Multiview 9: Jeremy Soule

26 Mar

Jeremy and I have been close friends since my freshman year of college. And yet for some odd reason, I’m having the hardest time writing this intro for him. Odd because, I probably know him the best of anyone I’ve profiled up to this point and yet I can’t find the words to accurately describe him. Perhaps because we met in college when we were both behaving like college kids and therefore any anecdote I share with you know will ultimately a) not be funny to anyone but us; b) get me into trouble; c) get Jeremy into trouble and/or d) have nothing to do with his athletic ability.

Here’s a story that he’ll probably kill me for telling: Jeremy once kept a girl from getting beaten up by her boyfriend in the basement laundry room of his dorm building and he ended up with a concussion and an overnight stay in the hospital. That’s just the kind of guy he is. He’ll go to bat for you and probably take a bat for you. He’s an excellent writer, a loyal friend, a dedicated New Englanduh, and one tough mudder. Here is Jeremy’s story:

Name: Jeremy Soule
Hometown: Brewster, MA
Current Town: Santa Monica, CA
Sport(s) of Choice: Running, casual cycling, softball
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): Cape Cod Marathon on my feets
Occupation: Manager, Employee Communications @ Activision Blizzard; Freelance writer

Gimme a brief history of Jeremy in sports. Have you always been athletic? Did you play sports as a kid and if so, which ones?

Where I’m from, there’s not much of a choice for boys to not be athletic. We’re a passionate region with our professional sports teams. We have one team for each of the four major sports, so it’s sort of engrained in your upbringing. I spent a lot of my time as a kid in our neighborhood cul-de-sac pretending to be Reggie Lewis, Mike Greenwell, Andre Tippett, and Cam Neely. Although my favorite sport was – and still is – baseball, I probably spent the most time playing basketball with my friends. I didn’t start running consistently until I lived in Brooklyn.

You ran the Cape Cod Marathon back when we were in college and, if I recall correctly, aggravated an old knee injury about half way through the race. But you managed to finish. How did you pull yourself together and how did you feel afterward?

Here’s the short, painful story: I was 24 and an idiot, and didn’t put a lot of focus on recovery. I printed a free schedule of mileage from the NYCRRC and stuck to it. It was going well until I hit my 20 mile long run, and felt something give in my right knee. I gutted it out and ran home. This was 10 days or so before the marathon. I promised myself I would finish the marathon, and run the whole way. I put the injury in the denial bucket of my brain and just did short runs. When the marathon started, I felt great. Around mile 15 or 16, that shooting pain returned, especially on hills. I asked my parents – who were checking in with me at various points of the race – to get me some Advil at the 20th mile. It was obviously too late to help me for the race itself, but it was just really painful. A curious thing happened around mile 22 or so: it just stopped hurting entirely. My brain literally gave up on warning me, and said “alright, we’ll finish this, but you’ll pay for it later.” I did end up finishing, and I finished running. If this was going to be my only marathon, I at least wanted that. My time was 4:07 or so.

I was off my feet for a day and a half. I went to a specialist, who said I had “soccer knees.” My patella would slide more sideways than up and down, and it simply caused overwhelming inflammation on my lower meniscus. Luckily, I didn’t tear anything. I’m a little older and wiser now. I ice properly after long runs. I stretch more effectively. I use anti-inflammatories more generously. I’m feeling good, and hope to get my 2nd marathon in this year at some point. I say this fully-well knowing a marathon isn’t the most natural thing to put your body through, even for the sake of fitness, but I love the challenge.

You admitted that in the last few years it’s been hard for you to get as much exercise as you used to. And yet, you recently ran a sub-2 half marathon and completed a Tough Mudder. So two part question: 1) Why were you slacking? 2) How dare you–I mean, how DO you just decide to run a half-marathon and then do it in under 2?

I was always a late-afternoon or night runner. I used to detest running in the mornings, when my quads felt like unchewed bubble gum. I liked the feeling of being a little looser, the way your body is later in the day, and it’s also nice to burn off the stress of a busy day. Well, that just doesn’t work anymore with my job. I was losing fitness because I was skipping my daily exercise, two, three days in a row. Sometimes I’m there until 8 p.m., and I don’t feel like running, making dinner, and then being wired from my run until 1 a.m. and trying to fall asleep. I run in the mornings now, and I’ve gotten used to it. I do feel better during my day at work sitting on my exercise ball, so it all worked out. As for the half-marathon, I’ve just always been a fast runner for my height! It would probably help me to pace it out slower, but I just don’t know how.

What are your goals? Either short or long term? Are you preparing for upcoming races and if so, how? Do you think you’ll ever run another marathon?

Funny you mention goals; I really do think my various commitments in the past year have helped whip me into the best shape of my life. I say commitments instead of goals because I’m actually glad that registration for long races costs as much as it does. A bunch of people registered for Tough Mudder but didn’t do it. That’s nuts to me! To me, paying in advance for a race is like paying someone to be your personal trainer, but that personal trainer is you. It keeps me on schedule. Instead of skipping a training session, you are more inclined to make time for yourself to do it, instead of “finding” time. That said, my goals are to keep registering for one big event every couple months that will keep my entire body in shape. I used to use just my legs for large muscle fitness, but the endurance challenges keep you honest – I know they did me, as I addressed my upper body for the first time in my life. 25 feet of monkey bars over freezing cold water is no joke! I would like to run another marathon, perhaps later in the year. I just need to take better care of my knees.

Can you recall a particularly challenging moment in training or racing? How did you deal with it?

