Building Community, Virtual Adventures, and Running Fast with Marathon Matt Forsman of SF Run Club and Sasquatch Racing
On today’s episode, we’re talking to Coach and Race Director Marathon Matt Forsman. Matt’s been a fixture of the Bay Area running community for over 15 years.
After hitting some stumbling blocks early in his marathon career, Matt was able to post some incredible marathon times, including a 2:45 marathon.
In this episode you’ll learn about how a coach influenced Matt to pursue running, and eventually marathons. How a freak compression fracture almost derailed his career at the start. Why Matt’s running clubs are known for community. And, how he got into Race Directing and the ingenious things he’s doing to keep people motivated during the pandemic.
Links references in this Show
Marathon Matt: http://www.sanfranciscorunningclub.com/team/matt-forsman/
SF Run Club: http://www.sanfranciscorunningclub.com/
Sasquatch Racing: http://www.sasquatchracing.com/
Podcast TranscriptionThe following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.
Matt Forsman: [00:00:00]
I do feel like I'm as much a coach as I am sort of doing, community development, for lack of a better word. I mean, I do feel like that's part of my job is to help people connect because I mean, if they connect, they're also going to keep coming back and if they keep coming back and they keep continuing to run, they're going to be happier. They're going to be healthier. I mean, it's, it's a win-win for everyone.
Kevin Chang: [00:00:25]
Hello and welcome to the race mob podcast. This is episode number 30.
I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd, and the founder of race mob. I'm joined by master motivator, founder of two legit fitness co-chair of the Taji 100 R R C a certified coach USA track and field certified official the incomparable Bertrand Newson.
On today's episode, we're talking to coach and race director marathon, Matt Foresman. Matt has been a fixture in the Bay area, running community for over 15 years. And after hitting some stumbling blocks early in his marathon career, Matt was able to post some incredible marathon times, including a two 45 marathon.
In this episode, you'll learn how a coach influenced Matt to pursue running and eventually marathons. How a freak compression fracture almost derailed his career at the start. Why mats running clubs are known for community and how he got into race directing and the ingenious things he's doing to keep people motivated during the pandemic. You can find all of the show notes online at race mob.com/podcast.
This episode is brought to you by race, mob, and inclusive community for endurance athletes. If you like our podcast, you'll love our YouTube channel, where we keep you up to date with news for the running world and give you tips that will help you improve your running. Check us out by searching race mob on YouTube and subscribe today.
And without further ado, here's our conversation.
All right. We are so excited to welcome the one, the only marathon Matt to the race mile podcast. Welcome to the podcast, Matt.
Matt Forsman: [00:02:01]
you very much for having me and thank you for the ridiculous introduction.
Kevin Chang: [00:02:07]
I love it. I love it.
Bertrand Newson: [00:02:08]
Living legend. Living legend.
Living legend here in
Kevin Chang: [00:02:11]
Bay area, up in San Francisco. Matt, tell us how you got into running. Tell us your origin story.
Matt Forsman: [00:02:16]
Well, I'll give you the, a bridge diversion. I got a few years on you guys. So this could be a really long story. If I wanted it to be.
I was really into soccer in high school. Unfortunately ran into a coach I didn't connect with very well when I was a freshmen got kind of burned out and, at my school they only offered socce,r cross country or football football, really wasn't going to be an option for me. So just kind of fell into it and then fell in love with it very quickly thereafter.
I briefly had the extraordinary, good fortune to work with an Olympic development coach, and he really had me drinking the Kool-Aid and dropped my two mile time from like a 14:34 to a 10:34 in just about a year. Hey, I was, I was all in, I was all in.
And then my family moved to California. Unfortunately it, my junior year, and I lost contact with a coach that connected so well with back in Kansas and my passion for the sport waned a little bit. And then I went off to college, it became sort of a recreational thing.
And then when I got out of college in the back of my mind, was this this crazy thing that this Olympic development coach told me all those years ago that never made any sense to me and still doesn't make all that much sense to me now, but you know, "Matt, you know, I think it'd be a great marathone someday", and I didn't have any illusions. I was going to be a great marathoner because I hadn't really been training for several years, but I really wanted to find out like, "what can I do with this distance?"
And so that's right around the time that I had sort of this running Renaissance, which snowballed into me, basically turning my passion into some kind of professional existence, into a career of sorts, you know, with Marathon Matt, with run club, with Sasquatch racing and, with whatever comes next, I'm sure running is going to be involved.
Kevin Chang: [00:04:01]
Incredible. Wow. What a story! You said you were taking your time down from 14 minutes and something down to 10 minutes and something. What distance was that at? And what types of drills was he having you run through and what was going on there?
Matt Forsman: [00:04:15]
We're going back to the days of yore and hallowed antiquity.
You know, how old was I back then? Um, I was all of like 15 or 16 years old and it was the two miles. That's what I was talking about the two miles. And so for soccer trials, you had to do it's two miles time trial and I ran a 14:34. And then after a season across country, a season of winter training, the season, the track managed to run a 10:34.
And honestly like there, there was no real secret sauce to it. As I often say to my runners, I was, ruthlessly consistent or being ruthlessly consistent. And. It didn't matter to me if it was raining, it didn't matter to me. If I was tired, I was in a space at that age where running became my everything, and anybody at that age, identify with this idea of, you know, not really having control over much of it, anything.
