The Mayor of Running Bart Yasso! (Discussing life, running and falling in love)

Bart Yasso

Bart Yasso
Catalyst - Health, Wellness & Performance Podcast

Full Transcript

Brad Cooper

Welcome to the latest episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching Podcast, my name is Brad Cooper. And I’ll be your host, today’s episode features the one and only Bart Yasso. Now for the runners in the audience, you know that name, he’s the chief running officer for runner’s world. He’s known worldwide as the mayor of running for all the events where he shows up and cheers and runs, and sometimes does a talk beforehand. His book is titled my life on the run. I mean, this guy is running. So for the runners, you’re going to dig this one, but if you’re not a runner, hang in there with me. I think you’re going to enjoy this one because we’re not talking about how to train. We’re not talking about, you know, you do this much and that much, we’re talking about life. We’re talking about the uniqueness of each individual. We’re talking about the idea of listening to your body. All the concepts that Bart talks about in this interview are more about life than they are about running. So I hope you’ll stick in there with me and just can see where this goes. A couple of things to highlight. First of all, I was told last week, Brad, be sure to tell people to subscribe to the podcast. It’s great that they listen, but it’s really helpful if they subscribe. So I don’t really know how this stuff works. So I will take that person’s word for it. And please ask you, beg you, if you enjoy this podcast, please click that subscribe button. I guess it makes a big difference. And then we just updated our website. So if you haven’t been to CatalystCoachingInstitute.com in the last month, take a peek, we’ve spent a lot of time and energy and money getting this thing fine tuned and, and some cool new photos and layouts and easier access to things. So we’d love your feedback. If you have a chance to peek at that, that’d be awesome. So again, it’s CatalystCoachingInstitute.com. As always, we’re here for you. So if you have anything you want to talk through, if you have any questions about this whole idea of becoming a certified wellness coach or how it works with the career, you’re currently in as a clinician or a triathlon coach or whatever it might be. And you’re wondering, how does this fit? Folks, that’s what we do. We sit down with people every day, get on the phone, talk through what this thing’s all about. So you’re not bugging us. Feel free, reach out. Let’s talk. We’ll tell you if it doesn’t seem to make sense for where you’re at right now, but please reach out to us anytime email is, [email protected]. Now on with the latest episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching Podcast.

Brad Cooper

Well, Bart Yasso, this is so fun to have you on the podcast today. I’ve been running most of my life. I’ll share some of that story maybe later on. Um, but reading about you doing your Yasso eight hundreds, which we’ll at some point need to pop into this discussion. You have the coolest titles ever you’re, you’re referred to as the mayor of runners you’re referred to as the chief running officer for runner’s world, you’re, you’re an author. You’re also a member of the hall of fame. You have covered all the bases, my friend, can you give us kind of a, a 10,000 foot view of some of the highlights along the way and this crazy, amazing life you’ve had that people may not know about?

Bart Yasso

Yeah. Brad, first off, thanks for having me on your podcast. I really appreciate it. Yeah. You know, it is crazy. I do get this title as mayor of running. Of course it’s not an elected position. I don’t know how I became the mayor of running, but I hear that all the time. And I’ve been here for 20 years and I, my real job was the chief running officer. I retired last year. I was the chief running officer at runner’s world. Then I worked at runner’s world for 31 years. So, it was a dream. Uh, you know, it really was. I felt like when I started at runner’s world, I got the job that I always wanted. It didn’t really seem like a job. Like I always used to go into work and say, okay, if I had to do something today that I wanted to do, this is actually what I want to do. You know, this is my job. That doesn’t happen all the time to everyone. So I felt very lucky I was in that position. And then, uh, you know, runner’s world really liked me because I was willing to travel around the world and spread, spread the love of running out, uh, on a global level. Right. And, uh, you know, it was really a dream come true to travel around the world and do crazy races and meet people and experience cultures. I never thought I would, uh, experience and to think that running was that vehicle that took me to all these places. It just, uh, thank God I started running 40 years, about 43 years ago. Thank God I started, um, because it really opened so many doors I never thought possible.

Brad Cooper

Talk us through that a little bit, because you know, I was you and I chatted offline a little bit about this. I was out for a run the other day. I was thinking about our interview coming up and it just, it was almost as overwhelming whelming feeling of, I just love this. Like I am, I am having so much fun just being out here on this trail, just coming down. How did the love affair that you’ve had with running for 40 some years? How did it start? What was the, what was the catalyst for that originally?

Bart Yasso

Yeah, Brad. So originally I wanted a life change. I was not leading a healthy lifestyle, so I wanted the, I wanted to make change and I gravitated towards running. Not because I thought I’d be a runner and not that I thought I would run races all over the world and work at runner’s world. I just thought running would be something that would get me in shape, giving me focus. And then I actually fell in love with it. And I didn’t expect that, uh, you know, I didn’t know that would happened. And then, uh, and then I did that first race and then I was hooked on, on, uh, doing races. And once that happened, it just snowballed out of control. But I, but I never knew, I would really love it like that. And then, uh, once you’re immersed in the running community, which is a pretty supportive, encouraging community, that’s the part that you don’t know until you’re in that community and the community wasn’t that big back in the seventies, but it still was an encouraging place and a place to be there where people helped you and helped others. And that’s what I just loved about it. Uh, you know, I always, uh, you know, and I just, I just never stopped, you know, I just kept going and immersing myself in the community. And then of course working at runner’s world, you’re, you know, a major part of the community and, uh, just going to races and just meeting some of the most amazing people, uh, you know, I’d never had the chance to stop. It just was, uh, well, you know, it felt like it was, uh, you know, stuck in this wave that just kept cresting. And I didn’t want to get out of that wave because it’s a comfortable place to be, you know, like you’re in that, you know, and you see that surfer tucked in that little curl and you see that smile on her face. That’s how I felt the whole time running. I was in that little curve that I wanted to be and just, you know, I always wanted to travel around the world and, uh, you know, to do it for running, you know, and to do it as a job, I had never thought that was possible. Right. And that’s one of the things that I’ll always tell people. My tagline is never limit where running can take you physically, emotionally, spiritually, geographically, uh, cause it did all those things for me. So I want people to realize that, uh, how much the sport can impact their life in a positive way, but they got to take those first couple of steps and get started and then see where it goes from there. And I always felt when I worked at runner’s world, you know, I would, before I’d walk into my office every day, uh, I would remind myself, you know, I have my real job to do whatever my assignments were that day, but I always, always took it on myself to like somehow today I got to find someone who’s not a runner. Doesn’t think they could be a runner. And I got to turn that person into a runner or a group of people. And I challenged myself every day. I walked in my office and uh, you know, I, I did that every day. I somehow some part of the day I would just take time to say, okay, let’s figure it out. Who, how, how can I get a hold of a group or somebody that I can convince them that running is going to help their life and change their life to, to the better. And, uh, you know, I used many examples of people that I met and of course, you know, it happened in my own life. So it was fun to take that challenge every day. I’d see if I could convince people to, to be a runner.

