I’m Scott Fauble, I’m a 26 year old professional runner. I train out of Flagstaff, Arizona with the group, Hoka NAZ Elite. In 2016 I was 4th place in the 10k at the Olympic Trials. Then, in 2017 I debuted in the marathon with a 9th place in 2:12:35 at the Frankfurt Marathon which is the 12th fastest debut ever by an American. I’m also into writing, meditating and hanging out with my dog, but more people seem interested in my running.
What do I do best?
I guess, in the most general sense, the thing I do best is long distance running. This past fall I ran 2:12:35 in my debut marathon, which is the 12th fastest debut marathon ever by an American. But, the thing within distance running that I do very well is my ability to tolerate pain. I think that a lot of people are probably more talented than me or have a better set of physical skills, but I think that I can beat a lot of those people because I can endure a lot of pain, even when other things maybe aren’t clicking. Everyone can be tough when things are going well. That’s easy. But, I think I can make myself hurt a lot even when I’m not having a great day. There have been lots of races where I have been dropped from the lead group but fought my way back into a good finish just by refusing to let one bad patch in the middle ruin the rest of my race. Being good at tolerating pain is for sure, like 100%, one of the least desirable talents that a person can have because it’s not that fun to flaunt my talent. It’s not like I can pull my talent out and impress people at a bar by nailing a billiards trick shot or putting a dart in the bullseye on command. Instead, I am literally good at suffering, bummer, am I right?
What makes me the best version of myself?
The thing that makes me the best version of myself is mindfulness. I am at my best athletically and in my personal life when I both practice being present and make an effort to be engaged and focused on the moment that I am in. Whether that is when I am hanging out with my girlfriend, working on a blog post for my website, or running, my best moments are when I am present and attentive. For example, in regards to my previous answer, I can only tap into that pain tolerance and that toughness when I let the sensations in. If I block out the pain, I am not engaged in the moment and as such my performance suffers.
Conversely, the version of myself that is just not the best is when I am staring at my phone. Unfortunately, being aware of this fact doesn’t seem to stop me from exploring the depths of twitter as if I was the team from Planet Earth that got sent down into the darkest reaches of the ocean searching for that funny looking fish with the light bulb on it’s head.
What are my aspirations?
My extrinsic aspirations are to podium at a World Marathon Major like New York City, Chicago, or Boston. I also want to win the Bolder Boulder and to be an Olympian. But my intrinsic aspiration is to finish my career knowing that I maximized my natural ability. I want to look back at my time in the elite side of the sport and know that I squeezed every single ounce out of myself. Hopefully that’s a long way off, because I am only 26 and my body generally works in a way that it’s supposed to, but I think being aware of the legacy that you want to leave informs your actions and the way you go about your business in the meantime. Being aware of my desire to know that I did the most that I possibly could with the attributes I was born with motivates me to do all the little things that aren’t glamorous or fun like foam roll, do strength work, eat well, go to bed early, etc. I also want to share that experience fully and authentically by being open and transparent and vulnerable with my fans. To be honest, it’s still a very foreign concept to me that I even have fans, so I am gonna do everything I can to make sure the people who weirdly think that I am cool, keep thinking that I’m cool. This includes filling out boiler plate interviews with websites I’ve never heard of.
My Biggest Success?
I bet if you asked my coach or teammates or people who follow the sport, they would all say that my biggest success was getting 4th place at the 2016 Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters. But, that’s not really what I consider my best performance. I think my best race was the 2016 Bolder Boulder where I got 6th. It was a race that my agent really had to work to even get me into since I was a rookie at the time and not the most well-known guy on the circuit. I’m prouder of that race because it hurt so badly the whole time. The race went out hard, and it was a warm day, and it was a hard course, and there were so many opportunities to settle. But, I just kept taking myself deeper into the well and kept going harder and harder, and even made a big move to break a few guys on the final hill.
I kinda stopped judging my performances based on where I was in relation to other people about a year ago, and started judging my performances based upon whether or not I felt like I truly got the most out of myself on that day. Sometimes you run great, as well as you possibly can on a given day, and people still beat you. That’s kinda ok, I mean it really sucks that you aren’t always good enough, but you can be proud of those days because you maximized your potential. In fact, some of the races that I am most proud of were ones where I really went for it and pushed too hard and ended up blowing up. This one race in particular comes to mind, it was a half marathon in Las Vegas and it was a super flat course. My coach and I decided to do it at the last minute because we I could run really fast. I kinda knew that I was running too hard and should probably slow down around mile 6 or so, but I took a shot and leaned into the hurt. I was on 1:02:00 pace (about 4:42 per mile) through 10 miles and completely blew up and ran in the 1:04’s. I am proud of that race because I took a chance and really went for a big day. I consider that to be one of the gutsiest and best races in my career even though I finished well behind what I would have done if I hadn’t taken so many chances. Unfortunately, the race directors who pay out prize money don’t have such a liberal or loose perspective on what makes a great performance because that race in Vegas was the hardest I have ever worked to make like 150 bucks.