And I certainly felt that pretty strongly, but running was my thing. And I can go as far and as fast as I wanted to go, it was all within my control and I was going to take it as far as I could go. So, it was really just a matter of being ruthlessly consistent. I mean, obviously, you know, my mileage progressed, you know, I got stronger, I got faster, you know, my endurance improved, obviously mental toughness improved, just, you know, it's going to happen, whether you're thinking about it or not, you just keep doing it.
But I was just ruthlessly consistent and committed. And I was also during that period of time. Very much consumed with the idea of winning a race. I've never won a race before in my entire life. And I just wanted to have that feeling. It was the great unknown, and that was a big part of what was driving me as well.
So it took a little while, but I finally did win a race or two, which was really exciting.
Bertrand Newson: [00:06:00]
Wonderful. Matt, during that time, how did your diet change at all? Were you eating more calories because you're more active or did you have to incorporate a diet of any level?
Matt Forsman: [00:06:11]
At that age, I was just inhaling calories. I was pretty indiscriminate.
Kevin Chang: [00:06:17]
15 years old. Yeah.
Matt Forsman: [00:06:19]
You know, mind, we're talking about 1989, 1990, when this was happening. So like, you didn't have power bars, you didn't have like artisan handcrafted, you know, like. There weren't a lot of options.
I mean, my Olympic development coach, he told me he was giving me strategies about him and my long runs. And he's telling me, okay, halfway through your long run plant, a flat can of Coke. That's pretty much what nutrition looked like back then. And it worked, it worked.
Kevin Chang: [00:06:50]
Talk to us about the first time, you started running marathons. So what was training like at that point in time, you said you were going through this Renaissance where you just downloading training plans off the internet and trying to work that into a schedule and give us kind of the story behind your first marathons.
Matt Forsman: [00:07:06]
So my first crack at it didn't go all that well, because I was, you know, I figured I had run close to 20 miles in high school. I kind of, you know, it was within striking distance. It's 26.2. I mean, I kind of knew the basics of laying a foundation, you know, getting in the miles, you know, gradually procrastinate over time or so I thought I did.
But I, uh, actually suffered a very serious injury during my first attempt to train for a marathon, suffered a complete compression fracture of the left femoral head, had to have surgery, had to have pins inserted. It was pretty hellacious.
It took me a couple of years to really fully recover from that and I had to have the pins removed eventually, cause the hip would never be the same if I didn't have a remove and I still wanted to run a marathon.
So, I had them removed, and then, uh, at that point I'm like, okay, I'm gonna try this again, but I'm just, I signed up for team and training. I'm like, these guys have been doing it for a very long time. I'm just gonna follow whatever plan they have in place. And you know what I worked last time or what it did last time. Didn't exactly work. So I'm gonna follow their game plan.
So that was my first marathon and it was positive experience. I think team training is great. I mean, it definitely, yeah, he got me to the finish line, but by the time I finished, I really realized I want to train at a higher level and I feel like I can do more with what I have, which is when I joined Pacwest athletics and met coach Jay and ran with them for a period of time. Qualified for Boston, got my time under three hours, and then became obsessed with this idea of get a marathon in the two thirties, somehow by hook or by crook. I was, I was determined to get there.
Kevin Chang: [00:08:41]
Wow. That's crazy. I mean, I want to back up a little bit and talk about this femural head, compression fracture. I'm assuming that that is a fracture actually in your femur. What was going on there? What's the story behind that fracture and coming back from that.
Matt Forsman: [00:08:59]
great question. Yeah. Basically broke my hip running. When we finally determined what was going on, the doctor asked me, did you fall down? Did like a refrigerator fall on you? Like they couldn't understand how it had happened. And needless to say, I was pretty shocked too, at the time at which it happened, I was actually in the middle of beta breakers.
And I just had this excruciating pain and I've never quit a race in my entire life. And despite the fact that I was an excruciating pain and I'm like, okay, I can't run anymore, but I'm going to hobble my way to the finish line, which I ultimately did. And then called my brother, who was an MD. And I asked him, I said, is it possible that I broke my hip?
And he was like, no, it's like, you're, you're young. You're fit. Like it doesn't. Really make any sense. So I self diagnosed with it band syndrome. This was way before I was a coach. So I wasn't exactly providing the kind of direction I would provide my athletes. Wasn't following that kind of direction.
At any rate, they finally determined that it was a fracture and my bones are fine. Like they, when they actually, when they removed the pins, they told me they had a really difficult time getting them out because my bones were like steel, which in my mind, I'm like, okay, so how did this happen? If my bones are so strong, what's going on?
And to be frank, I don't really know it could be my biomechanics. It could be the way that I'm built. You know, I never really found out exactly why it happened. I mean, it is an injury that happens to some runners. I mean, I've actually heard about it from like some elite quasi elite runners. I mean, it's not, it's not very common, but I have seen it a few times, but yeah, not fun. Wouldn't recommend it.
Kevin Chang: [00:10:38]
Do you think leading up to the injury? Was there any signs, any telltale, anything, or do you think it was just kind of, it happened that day?
Matt Forsman: [00:10:48]
Reflecting on it. There was some vague achiness, heaviness discomfort in the hip that I noticed when I was doing some easy miles leading up to beta breakers. I mean, that's the only thing that I could really point to. But I think for better or worse, probably a little bit of both. I've got a pretty high tolerance to pain, which, you know, has gotten me into trouble before in the past.