Brad Cooper

I love that, let’s run down that path for a second. You and I are, people might look at us and say, you guys are weird. You, you talk about loving running and sure, you guys over there have your little party. But, but frankly, somebody else’s thinking, I don’t know how I got into this podcast. I don’t even like running. Why would I ever run? What would you say to that person? How would you share that passion? Because everyone knows it’s in quotes. Good for me. Everyone knows I should do it, but that’s not very good motivation when you have to do it because you should. What, what conversation would you have that with that person? Not on the should side, but on the joy side, the love side that, that might add to that conversation previously?

Bart Yasso

I always said to someone, you know, I typically run on trails. I’ve run most of my miles on trail. So, you know, you’re out on the trails, you’re out there just loving life, but you’re working hard. And then you pop out of the trail and you’re, you know, you either, you know, your cars in the parking lot or wherever it is. And now all of a sudden you pop out and then people see you and, you know, yeah. You probably have probably had a frown on my face. Cause I was back there pushing it and sweat, coming down. And you know, what is this guy doing? He looks like he’s miserable, but they don’t know inside. You just feel you’re so happy and so alive and just feel the feeling of accomplishment. And that’s what I always tell people like, you know, you just gotta get away from the progression is, happens in small increments. You just don’t start running a marathon. Uh, you, you know, you got to let the sport come to you and you’ll get faster and stronger and better at it if you have the patience. And then, and, but I say in that same way, with the love of it, once it becomes a little bit easier. And once you meet more people, that’s when the love of the sport really takes off sorta like when you gain endurance and can start running up 10 miles, you know, you start out running a mile or two, and then you get up to 10 and then you hear about marathons and now you’re doing marathons. And then your buddy says, Hey, you gotta try these ultra things. And then you end up running, you know, there’s so much where it can lead. And actually I find the love part is the same way. You know, no one just, you don’t fall in love with it, the first couple of steps. But as you get out there and realize the benefits of it and how it makes you feel afterward and that feeling of accomplishment, that’s when I think that that love factor really kicks in. And then, uh, and then, then you get to, uh, spread the love to other people. And that’s when, uh, that’s what has grown this sport to what it is today. And that’s what I love about it. The most is just the people that are willing to share. And, you know, and I always tell people how much they inspire others, but they may never know they inspire people, uh, because the person that they inspire may never come up to them and say, Hey, you inspired me to start running. I watch you head out your door and do this run in the morning. But you know, runners, are inspiring people. They really challenge themselves and take on these challenges. And, uh, you know, I really want runners to know that because they think that a lot of them don’t think they inspire anybody, but I know they do.

Brad Cooper

That’s so good. Yeah. I love your phrase. Let the sport come to you. I think a lot of people look at runners and say, well, I can’t run five miles. I can’t run three miles. And, and oftentimes, for example, we’ve got coaches listening to this that might have clients that are thinking about running and they’re thinking, well, how do I encourage that? How do I nudge that? How do I have that conversation? And I think what you’re saying is don’t go out and run three miles. If you run one minute and then you walk for 20 that’s, that’s great. And then the next day maybe run 90 seconds. It, you don’t have to do that. You, like you said, let the sport come to you. That is a very powerful statement. I love that. Do you want to build on that anymore in terms of the beginner runner or the maybe runner?

Bart Yasso

Yeah. I mean, I, you know, originally when I had someone who really didn’t run at all, I, you know, I would say, well, just try to run a minute and walk a minute, or just try anything, just get out there, run from one telephone pole to the next and then walk a little bit, do whatever, just start. And then I met this woman who was lost a lot of weight who was really obese and she got into running and she looked at me. And when I first met her and she said, I used to run 15 seconds, 15 seconds, 15 seconds was such a long way to run. When I was talking to her, we were at the New York city marathon. She was going to run the New York city marathon the next day. And I thought, wow, she just threw at me. Cause you know, you, you start wherever you are, whatever you can physically do and for her, she could, she could run 15 seconds, which isn’t far to run, but that’s what started. And then she would walk and then she would run again. And then eventually she got up to a minute and then two minutes, and then she was heading out to run the New York city marathon. So I know so many people could do this, but you really have to start wherever you are. And that’s not, there is no blueprint out there, you know, it’s uh, where wherever you are, you have to start and just, you will progress. That is the key thing I love the most about running. When it comes to doing races is a clock, never lies. You’ve got hard work. You do. The benefit is that clock. When you cross the line, you know, there are runners that set world records and win Olympic medals. And when you know the big races and then there are runners that just challenge themselves and want to cross that finish line and said, what we call personal best or personal records, PRs or PBs, whatever you prefer. And to do that, you just have to do the work and reward is that you’ve crossed that finish line and look up at that clock. And those numbers change. They get, you do the hard work and get faster. You get stronger. And, uh, you know, you’re running literally as the thing comes to life right in front of you, but there’s no shortcuts in the sport of running and nothing, nothing given you have to earn it and you have to want to do the work, but that’s, but that’s the beauty of it. You know, you’re not judged by anyone. And, uh, you can’t rely on, on, uh, on another team member to, to run for you, you know, to run in groups and stuff to encourage each other helps, but it’s not, but no one can step in and do your running. I mean, it is really a self challenge, uh, that you have to take on.

