Mid Strike Podcast Feature and Healthy Talks with Les Boadu
Photos by RCS Images
A kind, familiar face in the NYC run community and a well-seasoned runner, Les Boadu, has been a staple of the run community for the last couple of years continuing to push his limits pounding the pavement with his Adidas run crew. Les is also an Author, educator, and marathoner having run 14 total marathons, 3 ultras, and 30 half marathons. What has Les not done? Well Podcasting is new for Les and you guessed it he is our monthly podcast highlight. Monthly Mileage Talks with Les focuses on striving towards monthly running goals, mindset, nutrition, and all the stories attached to them. Let’s chat it up with Les for some podcast talks. OH AND GUESS WHAT? Les skydived too.
MSM: Welcome to Mid Strike and thank you for letting us spotlight your podcast. Usually we like to take our time diving into the running portion but 14 marathons, 3 ultras and 30 half marathons is absolutely nothing to sneeze at. That’s just a lot lol. What made you want to get into running and where did it begin?
Les: One of my best friends Hakiem Simmons got me into running. I’ve known him since the 6th grade, we met at Yonkers Middle School back in the day when “Running” wasn’t on our minds at all. Fast forward to summer 2015, he convinced me to sign up for the Rock N’ Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon which was scheduled to occur later in the fall of 2015. I had no idea what I had got myself into. I don’t even remember training for it, I ran a few miles here and there leading up the race but I was more worried about what my “race day” gear would look like lol. Fast forward to the “RACE”, I remember getting to mile 10 and I was ready to quit but the cheers from the spectators kept me going. I legit considered calling a “car service” at Mile 10, but I checked in with my mind and finished strong. It’s funny because my Mother had volunteered for the NYC Marathon numerous times in the past. She would always come back after volunteering and mention I should run it one day but I simply ignored it. A few years later, who knew that statement would actually come to fruition. 14 marathons later, now I can’t stop running!
MSM: As runners we always start small which usually ends up escalating super fast. What was that process like for you from the first small race to the ultra marathon. When did you know that marathoning was something that was going to be consistent in your day to day?
LES: Great Question! So for me, I actually didn’t start with a small race. I started with a Half Marathon, which was a big deal. I actually had no knowledge of the distance of the Half Marathon. I walked around for weeks saying to myself I’m running a 13K lol. Then after a few runs leading up to the Half Marathon distance, I said shoot it’s 13.1 MILES. Fast forward after the Half marathon, I actually started digging into the logistics of running. I realized that I needed to pace myself by starting with small races first, so I quickly started focusing on the 5K distance. I fell in love with the 5K distance because it was basically a run assessment for me. I knew that I could hold a certain pace for the 5K, then eventually I would work towards a 10K, 10miler, Half, marathon, and eventually an Ultra. I made a lot of mistakes early on for the small races, and that mistake was going out way too fast in the beginning and barely making it to the finish line at the end. Eventually, I reached the marathon distance, which honestly the last few marathons I ran was all based on mental strength. I honestly just kept telling myself get to mile 20 and then all you have left is a fast 10k but that wasn’t always the case. The reason is at mile 20 it dawned on me that it’s when most runners hit the “wall’, meaning there’s no energy left. This is the mile I typically think about calling an Uber or lyft lol. After experiencing the “wall”, my first few marathons, I decided okay this marathon journey requires lots of trial and error. Then this is when the marathon addiction came off at least running one to two marathons a year.
MSM: Progress and process. Two P’s that we as runners have embedded into our run DNA. Also, the two things that we are at times are immensely impatient to deal with. The progress to improve as a runner is usually shown by the amount of work that you put in. Give our readers some insight into your two Ps. What was early run life like for Les? How did you work to improve your times to become super consistent?
Les: Love the Two Ps! It’s funny as an educator, when I used to work with High School students I would tell them to stick to the Five P’s! Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. When it comes to my two Ps, it starts honestly with setting short-term goals and long-term goals as a Runner. The early run life for Les was interesting, it was all about “speed”. I had this stubborn mindset of running that consisted of just being “FAST”, aka making the lungs hurt just a tad bit. I learned the rough way because during my weekly runs I often would go out for a run as if I was actually “racing” and that eventually caught up to me fast. I started realizing that I was out of breath a lot and then different parts of my body would start hurting. After meeting a few friends in the running community and officially making friends that were knowledgeable about “running” I quickly turned into a student. I started to do things like stretching before and after a run, which I never did early on at all. I started to watch what I eat pre and post-run. I started paying attention to what I was wearing during my runs and how my body would respond to it. It’s funny because it took me maybe a full year to discover that running in “cotton tee’s” and basketball shorts was a big NO in the sport of running. I say that to say fixing all those things actually helped improve my pace and officially gave me the runner’s blueprint to strive towards those Personal Bests (PB) and Personal Records (PR). All of the tweaks led to me improving my pace, and also running further and further. Oh, one more thing It also took me a year to realize that any run over 45 mins your body needs some type of fuel to replenish what was lost. Shout out to my boy “Dre Pabon”! Me and him basically discovered that runners use some type of “energy gels” on long runs lol. It took me and him running multiple long runs for us to finally figure out that man we can’t be running 16-18 miles on no fuel at all. We essentially didn’t use any energy gels during the start of our running journey until about a year after lol rookie mistakes!