And I think as a runner, there's sort of this, you know, there's this slippery slope from discomfort and fatigue into pain, and sometimes it's a blurred line there. And, you know, particularly if you're, you know, you desperately want to qualify for Boston or you desperately want that PR or whatever it is, and you're willing to, you know, run through a brick wall to get it done.
You gotta be careful.
Kevin Chang: [00:11:32]
That's a fascinating story. I don't think very many of us have dealt with that type of injury and then able to come back from the injury, which I think is. Just astounding. So you came back from this injury, I'm assuming that you had a lay off of it for a little bit. And then you got to train with our friends over at Pacwest insurance.
You got to qualify for Boston. How is that Boston experience? Describe it to us, were you able to actually run Boston? And when was this?
Matt Forsman: [00:12:00]
I first qualified for Boston in 2003, but I didn't actually run Boston until 2014 the year after the bombings. Part of what happened once I qualified for Boston, you know, found myself perilously close to break in three hours for the marathon. I just suddenly Boston qualifying for Boston was great, but I kind of felt like at that time I'm like, okay, I can do Boston and I will do Boston.
Absolutely. We'll do Boston, but I was still truly just kind of obsessed with this idea planted in my head from this coach years ago. That I'd be a great marathoner someday. And I was like, okay, how can I get faster? Is it more mileage? Is it more quality? Is it, you know, finding the right course the right time a year.
So I was really just consumed with getting faster, whatever that looked like. And I had this wonderful period, this honeymoon period from 2002 to 2005, where, I mean to post a personal best in every single marathon that I ran. So starting with team and training managed to two 30 and then by the end of 2005 and managed to run a 2:45, that being said, again, I don't always lead by example, my approach to training just has always been very sort of hell bent. I mean, just sort of damn the torpedoes full speed ahead. And I always tell my runners, listen to the message your body sends you. I don't always do the best job doing that myself.
So after three, some odd years, and I think some of that was also driven by this idea in my mind that. Yeah, I'd lost all this time. I didn't have those years where I was training seriously in college, I, you know, had been injured, seriously injured, and that sidelined me for a couple of years. And I just felt like, you know, I don't know what the window is here. Like how much time do I have to do this? So I think that was part of what drove the training that I was doing during that period as well.
Bertrand Newson: [00:13:50]
You know, Matt, just for perspective, what was your weekly mileage like during that timeframe?
Matt Forsman: [00:13:55]
From 2002 to 2005. That's a great question. I wasn't keeping extensive exhaustive training diaries, but I would ballpark 50 to 70 miles a week. Probably something like that.
Kevin Chang: [00:14:08]
Did you have like events on the calendar that you were training. Typically for training in for them out for them. You know, what was kind of your yearly view of your training? What did that kind of look like?
Matt Forsman: [00:14:20]
Well, when I was in serious marathon mode, it was basically two events a year, if the stars aligned. A spring marathon, a fall and a winter marathon towards the end of this period, I was usually only doing like one serious marathon a year, just because the training cycle for that. It's massive and it's all consuming and you know, it's a big, big effort as you guys know
Bertrand Newson: [00:14:40]
Matt, share some of those races promote those events. You're a race director yourself, so share the love when some of those marathons that you had.
Matt Forsman: [00:14:48]
Number one, you never forget your first, there's midnight sun marathon in Anchorage. Beautiful setting takes place during the summer solstice. I'll never forget that race because I made every single rookie neophyte mistake. One could make. Some wonderful, wonderful developmental opportunities. Some wonderful learnings took place there.
So mayors midnight sun fantastic event, highly recommend number two, rock and roll. San Diego. And that marathon was all about redemption because Anchorage had been such a dumpster fire, right? Total debacle. So all about redemption in San Diego, I was bound and determined to qualify for Boston. That was going to be the race.
And I did manage to qualify there, but it was no walk in the park, had some, some serious GI issues around mile 15, just when I was thinking, okay, this is looking good. Right? I'm in good shape. Then started having GI issues. And then now it's just a sprain my ankle at mile 21. So that was number two, number three, Chicago marathon.
Amazing advent. I mean, either you guys done Chicago ?
Kevin Chang: [00:15:56]
I have not.
Bertrand Newson: [00:15:56]
Matt Forsman: [00:15:57]
I've done it three times as well. I did it in 2003, four and five. And that, that race, I mean, all of them have a special place in my heart, but Chicago, you know, managed to post a personal best there three times in a year.
And that's just like the people come out for that event. Like nothing I've ever seen aside from Boston. Yeah.
So Chicago, three times calender national, twice Calor national is where I've hosted my fastest, which was a two 43. And then we'll actually. I did do the North face endurance challenge marathon as well, a few years ago. That was cool too very different experience, but yeah, great event.
Bertrand Newson: [00:16:36]
What's the climb in that 3000, 4,000?
Matt Forsman: [00:16:40]
I feel like it is 3000 to 4,000, but the course at that time, excuse me, included to a sense of Marin shallow. Are you guys familiar with this climb? Get out, get out to Tennessee Valley and tackle Marin shallow. It's like a mile. I want to say a mile to a mile and a quarter straight up.
Bertrand Newson: [00:16:59]
Is that in the Dipsy trail area or separately?
Matt Forsman: [00:17:02]
It's not particularly close to, uh, to the Dipsy trail, but it's right in Tennessee Valley. So if you go to like the Tennessee Valley, um, like staging area, the parking lot over there, but Marin shallow is, is just a beastly beastly. Climb. And it's so tough.