Brad Cooper

And again, two things you said in there that I think are almost magical. One, it’s all about you, you know, a famous guy is doing his thing and it’s fun to watch him. And that’s exciting, but for, for 99.99% of us, it’s all about, can I be better than yesterday? And that’s, that’s cool. Like you and I will never race each other. We might be in the same race, but we’re racing ourselves within that race. The other thing you said that was fascinating, that I think is a great reminder to us is you said, you, you, you, you kind of basically, you said you get what you put into it. And the cool thing with that is, yes, it takes some hard work. It takes some effort. It takes getting off the couch, but you also do get out of it what you put into it. If you’re willing to go out and run 15 seconds and build that to 30 seconds and a minute, you will see the benefits. And there’s so few things in life, like in, in our jobs, oftentimes what we put into it does not necessarily produce measurable results. In running, what we put into it pretty much always produces. So I love that you brought that up.

Bart Yasso

Yeah, it really is. I mean, you, you see the progression, every runner looks back and thinks, you know, they do a marathon or they make it to Boston and qualify or whatever it is. And you always think back and think, wow, I used to think running around the block was, you know, and we all start like that. Like the sport is just not easy on anybody. I can’t tell you how many people looked at me right in the face and said, I can’t run. I tried running. And I got to the end of the street and I was out of breath. And I said, well, you start too quickly. Cause you think you, you know, your, your image of running is what you see on TV. And you know, you’re watching, you know, you’ve got glimpses of the New York city marathon or the Boston marathon. You’re not there. You need to stay within what you can do, not what you see on TV and have to slow yourself down. It’s really hard to convince people, if you slow, slow yourself down, you will actually will become faster because you’ll gain endurance and you’ll get better, but you have to slow down. So you cover more distance. And it sounds very counterintuitive to say to somebody, Oh, if you, if you run slower, you will become fast. You know how people will give you a puzzled look then after you work with them, they, then they grasp what you’re talking about and understand, because that’s what does happen. If you slow down, you can run more distance. You can run further where you gain the endurance and the strength, and then you will become faster by doing that. But it’s hard to do in the beginning, right? I find it hard to do. Even people that have been doing this sport for many years still find that hard to believe, but they, they know what happens. They understand, they understand it, but it’s still a hard, hard to hard to understand the, to slow down, you will become faster.

Brad Cooper

Well there was, I think there was just a research study I saw two weeks ago came out saying that the biggest distinguisher and this was within the elite athletes. This is the professionals. One of the biggest single distinguishers between the best and the almost best were the number of easy runs during the week. And I thought that was fascinating. So you’re dead, dead on.

Bart Yasso

You can’t, and when I say all this stuff, you cannot overdo it because the worst thing is to get injured and never make it to the starting line or never make it till you fall in love with it. So you just, just be happy with small gains early on, and eventually you’ll get the bigger gains, but there’s no shortcuts.

Brad Cooper

It’s a great reminder. You can’t get to the finish line until you get to the start line. That is the truth. So biggest surprises. You, you have seen it all my friend, like I’ve lived my life running, but I’ve seen nothing compared to what you’ve seen. What are some of the biggest surprises you’ve seen in the sport in your adventures? Just walk us through a couple of fun things.

Bart Yasso

So biggest surprises for me, you know, starting in the seventies, was it the, the amount of women that would come into the sport and to see the sport today, be gender 50 50? I mean, that’s the coolest thing. And you know, it wasn’t, it was something that, I mean, guys, when we were running in the seventies, we thought there should, you know, if there’s 400 people in the race, there should be 200 women, 200 men. But when I started doing races in late seventies, early eighties, if there were 400 runners in the race, there may have been 25 women. Not today. In fact, you can go to some races where there’s more women than men. That is a, yeah, it is a welcome surprise and a big surprise. Uh, and you know, it was fueled by many things, but it was really a really cool thing to physically witness in my years of running and not a big surprise was just how the sport just continues to grow. Uh, you know, there’s just more people coming in and the amount of races and, you know, the first year I did the New York city marathon was 1982. And I don’t know exactly, but I think the amount of finishers was about 15,000 somewhere in there. And we thought, man, how in the world are they going to pull off a marathon with how’s that physically going to be possible? And of course now there’s 58,000 or 60,000. And you know, all these races, London, Berlin, that is a big surprise that the big city races really took off a New York city marathon, 1976, which was the first year they did the five borough course and really ran through the city and took over the city. And then if you look at all the other big city races around the world, you can see a lot of them started right after 1976, 1976. Cause people, people kept saying the people in London and Berlin and everywhere else, if New York can do it, we can do it. You can close down the streets. And that is a big, big surprise to me how the big city marathons really took off on a global level. And now, you know, if you try to do the six world majors, right, you know, like 300,000 people try to enter the Tokyo marathon and I can only take whatever it is or whatever it’s crazy. I really didn’t, that became a big surprise. I mean, I always thought the sport would grow. And when I started out runner’s world, we always looked at how we can play a role in growing the sport. And, uh, you know, certainly be, uh, try to be ahead of the trends and what’s happening. But some of the stuff was just shocking that really took off. And, uh, you know, I feel lucky to have started back in the seventies. I physically witnessed a lot of these changes, these big surprises, which are just the coolest thing and people that might now be some of these guys and women in their seventies and eighties that are running marathons at a fast pace. You know, I just saw two different gentlemen, uh, break three hours in the marathon in their seventies. And I mean, they look not only do they run that fast, they look, they look like they make it look easy and they’re in their seventies. So it’s pretty inspiring. And, uh, just to see that go on, I was at a 5k race in Florida, back in February and this 97 year old woman did the 5k. And you know, I remember seeing her finish the year before, she was 96 and the year before she was 95. So, you know, I always tell her when she finishes, how she is my inspiration and my, and she looks at me like, I’m crazy. She says how can a 97 year old woman be your inspiration? And I said, you are out here doing it. I hope I can do one when I’m your age and I may be slower than you at your age. So yeah. You know, they just don’t understand it. They make like a big deal when finishes. It’s pretty cool to witness.

Bart Yasso

That changes the conversation because it used to be when you’re 70, you’re supposed to start slowing down when you’re 80, you should really be taking it easy. And then you’re out there at this 5k seeing a 97 year old woman finishing for the third year in a row. And all of a sudden all the 70 and 80 year olds go, Oh my gosh, that lady is 20 years older than me. What’s my problem. I need to get moving.