“Two Ps! It’s funny as an educator, when I used to work with High School students I would tell them stick to the Five P’s! Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. When it comes to my two Ps, it starts honestly with setting short-term goals and long-term goals as a Runner. The early run life for Les was interesting, it was all about “Speed”.I had this stubborn mindset of running consisted of just being “FAST”, aka making the lungs hurt just a tad bit. I learned the rough way because during my weekly runs I often would go out for a run as if I was actually “racing” and that eventually caught up to me fast. I started realizing that I was out of breath a lot and then different parts of my body would start hurting”.Les Boadu
MSM: Out of all the races you’ve been a part of what are some of the ones that have stood out?
LES: WOW! Tough question. The race that has always stood out is the one and only “NEW YORK CITY MARATHON”. It’s the biggest PARTY EVER. I mean you just have to experience it for yourself. I’m talking about the most DIVERSE group of spectators EVER calling your name for 26.2 miles. Pro tip: have your name on your race singlet/shirt if you love attention. ENWHYCEE is just a VIBE, I enjoy interacting with the spectators. They always give me the push I need to keep running towards the FINISH. Next up would have to be the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, it’s also one that stands out to me a lot. I’ve raced it about 3 times, and I’m a big fan of the course. If you are into flowers then the aesthetics of the Cherry Blossoms are just Beautiful. The DMV run crews also show a lot of love along the course, from GO-GO music blasting to a lot of goodies at each mile. The last race that stands out was the Bed-Stuy 5K that BMRNYC usually would have in the summer with other partners. This race was definitely FUN and till this present day one of my favorite medals from a race ever. The course takes you through the streets of Bed-Stuy, which is filled with rich culture. BMRNYC does a great job of bringing the community out usually at Herbert Von King park located in Bed-Stuy to highlight amazing things going on in the community.
MSM: Your monthly mileage is very consistent and high which essentially leads to having your successes in running. But with that comes accountability within yourself and others. Now you’re pretty consistent in the run community with various run crews. Who are some of the folks that keep you accountable when it comes to mileage? There are a few times where I’ve noticed mileage check-ins where I’ve seen you and some of the team putting in heavy weekday mileage.
LES: YES! So if you follow me on I.G. @les_runs at some point of the day, you’ll notice me posting in my stories “Mileage Check”. Mileage Check is basically me tagging a group of running friends and letting them know that I’ve completed my “RUN” or “FITNESS ACTIVITY” for the day. This usually triggers and inspires everyone that’s tagged to go out and also get “ACTIVE” in any way they choose for us it’s usually running. The originator of the “Mileage Check”, if I remember was my GUY THAI RICHARDS aka @daddy_shango aka one of the “FOUNDERS” of @rageandrelease. I met Thai early on in my running journey and his energy was just incredible, I was blown away by how “ACTIVE & FIT” he was. So he started tagging me in his daily check in’s and then I then started tagging close running friends like Dre Pabon @thedrepabon, Jerry Francois @kingparkergold2001, Chinedu Ogueri @nedu77, Tim Downey @tedowney90, Tival Williams @runtowards, and the list just started growing and growing amongst my friends. I’ve even had friends in the Uk, Tanzania, Ghana and South Africa tag me from time to time. Apologies in advance for running homies that I forgot to mention lol. But this is a sense of accountability that over the years has grown to others in the run community holding their fellow running buddies accountable as well. The check-ins also inspire us to run in any weather conditions, and we feel great when we post and tag each other after running let’s say 10 miles in the rain or 10 miles in 90-degree weather. Ya Feel Me!?
MSM: With accountability also comes inspiration. This is a question I love to ask runners in this publication because we find inspiration from various people, topics, or actions. What inspires and motivates Les to continue to get better?