I mean, I'm a big mantras guy during those tough moments. So I came up with this mantra, run Mello, conquer, Marin cello, run, mellow conquer, Marin Shellman. That's the only way I'm getting through this because he had to do it not once, but twice.
Kevin Chang: [00:17:30]
Tennessee Valley is... sorry, I guess I'm not super familiar. Is that North Bay is that North of San Francisco? Is that what we're talking?
Matt Forsman: [00:17:36]
Just North of the bridge, some Marine Headlands, and actually there's an amazing route. The Ninja loop, the famous or infamous. Ninja loop. It's 11 and a half miles with like 2000 feet of climbing. It includes Marin cello as the third and final climb, but that's an amazing, challenging, inspiring route. If you haven't done that one differently, definitely carve out some time to check it out.
Kevin Chang: [00:17:59]
Lets talk a little bit about that first marathon. You kind of glossed over it a little bit. You said that you made every mistake in the book. That it was a dumpster fire. So like walk us through what types of mistakes were you making? What type of learning experience did you have from that?
Matt Forsman: [00:18:14]
Well, you know, there's a reason why I glossed over it.
Bertrand Newson: [00:18:20]
Come on Obi wan Kenobi. Share that knowledge, share that knowledge wise, man.
Matt Forsman: [00:18:26]
Actually I'm, I'm, I'm happy to share it. I've actually had this idea recently. I'm calling it worst run ever not to position it as like a, um, you know, cynical thing, but it's like, everybody loves talking about their personal bests and their, you know, these Epic, amazing, you know, life affirming life transcending moments.
But at the same time you heard me talk about, well, you know, you really learned the most from your mistakes.
Well, okay. Let's talk about these really crappy dumpster fire runs.
So first marathon, it was all me. It was, you know, me not respecting the distance, me thinking I was in better shape than I was me having unrealistic goals, expectations me going out way too fast.
So those are the big five. so that first marathon, burned through the first 10 to 12 miles and then found myself right about mile 18 in a space that I'd never been in my entire life where I'm like, I don't think I can do this much longer. I mean, it was just, you know, fatigue, heaviness, tightness, cramping.
Bertrand Newson: [00:19:29]
Meaning sustain the pace or finish where you're teetering on DNFing?
Matt Forsman: [00:19:35]
I was going to finish.
Bertrand Newson: [00:19:36]
Matt Forsman: [00:19:37]
Like my body, wasn't complying with this crazy notion of continuing to run. So a lot, a lot of walking, a lot of stretching the last 10 miles were pretty rough, but I mean, surely by the time I crossed the finish line, it was like, I had learned all five of those lessons and I'm like, okay, I'm going to train better. I'm going to make sure these things don't happen again. I never want to experience the wall again. So it was a very valuable experience.
Bertrand Newson: [00:20:02]
Great of you to share. Cause I've, I've been there, Matt.
Kevin Chang: [00:20:05]
Bertrand Newson: [00:20:07]
I think we
Kevin Chang: [00:20:08]
Bertrand Newson: [00:20:08]
At that distance. The first you take a marathon distance for granted, karma is going to come back and bite you. It's a humbling experience. So what I took from, from your experience and in my experience, I'm sure Kevin can speak to it. Yeah. As well. It's no matter what the distance is, 5k 10 K, half or full, always on race day, respect the distance and never assume you are as ready as you think you are because the marathon gods, the 5k gods, the 10 K half marathon gods will humble you.
Kevin Chang: [00:20:40]
Absolutely. So Matt, how did you translate the marathon running and all of that into a coaching career? So where was that transition? What made you want to transition into coaching and how did that go?
Matt Forsman: [00:20:54]
As I mentioned, I was training with Pacwest athletics for a period of time. And. I really respected and admired what they had done, what they had built. And I was sort of falling in love with running again, having my own personal running Renaissance. And I was also not really happy with my so-called career at that time.
And I just felt like, okay, if I'm going to be working my entire life, I want to do something that I'm invested in. My heart is invested in this endeavor. And that was really kind of where it started. So I initially started working out with individuals. Then had some group coaching opportunities that evolved in, into run club and kind of blows me away in one way, shape or form have been leading the charge for run club here in San Francisco for well over a decade and a close, close to 15 years. And we typically see, you know, 75 to 150 people per season, you know.
It is a family in many respects. You know, you see the same people season after season and independent of getting people full turned on to something that I'm really passionate about. Something that I love. It's great to see all the various connections that happen amongst the folks who joined.
And it's nice to be in a position where in some small way you feel like you've helped facilitate that at the very least.
Bertrand Newson: [00:22:10]
Matt. When does the season usually start for one club typically in a non pandemic
Matt Forsman: [00:22:16]
What does that look like? So usually four seasons a year, spring, summer, fall winter, each one's roughly 10 to 12 weeks.
So, well, first of all, winter season, usually culminates with the Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco half marathon. It takes place on Superbowl Sunday.
Then we usually take like a two week breather and then spring season launches in late February, usually ends in April.
Summer season is usually like mid may to late July and culminates with the San Francisco marathon in late July. And then winter season, mid November.
And then I glossed over fall. Fall is usually like early August to late October.
Kevin Chang: [00:22:56]
And you mentioned before we were on air. The goal for the majority of those seasons is half marathon distance. Is there other goals or how has it kind of structured?