Brad Cooper

Yeah. Yeah. And she always tells me well, I didn’t start till I was in my eighties, I’m like it doesn’t matter, give me a new excuse. You’re 97 years old, finishing a race. So I don’t want to hear anything. Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s the stuff that I love about our sport. Yeah. And I never, the other big surprise. I never thought that I would get to know some of these people that have overcome so many obstacles that I just, you know, people come up to me. Like I’m not at a race, with a sign that says, Hey, come up and tell me your story. People just walk up to me and tell me their story. And some of them are just so it’s so inspiring. Like I just can’t, I just look at them and I don’t know how they overcome the odds. And I’ll give you a perfect example. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was at the Oklahoma city marathon and this woman named Amy was in the building at the Oklahoma city bombing, sitting at a desk, bomb goes off. She gets covered in 10 feet of concrete, sitting at her desk, lucky for her. She did have a little place to breathe, but she had literally buried alive. So paramedics can find her and the people that were willing to go into that building, not knowing if the rest of the building would fall down to save people. And she was one of those people. They saved all this 10 feet of rubble crushing her. And she did have a little place to breathe till they rescued her. And you know, she, when she got out of there and you know, really realized that she survived and that 160 people didn’t, she said, okay, I got a second chance on life. I’m not going to be this overweight person that’s just gonna die young and not do anything. She does Ironman now and marathons. And you know, it’s amazing to look at her and think she was literally buried alive. And now she’s out there and just running free and being happy. You know, those kinds of stories absolutely blow me away. Like some people’s stories never leave my mind. Hers is a perfect example. When I first met her, I met her, I first met her at the little rock marathon and she told me her story. And you can see the visible, visible scars on her legs because all the stuff that fell on her body. But you know, you can never see those emotional scars that are in there. And that’s what I think of more than the physical stuff can overcome some of the physical, but emotional stuff of surviving, something like that. And then willing to make change. Like she said, she lost 200 pounds. Literally changed her life. When you look at her and I got a picture with her two weeks ago, she is just smiling. You would think she lived the most glorious life and was given everything for free. You know, she’d just got this radiant smile. But you know, when you hear a story, you know, a little different, so it’s that kind of stuff. I never, I never thought I would connect with people like that. And, uh, it’s pretty, pretty cool experience, very inspiring to, uh, to really hear these stories. And sometimes people, they don’t think their story is that big a deal. I’m gonna have to remind them like your story is unbelievable. It’s not that it’s a big deal. It’s, uh, it’s very inspiring. And people would get a lot out of just hearing your story, but people are, some people are afraid to tell their story or they don’t think it’s a story or, or they’re just shy. And you know, they’re never going to tell anyone, but there’s a lot of stories like that, that I’ve encountered over the years. And it’s pretty powerful. Everybody’s got a story. That is the truth.

Brad Cooper

You’ve done so many races. You just mentioned about six different races in the last three sentences. What’s your favorite? Do you have one?

Bart Yasso

Yeah. That’s, that’s the easiest question ever. Everybody says, Oh my God, you’ve run whatever it is, 1500 races. That has to be hard to say no. And actually it’s really easy. I always say that the most memorable, uh, run that I’ve ever did, you know, I was doing the Rome marathon, Rome marathon 2001 was the first marathon I did where I didn’t, I wasn’t concerned about my time. I really just wanted to run. And my, my mom was there and my mom came to a lot of races and always cheered me on and was a big supporter of me. But when I did Rome marathon, she was at Trevi fountain and I stopped during the marathon to give her a hug and hang out with her a little bit. And she was looking at me like you’re running a marathon. It’s not about the running. And, uh, so, you know, I got this cool picture of my mom, just smiling with my arm around her at Trevi fountain. That by far is my favorite running moment by far. And then if I literally say my favorite race, uh, the comrades marathon in South Africa by far is my favorite race. And you know, I, it’s not, you know, it’s a brutal, they call it a marathon, but it’s actually 56 miles and it’s a hilly course and it’s the oldest ultra in the world and it’s the largest ultra in the world, but that’s not what it’s all about. It has a spirit in it. And it’s made a lot of change over the years when they really suppressed the black athletes from running the race. And especially during those years in South Africa. And, uh, to now see the black athletes flourish and win the race. That’s a pretty cool thing to physically see. And when I was at the race in 2010, and I spoke to a lot of black South African runners, and, uh, they told me that during those really tough apartheid years, they felt like when they were running comrades, that apartheid didn’t exist, they felt free. And, you know, I was, I’m thinking of that when, you know, when they’re looking at you right in the eye, telling you that, you know, really felt their freedom for people that, you know, black citizens, I grew up under apartheid and I always thought to myself, wow, if a sport can suppress something as evil as apartheid, that’s the sport I want to be involved with. And it’s hard to talk about those, stuff. Cause those people, you know, like, uh, when you see it in their face, when they talk about it and the tears start to flow down their cheeks, uh, cause they realize now that, you know, when I’m there, they can run free and they always didn’t have that opportunity.

Brad Cooper

It’s a pretty, pretty, uh, pretty moving to just to see them accomplish so much in a short period of time. In fact, uh, William of Tolo was the first black South African to win the New York city marathon. I believe he won in like 93, somewhere in there. And, uh, know that this guy trained to be a marathon runner in South Africa during apartheid where, you know, it was dangerous. Uh, and you know, somehow he got good enough to win the New York city marathon. And when I finished comrades, it was, uh, at the finish line, I’ll get this tap on the shoulder, and this tall, uh, African guy, you know, put his arm around me and says good job and that was William. I could not believe I was like, and I always said, like, if I, when I, when I got, when I was in South Africa, if I could pick one person at the finish line, it would have been William of Tolo. And he was there, like, how could that happen? I mean, it kind of freaked me out because I, I was, he was such a idol to me to think that he could become a good runner as it was what the real, no support system and no encouragement and actually living in danger, being a black citizen, running through the streets. And in South Africa, he, he was able to, you know, train hard enough and to be good enough to run the New York city marathon. And he ran comrades a couple of times and, uh, you know, amazing comrade is such a competitive race that I don’t know. I don’t remember exactly what Willy’s best place was, but he never won comrade. And this guy good one in New York city marathon, that’ll tell you how fast you guys go from 56 miles. It’s incredible. But, but it’s, uh, that race is a powerful race to make change like that. So that’s what puts it as my favorite race. It’s not, it’s not the course. It’s, you know, it’s got incredible, uh, long history because it’s been around so long, but it has a, a checkered past, but they made the changes that they needed to make. And that’s the beauty of it. You know, people can accept that you’re doing things wrong, as long as you’re willing to make change, they made change. And that’s why I go, I don’t, I don’t think I would’ve ever run that race during apartheid. Um, but 2010 apartheid was abolished and South Africa was pretty, pretty thriving place at the time fact. It was when they were hosting the world cup soccer was going to start like five days after the race. The country was a buzz. It was a pretty cool place to be at that time.

