Nature, Homelessness and Healing (Elizabeth Carr)

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Spending time outdoors can help us heal, but what if we could use it to help others heal, too?

Elizabeth Carr has used the outdoors to help her heal from her own trauma. She also works with Back on My Feet, an organization that uses running to help the homeless, well, get back on their feet. Elizabeth tells us all about her personal journey to running and how it clears her head.

We also hear about her claim to fame: she’s in the Guinness Book of World Records…but not for running.

Some of the good stuff:

[1:40] Elizabeth’s favorite outdoor space
[3:02] Why her favorite spaces are important
[5:14] How Elizabeth ended up working at Runner’s World
[8:40] Elizabeth’s work at Back on My Feet
[11:28] Why Back on My Feet is so fun
[12:28] Where Back on My Feet operates
[16:10] How running can help the homeless community
[21:02] How running helps people overcome hard stuff
[25:58] Is balancing an outside job and outside recreation hard?
[29:45] How being outside helped Elizabeth move through her trauma
[34:02] Elizabeth’s world record
[35:22] What that’s like
[39:10] Elizabeth’s most essential outdoor gear
[39:33] Elizabeth’s favorite outdoor gear
[41:55] Elizabeth’s favorite outdoor memory

Connect with this episode:

Read about Back on My Feet

Follow Elizabeth on Instagram

Follow Humans Outside on Instagram

Things mentioned in the show:
Runner’s World:
Back on My Feet:

Elizabeth’s favorite piece of outdoor gear:
Craft Hybrid weather Gloves: 

Elizabeth’s most essential outdoor gear: 
Backpack (notes from Elizabeth in quotes): “Actually a cycling bag but I use it for running because of the lumbar cushion, chest strap and waist strap and the fact that it is 100 percent waterproof made of dry bag material!”

Follow Back on My Feet on Instagram:

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Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Amy Bushatz: Elizabeth Carr is a runner, outdoor lover, a Runner’s World editor staff alumni, the development director for Back on My Feet, which is a national nonprofit that combats homelessness through the power of running, and a viral news sensation famous before that was even a thing, but we’ll get to that later. Elizabeth, welcome to the humans outside podcast.

Elizabeth Carr: Hi, Amy. Thanks for having me.

AB: You and I first crossed paths when I freelanced for Runner’s World several years ago. But despite stalking you and admiring you for all this time over social media, I don’t actually know you very well at all. So I’m excited to hear about your outdoor journey and your work with the homeless community.

EC: Yeah, I know. It’s funny how strange our paths have been. And yet, here we both are. 

AB: I know, it’s crazy how this social media world works. 

First, let’s start with the most important thing, to set the scene and take this conversation to your favorite outdoor space. So where are we chatting today?

EC: Well, my absolute favorite place in the whole wide world is running along the banks of the Charles River in Boston. Second only to my other favorite, which is the hills of Newton along the Boston Marathon course. Although I have been running so much in training that I’m feeling the love for the flat area of the Charles River right now with no hills.

AB: I hear that from this mountain, this place in Alaska where all trails go straight up or straight down.

EC: Similarly, where I live, it’s extremely hilly. And so when my friends come to run with me around here, they’re always surprised that I didn’t warn them about the hills, because I forget about it. 

AB: Yeah. And Alaskans are particularly anti-switchback. We don’t like them. Anytime a trail has them, people complain that the trail is too long. Why is this trail so long? Well, because we made it easier by not going straight up. So I hear that.

Okay, so you told us your favorite outdoor spaces, but you did not tell us why they’re important to you.

EC: Why they’re important to me? Well, the way I got started running was actually not by choice. It was because I was a rower in college. And in order to get to our boathouse every morning, we had to run two miles down to our boathouse so that we could row six miles and then run two miles back. And so running was the mode of transportation to get to my sport for many, many years. And when I graduated from college, I got married, and I had my son, it was like — oh, I can’t go be in a boat with seven other people. I can’t juggle that life anymore.

So I picked up a jogging stroller and running became my primary sport. So I became a runner pretty late in life. I have very fond memories of actually running along the banks of the Charles thinking I was going to die before I got to the boathouse because it felt so far back then. 