Matt Forsman: [00:23:07]
Yeah, I would say each season loosely revolves around the half marathon distance. That's usually the way that I structure the progression of the training plans and all the various runs and workouts that we have. That being said, you know, I do try to make it as, as personal as I can. And, you know, whenever anybody reaches out and inquires and they say, you know, I'm training for a marathon or whatever it is, I'm always very quick to tell them, Hey, look, I can very easily modify your training schedule and I can provide you with some additional support for this endeavor. And some of the things that you need to be thinking about as you go down this path. So we usually have a handful of people who are doing something, you know, like a marathon or in some cases, even more than that.
Kevin Chang: [00:23:44]
And I guess over all these years of training, what are some of the common mistakes, common things that you help people get over maybe common hurdles that people might have when they kind of start going to you for coaching.
Matt Forsman: [00:23:57]
say when most people reach out to me, it's it's because they're bumping up against some kind of obstacle that they don't know how to overcome. In most cases, what that comes down to is, you know, people are getting frustrated because they're not getting faster. They feel like they're not getting faster.
Like, why can't I run this personal best? Or why can't I run any faster? And most of the time it's because, and I'm sure coach B is very familiar with this. Well, you've been doing the same thing over and over and over again. Your body's become very, very good at doing that same thing over and over and over again.
So you've plateaued. It's not necessarily a bad thing. It just means. Okay. If you want to do this other thing, that's a little bit more aggressive. It's a little bit further out there. That's a little bit faster. We got to make some adjustments. We've got to do something a little bit different.
That could be more mileage. That could be more quality. That could be both. That could be doing some more range of motion stuff that could be dialing into like what's going on upstairs. Like, is there something that maybe mentally is preventing you from moving forward?
So, you know, one of the things that I bump up very frequently with runners at pretty much all levels is, you know, well, I'm not progressing and I don't understand why isn't this happening.
###### Kevin Chang: [00:25:04]
Are you enjoying the show, help us out by sharing the podcast. You can win some cool prizes like headbands, wristbands, training programs, shadows, and more, especially if you're part of an existing running group online community, or have friends that you think will enjoy the show. Get your personal referral link at race mob.com/referral.
That's great, incredible insight. You know, I think we bump up against it all the time that if you do the same thing over and over and over and over again, then oftentimes you won't receive that stimulus required to make your body adapt. And sometimes those. Little tweaks to the training plans at the schedule.
Even that mental mindset can make a huge overall difference at the end of the day. So fantastic that you brought that up. Talk to us a little bit about, run club. How is it structured? How many times a week do you guys meet? Where are you guys meeting? What does that structure look like? How are there social aspects of it?
We know that you've mentioned some members. Have gotten married. There's actually kids out of, out of run club in the past. So talk to us about, you know, a run club though, the general structure, how, how are people forming this community and you know, how you've been able to form that community with the group
Matt Forsman: [00:26:17]
we're going to talk the old normal, uh,
Kevin Chang: [00:26:21]
normal, which will be new normal at some point. Yes.
Matt Forsman: [00:26:25]
That's right. So old normal, we typically do just like a basic maintenance run on Tuesday nights, downtown. we partner with, a wonderful place called psoas, massage and bodywork. And actually, I believe they are currently doing massage and bodywork. I think you have to have a doctor's note to actually have a performance, but if you know anyone who needs to get a sports massage, they can get a doctor's note.
So as is currently provided at any rate we run to do there have been partnering with them for 10 plus years. They allow folks to store their personal items. We go out, go through some range of motion, drills, warm up, pretty standard stuff. Get the miles in and then have kind of a casual dinner afterwards.
So in answer to your social piece, I mean, it became apparent to me very quickly when I started doing run club that, you know, there are a lot of people who are doing this for much more than just running. So really try to play up the social component as much as I can for those folks who, who are looking for that.
So Tuesday nights we'll usually do a casual dinner. Thursday nights. We rendezvous keys are, we have two options. We have a speed workout that I lead on, which is largely, you know, interval based stuff, focused on lactate threshold VO, two max.
It's sort of a program within a program. It usually sort of progresses over the course of the seasons and there are multiple levels. So maybe you start out doing four hundreds by the end of the season. Hopefully you're doing 800. So really kind of encouraging people to be ruthlessly consistent.
If people are not in to speed, if they're not feeling the need for speed, we offer what is called a wildcard run. That's led by my good friend, coach Toby, trailblazing, Toby. He also did this amazing project, 50 shades of pavement. Check them out on Instagram. You might want to talk to him, incredible project and he's run like every single city and every single street in San Francisco. It's the project hes been working on for years.
So Toby leads, our wildcard runs, which we're usually trying to take people kind of off the beaten path. We'll Mark the courses with chalk, you know, and trail segments. We try to provide direction there as well, but trying to encourage folks to really kind of explore the city and get off of the beaten path. And you know, we've got a nice little audience. Who accompanied Toby on Thursday nights and a nice little crew that joins me on Thursdays as well.
Then Saturdays usually we'll have a long run. And again, it kind of revolves around that half distance and then length of it sort of progresses over the course of the season on the social front independent of, I mean, I mentioned Tuesday nights, we'll do a dinner Thursday nights. We usually will do like a happy hour.
And then on Saturdays periodically, we'll host some social events. We've done that. We've done some fun stuff. We've done some karaoke nights. Those are actually a lot of fun.