Brad Cooper

Cool. Very cool. All right. Let’s talk to the serious runners for a moment here. So those of you who started the Yasso eight hundreds, if there’s anything, your name has a lot of connecting on it, but there’s nothing more closely associated than the good old Yasso eight hundreds. I love them for marathon training, but I actually, it’s one of my favorite workouts. I think I emailed you. I did them last week. I’m not, I don’t have a marathon calendar. It’s just one of those great sessions that it makes you dig deep. And how did that come about? What’s the story on the Yasso?

Bart Yasso

So the yasso 800s were named after me cause it was my favorite workout. 10 times 800, 400 meter recovery. I told them about this correlation. I told them and Andy Barfoot was the editor of runner’s world for many, many years and he won the New York. I mean he won the Boston marathon in 1968, which was pretty good to have on your resume winning the Boston marathon. And so, uh, you know, he was, he was one of my idols and a person that I worked with at runner’s world as a writer, as a runner, as just a person, just a great guy. And I was rooming with him and that’s when I told him, yeah, I do this 10 times 800. And there was a correlation that I average 2:40 in the eight hundreds 10 of them, I can run a 2:40 marathon. He thought I was crazy when he saw me do the workout. And then I actually did the race and he said wow it really does work. And then, you know, I said that and he said, you know, we’re going to do some investigation on this. And he did. And then of course the story and runner’s world back in the early nineties and then he named them yasso eight hundreds, cause he said, I had an unusual name. I said, yasso is like a Yahoo type name. You know, Google, you know, it’s an unusual name. People never heard it, it’s gonna stick. And I said, I thought he was completely out of his mind when he was working on this. And the, the thing I always said to people, I never said the yasso 800 work for anyone, but me and they did work for me, but I don’t know if they work for everyone. And that’s what I kept telling him and he said don’t worry about it. I’ll I’ll do this. You just tell me, you know, how you, how you do the work when you do and all that kind of stuff. Let me work on the story. He, uh, he named him after me, without me knowing they were going to be named Yasso. And uh, since that article in runner’s world, which again was back in the early nineties, there’s not a day of my life that I don’t hear about. Yeah. So I mean, whether it’s a tweet or Facebook posts or Instagram these days and the old days, it was emails and priority emails. It was phone calls and letters sent me. Uh, but I always kid around with people. Uh, I said, don’t ever have a work out named after you. You will never be able to check email the rest of your life. And I say that in a kidding way, people understand what I’m talking about is kind of fun to have a workout. But it really Ambi was real. Ambi is a genius, uh, in real life. I mean, he’s such a smart guy, but he really knew that people would gravitate to these things. And he knew they would work for a lot of people. And he knew people would like doing it. And it gave him like a real simplistic way to set a marathon goal and how to train for it. So he, he loved them. And I, you know, honestly, I, when the magazine came out, I thought, okay, you know, I’m going to hear about this Yasso 800 thing for about two months. And then the magazine will fade away. And then this thing came out the internet and once it got out there, it’s never stopped. So, but it’s been fun.

Brad Cooper

Love it, love it. Well, I will thank him on your behalf. That’s great stuff. Easy to remember. And it’s a classic. Um, so you you’re quoted as saying repeatedly, life’s a journey, but it’s about how far we’ve come. Not how fast we run through it. Now you’re a pretty fast guy, so it’s not like you’re slow. And so, you know, I’ll say this because it fits me. This is a really fast guy, a great runner who says folks, it’s not, it’s not how fast you run through it. It’s how far we’ve come. Can you expand on that?

Bart Yasso

Yeah. Yeah. I always tell people, uh, you know, cause they, and I actually, I have some of my quotes people, like they, I get people that say, I don’t understand what you mean and it’s okay if you don’t understand what I mean, that you’re not, not grasping what it’s all about. It’s really not how far you go it’s how far you’ve come. That’s one of the things I like to tell people, cause it’s, you know, you can see this progression. You can see what you’re doing now that you couldn’t do even just two weeks ago or two months ago or two years ago. And that’s what it’s all about. And that’s the places it takes you. It’s not, uh, no, somebody when I did my first run, I always tell people, God, I wish I could have taken a selfie in 1976 when I went out from my first one, because if you saw me, you wouldn’t believe I couldn’t run. Or, you know, I, I would never have become the chief running officer as well because I had long hair and a beard, Budweiser t-shirt and cutoff jeans with a belt and a tube socks and a beat up pair of shoes. And I go out and run because that’s what I had to run in. Right. Uh, you know, and I did make an a mile and I thought, man, I almost killed myself running a mile. And when I came back to my house, if somebody would have greeted me and said, Hey, you you’re gonna run all over the world. You’re going to work at runner’s world. I would have said, okay, I’m hoping in two days I can run a mile again, I’m sore. And that’s tough to do, but that’s what, that’s what fascinates me. And that’s the message I like to spread the people that just don’t know what what’s going to happen. You don’t know what’s down the road. But luckily for me, I kept going down that road. Like I didn’t, you know, when I got back home and said, okay, I really want to go back out there two days and dry run a mile again, maybe go a little bit faster, a little bit further. Uh, and I just never, I just never stopped. And that’s the, that’s the thing. I, I always try to tell the people, like you just don’t know where the sport will take you, but I can tell you one thing if you don’t, if you don’t take it seriously and don’t try, it’s not going to take you anywhere. You’ve got to throw yourself in and look at, look at the journey. Uh, cause I never thought it would be possible to end up at places, I ended up running a marathon in Antarctica and the Arctic circle and Iceland and Greenland and Nepal. I mean everywhere, Turkey, all these places that I did, these races, I just didn’t didn’t seem possible. I mean, I always was intrigued to go to places like this, but again, to go there and run these races, the journey meant everything to me and to immersing myself in these cultures, people that I met, you know, I always would study a lot before I would go to a place and kinda, uh, know what I’m going to experience and a little bit of history and uh, you know, it helped me out. And then when I met people, they realize, I knew a little bit about them. I just, wasn’t a total stranger coming up to them. And then, uh, you know, I think that helped me communicating and also getting to meet a lot people. But I believe in the journey where it takes you.