AB: How far was the boathouse? 

EC: It was two miles from my dorm. So not far!

AB: And were we running because we were late to rowing?

EC: No, we were all running as a group there. Because when you’re a rower, you row at five o’clock in the morning on the water, so you get up at like 4am. So anytime you can, you sleep just a little bit longer. So we were running as fast as we could down to the boathouse so that we could get as much sleep as possible before we started rowing. It was crazy.

AB: Oh, that’s funny!

You and I first met over running, of course, and I’ve met a lot of people over running, but usually it’s while actually running, right? We did not meet that way; we met through writing about running when you edited me at Runner’s World, which is, by the way, one of my most favorite gigs ever.

How did you end up there? 

EC: Oh my goodness. So for many, many years, I was a journalist at The Boston Globe. And I was the health and wellness online editor and had this wacky idea that I wanted to create a fitness-focused section online that was all digital. And I was like, just give me like two months and I’m going to make a blog. And if the blog fails miserably, we never have to do this idea again. 

And it was right when I was starting to take running seriously and sign up for races; like I had never raced a 5K or a 10K. My blog was mostly focused on my race training and me attending wacky health classes. So fitness things. And the blog and that section did so well, I ended up writing a freelance piece for Runner’s World

Then when they had a digital editors opening, I was like, hey, this sounds like really something I could do, and it sounds really fun. So I applied, and it was the best gig. I mean, it just really was a wonderful time to be building such a pretty digital product there. I didn’t touch the magazine. It was all online.

We had this audacious goal of 5 million page views in the first month, and they thought I was a nutjob for setting that goal. But, we hit it! And the dirty little secret of Zelle, which was the product that I was the editor of that you wrote for, was that it was life with a side of running rather than running with a side of life. You know, every story we did was really about the trials and tribulations that everybody goes through, seen through the lens of running. And I think that’s why people liked it so much. So that’s how it kind of evolved.

AB: And I think that that’s actually how most people view running, right? It’s how most people view being outside. While many of us would like to envision ourselves as being outside with the side of everything else, the reality is the other way around, right? That we are people who have lives and we have jobs and we do stuff inside and then the outside is something we aspire to and for people who run, or really do any fitness, I think that it’s really the other way around. 

So running is literally your whole life. You know, it has been your job and even though your work in Runner’s World specifically which, by the way, is Runner’s World a running cult? I hear that about there.

EC: You know, it’s so funny — you do not have to be a runner to work at Runner’s World, or at least when I worked there, you didn’t.

However, nobody would bat an eyelash when you would go on a half an hour long lunch run. So that was the beautiful part of the job. Right? It was like — oh, I’m going to go have lunch. And it was really, I’m going to go have a run now. And, you know, nobody cared if you were a couple of minutes late because you got lost or something.

AB: That’s so great!

Well, what I was going to say is that you’re no longer there, but you still focus on running with a whole new group of people and not necessarily through writing. Tell me about that.

EC: I should say when I was still at Runner’s World, I was still volunteering for the organization that I work for now, which is Back on My Feet. 

Back on My Feet is a national nonprofit. And as you said, we combat homelessness using running as the catalyst to get our members going, literally and figuratively. 

So what happens is that we recruit members across our cities through homeless facilities, recovery houses, different programs. And these people are either currently experiencing homelessness, at severe risk of homelessness, or are transitioning out of homelessness through a recovery program where they’ve been released from incarceration. And we have them come out and run with us three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday — generally at 5:45 in the morning, so some things in my life never changed. Still an early morning girl. 

And once they’ve done three runs with us, we outfit them head to toe with brand new gear, everything they need. So we get them completely fitted with new shoes and all the tech gear they need for running. So in the winter, we have hats and jackets and pants, in the summer we have shorts. 

Then we work on their attendance. So we work them up so that they’re running consistently with us for a month. After they’ve done that, it really proves to us that they’re putting in a super ton of hard work. And that’s when we put them in the meat of our program where we find them homes and jobs. 