I love hopping on the mic. So, um...
Kevin Chang: [00:29:07]
Bertrand Newson: [00:29:08]
You have a microphone in front of you right now,
Matt Forsman: [00:29:11]
Bertrand Newson: [00:29:11]
Matt Forsman: [00:29:12]
Thank you for Do you guys want me to sing you anything? I can do some hollow notes or like some meatloaf, like whatever you're in the mood for.
But anyway, we'll do karaoke. We've done some fun picnics in the Presidio. And you know, I, I do feel like I'm as much a coach as I am sort of doing, uh, community development, for lack of a better word. I mean, I do feel like that's part of my job is to help people connect because I mean, if they connect, they're also going to keep coming back and if they keep coming back and they keep continuing to run, they're going to be happier. They're going to be healthier. I mean, it's, it's a win-win for everyone.
Kevin Chang: [00:29:50]
Part of it is training plans and putting those runs in front of people. But the other part of it is how do you get people motivated? How do you get them to stay accountable? How do you grow that community so that people want to come back and celebrate and gel with each other? And so, yeah, I mean, when we're looking at. Communities that have done this so well, we're definitely looking at ESSA from club and what you've built up there.
Let's take some time and transition into Sasquatch racing. Cause you're now a race director as well. So talk to us about that transition. What was the impetus for Sasquatch racing? How did it come about and some of your upcoming events as well?
Matt Forsman: [00:30:24]
I think Sasquatch, I mean, it came from. A couple of different places. It came from my desire to connect with more runners and ultimately turn more people on to the sport. In some respects, I think of running as a disease and I'm here to spread the disease in whatever way I can. Maybe that's inappropriate given our current normal, but you know, how do I get you to drink the Kool-Aid, maybe it's events, maybe it's through run club, maybe it's individual coaching, whatever it is, you know, I'm trying to get you into it.
And the idea of creating events and races kind of spoke to my creative side, which I leveraged to an extent with run club and with my individual coaching but, you know, in terms of creating a race, creating an event, branding, what does the logo look like? What is the experience going to look like? That's very different from what you're doing when you're helping somebody train for a half marathon or a marathon, whatever the distance is.
So there was that piece of me that, you know, was kind of being pulled in that direction. Simultaneously I saw this fantastic documentary run for your life about Fred Lebow and the creation of New York city marathon. And that was huge for me. I mean, that was a regulatory experience. The guy who created this event in a bootstraps it himself.
Built it like on smoke and mirrors, he was getting sponsors on board telling him there would be thousands of people. He had no idea how many people were going to do it. I mean, just an amazing story. And that, that really inspired me. You know, somebody who's bootstrapped, everything, you know, I don't, I don't have any immense investors.
I don't have any giant sponsors who are cutting me checks. So. That was kind of a pivotal moment. And I spent a couple of years researching and exploring a variety of different things. There was a period of time when I was contemplating very seriously purchasing a pre-existing event, but ultimately like the risk reward scenario, I just, I don't know. It didn't, it didn't speak to me. And I liked the idea of creating something myself, as opposed to. Taking something that was already preexisting.
And I was during this ultra phase where I was doing lots and lots of trail running and kind of dabbling in the ultra space and did a 50 K and did a 50 miler.
And the thought occurred to me, you know, why not create some trail races for that would kind of appeal to my audience of runners. You know, primarily beginner, intermediate folks who are doing five Ks, 10 Ks and halfs. That that was something that just kind of, that idea resonated with me because I felt like, you know, you pick up an issue at trail runner magazine and the overwhelming majority of that content is geared towards that ultra audience that, you know, real serious runner who's doing back to backs on Saturdays and Sundays.
And I can understand how somebody who's uninitiated to trail run, you know, They think, okay. Trails and ultras are synonymous and you can still enjoy the trails and having a fantastic experience without spending nine, 18 hours out there.
So I really wanted to kind of create some trail races that were kind of fun, goofy lighthearted, and would be more approachable. You know, for sort of that the beginner, intermediate runner, who's thinking about the trail, but really isn't interested in doing an ultra or just, you know, can't get their head around the idea of, of doing an ultra. And so I've always branded the events and kind of a silly, goofy, lighthearted manner. The Sasquatch scramble, the rattlesnake ramble, the Honeybadger half the Krampus cross country.
All of them are really intended to be kind of fun and lighthearted, which is, it's not to say that, um, Discouraged those most more serious runners, but the audience that I'm primarily appealing to the folks who, you know, dress up in costumes and like being silly and having a beer after their, their run. And, you know, they're not thinking too much about their personal best. They're just thinking about coming out and having a good time.
Kevin Chang: [00:33:57]
Love it. And I know that you're still doing some of these events. I know that you did the Krampus 5k 10 K as like a self-paced race or a self marked race. A couple of weeks. Indigo. And I know yeah. That you've been dealing with the pandemic in other ways.
Talk to us, I guess, about some of the events that have occurred during the pandemic. I know a haunted house that, that whole events, throughout the whole Bay area, which we named as our number two virtual race, back in October. so I mean, I think so much ingenuity going into that, and now you've got the Sasquatch Roadtrip. So talk to us about some of the events that have happened during the pandemic and. about the upcoming event as well.
Matt Forsman: [00:34:37]
You know, the, the virtual journey has been an interesting one. I. Yeah. And obviously didn't plan on doing any of this, but I was up in Albion with my girlfriend. We rented a place up there right after the lockdown. So this was back like in March and I spent a few days just kind of shell shocked and just really not sure how to respond or if I should respond.