Brad Cooper

Well, okay. So let’s talk about journey a little bit here. A lot of our listeners are health and wellness coaches or folks that are thinking about going that direction. They’re helping other people with their journeys. What advice would you give them? And you’ve, you’ve talked about a little bit of it, but what advice would you have for them when it comes to tuning into the uniqueness of each person’s journey? So you just mentioned, you would study in advance, you’d know the audience that you’re going in to meet with about their culture, about some unique things, other things that these coaches could be doing to help them tune into that uniqueness of their individual clients?

Bart Yasso

Yeah. You know, I would always say to people, you know, when I got someone who came to me that, you know, wanted to do what I do or weren’t wanting to run all over the place or, you know, travel or take, you know, use running as, as a journey, I would always try to match them up with someone that I thought was similar to them. Uh, and what I mean, similar sort of like similar age, similar type occupation, I never worried about people always think about, uh, running ability. And I never looked at that. I just would sorta like-minded would be the perfect word, the example, like get, get them people that really, when they meet these other people, they’re gonna think like, wow, this person’s almost just like me. Uh, and that’s when I think the things really come and grow and then they make these people and find out that, you know, this person has done the six world majors or whatever they’ve done and they go, okay, wow, I should be able to do this. Or I really want to do this after meeting these people and hearing their stories. I always tried them to match people with someone, very similar to them. Uh, you know, perfect example, you know, my girlfriend is a pretty good runner. She’s a single mom, two kids, uh, they’re still in school. And, uh, and she works and goes, she went back to school after 23 years. So to get her to stay focused and keep running, you know, align her with someone, some other women that are in her situation and they will encourage each other and motivate each other and keep each other honest and accountability. And you know, I just think that helps in that journey, how they can keep going. And that’s, uh, yeah, that means it means the world to someone else when you realize, cause cause you know, I’m sure my girlfriend thinks I gotta be the only one that’s, you know, working, full-time going to school full time taking care of two kids. But I know there are other people out there in that same situation. So when you meet them, that’s when you can motivate each other on this journey and help each other. And it just, it just reminds you that you’re not alone. Other people are doing it. You gotta do it. Cause it’s cause it’s so easy to just say, Oh I can’t, I can’t do it all. And you know, I know it’s hard, but we want to do it. And we want to stay on this journey and keep going down the road. So I use her as inspiration all the time to, to keep me up.

Brad Cooper

Excellent. Love it. All right. So let’s talk about the other item that everybody says about running. Oh, if they haven’t done their research. Oh my gosh. I can’t run because it’s so terrible for my knees. It’s just gonna blow up my knees.

Bart Yasso

Blow up my knee yes.

Brad Cooper

What do you say to the person that says, Oh, it’s bad for your knees?

I got to introduce them to some orthopedic surgeons because all the orthopedic surgeons that I meet, when I asked them about that and the first thing they all said, and it doesn’t matter if I’m talking to a surgeon in California or Connecticut or Florida or Maine or Minnesota, they all say the most time they, replace joints on people. There, people are overweight and that’s what did in their joints and running is not bad for your knees. Uh, I think where running gets a bad rap on the knees is if somebody had a knee injury from another sport, like say he played basketball or football early years and you have this, you know, slightly torn meniscus or something’s wrong. And then you got some instability and then you go out and run and the running will aggravate it cause it’s not correct. And then they blame it on the running, right? Uh, where I, the surgeons I’ve talked to saying, Oh, get out and move. Your joints are meant to do this. This is what, what you want to do and what you should do, but I’m not overdo it. You can, there are over use injuries, which are not good, but I mean everything in moderation and running the correct mileage and not starting out too quickly, letting the body build up to the mileage that you can handle correctly. Uh, it’s this stuff running is good for your knees. Proper footwear is key, uh, to make sure you’re on the proper shoe. And I always suggest going to, uh, what we call specialty running store. Cause they know they know their business, they know proper shoes and they’ll figure out the type of runner you are and what shoe’s going to work best for you. And then there’s just going to be a different, there’s going to be 10 or 12 or maybe 15 different shoes you can choose from. So it’s not like, no one’s going to say you have to have this brand. They’re going to tell you, you need a stability shoe or a cushion shoe or whatever you got going on. And then they’ll suggest a couple of models and a couple of brands. And then you got to go out and see what really works for you. But shoes are number one. If you get in the right shoe. It’s going to help you out tremendously.

Brad Cooper

No, that’s good. Yeah. Thanks for clarifying that. I’m my background, I’ve been a physical therapist for 25 years and I get that question a lot and the research is incredibly clear and it’s exactly what you said. If you’re running on an injured knee, that’s a different question.

Bart Yasso

Yeah. You’re gonna make it worse.

Brad Cooper

Running itself does not cause injuries unless you’re building up too fast unless you’re falling when you run, you know, like any, any other falls. So just wanted to get that out there for everybody.

Bart Yasso

People have really poor technique cause they’re just not running correctly. They can bring injuries, but it just, you know, overall does not. Yeah, it does not do it.

Brad Cooper

Totally. All right. So let’s turn the mirror around a little bit. You are Mr. Runner. You’re the mayor, you’re the CEO. Outside of running, is there an area you’re again, this is a health and wellness coaching podcast. Is there an area you’d be willing to share with us in terms of something that you’re struggling with with your own health and wellness aside from running and you can kind of walk us through that journey?