So we put them through a workforce development program. We help them find a job, find housing, and remove any barriers they may have. They might need help getting their license reinstated, or they may need to take a college class, or they may need digital or financial literacy, any or all of those things. 

We do that and then all this time, they’re still running with us. So they’re working on consistency, building goals, goal setting, and community. And then, once they’ve found a home and a job, they become alumni and they help other members, while they’re still running with us, go through our program as well. And so it’s this whole big community, right? We really take that to the nth degree by saying, this is your support structure, this is your circle. 

It’s just the most fun job. Like, really, I always brag that I have the best job because it’s really, really awesome.

AB: What makes it so fun?

EC: Oh, man. I mean, just the fact that you get up at 5:45 in the morning with a bunch of strangers you’ve never met before and you stand in a circle and you say your name and you answer a silly question. We call it the question of the day: what’s your favorite breakfast cereal? It can be anything. And then you set out and you all run together. 

No person is left behind. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a walker, it doesn’t matter if you’re a speed demon. We all start and finish together. And just learning everybody’s different backgrounds and stories. We’re all there for the same purpose, which is really why most people love running clubs, right? It’s like built-in instant friends who like doing the same things as you. But in this case, it’s also people who are experiencing the same kind of hardship. And so you look around and you go — wow, I’m not alone. Like, I’m really not alone.

AB: Yeah, that must be a really special experience. I know you are in Boston. Where else are these chapters? Where else is this nonprofit?

EC: So we’re in 13 different cities. We’re in Austin, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis; and Atlanta. We are all over the place! You can go to to see the map of where we are. And we have a couple more chapters coming down the pike as well. 

AB: Do you find that the clients with this are people who have run before or are they usually folks who have no experience running and who maybe haven’t used the outside as a sort of healing and moving forward mechanism before?

EC: Oh, yeah, I would say 99% of everybody who joins us has never run, like at all. Forget like a half mile — like, they’ve never run. Which I also think is kind of an amazing piece of our program is that we set this audacious goal for you: you’re going to run and you have to learn how to break it down into small, manageable steps. 

I always joke that my life feels perpetually like a couch to 5k segment, because we’re always welcoming new people and teaching them how to begin running and walking and we like to call the people who do run/walk intervals, “yoggers.” We have our own special name for them! 

It’s really, really fun. And the fact that we have an alumni who be queued for Boston this year. We had a member a couple months ago who ran his first ever marathon in 3.29. So, these people are way faster than I am. Let’s put it that way.

AB: For those of us who are not runners listening to this, running 26.2 miles in 3.29, that’s incredible. My fastest time is like 3.47 if I remember correctly, and I thought I was going to die, guys. I finished this race and I went to the table where my friend was and I leaned on this table and I thought, this is it. This is how I die — right here.

Then I remembered a friend of mine who trained with me for my first marathon. At some point in 16 miles of suffering, he looked at me and said, “You know running a marathon hurts, right?” And I thought of him in that moment while I was dying. So, that’s just an incredibly fast pace. And, again, for those who don’t know, a Boston Marathon qualifying pace is equally speedy. It depends on your age group. But for me, I mean, Boston qualifying time is so far away.

In the words of Joey Tribbiani, “The line is a dot to you, it is far

I don’t even think about that. That’s how far away it is. 

Those are incredible accomplishments of being very in shape, but also dedication. And so that kind of makes me wonder though, a lot of times folks who are struggling with homelessness are also struggling with addiction. Talk to me about how using running as a tool plays into moving on from sort of the thought that whole package of challenges.

EC: Yeah. So I think one of the awesome things about our program is that in order to be a member, you have to be clean and sober. And you have to be on your program, whatever that is. So we don’t prescribe. We don’t say you have to be in recovery this way or that way. But you have to be adhering to whatever you set forth as a recovery plan. And so you have to be clean and sober. You can’t come to a run drunk, obviously, for safety issues and all sorts of other issues. And what’s interesting about those in recovery, is that so many of our members are in recovery as well. We are obviously very aware and inclusive of that community. So we actually start our morning runs with the Serenity Prayer which is well known in recovery circles. It really has nothing to do with praying or anything like that. It’s really just to kind of set an intention and all kind of be on the same page, right? 