My Most Challenging Moment?
A friend of mine committed suicide a few years ago and working through that was really hard for a lot of reasons. I blamed myself and felt like I could have done more and I was mad at myself for not even seeing that my friend was hurting so much. I imagine that those are things that a lot of people in similar situations feel, but the commonness of my feelings didn’t make them any easier.
I found some peace with the whole thing when I was talking about it with a psychologist, and she pointed out that I really value my own autonomy and my right and ability to make my own decisions about how to live my life. Similarly, my friend was autonomous, and was allowed to make his own decisions. It’s very very sad that he made the decisions that he made, but at the end of the day they were his decisions and it’s not my place or my business to judge them, especially since I can’t put myself in his shoes. I can’t imagine the amount of pain he was in for taking his life to seem like the best option.
My friend’s decision was also difficult for me to deal with, because it left me with a sense of nihilism about running, even though running was always something that I cared very deeply about and loved very much. It was like this; when you’re really dialed into a field, like I am with running, it’s kinda like you’re exploring a cave. You go deeper and deeper into the cave and get all interested and caught up in the minutia of it and just when you’re examining the tiniest detail of that cave, that almost no one else will ever see or understand, something happens. Like the death of a friend, and you get yanked back to the surface. Back to the real world where things really matter and there are serious consequences. And it makes you wonder if this thing that you’ve dedicated so much of your life for, sacrificed so many things for, is worth it. It made me feel like running is pretty pointless, and to be fair, it is. It’s not the end all, be all, endeavor that lots of people, myself included at certain times, make it out to be. No matter how much importance we may put on it, it’s just a silly sport where a bunch of skinny people wearing short shorts try to see who can get from one point to another, the fastest. But that pointlessness doesn’t mean that everyone should stop caring or trying. I think just the opposite is true, I think that pointlessness gives people the opportunity to take chances and do things in a pursuit of excellence that they otherwise wouldn’t if there were real consequences.
That’s a long winded answer and round about way to answer a question about how I worked through a friends death, but I am a big believer that there are things to be learned from every situation, and that’s all what I personally gleaned from that time in my life.
I don’t really have a motto that I live my life by, but one quote that comes to mind is, “The world breaks everyone, and then some are strong at the broken places”- Ernest Hemmingway. I like this quote way more than, it’s less nuanced brother, “what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” Because the second version of that quote is simply untrue. Sometimes what doesn’t kill you leaves you in shambles in some way and you aren’t stronger after the fact. Some people have their huge struggle and fail and it becomes life defining in some way and that’s the end of the story. There’s not always a redemption chapter to everyone’s story, you know? But, Hemmingway’s version acknowledges that there’s an individual aspect to failure and struggle. And it acknowledges, or at least hints at, the fact that the process of going from broken to strong is not passive. I also like it because it touches on the fact that very thing that may be your weakness can be transformed into a strength. I held onto this quote by Hemmingway very closely right when I turned pro, because I signed my first contract while my right foot was constrained to a boot that was protecting my broken 5th metatarsal. It was a moment that I had always imagined to be a coronation or a celebration or at the very least, completely fulfilling. I had been working hard since high school for a professional contract. But now that one was sitting in front of me, all I could think about was the fact that this moment wasn’t the moment that I had dreamed about. No one imagines that their dream of signing a professional contract would come true in a mini cooper outside of a Kenny and Zuke’s bagel shop in Portland while you’re nursing a broken bone in your foot. In that moment, I felt very broken, both physically because a bone in my foot was indeed cracked, but also metaphorically. I felt metaphorically broken because I had lost a moment that had been a driving motivator for me for a long time, and it was one that I knew I would never get a second chance to replicate. The universe had fucked up the perfect picture that I had always imagined, and that was its own tiny little tragedy for me at the time. I spent much of the next few months of healing and easing back into training that hoping that Hemmingway’s sentiment applied to metatarsals, and I that was one of the people, who are stronger in the broken places.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I consider myself very lucky that there are lots of people from my personal life that I could talk about here but, for the sake of going in a different direction, the person I want to write about is Jason Isbell. Jason Isbell is an Americana artist that I started listening to in college, and I fell in love with his older albums like Here We Rest and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. But then, he came out with a new album called Southeastern in the same week that a buddy and I had tickets to see him. Anyways, Southeastern was his first album after going through rehab for alcoholism, and it’s amazing. I have probably listened to it all the way through 200 times. That album is saturated with stories about the human condition, but the most unique lesson, the one that you can’t find in a ton of places, is about the power of vulnerability. Southeastern is good, sonically, but it’s amazing because of the lyrics. Isbell did not do himself any favors when he wrote that album. He was brutally honest and critical and open about his failures and his attempts to apologize and reconcile his mistakes. It’s an incredible thing to listen to a grown man sing about his greatest failures and flaws as if he was speaking to priest in the confessional booth. It became super evident to me the first time I actually thought about the album, that you can’t experience someone evaluating and castigating themselves and not feel something about them. Maybe some people listened to that record and thought, “man, that dude is a piece of shit.” But, I listened to that record and was immediately a huge fan because it felt like I had just gone on a transformational journey with this artist. It felt like we shared an experience because he let his listeners into his life with vivid and shocking details. I really admire Jason Isbell for spilling his soul on to a record like that for millions of people to hear and judge. I admire the courage that must have taken.