Bart Yasso

Yeah. I, you know, the only problems I’ve had in the past 30 years is Lyme disease. And I had a lot of side effects from Lyme disease. Bell’s palsy, a lot of paralysis on the right side of my body and a lot of joint damage. Uh, I have a lot of side effects from the amount of antibiotics that I’ve been on. Uh, you know, I’ve done it as much as two months straight of oral antibiotics. Uh, but I also have done, uh, six months straight of IV antibiotics, two drips a day for six months through a pic line, uh, you know, going through that six months cycle, it wears you out, but I came out the other end feeling really good, but I really, I listened to my doctor. He said, look, you have to not push yourself through this process and let your body heal and let the antibiotics really work. And then you’re going to be stronger in the end. So I listened to his advice and took it easy, just do a little exercise here and there came out of it, you know, feeling great. And this past summer, uh, I did bloody radiation treatments, which I think really helped me out where they take the blood out of you run it through radiation and then drip it back in slowly. And that seemed to help me out. Uh, you know, I still have problems from lyme disease, but, uh, but I think the modern medicine, which, you know, I love these people that are out there really trying to help people, uh, you know, uh, it’s helped me out tremendously debilitating disease and it’s beat me up pretty much, but, uh, but I feel pretty good. You know, I’m in my mid sixties and I think I made some progress. Uh, you know, I’m never gonna run fast again from some of the damage joint damage I, I, uh, have, but you know, I listen to my body. That’s the number one thing I do on runs. When I go out from my runs these days, first thing I’d tell myself, don’t wanna hurt yourself, listen to your body. I’d do a little warm up just to see how I feel. And you know, that gives me a little sign that it’s going to be a pretty rough day. Let’s just do like two miles and stay on the soft surface and not do any hills. And if I run that little warm up half mile or quarter mile or whatever it is, I don’t even know. I just on this little course, if I feel, no, I feel all right today, I feel a little bit better. Then I’ll try for six mile run. You know, I really listen to my body and let my body dictate what I’m going to go out and do. Don’t just think I can do a, you know, I can, yeah, it’s not the way that you just come out of just hurting yourself and that doesn’t do any good. So I, uh, you know, I just really, really pay attention to my body. And I think nutrition plays a big role in a lot of things. So I’ve been a vegetarian for 31 years. I loved being a vegetarian and I, you know, try to eat properly. Uh, I will get ice cream every once in a while, you know, with, uh, with kids, I’m guilty of that kind of stuff. We go to the, you know, get sundaes and hang out together and have some fun, but, but 95% of the time, I really watch what I eat and I try to, you know, what I consider a good diet and a proper diet. And I really try to get my salads and drink my smoothies and really try to try to eat healthy. I think, I think it means, uh, makes a big difference.

Brad Cooper

Well, I’m, I’m glad to hear things are going okay with the Lyme disease. I’ve been following your journey and it’s, it’s encouraging to hear that you’re finding some, some ways to turn the corner.

Bart Yasso

Medical community is very helpful. And then, you know, I do see some, uh, you know, local hospital. I was going for therapy to try to, uh, once my joints are damaged, you know, stretching, they do and helping me out the, uh, the treadmill, the, uh, what’s it called the ultra G or whatever they call it. Ultra G thank you. Name slipped my mind. Yeah. That thing is incredible. So I’ll go in there for five minutes and it’s amazing what they have today, but, you know, it’s cool to go on a physical therapist and say, look, this is, I would like to run, but you know, I’m gonna stay with, I’m gonna run within my means. I’m not gonna, I’m not asking you to get me to run a hundred miles later today. You know, I’m going to listen to you, but it’s cool that there’s, there’s stuff out there. People are willing to, uh, to get you going. And they don’t want you to say, Oh no, you should just relax on a chair, the rest of your life. You know, you don’t, I don’t hear that. When I go to my physical therapist, they know they know what I want. They know I want to go out and run a hundred. They kind of get me that I can just go out and run. And then we meet, meet a happy medium there and just say, Hey, if I can do three or four miles, four times a week, I’ll be really happy.

Brad Cooper

Well, and I think one of the things I love about what you’re saying is that listen to your body thing, because that applies to everyone at every level of ability and background and history, whether you’re just starting off or whether you have the experience that you have. And I think one of the things, the wellness coaches are really good about doing is drawing out of people, how to listen. Basically they’re turning up that volume and allowing them to hear that because a lot of people they’re just going through, they’re not listening to their bodies in any way, forget running. You’re not listening to your bodies in any way. They’re just going through the motions, and so I love that you brought that up. That’s that’s powerful stuff.

Bart Yasso

Yeah. And I think that, you know, once they teach people that when you go on and for physical therapy, you know, that, that doesn’t mean when you walk out the door that you can, then you’re healed and they’re ready to go. Like it takes time, but that doesn’t happen with one session. And 10 minutes later, you’re, you’re good to go. You know, every physical therapist sends you home with, I want you to do this stretching routine or whatever it is, that’s what you have to be serious about. Follow that. And then you come out better.

Brad Cooper

Yeah, absolutely. All right. Two more questions, and then I’ll let you go. I really appreciate your time, Bart. This has been so much fun. As you peer into that crystal ball, the running crystal ball. Let’s not talk about the elites. Let’s not talk about the two hour marathon, any of that stuff, but for, for the everyday runner, are there some things that you see in that crystal ball that you think are around the corner that might be a little change from what we’ve seen in the last decade or two?

Bart Yasso

Yeah. I look in the crystal ball a lot because I, you know, in my, my 31 years at runners, well, I, I said earlier, we always tried to stay ahead of the trends and, you know, realize what’s going to happen down the road. Cause that’s how you become a successful business. So I was always staring in that crystal ball. And even though I’m retired, I still still do that. And, uh, you know, I still see the sport growing. I still see people realizing the benefits of it. Uh, I think it’s changing a little bit. I don’t think people are going to do as many races as they’ve done in the past. I see that then some people tell me, Oh, I used to, you know, do 10, 12 races a year. And now I only do like six or seven and the trail running community is growing. And I think that’s still going to grow. And what I think what’s going to happen there is, you know, in the trail running community, in, uh, when I, when I started the 50 mile races and there were a lot of them were on the roads and now all that stuff is on the trail. And of course there are a lot of the big 100 mile races and 50 mile races. But I think a lot of the trail runs are going to get a more, uh, shorter distance, 10 miles and five miles. And so trail running is still going to be popular. And I think having some of the shorter distance will open it up to a lot more people. Some people are just intimidated that, you know, Oh yeah, I want to be a trail runner. And the shortest trail run I find is 50 kilometers. So that’s, that’s not like a jump-off point for people.