AB: It’s a mantra. You know, just like when I go out, I tell myself to enjoy the struggle. It’s like a very long version of saying that.

EC: Exactly. And the other interesting thing about it is that many folks in recovery programs have disassociated themselves with that part of their life, from whatever was painful enough to have them end up in that program. And so the fact that now they have a brand new built-in social circle that every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and on some weekends – and we race monthly – that they can count on to know that, no matter what, there’s going to be someone there to show up. Like, I never have to worry that nobody is going to show up. There’s always somebody there. And we very rarely cancel. I always joke that we’re actually more efficient than the postal service because we go out and all kinds of weather unless lthe city of Boston has declared a state of emergency or it’s complete and sheer ice on the sidewalks we we run.

AB: Yeah, I’m familiar with the concept here in Alaska. So, power to you.

You know, one of the parts that Serenity Prayer is having the courage to change the things you can, right? And boy, is that a powerful thing to remember while you’re outside sort of tackling those omens, whether that be the wind or poor weather; sometimes doing stuff outside is not necessarily what you want to be doing. That could be for a whole host of reasons. It’s warm by your TV, you miss that Netflix binge, or, you know, it’s just hard, right? 

Running is hard. Sometimes being outside is not that fun. But when you have the courage to change things you can, you are out there anyway. You’re doing it.

EC: Yeah. And you’re all leaning on each other. I think the great thing is that we’re all choosing to be there. And it’s kind of like my mantra that I was telling myself during my nine miler when I wanted to stop at mile six. I’m not gonna lie. It’s so hilly here, and it was windy. And I was like —  I’m over this. This isn’t fun right now. And I just kept reminding myself — it’s going to be hard. You signed up for this; no part of marathon training is easy. 

And I think that our members really understand that completely changing your life is no small or simple task. And so, you know, we just remind them that it’s going to be hard. But guess what: we’re all doing our own version of hard, whatever that may be. And so for somebody, it may be walking a mile straight for the first time in their life and for somebody else it might be getting through, you know, that 15 miler. You just never know what somebody’s going through, but you can relate to the same struggle.

AB: Sure. And so many of us tackle these big challenges, whether that’s running, hiking, or you’re getting fit, or just becoming more outdoor minded as a way to overcome other stuff. 

You never know what somebody’s doing. You never know what some what thing people are overcoming, right? That could be homelessness or addiction, as is the case for the folks you’re working with. There could be a challenging home life, hard relationships, a new job, whatever, right?

EC: I mean, I never had a desire to run or train for a marathon. I was totally content with 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons — running a marathon was never on my to do list. 

But during my time as a journalist for The Boston Globe in my health coverage, I was stationed at the finish line of the Boston Marathon every year. I don’t even know how many years I was doing it. And I was there the year that the bombs went off. And I was on the finish line. 

I’m still dealing with PTSD. My son dropped something in the house and I jumped like a cartoon cat. You know, that kind of stuff. And that was why it clicked in my brain. I can write a billion words about running and about what I went through and what I experienced. But until I run this course, myself and have a more positive experience crossing a finish line — and crossing that finish line in particular — I couldn’t get the loop of the replay of those events from that day out of my head. 

I am a five hour marathoner. There’s no way I was going to qualify, but I put it out in the universe. And I told everybody I knew and I actually wrote a blog post saying — I don’t care what it takes. I’m going to run the Boston Marathon. 

And lo and behold, I went for a run with a buddy of mine who ended up having charity bibs. He knew it was a goal of mine, but we didn’t really talk too much about it. A week later, he calls me up and says, “Hey, I have a Boston bib with your name on it, you want to do it?” And I was like, “100% yes.” And I still had never run a marathon at all. Like I had done maybe a couple halves [13.1 miles].

So I set out a goal for myself before running Boston that I was going to sign up for a local marathon. And I was like, if I can do it in less than six hours, then I will 100% run Boston because I knew Boston had a six hour course limit cut off. 