LES: My motivation to keep running comes from my family, friends, students, and those that aren’t able to run. I simply run for those that can’t. I appreciate my God given legs because I’m constantly exploring this world with them. I would be lying if I said medals don’t motivate me to run because it definitely motivates me to cross that finish line at every race. But to me after a while, the medals just become medals on the wall that you look at from time to time. I’m sure one day I’ll reflect on the medals and describe memorable moments in obtaining each one in some type of documentary or something. The real gift is making it to race day healthy and trying to “RUN FOR LIFE”. The goal is to “KEEP SHOWING UP”. So when you see me tagging a group of running friends from the NYC urban running community or runners worldwide, they are the inspiration.
MSM: Running for you is a lifestyle that keeps you super busy and on your feet (see what I did there)? But outside of running, outside of marathoning you’re also an educator and Author. A few things that I love about this is as an educator, a Black man in the classroom (a positive one), it’s super cool for young Black men and women to see us in a positive light. Do you find yourself sharing your run successes in the classroom? I’m sure there have been many medal Mondays most importantly the Monday after NYCM, which I like to say is an unofficial holiday in NYC. What has that experience been like in the classroom for young future kings and queens seeing your accomplishments coming from the toughest challenges of finishing a marathon?
LES: YES! As an educator, I’m often challenged with the task of helping my students find their vision and mission in life through education. In order to do that I often connect various subject areas to actually running a “Marathon”. My students are all aware of my “Marathon Journey”, in fact, every Monday when I share that I ran a marathon or a race over the weekend they are often AMAZED. They ask “How long is a Marathon” again and they simply SMILE. So hence the Author in me wrote a few unpublished children’s books about running that will be released in the near future. Medal Mondays have always been a teachable moment for my students because I always make the connection of persevering through tough assignments and texts that they are often faced with throughout the academic school day. I often compare challenging math word problems to the “MARATHON” distance, I normally share that word problems have multiple steps in order to solve just like running “MARATHONS” requires multiple steps as well. The only difference is the marathon is physical and mental. I like to compare each grade to each mile of the marathon distance. When my young KINGS AND QUEENS need a break throughout the school day we actually stretch and do a few running exercises to ease the mind from academic tasks. The beauty of running and education intertwines seamlessly. I tend to tell my students to go with my favorite mantra “Better Me, Better World”, which can be applied to all aspects of life.
MSM: I’d also like to say thank you. As a parent to students both attending NYC schools this year due to Covid and the end of last year, it’s been pretty tough with the remote learning from a parent standpoint. I’m pretty sure from a teacher’s standpoint it’s been just as hard. How have you managed to keep not only your students but the parents committed?
MSM: Great Question! This has been quite the year in education, one that caught many students and parents off guard. When it comes to keeping my parents committed, the key has been “COMMUNICATION” and simply “KEEPING IT REAL”. What I mean by communication, is speaking to my parents about their needs during covid. This was done by “KEEPING IT REAL”, and letting my parents know that they have to approach the times that we are in from the vantage point of their children. I often would always use the “role reversal narrative”, of staying strong and spreading that positive energy even when things weren’t that great. During the height of Covid, our students mentally exhausted all their resources. I often challenged parents to find ways to be creative at home being that students were spending a great deal of time on technology. I often encouraged parents to take the time to do activities together as a whole because it leads to many teachable moments. For instance, playing a simple game of cards and charades takes the pressure of both the parent and students. Often society haunts us with bills and deadlines that we simply forget to go out and take a walk. Our students see everything, therefore “KEEPING IT REAL” with them about our inner emotions was key when it came to the commitment piece. It not only let our students know that the adults were going through things, but essentially it was a release for both parties. It all went back to “COMMUNICATION”, which led to us working together as a collective to make sure our students were great physically and mentally.
MSM: Let’s get to the good part, Monthly Mileage talks with Les Runs. One thing I’ve noticed as soon as I started my run journey back in 2016 officially is that runners LOVE talking about running. I think outside of race photos this is by far our most favorite thing. What made you want to start your podcast?
LES: If you haven’t noticed by now through the narrative of my responses, I love to talk. Hence me now being a podcaster lol! The podcast started during the height of the pandemic when everyone was trying to find a hobby or hone in on a special craft. I thought about the podcast for a while but it involved a friend of mine taking upon a wild running challenge of running 400+or- Miles in one month. That friend was Jacob Elijah aka @evrythngimnotmademeevrythngiam who ran 454 Miles in June of 2020. I felt other runners should hear about this crazy accomplishment so that officially launched the first episode of the podcast. Then I reached out to another fellow runner Kim WIllaims @str8kim who had established herself as a podcaster already with @therunwave for tips and pointers, and the rest was history.
MSM: Take us through some of the topics you touch on with Monthly mileage and some of your favs that you’ve had on your show.
