Q&A with Ultra Runner Joanna Reuland

Joanna Reuland
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New Balance and RootsRated have teamed up to profile runners making a difference in their communities. We asked each of our runners a series of questions to learn a little more about what running means to them, where they like to run and what are some of their running goals.

Joanna Reuland, 27, is a competitive runner originally from Seattle who turned to trail running and ultras after one too many failed attempts at qualifying for the Boston Marathon.... After the switch, she ended up qualifying without even really trying at all.

How did you get interested in running?
I had quit my high school volleyball team, because it wasn't really my style. So I started running with my dad a little bit. He’d always been a runner, and he’d give me incentives – I had a piece of paper taped to the mirror in my bathroom, and I would write how many miles I’d run with him that day. I was earning my swimsuit for the summer. That’s how he taught me to run that summer. It’s always been a part of my life to be outside, hiking and running. My dad really instilled that in me. I 100 percent have my dad to thank for this obsession with the trails.

What’s your favorite urban destination in Portland?
Forest Park. It’s quiet, it’s dog friendly, and in the summertime, it’s almost like it’s air-conditioned. The trees are so dense, it’s like 10 degrees cooler. And you really feel like you’re out in the wilderness.

Reuland loves the trails at Forest Park.
Reuland loves the trails at Forest Park. Mike Rohrig

For newer trail runners, it’s easier to start in the middle and go north or south on the Wildwood Trail . For athletes who are really training for an ultra and need a lot of elevation gain, take Wildwood Trail to the top of Pittock and connect to the Marquam Trail, and that takes you up Council Crest, and then you go back down to the other side. That should be about 2,000 feet of elevation gain with those trails.

What’s your favorite post-run adult beverage?
After living in Portland, I have to say beer. I like a good porter. Portland is home to a ton of breweries. My favorite is called Base Camp Brewing Company. It’s like an outdoors scene, and all the beers have a camping name. And there are fire pits and s’mores in the back.

What about your favorite fuel-up food on the trails?
It rotates, but right now it’s honey Stinger Waffles. I also bring pretzels and fruit snacks – not even any sponsored kind, but the Curious George ones you can buy at Safeway. Here I am, a grown adult, checking out the back of Curious George fruit snacks [for nutrition information]!

Do you follow a specific diet?
No dietary regimen for me. I don’t like to limit myself or make rules for my body. I eat what feels right but try to eat as many fruits and veggies as possible for nutrients. 

What are some of your mental strategies when the going gets tough on long runs?
When I'm bonking, usually I just slow down and breathe a little deeper. I don't do a lot of self talk other than “this is supposed to be enjoyable.” And at the end of the day, I never want to dread running or look at it as a punishment for my body, something I HAVE to do. It’s a reward, something I look forward to and love. Staying really committed to that mentality actually helps me through the tough days because I'm able to remind myself that I'm out running because I love it. And no one is forcing me. It's a choice.

Do you have any running quirks?
Ironically, I run with my credit card every single day. If I want to take a cab home because my body's not feeling it, I will. I’ve never actually done that, but I never want to push my body beyond the limit of “fun.” It’s no recipe for winning the Olympics, but it is a recipe for staying in love with my sport.

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