I ran my first ever marathon in five hours and 50 minutes and I was like — oh, 10 minutes to spare. Let’s go.

AB: Famous last words! For those runners out there, I encourage you not to ever say that you will not run a marathon because that is a very good way to actually find yourself doing it later. It’s one of those things — just don’t tempt the fate high atop the thing. You know, just walk away. Keep the words on the inside guys, because I’ve heard this story so many times — including from myself, by the way. “Oh, yeah. I’m never gonna run a marathon,” she said. And the narrator said, “She would not, in fact, keep her word.”

EC: Yeah. Now I’ve run to Boston’s and a handful of other marathons.

AB: Yeah, you gotta keep those sorts of sweeping decisions on the inside guys, it’s really important to not to not make generalizations like that. 

Meeting for these runs and spending all this time outside is a part of your job. So I’m wondering how you also keep it as part of recreation and if that’s hard.

EC: You know, there was a time where it was hard.

Especially when I was being sent in my Runner’s World days to every race under the sun. I was there as an editor and also a runner, and so I felt like I had so many hats to juggle. But I think now I’ve kind of learned to balance it, of understanding that I break my work and personal life into two different runtimes. So my work runtime is not for me. I think of my work runtime as for our members, our volunteers, our donors, and everybody who supports us. My showing up there is like thanking them for showing up and supporting us. 

My personal runtime is the time that is just for me, and I tend to not run with other people during that time. So during nine-miler this weekend, I was all by myself. Usually, my husband and I will run together. But there were some times when he was running and I just felt like I needed to just go and do those miles by myself. 

As outgoing and gregarious as I am, I have these moments of needing to totally introvert and just have time to myself. And so I tend to wake up early in the morning and put in miles for myself before I put in miles for anybody else. So if I end up not running during a run, and I’m with a new member who’s walking, I don’t care, that’s fine. It’s not a big deal. You just can’t get wrapped up into not getting your miles in. 

So I am still an early morning person. I wake up at 4am and get my miles in and then I hit the road with work and get those miles in.

AB: If you’re not a runner, it can be easy to hear us runners talk about this stuff and think we’re crazy. But really, when we’re talking about this mileage, what we’re talking about is just time doing the thing outside. When I do treadmill miles, it’s because it’s due to total lack of other options, right? It’s not about just wanting to run. I’m only on the treadmill because something outside is dangerous, right? Lightning, for example.

EC: We just had an ice storm couldn’t I couldn’t go out and run in an ice storm. That’s just like asking for an injury.

AB: Exactly. Here in Alaska, I use a studded shoe. Because that’s a problem so often here, right? But if I didn’t live here, no way would I have invested in that. 

So when we talk about this, having to get our miles in, what we’re really talking about this act of being outside and doing something in nature. That thing that we have found to be healing for us. And so a lot of people don’t think of themselves as runners or aren’t runners or don’t want to be runners, but they can still find this benefit that you have found by being outside doing that thing.

You talked a little bit about moving through your own PTSD from the bombing, by running, and I know running was important to you before that. So I’m wondering, you said you wanted to physically cross that finish line, and I 100% get that part. But what else about the process of running or being outside has changed as a part of moving through that traumatic experience?

EC: As a writer, I think a lot of my best writing has come to me while I’m out on a run.

And I think people who do yoga or other things like often talk about this as well, about how your mind just has a moment unravel. I always like to say that going for a run for me is like I’m untying a really tight pair of shoes — my knots can all just kind of untie. 

And so for me, it was really like those times that I was running, especially when I was first working through my PTSD, I really allowed my brain to process what had happened because I was still very much a working journalist when those bombs went off. I had a job to do, I couldn’t actually process properly everything that was going on. I had to keep my head down and do my job. When you’re trained as a journalist, that’s what you do. You go into emergency mode, you need to find out exactly what’s going on and deliver the facts. And so that’s what I did.

It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that, even just going for a two-miler, I came back and just felt like I actually understood the magnitude of what had happened. It didn’t really sink in and process until that moment. 