But then very quickly started to break storm. Okay. I'm going to have to do something virtual. What is that going to look like? And I had actually had a friend of mine suggested this idea of doing like a Lochness monster themes event, which I loved. I loved the idea of doing it because I've already done Sasquatch locking us monsters, this other wonderful aquatic cryptid of course. Why not?
So this. Idea was rattling around in the back of my head. And, you know, I kinda wanted to roll out a virtual event that had that soft squash flavor, you know, in whatever way I could provide it. So I came up with the no stress, Lochness, virtual 5k, 10 K in half. And I have a fantastic designer. I work with talking to her about what I wanted the design to look like and kind of the energy I was looking to capture.
And I'm like, you know, the Lochness monster Nessie is like the big Lebowski of the cryptid world. You know, low key, probably smoked a couple of joints and he's having a white, Russian, that's an se, he's just, he's just chilling. He's just having a good time. No stress, no stress.
So at that time, you know, it was something that I pivoted into it so quickly that I really didn't have much time to think about, like, I didn't really have much time to think about anything, but I wanted to do something that would differentiate it from the glut of all those, you know, sort of transactional virtual races that, you know, leveraging pre-existing IP, you know, the Ricky, Bobby 5k and you name it, all these things out there. Which is, you know, not to disparage the folks who produce those kinds of events, there's an audience for it.
And I get it, but, you know, running this so much more than that. So I really wanted to try to inject some of, you know, kind of that soft Squatch flavor, some of that running community into the event. So, you know, for a 10 to 12 week period, there was this private Facebook group and. You know, I did whatever I could.
I had, I was hosting zoom, happy hours with special guests every week I was having kind of silly Instagram, no stress challenges that people could do. And it was really just about embracing the things that we enjoy about running as much as we can. So I wanted to make sure whatever I created, you know, included more than sort of this. Okay, give us your money. Here's your swag. See you later. I didn't want anybody to have that kind of experience because that's not what it's about.
So that event wrapped up in July, shortly before it wrapped up, it was clear that things were going to continue. And I had a bit of a crisis of sorts because I'm like, okay, I got to keep doing virtual and what do I do?
And this was also, you know, three to four months in and you could see. The interest in virtual diminishing. And, you know, that concerned me greatly because I still can't do anything live. I can't get a permit for anything. So what the hell do I do now? And that was, it was right around that time that I started to think about doing something that had kind of a Halloween theme to it.
And, um, I'm a big Stephen King guy. I was reading Stephen King when I was 10 years old. I was watching psycho too when I was eight. Like I just, I, that's just kinda my thing. Scary, spooky stuff. Ghosts
Coach B knows what I'm talking about. But I've, always had this idea of doing like a Halloween themed event or like, how could you create like a race that takes place in a haunted house?
Like that would be awesome. So I started to lean into this idea a little bit more on like, okay, is there a way to do something like this virtually. And I, you know, was seeing some really cool events, some really cool virtual events where it's like, okay, you know, the 500 mile challenges are these various challenges for recovering, you know, this vast distance over X number of weeks, X number of months.
I thought that was pretty cool. You know, again, I want this to be different. I need this to be different. I need this to be unique. I need this to stand out from the glut of other options that are out there. So I had this idea in my mind that. It was going to be kind of a mashup of a virtual challenge and like a choose your own adventure stories.
So there was gonna be a narrative component that unfolded over the course of 300, some odd miles. So again, kind of leaning into my, my creative side and some of my experience as a, as a writer and taking screenwriting classes and like, how do I, you know, come up with some characters and like, what are they, what are they doing? And what are these experiences? And so identified like the 50 most haunted spots in the Bay area and cobbled together a course based on, you know, what I found in this article.
So the course, admittedly, it's not designed to be run in a conventional sense, but you know, the idea is every 15 to 25 miles, you hit another haunt.
And so all these haunts were based on like real places, real, you know, alleged ghosts or hauntings. And just that idea of leveraging something that's actually real and putting a creative spin on. It really spoke to me and really appealed to me. So, you know, not only are folks getting content, when they log their miles around, Hey, this, this is like a little spooky place.
And like, you can drive by it. You can go check it out. As part of that, that haunt. You're stepping into the shoes of this. Paranormal investigator, who's exploring the actual haunt. And obviously that piece of it's totally fictional. I'm making all that up, but I love the idea of doing something like that.
So it's crazy it's out there, but it's where we are. And, you know, had a nice little group of folks who did haunted Bay area. Which wrapped up started in September, wrapped up in late November as this event was progressing. I mean, I was already brainstorming what the sequel, the spinoff would be, which is the great Sasquatch road trip, which similar kind of concepts.
It's a route that starts in Jenner and it's 340 miles travels all the way up to happy California. Goes through the Willow Creek, the big foot capital of California, and it's kind of out there, um, becoming an amateur Squatch ologists. I I'm looking into, uh, all kinds of reports, incident reports, uh, with the BRFO and for the uninitiated that's Bigfoot research field organization. I believe that's what they're called, but people file these reports. You can look up brfo.com and you see all these reports. So I'm using a ton of these reports to structure this whole experience.
Anyway, it's crazy. It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of work, but like people seem to really be into it. And I, you know, again, I'm, I'm leaning into creativity once again, 2021 and trying to provide something that is unique and that's different.
