Timothy Olson: “Trail running was a salvation and gateway to know my true self”

Interview with the last The North Face Team incorporation, Western States 100 record holder Tim Olson.

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Kilian Jornet seguido muy de cerca por Luis Alberto Hernando subiendo a Sancti Spiritu (km 19
Kilian Jornet seguido muy de cerca por Luis Alberto Hernando subiendo a Sancti Spiritu (km 19

What means to you that The North Face chose you to join their team?
I feel honored that I am a part of a company that works with so many inspiring athletes that push their limits and continue to explore new terrain all over the world. I am excited to be a part of The North Face team and follow my dreams.

What is going to change for you after this?
I haven’t seen much of the world and The North Face is giving me the opportunity to see new places. I am excited to travel to obscure locations to run on beautiful terrain and to be pushed to my limits by amazing athletes from all over the world.

What can you offer as runner and sports man to The North Face Team?
I have a deep connection and passion to connect with the land, people and places I visit. Running isn’t just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle. Through the way I live and run I hope to inspire others to connect to the earth and find freedom and peace within them selves as they journey through nature. I hope to motivate others and ignite the passion within them to follow and live their dreams.

Do you know any of your new team mates?
Yes – I am good friends with many of my teammates and look forward to going on journeys with them and laughing and sharing memories together. Hal Koerner, my North Face teammate, was one of the first to introduce me to ultrarunning. Hal and I live in the same town together, are good friends, and enjoy running on our local trails together.

Do you think your performance at WS ’12 was essential in your career as runner?
Western States was a magical day and very significant moment to allow me to continue to do the sport I love. The build up and emotions that fed the result at Western States continue to stay with me and inspire me to keep giving my best in whatever I do. The win at WS launched the start of hopefully a long career to work with a company I believe in and grow with over many years.

Are you planning to race more times out of the US?
Yes – I will be running Tarawara in New Zealand, Transvulcania in the Canary Islands, and UTMB in Europe. I hope to continue to visit many new places and race and run in places I’ve only scene pictures.

Is Spain going to be in your 2013 schedule?                               
Yes – I’ll be running Transvulcania in May and hope to race there more in 2014. I’m really interested in exploring the Pyrenees and other mountain ranges in Spain.

You had problems with drugs. How come running become your way out of it?
Living is beautiful and I intend to fully live. As a young man I was lost and struggled to be the person I wanted to be, trail running was a salvation and gateway to know my true self. I started running to get back in shape and connect with my body, which led too much more. There is something so freeing to step out the door and just keep running for as long as you want. It’s only you, where you can be alone with your thoughts, breath in fresh air and have the intention to make positive changes to better your life.  I’m blessed to have found what I’m passionate about and decide to make a lifestyle on taking care of my body instead of tearing it down. Hopefully I can inspire others who might be lost in life and can awake to the fact that life is beautiful and they should live their dreams.

What would you say to young people with this kind of problems?
It’s never to late. You can judge and hate yourself all you want, but that will not help you. You need to accept the fact that you’re lost and you made poor decisions, but it can all change. Stop hating and hurting yourself, don’t live in the past, love yourself and start new every day. People are addicted to many different things, like drugs, alcohol, food, TV and possessions; these things will not make you happy. Find simple and healthy life choices that bring joy to your life. Stop feeling sorry for your self and really live.

Where do you find motivation to run?
It’s just so simple, peaceful and freeing. You don’t need lots of gadgets, you just step out side and explore. It’s like being a kid again with no agenda; all you need to do is go see what’s at the top of that peak. I’m inspired by beautiful places and like to feel connected to the land that surrounds me. Beauty inspires me to run and i see beauty in mountains, people, animals, trees and everything in nature. Running helps me to connect to these things and feel emotions that push me to enjoy each step.

What’s the thing you enjoy the most about trail running?
Trail running is like meditation to me, when you’re in the flow you’re running hard, but inside you feel still and at peace. When I run, I am free, there is nothing to worry about; I just focus on each step and breath. The world seems silent and when the sun pops out or you capture a magnificent sunrise or sunset it’s like the whole universe is smiling down on you.

What’s your favorite place to run?
Right now my favorite place to run is Ashland Oregon, but I have plenty more places to discover. There is something very soothing while running to a certain peak each day in your hometown. I run up to Ostrich peak almost daily to capture a view of Mt McLaughlin in the distance.

How is your perfect race? (Km, elevation, technical…)
My ideal race is around 168Km, 8-10,000 meters of elevation gain, decently technical, in a beautiful place I’ve never been.

Do you follow any feeding plan during the year?
I eat local, organic whole foods; nothing processed. My diet consists of organic vegetables, meat, fruits, and nuts. I find grains to upset my stomach so I’ve cut them out. I only occasionally eat them with something like corn tortillas when I eat tacos.

How is a training week for you?
 On average I run about 170km per week with lots of elevation gain. When I’m getting ready for 168km races, I increase that to about 200km per week and spend about 20-25 hours out on the trails and get around 8-10,000 meters of elevation gain per week.  I tend to train by feel, I don’t have a structured plan, but I try to get out everyday and about every other day I put out a bigger effort. I try to eat really healthy and get massage and body work. I like to hit the sauna a few times a week to stretch and work out any kinks in my muscles.

Do you admire any runner in the world? Who inspires you?
Many runners inspire me throughout the year and I enjoy following many athletes as they push their limits and test their minds and body.

Why do you run long distances?
I find running to be a meditation and a way to live in the present moment and be at peace.  I find running to be relaxing and a conscious way to connect with the land around me. The longer I go the simpler running and life becomes. I just concentrate on my breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. Life is very simple when you boil it down to the essentials. Running lets out lots of emotions and lets you connect to your inner self to find out what you’re made of.

You never ran in Europe. How do you see European trail running from distance?
No – I have not run in Europe yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. I find European running to be more technical and aesthetically pleasing. I love how they pick a line and run up to the top of the mountain and back down, not worrying about distance but more just choosing a path to get to the destination. I love how many people really get into the sport and come from all over to cheer and be apart of it. There seams to be a greater interest and more emotion in European trail running. I look forward to being apart of this!

Is there any European race you’d like to run at least once in your life?
There are so many races that I’m not even aware of. Being at UTMB and Tranvulcania this year are very high on my list, more so I look forward to seeing different countries and enjoying their culture and exploring their mountains.

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