That’s still kind of how I operate. I think much more clearly after coming back from a run. I think that’s why I like running in the morning so much. That’s how I start my day now. If I don’t run in the morning, I don’t run. I’m too exhausted. So, I know myself well enough to know that I have to get up in the morning and do it or else it’s not going to get done.

AB: It’s funny that you say that about untying knots, because I feel that way about running. I feel that way about just being outside in general. And I was just sort of lying in bed this morning thinking about why I feel like I have a brain fog going on right now, and just sort of wondering why that is. I love my running friends, but I have seriously dropped down on my solo runs because I have so many awesome running buddies. But I think it is impacting my ability to unclog the pipes.

EC: Yes, totally! I really have fun on my group runs. They’re so much fun and I would not give them up. But then like my long runs by myself, I’ve come to reclaim as my own.So when people ask if I’m doing the group 20 miler from Heartbreak Hill this weekend, often I’m the person who’s like — love you love the club. But no, I’m going to run the hills around my house by myself. Because that’s my time. That’s my sacred time to put myself back together and understand what I need. People think that I’m an extrovert, but secretly like I’m actually really introverted. I can get up and speak in front of 3000 people and I’ve been on TV my entire life, but I’m actually very introverted and private. And so, if I’m social all day long, I literally have to come home and sit in like the quiet on my couch. Like no noise for an hour to be by myself.

AB: I hear that so hard! 

Okay, so I we can’t let this interview go by without addressing the thing you’ve just touched on which is being on TV your whole life. This is totally unrelated to going outside, but we have to talk about this. Elizabeth’s personal viral sensation, but before “viral sensation” was even a thing. She holds claim to be super unique title in human history. I mean, the entire human race going on here. Tell us about it!

EC: Yeah, so in 1981, I was the first in vitro – or otherwise known as “test tube baby” – in the United States, which is a dubious title.

AB: It’s quite the quite the mantle my friend.

EC: Yeah, so there’s 8 million IVF babies in the world right now. And I was number one in the US.

AB: I was trying to imagine what it’s like to understand that or care. But, you were on the Today Show. But we feel like IVF is very normal now, right? Not scary and or even that interesting, but at the time, I mean, people were like — is she going to have more than one head? I mean, it was very scary; sort of the way that Dolly the Sheep was super scary to a lot of people. And now we’re like — oh, sheep cloning, no big deal.

I don’t even know where to start. What is that like?

EC: Yeah, I mean, the good news is that because I was the first, I had to learn very early in my life how I was born. So for anyone who doesn’t understand in vitro fertilization, essentially, they take the man’s sperm and the mother’s egg and they fertilize it in a petri dish. Once the egg is fertilized, they put it back inside the mother’s womb and you have a baby born the normal way.

So it’s really not like that high tech anymore. But back then it really was. It was also illegal in the state of Massachusetts where I am from, so I was actually born in Virginia. So that’s why it was such a big deal. 

So I mean, I’ve always known how to explain IVF to people, even when I was like five or six years old. I learned about my own birth from my doctors who sat, one on each side of me. And they narrated theNova documentary of my birth. Which, if anybody is truly bored and wants to look it up, it’s calledA Daughter for Judy. It was put on by a British film crew, who we’re still friends with to this day. The whole thing is very British-narrated and it’s it’s hysterical to go back and watch it, but it was amazing. 

AB: It’s like when I said I imagined having my own personal narrator — you 100 have one of those.

EC: Yeah! It’s just kind of this funny thing that is a part of my life and a lot of people are surprised that I didn’t mention it sooner when they find out about it. But, do you explain to people that when you were born, your mother didn’t have an epidural? It’s just not something that comes up in everyday conversation!

AB: I feel like not having an epidural is not the same level, though!

EC: But again, like how do you say, “Hi, I’m Elizabeth. I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records.”

AB: There’s not really a good way to slide that in. Alright, I’m with you. 

EC: Yeah, it’s pretty funny. But it’s really been pretty incredible because it’s also allowed me to become an advocate to speak out on infertility and fertility awareness and travel the world. 

I got to go speak when I was like 15 in Prague, and I feel like there’s a lot of 15 year olds that don’t get to do that! 

