Too many podcasts to choose from? Runner’s World is trying to help by sharing some editors’ favorite recent episodes.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and many of this month’s selections touch on mental health in some way.
We hear from an athlete who has experienced challenging injuries, a young woman who spoke out about injustice, an Olympic champion for whom a racist incident was a turning point, and an athlete who is taking on an entertaining stunt in memory of a family member. Despite the heavy subject matter, these are uplifting stories of perseverance.
The episodes are accessible via the links below, on the Spotify players on this page, or through podcasting platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. (We’ve provided some direct links to those platforms so you can go right to your favorite podcast player.)
Billy Mills on Only a Game (10 minutes)
Only a Game recently ran a powerful 10-minute piece on 1964 Olympic 10,000m gold medalist Billy Mills (pictured above). The full episode is linked above, and Mills comes on at the 24:24 mark. (Or you can access just Mills’s segment here.) Even if you’ve heard his story told in other forms, this one is worth the time.
Mills, now 81, talks about how a particular racist episode with a photographer nearly led him to taking his own life, but he remembered some advice from his late father and took it to heart. After winning Olympic gold, Mills said he still felt like he didn’t quite belong in the country that he had served as a Marine and represented as an athlete. He has devoted the rest of his life to empowering Native Americans.
Mary Cain on the More Than Running podcast (71 minutes)
Mary Cain was already well known for her running accomplishments, but she reached a new level of fame last year when she shared her allegations of abuse at the Nike Oregon Project via The New York Times. In this episode of More Than Running, a new podcast hosted by professional runner Dana Giordano, Cain talks about what it was like to open up to millions of people and the aftermath of doing so, which included meeting U.S. soccer great Megan Rapinoe.
Cain also shares why she chose honesty in her interviews from a young age, why she got away from that for a while, and how she’s now inspired to keep telling the truth, even when she’s struggling.
Dinée Dorame on the Ali on the Run Show (72 minutes)
In this episode, Dinée Dorame, a citizen of the Navajo Nation and associate director of a nonprofit that seeks to help Native students be successful in college, talks about her experience as a lifelong runner. In a conversation that’s informative, delightful, and humorous, Dorame discusses the role of running in Native culture, how she uses running to connect with the land, and the chronic pain she deals with in running—and why she persists in spite of it. Dorame wrote a piece for the newest issue of Runner’s World and is a Runner’s World+ member. She’s heard from many other Native women after she shared her story.
Johnny Gregorek on the Citius Mag podcast (89 minutes)
Professional runner Johnny Gregorek will attempt to run the fastest mile ever—in blue jeans—on Saturday. He’ll do so to honor his late brother while raising money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Gregorek talks about more of his backstory in this episode, including some humorous anecdotes about what it was like having parents who were world class runners. He discusses first going after his mother’s personal bests, which weren’t easy, and then his father’s, and gradually coming to understand what it takes to succeed as a professional runner.
Alia Gray on the Injured Athletes Club podcast (61 minutes)
The motto of the Injured Athletes Club is, “We’re sorry you’re here, but we’re glad you’re with us.” Alia Gray, who has a marathon PR of 2:34, recently did a two-part interview with hosts Cindy Kuzma and Carrie Jackson Cheadle, first discussing her decision to skip the Olympic Marathon Trials and how she’s dealt with the variety of injuries she’s experienced, and then adding a follow-up piece on how her approach to training has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gray talks about seeing opportunities in one’s circumstances and the importance of self care, especially while injured. She also discusses what she’s gotten out of working with a psychologist, both when she’s injured and when she’s healthy.
Alan Webb, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Ryan Hall on LetsRun’s Track Talk podcast (74 minutes)
Until recently, the “big three” of the high school class of 2001, Alan Webb, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Ryan Hall, had never sat down for a conversation about what it was like to be a part of such a high profile rivalry at a young age. Ritzenhein was the last one still running professionally, but he recently announced his retirement from professional running. In this episode, they discuss their most memorable showdowns, their best races, and what they would have done differently. Two of the three said they wish they had focused more on health and less on weight, an important topic which tends to get less attention among men. This one includes a little bit of trash talking but far more modesty, and their mutual respect is evident.