

When Russell isn’t running he has an Urban farm setup where he supplies organic produce from a roadside stall and

markets. Russell and his partner also run a mobile event food van specialising in Allergen free plant-based foods, you can check out his business at Spudelicious.
Russell has personal bests over the following distances;
Half marathon  1.27.10
10k                     40.03
5k                       20.12
Thanks for spending some time with us Russell.

1. How long have you been running, and how did you start?

I started running as part of getting into triathlon. I was coming off the back of a long illness from a brain parasite that I contracted and I was looking for a sport that would get me fit.
That was back when I was 37 years old which is 24 years ago now. Apart from a time that I had a severely broken and shattered toe joint I have been running ever since then.

2. What running achievement are you most proud of?

I think what would come to mind would be representing Australia for the world championship triathlon event in Canada.
It wasn’t my best run as per times though, as I was the third Australian home in my age group and 33rd way down the list as an international competitor but representing Australia was a real blast.
Another running achievement that I am always proud of is someone coming up to me after the run and commenting how I can run so well in bare feet.

3. What is your biggest tip to becoming a successful runner?

I think as is any secret to successful outcomes is to understand the “why” of what you do.
 For me it was a desire to get well and fit, over the successive years it has changed its value and meaning to fit into more of a lifestyle choice and activities.
So for me, the stage of what I regard as ” successful running”  that I am in, I would sum up with the saying ” I’m not in it for the medal haul I’m in it for the long haul.”
The practical bio-mechanics of being a successful runner that I would put forward is getting your form right and all the running mechanics lined up before you start to stack on the kilometres. I would without any hesitation make the suggestion to a new runner to do barefoot foot strengthening and joint mobility work coupled with core strength work before you start to put trash miles on bad form.

4. What is your favourite training session?

It depends on what cycle of training that I am in.
Though I have not trained seriously for a number of years, it doesn’t mean I am not competitive but for me to train hard, my favourite training session needs other people to push me on 400m repeats around the track preferably grass.
This I find really helps me to sharpen up on the top end speed, yet, at the same time brings together the base work I like to do as strength work which I like as hill ( trail ) running.

5. How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

I think this question brings you back to the “why”  you run.  For me running, mobility, fitness, plant-based nutrition are lifestyle choices which underpin my desire for healthy active ageing.
Running is part of the quest I have taken on, to be using this life I’ve been given to its maximum potential in this physical sheath that has been given to me.
Understanding there are cycles in all things and ebbs and flows within life, how you deal with ” lack of motivation” means at some stages if I’m not motivated to get out the door for a run its no big deal, pick it up the next week, the next day, the next month, whatever ………  I’m in it for the long haul.

6. What are your favourite running shoes?

Tricky question, I have been through many varieties of minimalist running sandal never really finding one that I liked, I tried Merrill as a minimalist shoe but there were a few things about them that didn’t suit me.
At the moment I am using a pair of Altra lone peak trail running shoes but most times I prefer to run barefoot.
Though I am looking for a good 5K running flat that I can use when I need an A race effort.

7. What are your goals for the future?

How far do you want to project into the future for this answer but I have consistently stated that a future goal for my running activity is to hold a world title for the 5K track championships for the 90-year-old age division.
Apart from that, I would like to be able to encourage as many people as I can to spend more time barefoot and to engage in an active lifestyle that is full of functional movement and healthy compassionate nutritional choices.
The best way I know how to do this is lead by example of healthy ageing and to be available to share any useful information I may have learned on the way. My last couple of years of parkrun have been a mixed bag of results as overall times but I have been generally in the top 3 age group finishers most runs I think it’s up to 63 last I looked.
We were doing a 50 in 50 challenge  that was 50 parkruns in 50 weekends  which we posted on our youtube channel  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh1yQBA5WcPAeVX4yjy8eL24Kp4HxkKy1 , but in February 2017 my youngest son was killed in a car accident and life took a different turn for us and we moved out here to Killarney where we are now.
We have been supporters and race ambassadors for the Warwick pentath race …. next year I want to have a good crack at the 10k hill ascent so I am putting back on the “serious” training hat.
Thanks ever so much for your time and for detailing your running career. Good luck with your running in the future, achieving your goals in the future. If you’d like to follow Russell’s running journey be sure to follow him on Strava at Russell James and Instagram @wattzupsport. 

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