And I mean, part of what I'm trying to include in this experience in this virtual course map is, you know, you're, you're hitting a lot of. Really cool state parks along the way. And there are a lot of folks in California, obviously participating in this event. And part of what I'm trying to do is, you know, encourage people to go check these places out if they can do so safely.
But, you know, I think that's one of the few things that we can do right now is. Go outside and go for a hike and go to these parks. And, you know, I mean, if, if there's ever a time to do it, now's a great time. So I'm hoping that, you know, folks do go out and explore some of these amazing parks and, you know, Redwood forest.
And I mean, there's, there's a reason why there's so many of these, the Sasquatch reports associated with, you know, Humboldt County it's, you know, littered with, with Redwood forests and trees and foliage. And it's a very squatchy place.
Kevin Chang: [00:42:14]
Well, I mean, I love how this just talks to your ingenuity, your creativity and your insight into the runner's mind because. You know, especially during this pandemic period where we're not able to come together as often and meet with each other, these races and these virtual events have become all about that experience.
And how can I experience something different? How can I experience something new? And sure. You know, a couple of race directors took the easy route and said, okay, we're just gonna. Give you a metal and send you a t-shirt and you know, you can sign up for it, but you went this other route, which was give somebody, you know, that experience of running 10 miles or 15 miles and, and reaching a new destination and wanting to hear more of the story and getting more involved in and into it.
And. The second iteration now more, Hey, you can actually visit locations. Even, even the haunted house. You can visit Winchester mystery house, which is right down the street from me and you know, all these other places and kind of hear stories about them and getting into that runner's mindset and giving them new experiences.
So really incredible. Being able to jump on there, being able to be creative, being able to run with the times. And I think it's such a gift to the running community. So want to say, yeah, congrats and thank you for giving that gift to us. And, you know, hopefully the rest of the Racemob community can come out and support you on the Sasquatch road trip, which I think will be an incredible event.
So 340 miles, as you mentioned, January 11 through April 11th, is that right? So about three months that people get?
Matt Forsman: [00:43:50]
So you can extend it through the in fact I already have I've extended it through the end of April. So people get a little bit more time.
Kevin Chang: [00:43:57]
And ASIC. Yeah. So I mean, averaging about a hundred miles a month for a couple of months and just getting to, you know, getting that accountability side, that motivation piece of it, as well as that story piece and that experience piece, because I mean, I think incredible experience and you touched on this as well to graphics.
The stuff that you guys are producing. I mean, the trucker hat that you're wearing right now and the other gear, I mean, you got a glow in the dark shirt for the haunted house stuff and for glow in the dark metal, I think just incredible ingenuity ability to kind of roll with the times. And, you know, you're giving the people out there, the community aspects of it, the other pieces of it that you've developed over the 15 years of coaching people, which I think is just incredible.
Bertrand Newson: [00:44:42]
we really salute you for giving back the community. I mean, you for you to follow your passion, um, and helping people be happier. Your versions of themselves, you know, being a working professional in the tech industry and saying, you know what, it's one thing, the pay the bills, but it's another thing to follow your passion.
And for so many people whose lives you've influenced that you've inspired, who were living longer and happier and healthier and milestones that they point back to because of your influence as a coach, as a mentor and your creative side, very profound. So just good stuff.
Matt Forsman: [00:45:17]
Well, thank you. You guys are getting me a little choked up over here,
Bertrand Newson: [00:45:20]
Matt Forsman: [00:45:25]
But I, um, you know, really, I'm just trying to, I mean, with everything I'm doing, I'm trying to make people happier and healthier. And if a funny hat with a silly looking Sasquatch on it gives you a smile makes you laugh. That's then I've done my job. I've done what I can do.
Bertrand Newson: [00:45:39]
Love the swag. Again, as Kevin pointed out, you know, we appreciate your creativity and, you know, 15 plus years in this space is competitive as the Bay area is. And as competitive as the running community is, it's also very friendly, very supportive, very inviting, and anything we can do to support a blue collar, homegrown, hardworking entity, such as yourself and Sasquatch racing.
We're right here for you. So.
Matt Forsman: [00:46:05]
Well, thank you guys. And, and, and certainly likewise.
Kevin Chang: [00:46:07]
How can people find you online? I mean, give people some links and. Where they can find you marathon, Matt Sasquatch racing, Instagram. I know. Tell us where to find you.
Matt Forsman: [00:46:18]
So you can find [email protected]. Shockingly enough. You can also find [email protected]. It's more run club oriented, obviously. And then Sasquatch racing.com. If you want to take a look at the Roadtrip specifically, it's real simple. Just Sasquatch racing.com forward slash road trip.
Kevin Chang: [00:46:38]
I have all the links online for people to check out as well. And without we just want to say thank you so much for the time, Matt. Uh, hopefully this is. One in a series of many, many conversations that we have. I know we've been chatting with you for a while now, and it's always great to make these Bay area connections with people that we genuinely admire and think very, very highly of.
So thank you so much for taking the time and jumping on the podcast with us, Matt.
Bertrand Newson: [00:47:04]
Happy new year, all the best in 2021.
###### Kevin Chang: [00:47:07]
Well, I hope you enjoyed this episode of the race mob podcast. Check out all of the show notes or find a running buddy [email protected]. Please subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts and leave us a review until next time. Keep on moving.