When I was a budding journalist, I had to ask for a day off. During your first year of journalism, you don’t get a day off. My very first boss was like, “Well, what do you need the day off for?” And I was like, “Well, I’m going to go talk at the UN.” And she was like, “Yeah, okay, sure you are.”

And then they wrote a write-up about it in the paper the next day, and she was like, “Oh, no, yep. You were telling the truth.”

AB: Yeah, no kidding. Well, there you go. 

Okay, so now that we’ve taken that wild left turn that we couldn’t not take. I love a good lightning round — whether or not it’s actually lightning, we can’t say. 

Okay, these are just things I want to know from my guests that might not have anything to do with what we’ve already talked about, but we really should talk about at some point in here. So let’s Alright. 

What is the most essential outdoor gear you’ve ever owned? The most essential thing that is not necessarily your favorite, just the most essential.

EC: Okay, my Craft gloves that have the fingers with the fold over flap to turn into mittens. Those are essential.

AB: Yes, I am a mitten fan. I understand. 

What is your favorite outdoor gear? Which, again, it doesn’t have to be the same.

EC: I think my favorite outdoor gear is probably the backpack that I use for my run commute every morning. It’s a Provis biking waterproof backpack. Which sounds like totally crazy but it has lumbar support and it’s like the cushiest most expensive backpack I’ve ever bought in my life. But it holds so much and I literally put my life in it to run commute to work every morning. So I have my laptop and my change of clothes. And it’s a dry bag so nothing ever gets wet. And it’s bright neon yellow. It’s my favorite.

AB: How long is this run commute that you have not previously mentioned?

EC: Yeah, so it’s four and a half miles one way. So I drive most of the way into work. But we all know parking in Boston is ridiculously expensive, so I park at a free lot in Boston and then I run four and a half miles to my office, which is on Newbury Street. And then at the end of the day, I run the 4.5 miles back. 

AB: Wow. That’s that’s a lot of mileage!

EC: Yes, but it’s more enjoyable than sitting on the T.

AB: I’ve thought a lot about the running commute thing. If I live somewhere that wasn’t Alaska, what would I do with myself? I think I would be tempted and interested in run commuting and then wuss out.

EC: Yeah, it takes a lot of dedication, I will not lie. You have to be very thoughtful about what you leave for supplies at the office versus which things you shove in your backpack. But as as long as the path is shoveled, I will run on it. And it is very rare – because it’s along the Charles River – that it’s not shoveled. So it works out pretty well. But it does take a lot of forethought. I have become a bizarre connoisseur of dry shampoo.

AB:All right, well, there you go. Secret talent. I like it. 

Okay, what is your favorite outdoor moment to date? I know we talked about your favorite spot already, but what is your favorite outdoor moment?

EC: Okay, so I would be remiss if I didn’t say crossing the Boston finish line for the first time. But I have recently come to really enjoy trail running. And so crossing the finish line of my most recent trail race, I think was right up there. I ran it faster than I thought I was going to and it was super hard and super muddy and really kind of awesome. So I think that’s probably a tie for top two.

AB: There’s something about the trails, you know. Whether you’re running or hiking or walking, just that sense of accomplishment after you’ve literally gone over the mountain in many cases. That is unparalleled. I can totally see that. 

What is one thing that you thought you’d never do outside that you’ve totally done anyway?

EC: I think it was probably when I did my first triathlon. I, again, had no desire to do a triathlon, and then a friend of mine talked me into it.I gotta tell you, I am a terrible biker, but in the run and the swim I was solid, so it was really fun.

AB: Yeah, we gotta get some different friends.

EC: You know what I call these friends? I call them run-stigators.

AB: That sounds about accurate. And then I keep trying to talk them into going shorter distances. But there they are insisting that we are running five miles instead of three or whatever. So I hear that 100%.

Hopefully we have become run-stigators, or at least outdoor-stigators! Thank you so much for being on the humans outside podcast. I really appreciate it!

EC: Yeah, it was super fun. And hopefully we get to do it again sometime. Maybe we can actually run in person.

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