I remember hitting the wall a lot when I trained for the marathon, and it was a good lesson for me. If you’re out of habit for long-distance training, you’ll still end up hitting the wall once a week when you get back into it. It’s good mental training, that weekly long run. Another challenge for me was just addressing upper body at all for Tough Mudder. Where to begin? How to make it affordable? How often? I did a lot of research on it, found YouTube videos with people arguing, etc.

I have a million stories from Tough Mudder, but keeping my core strong throughout my training, and staying mentally strong during that day really helped me. The obstacles are the spice. Yes, getting electrocuted hurts, but the main challenge is running 10-12 miles up and down gravelly hills at elevation.

Any interesting/funny/inspiring stories you want to share from training or racing?

When I was about to run my first marathon, I must have been stretching nervously at the starting line. A veteran runner said “first time?” I asked him if it was that obvious. He said I picked a hell of a one to be my first, as the Cape Cod Marathon was a very challenging one, as miles 12-20 were extremely hilly. Again, I was 24 and an idiot.

Talk to me about equipment/product. What do you wear? What do you ride? What gels do you like?

I’ve been a cheapskate with my gear forever. I only bought special clothes (non-cotton) for Tough Mudder because they dump you into freezing cold water every two miles, and you don’t want any clothing to absorb water. A guy I ran it with had shoulder-length dreads, and he kept wringing out his hair every so often because it added weight! If you do Tough Mudder, dress like a superhero, skin-tight, non-absorbent material.

I usually dress in shorts, standard cross trainers, and a t-shirt. And I run rain or shine if I’m running that day. (And yes, I know I’m lucky, as it barely rains out here, but it did today!) I usually eat like a fiend after a race, but I don’t really need gels or Gatorade during them. I also hate carrying anything when I run except a single house key and an iPod shuffle. Some people run with their smartphones. I can’t do that. Otherwise, my bike is a piece of crap 10-speed I bought for 100 bucks.

Any advice for the “noobs” out there?

For long-distance racing noobs: Start at the very back of the starting line. I mean behind everyone, and especially behind your average mile pace marker. When the gun goes off, keep your heart rate stable, and stay at your pace. You’ve put yourself in a position to pass every runner in front of you, instead of being passed. It’s a little extra motivation.For endurance challenges, mud runs, spartan races, etc, noobs: Alternate your runs with strength training at home, every other day. You do not necessarily need a gym membership. I did all my strength training with two 30 lbs dumbbells at home. That’s it. Just go on YouTube, or pick up any Men’s or Women’s Health. They have the same stuff in every issue when it comes to core and strength training. If you’re interested in burning calories, strength training, when done right, will burn you just as many as your running or cycling. That’s something I didn’t know when I started. If you’re running something really challenging like Tough Mudder, get in the habit of being able to pull up your own body weight over an obstacle (a pull-up bar, up a tree, up a dumpster, anything!). You don’t have to get all parkour-ish, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind. This is one of the most challenging things about Tough Mudder, especially for a lot of the women in it, who may not be in the habit of working their upper body.

My best general advice? Commit yourself to an event down the road that you cannot currently do. You will get yourself into amazing shape. Let your calendar set your goals for you. Find some weekends every month where you can do 5ks, half-marathons, or endurance challenges.

Video games get a lot of heat for contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. What are your thoughts on this? As an insider, as well as someone who is both virtually and physically active, what do you think we need to do, collectively, to ensure that our kids are exercising more than their thumbs on a daily basis?

It’s a fair question, and I do work for a video game company. Dehydration has been an issue for some gaming addicts, even more than the problems of obesity and sedentary players – but these problems are very real. During Call of Duty XP, I actually saw very few out of shape gamers, proportionally-speaking. I think multiplayer is so competitive now, more like a sport than a bloodbath, you’re attracting the same people who would be up for a pickup game of hoops. I ran our company’s efforts during Extra Life this year, and we encouraged lots of break time and hydrating.

The future is bright on this problem, though, in my opinion. One of my favorite games for the Xbox 360 is Dance Central. I play it with friends a lot. Like they say in the Kinect ads: your body is the controller. And unlike the Wii, you don’t even have to hold anything. It’s like the menus in Minority Report. If they can marry technology with motion sensors and with 3-D – and you know they will – eventually, we really will be inside of the games playing them. You won’t have a choice. This is how we’ll be playing video games in the future.

I know this was a disappointing major league sports season for you. That’s not a question, I just thought I’d point that out. But feel free to respond if you like.

I have no comment on the 2011 Red Sox historically choking away a wildcard spot. I also have no comment on the Patriots being unable to solve the Giants’ defense scheme for two straight Super Bowls. I won’t get greedy, we’ve had a pretty good decade. (And by “we” I mean me and the rest of New England and my fellow New England transplants.)


6 Responses to “Multiview 9: Jeremy Soule”

  1. CultFit March 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Great interview and please be sure to let me know how the Bobby Valentine drama unfolds for “Sox” nation this year…

  2. sexyflexi March 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Favorite interview so far 🙂
    But I could be biased since he’s a native New Englander now living in SoCal…

  3. Jail Break March 27, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    I loved the pic, that was a great race event. Congratulations you made it and for a great job well done and looking forward always for more updates. Thanks for sharing this to us, it’s an inspiring one !

  4. Mark March 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Even though I don’t spend much time on them these days, I do consider myself a “gamer,” and I have to say that from what I’ve seen, obesity and video games aren’t really causally linked. Most gamers do tend to have other interests, much as we runners/cyclists/triathlethes have other interests besides beating ourselves to a pulp.

    • mymultipersonality March 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      Yes, I know. My older brother is a pretty serious gamer and he’s a string bean with multiple other interests. I was just being provocative. As is my way.

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