On a more intellectual note, I am fascinated by the power of vulnerability that Isbell displayed with that album. As a person who has his own blog and tries to write pretty regularly (I am equally uncomfortable calling myself a writer as I am with the fact that I have fans (that’s called a callback, folks)), I have tried to incorporate vulnerability to into my pieces. But, here’s the thing about sharing your failures and struggles with other people, it’s terrifying. But, here’s the other thing about sharing your failures and struggles with other people, it’s engaging, and it lends credibility to the points you’re trying to make. So, its been a journey to find that balance between saving myself in the eyes of the people who read what I write, having the bravery to share my struggles with my audience, and creating engaging and interesting pieces.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
My favorite place in the world is Grand Tetons National Park. That place is wild! No were else that I have been have you been able to experience nature in such an authentic way. The last time I was there I saw a moose, a coyote and her pups, and a bear with her cub, all up close, in less than two days. Not to mention the massive, beautiful, and ancient peaks of the Tetons towering above the park. I just remember being so in awe of the whole place the last time I was there.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My favorite products right now are Hoka One One shoes, (you didn’t think I was gonna write almost 3000 words without at least one shameless plug for my sponsor did you?) I am specifically digging the Cavu right now, it’s in Hoka’s new Fly line and I like it very much. I am also super into my new espresso machine, I love pulling a couple shots for a cappuccino or americano in the afternoons before my second runs and afternoon strength sessions. I am sure people will judge me for this, because at the end of the day, I am using a machine, but I have appreciated the process and craft of making espresso drinks. You have to get the grounds just right, they can’t be too coarse or too fine. You have to grind just the right amount and tamp them down at the right pressure or your espresso will either be too concentrated or too watery. While the main goal of the afternoon coffee is the caffeine, it is super dope when consuming that caffeine is also tasty. That being said, I would for sure still drink espresso if it tasted like the swill that they brew in gas stations, because caffeine makes you the best version of yourself.
My Current Passions?
The two things that I am most into outside of running are meditation and writing. I started dabbling with meditation in college when I was experiencing some issues with an anxiety disorder that arose my 4th year at the University of Portland. The first symptoms started when I was writing my thesis in the fall. When I got really stressed I would have this recurring fear of slamming my fingers in this big heavy door in our locker room and my middle finger on my right hand would start tingling. As the due date for the paper got closer and closer, the tingling turned to actual shooting pain. But the symptoms went away after I turned in my thesis, so I didn’t seek help. In the spring, my symptoms got worse when I started to obsess at night about a bank account that I used to have but had closed months earlier. I stayed up 3 nights in a row because every time I lay down, my mind would be telling me this story about how the account wasn’t closed and I was getting fined and I was super in debt to the bank. I went to the bank and confirmed that I had closed the account. But that next night, I was having the same obsessions and worries, so I went in to the mental health center with my frantic exhaustion the next day. After a few sessions with one of the counselors, we came up with some strategies to cope with these symptoms. So, that’s where my relationship with meditation started. Now, however, I meditate not so much to keep anxiety at bay, but to increase my awareness and focus and engagement with my life. You don’t really notice how little you pay attention to the passing moments until you make an effort to be mindful of your actions and the world around you. Which is not to say that I am some sort of zen master, I still find myself floating from action to action caught up in thoughts and worries and just general distractions. But, meditation has helped me to carve out a short time period to really engage with my physical sensations and my emotional state. It has also helped me to develop skills for incorporating that mindfulness into my actions.
The other thing, outside of running, that I have really taken to lately is writing. I have a website/blog that I try to post on regularly. I recently started a series of pieces called Off Course, which are blog posts accompanied by videos targeted towards exploring the common ground that runners of all levels share in regard to why so many people find running such a fulfilling endeavor. I have made a conscious effort to try to find a niche that not many, if any, other people were writing about, so I avoid writing about all the extrinsic reasons that I run and try to focus on intrinsic stuff. At the time of this writing, there are two posts up under the Off Course banner but the third one should be coming soon. The first piece is kind of an intro to the project and the second is a piece about progress. If you are interested in checking out my writing, my website is www.scottfauble.com