LES: When it comes to Monthly Mileage Talks, I focus on running, mindset, and nutrition. I truly feel that each of them is equally important. I’m a fan of the holistic approach when it comes to running. Therefore, I also ask my guests questions to see how mindset and nutrition impact them in the sport of running. I also dive into their running journey, the trials and tribulations, and mantras that they often recite on the run. The “Talk” at times goes into memorable moments throughout one’s running journey and the stories attached to them. When it comes to favs, hmmm it’s hard to choose. I feel that each guest was a favorite because of the stories that they shared. Each guest brought a narrative that was relatable and also filled with many gems.
MSM: You’ve had some good ones including one of our favs, Alison Staples. What are some of the topics and who can we look out for as guests on upcoming episodes of Monthly Mileage talks?
LES: YES! I’ve known Alison Staples for a few years now, she’s one of the most influential runners in our Community. I’m actually looking forward to running with her crew, Running Is Our Therapy, this summer. In terms of upcoming guests, I look forward to building with runners from all over. I mean I really feel like the running community is so huge that we often forget that there are running communities in every part of the world. The goal is to eventually add a segment on the podcast during Marathon Season. This segment will be experienced runners sharing some gems that worked best for them during their training blocks for some of the World’s Major Marathons.
MSM: Any chance our readers can see this podcast expanding to a larger scale/audience? Where would you like to take this podcast in the future?
LES: Honestly, I’ve been thinking about inviting some high school and college athletes that partake in the sport of running to share their stories in the sport of running. The voice of the up and coming athlete is very important. We are at a time where there is an abundance of resources that has enhanced the way we view sports. I mean athletes currently shattering world records in the sport of running are becoming younger and younger. So it will be pretty exciting to cater to the young audience but also invite them on to the podcast platform to hear their journey.
MSM: I also read that you are an author, give us some insight into that experience and what you’ve worked on. Where can we find some of your work?
LES: Aspiring Author LOL! I’ve written a few children’s books but just haven’t put them out yet. Stay tuned because this is the year. I’ll be releasing a series of children’s running books for the community this year. As an educator, you sometimes get the itch to find ways to express yourself. Writing has been something that I always enjoyed during my early years of high school. Stay tuned, I’ll definitely share where you can find my work, once it’s officially published.
MSM: Lastly there’s been a theme these past few issues. For some reason, I am continuing to find runners that have skydived. WHY and WHAT made you go on that adventure?
LES: YES! Skydiving is just something that was always on my bucket list. It’s one of those things that sounds pretty crazy, until it happens. It’s a feeling that can’t be described. It’s funny the same person that introduced me to the sport of RUNNING is who I went sky diving with the first time. Sky diving was the adventure for me that pushed my mental past its limits, it’s kind of like “Les, you’ve jumped out of a small plane before”, therefore I can challenge the mind to do anything. I definitely have a few more SkyDiving adventures in me preferably “Dubai”, someone is probably reading this and saying yea he’s crazy lol!
MSM: What’s on the horizon for Les. It seems as if we are starting to come out of the Covid era and move into the post covid world. What’s on the radar for Les regarding the run, podcast and educator world?
LES: Great Question! When it comes to running, I’m looking forward to actually jumping more into the UltraMarathon world. I actually really started getting into Trail Running, so I’m looking forward to exploring some beautiful trails across the country. As always, I’m looking forward to running the New York City marathon yearly until I can’t anymore. I would love to do a Marathon in Ghana one day, or any marathon in Africa. In terms of the Podcast, I would eventually like to increase my episodes and provide more content based on the community’s needs. In the educator world, the goal is to keep helping our students achieve their mission and vision in life. Education is definitely important to me, therefore I see myself jumping into another leadership role outside of the classroom in the near future.
MSM: Any last words you’d like to share with our readers? How can we keep up with Les?
LES: Thank You! I really appreciate what Mid-Strike Magazine is doing for the culture. I want to give a big shout-out to all the Urban Running Crews in NYC because they keep me going. Big shout out to my Adidas Runners NYC community. Shout out to all the Adidas runners communities around the world. I definitely want to shout out Team Wepa NYC as I recently became a Co-Captain alongside other amazing Co-Captains “We do it for Queens”. Definitely giving mad love to The Queens Running Collective, as they are providing a safe place for people from all walks of life to come run and socialize on a weekly basis. You can find me on IG under the tag @Les_Runs as well as other platforms as well. Be sure to check out my brand @runwithculture for running bracelets to enhance your wrist. Finally stay tuned to @monthlymileagetlks for episodes on running, mindset, and nutrition.