I am tucked in between Scott Jurek and Chris McDougall. The pace is not so hard that we can’t talk, but there was no conversing. As the trail weaved, curved, and turned back on itself, I tried to get a peak and glance at the Tarahumara Indian ultrarunners positioned single file ahead of Scott and I. For so long, they were mythical runners to me, and now I was running with them, they were now real.
Deep in the steep cuts of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, we were trekking 30 miles, traveling from one town, up and over the canyon’s rim to another town. Old school transportation, Tarahumara style.
We ultrarunners, from the USA, did not speak their language, nor did they, ours. There was no need for verbal communication, our running was our communication, a common language that both American and Tarahumara runner understood. We had a common bond. Our initial athletic focus on the trail, of our footsteps, our pace, our breathing, soon turned to smiles. We knew them, as they knew us – running brings this out in people.
Run forward a few years and I am running the Lantau trails outside of Hong Kong. My life’s passion of running and coaching has brought me to Mainland China to develop my own line of running shoes. Up until this point, China was a mythical place to me, and here I was, using my running to experience it for real.
In the heart of Shenzhen, China, I woke early one morning to get my run in before heading to the factory for a long day of shoe development. Running the paths of the golf course at our host hotel, I came upon a man doing Tai Chi and that universal athlete language ‘spoke’ again. I ran past him with a smile, he returned the smile without losing his focus.
The following day, I made a point to run at the same time and location in hopes to see my ‘friend’ again and sure enough, there he was, same time and location. But this day we exchanged smiles and a high five as I ran past him. Day three, I stopped to watch his meticulous practice and he motioned me over, showing me a few movements – my first Tai Chi lesson. It was that same athletic sign language that I had experienced deep in the Copper Canyon. No words were spoken. We didn’t need words because we both understood dedication, practice, effort, discipline, and the rewards that come from it.
Speed up a week and I was running the very steep hills of the Lantau trail as I came across a group of local runners speeding towards me. As we approached each other, we all began to smile and one runner glanced down at my freshly made shoes and pointed. We all stopped, as the pointing of his finger instigated some talk from his group. Words I did not understand, but the body language I did. Before I realized it, I blurted out, “Born To Run?”
Every one of the runners, in unison, replied, “ah Born To Run” in perfect English, shaking their heads, smiling with complete understanding. Nothing more needed to be said. I was part of them, and they part of me.
We are global runners who speak the same language. As a running and performance guru, I have spent a lifetime learning and thinking about running and about the limitless possibilities of the human body and mind—from my astounding, philosophy-affirming run adventure with the Tarahumara runners of Mexico, to my current work with elite and developing athletes—and I am ready to share this knowledge. This is a chance for me to instruct and inspire as the coach I am. For you, it is a chance to make amazing new strides.
The Cool Impossible is intended for runners and aspiring runners of all levels of ability and experience, from those contemplating their first hopeful steps, to seasoned marathoners and ultrarunners seeking to discover new challenges and unlock the full range of their capabilities. I will lay out in the book my own experiences and development as a coach, and explain in a clear, step-by-step format how to build that perfect running body, covering the topics of running form, strength development, cardiovascular training, and nutrition, drawing along the way on my experiences with the Tarahumara, as chronicled in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling 2009 book Born to Run.
Finally, and most important, The Cool Impossible is more than just running, it is a challenge to live your dreams everyday. As we begin to live our dreams, we begin to understand why Tai Chi masters spend entire lifetimes perfecting their art of movement. It is the sheer poetry of creating something and working on it until it is truly and absolutely right that ultimately keeps you coming back - coming back each morning at the same time, at the same location.
In these pages, I will lay out my concept of The Cool Impossible: a goal pursued by dreaming beyond fear and living beyond limits. You will learn specific protocols of visualization and imagery to help you develop your own Cool Impossible.
It is this last element that will make The Cool Impossible a book to dip back into again and again for inspiration and reinforcement. Like a favorite running companion, The Cool Impossible will be there with you, stride for stride, helping you go farther than you ever thought you could.
This book is also the first step towards my cool impossible, unifying the World with running. Thank you for being part of my dream and I look forward to the day we meet on your favorite trail, running with big smiles.