Bart Yasso

So, you know, I, I see that trail running community, you know, I see some of the bigger races having a shorter version and of course road racing has been known that for years. And I see that happening in the trail. I think that’ll keep help growing that sport. Cause that’s a more fun way to, to be a trail runner to start out doing a 10 K or a 10 mile trail run and then eventually, you know, do a 50 K uh, but you know, not everyone can just jump out there and just do a 50 K right away. So, and, uh, and I still see the, uh, I still see women coming in to the sport at this level. You know, I’m sure it’s leveled off a bit, but I can still see some growth in there because like I say, the, the encouragement that you get in the sport and the way it’s turned into more of a social social sport, I just see women just love that stuff. You know, the, uh, I just crack up when I run with these groups and these women, and they say, when they’re, when they’re doing the run, they don’t ever talk about running. It’s about work or their husband or kids doing this or this kind of stuff at that all goes on. They run and then they go for coffee after a run. And then they talk about running nonstop. I love that scenario. It just cracks me up. But when they’re out there running, they don’t talk about running at all. Everything else that’s going on in life. You know, they’re sharing this with their friends because they want, you know, they want advice or help or just get it off their chest out there, see it. And then, uh, but then they get to that coffee shop out there around, and now, bam, I’m going this race, this race. I just think that’s such a cool scenario. And I can just see that, you know, why people, why people would gravitate to them. You know, it’s just a fun atmosphere. You’re out there helping each other, encouraging each other, running with each other, helping each other in life, all the problems we face. And then, and then we can go have fun and brag about the races we’re going to do and that kind of stuff. I think it’s pretty cool. So I do think that flow of women into the sport of running is still gonna grow.

Brad Cooper

Any final words of wisdom, something I haven’t teed up with the right question or whatever that you’d like to share, get out there?

Bart Yasso

Awesome. Yeah. I, you know, I just, just get out there and do it. I can’t say it enough to just try it. You know, don’t take that attitude. That’s not for me, you know, I, you know, just get out there and I’ve a reminder that you are inspirational to other people. And the example I’ve been using lately is this woman reached out to me about her son who apparently I inspired, he came, she would come to my talks and she would bring her son who was an autistic kid. And, uh, she’s, you know, they would go home and he kinda, you know, doesn’t communicate a lot to his mom and she encouraged him to communicate. And she told me, she said, okay, one day I said, you know, okay, what’s going on in there? Talk to me. And she would get her pen and paper. And you know, a lot of nights he wouldn’t talk. And then one night he started talking and it was apparently after I spoke at a race that’s in their hometown. And this kid said, you know, he wished he could be Bart Yasso cause everyone likes him. And everyone hangs out with him and nobody hangs out with him because he’s awkward socially, you know, all this stuff. He said he really wanted to be Bart Yasso. And he wished Bart Yasso was his age, and his mom was writing this stuff down. And she was kind enough to email me what her son said. And I use as an example, like how, how could I have ever known that I inspired this autistic kid who really doesn’t even communicate to his own family, let alone communicate to me or other people. So I was really lucky that that mom reached out to me. And it’s so funny. The last thing he said to his mom that night was, yeah, I want to be Bart Yasso, but I don’t want to do all that running stuff. So, you know, when I read what she said, it was hard to read because, you know, I put myself in that kid’s shoes, like, you know, we all want to be accepted by everyone and this poor kid didn’t so it really, it breaks your heart. But I use, I use him a lot as an example of how we inspire people and may never know, I would have never known it. If this woman, didn’t reach out to me. So, you know, if you can connect with people that you don’t even, like, I had no clue that he would want to be Bart Yasso, but that was a pretty cool email to receive. So it was a hard email to read when you’re at your desk, you know, when you’ve got to go close the door and read this email again, I think God, uh, but that’s, that’s what our sport is all about. To be honest, to connect and inspire with others and, uh, take it to the next level to support, support people and help people. That’s what I love about it.

Brad Cooper

Probably all the listeners are probably thinking, okay, I need to tell the people that have inspired me because they may not know.

Bart Yasso

Yeah. That’s a great example. Yeah. Yeah. It’ll make somebody’s day.

Brad Cooper

Bart, thank you so much. Not just for joining us today, but just for the impact you’ve had on so many people over the years, keep it going. We really appreciate you. And again, thanks for jumping on today.

Bart Yasso

Oh, thank you so much, Brad.

Brad Cooper

That was fun. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. One thing I did want to lay out in more detail, he talked about the Yasso 800s, and those of you who are runners, serious runners, you you’ve heard of that. That’s what he’s known best for. So let me tell you exactly what this is in case you want to try. It. It’s eight hundreds. So that’s two laps of the track. You do 10 of them and you do a, a 400 or a one lap jog in between and the concept, which is a crazy concept because you’re talking about completely different things. But the concept he discovered is that for many people, your time in your eight hundreds equals your time in your marathon. Well, wait a minute one is, yeah, exactly. So let’s say for example, that you run two laps of the track in three minutes and 10 seconds on average. So you do 10 of them. You get that jog in between and your average for those 10 is three minutes and 10 seconds. Well, if you have a pretty good base of mileage, then your marathon time will probably end up being somewhere around three 10. Again, it’s, it’s fascinating because you’re talking minutes in one hand and you’re talking hours in the other, but for many people it works. So anyway, that’s what that session is. Couple of things. One, I mentioned the new website, CatalystCoachingInstitute.com. Super excited about it. If you haven’t been on there lately, be fun to check it out. And the retreat early registration deadline, I can’t overemphasize this enough because we’re right at the tail end of that. And it’s a big discount. So if you’ve been thinking about the retreat, reach out to us, the email is [email protected] Happy to answer any questions you have, but don’t wait until after that registration deadline, because you’re going to be super bummed out. Email is [email protected] here for you anytime. Thank you again for all the folks out there that actually subscribing to this, I’m told that’s an important thing. So you’ll probably hear that, me mentioning that a few times. Until next time, let’s go get better. Let’s get better and help our clients, our family members, our friends, and even our community do the same. I’ll look forward to speaking with you soon on the next episode of the Catalyst Health and Wellness Coaching Podcast.