Ronald Joseph Tells It Like It Is
the Mid Strike Magazine feature runner
Trust the process, put in the work, and the results will follow. Ronald Joseph is one of those runners that can literally walk the walk and talk the talk. There’s a mutual respect I have for Ronald after speaking with him these past few months. Most people are intimidated by his honesty though it’s really that if there’s something that needs to be addressed Ronald will simply point it out. If it comes down to training he’ll simply give you pointers on how to become a better runner physically and mentally. As a person that has seen his progression first hand, you can’t help but to listen to his insight because of simply where he started his journey: as a 212 pound runner to qualifying multiple times for the world-renown Boston Marathon, from running 10 miles in 2 hours to now running 80-90 mile weeks. Let’s get to know Ronald Joseph a little better.
MSM: Mr. Ronald Joseph, we finally officially get to chat with you here at Mid Strike Magazine. Thanks for joining us. There’s a mutual respect I have for you as a runner. Seeing your progression and improvement, you simply do the work to vastly improve your running. I’d like to start with asking your why. What’s the reason you started running?
RJ: I started out running back in August of 2009. I was never considered a front of the pack guy or winning races. When I first started running I just ran to get into the best shape that I could as I was 212 pounds. I think I’m pretty damn good but most certainly not on an even sub elite level.
MSM: What was your click moment as a runner, the moment where everything started to fall into place?
RJ: The moment where everything started to click for me was almost a year after I ran my first race in 2010. It was a 5k race where I led for about half the race before I crashed and burned. In the end I finished 4th overall with a finish of 21:12. After completing it, I knew if I started to take running seriously I could eventually have a shot of winning a race one day.
MSM: I’m sure you’ve gained a lot of insight during your journey. Who were some of the people that helped you along the way.? Any coaches or fellow runners that have pushed you forward?
RJ: I have never had a coach as I am a trial and error guy. I take advice from very few people but nobody knows me better than myself. There were a few men and women that have pushed me from the start. Boyd Carrington, Tara Wilson, James Murray, Rob Fried, Patrick Goldberg, Trent Hamilton and Anthony Serivite, to name a few. There are so many more I could name.
MSM: Being at the front. I’m sure you get challenged a lot. What are some of the things you do before the gun/horn goes off to get you into the zone?
RJ: When it comes time to race I prefer to get to the start just a few minutes before the start gun goes off and with about a minute to go I really zone out by walking out in front of the start line about 30 feet ahead while everyone is lined up. This is where I stare at the entire field while doing warmups then with seconds to go I step back into the corral ready to go.
MSM: Your weekly mileage is pretty intense. Give our readers a look into your regular mileage and how that helps you prepare.
RJ: I try to stay between 80-120 miles per week until the summer months of June, July and August which are the months where I tend to get my rest. During these months I’ll drop down to about 60 miles per week. Once I get towards the end of August I’ll build back up to 80+ miles a week, no runs over 15+ miles and no doubles (running two times a day). Once September hits, that’s when Fall marathon training starts, where I go back over 100+ miles per week. It’s very simple, very mundane training me – staying between an 8-8:30 pace all summer long outside of racing. Once the weather cools I’ll usually come down to about a 8 flat pace [and] sometimes I’ll get down to at 7:30 pace on occasion. A hard long run is done one time per marathon cycle where I’ll usually knock out a 20 miler with a 6:15/6:30 pace.
MSM: I like to say every runner is different. Everyone’s body reacts differently as a runner based on diet. Your diet is pretty wacky when you’re in training mode yet you’re able to get the results on a consistent basis. HOW IN THE HECK are you able to hit those numbers?
RJ: Meh, no secret about my diet as its still the same now as it was before I started running. A ton of junk food. I guess all the bad carbs I consume just helps me to fuel for the high mileage? Sometimes I’ll have a drink before a run. There is a YouTube video titled “Herm Edwards on Success and Motivation”. It’s a five-minute video that every runner should watch if they really want to be the best runner they can be.
MSM: So that our readers can really get a grasp of your progress., what’s your fastest vs slowest marathon/half marathon?
RJ: My fastest marathon was 2:28:31 last November at Big Bear Mountain in California. My worst marathon was my first in October 2012 in Far Rockaway, Queens on the boardwalk where I ran a 4:47. This past February was my fastest half marathon at 1:14:58, also on the boardwalk in Far Rockaway, Queens. I can’t remember my slowest [half marathon] but I do know it was in Bristol, Connecticut with a ton of hills. I ended up running that race two years in a row and folded on the hills twice as I ran [about] 1:50 back-to-back years.
MSM: Chatting with you on a consistent basis these past few months I find that you’re just honest when it comes to everything. It feels like most simply aren’t ready for that type of honesty. Do you feel misunderstood at times?
RJ: Me? Misunderstood? Of course. I simply like to tell it like it is and tell the truth. Most people usually can’t handle the honesty and get upset. It’s kind of hard to get upset at me when what I tend to say has validity to it.
MSM: The Boston Marathon is known as one of the toughest races to get into and yet you’ve BQ’d multiple times…for three straight years to be exact. Was that on your radar early on in your run journey? You’ve also gotten the most difficult world major out of the way. What are the chances we see Ronald in other world majors, essentially getting a 6 star?
RJ: Boston was never on my radar until 2014. I tried to get by on my talent alone for two years and not putting in the hard work to BQ, which is what I’ve should’ve done in 2014. You can run shorter races well based on just your talent alone but you cant get by on that when you’re trying to BQ. Regarding the 6 star medal it’s a no for me. It doesn’t impress me at all. Once I hit 40 I’ll be fast enough to not need the lottery. The goal is to get in on time alone.
MSM: What are some other races on your radar? It seems as if there’s a race somewhere you’ll be there.
RJ: Well, I’ll be moving to San Diego at the start of November so I have no clue what my race schedule will look like in the near future. I do expect to be back in NY to run the USTAF 50k Championship race in late February (sub 3:05, I hope) and then the Bryce Canyon 50 miler in Utah where I’m going for the course record.
MSM: What is it that draws you to the smaller races…the ones the folks don’t really know about?
RJ: Running the smaller races allows me to really focus as I’m super tactical when running races down to each mile. Very little crowd support allows me to get into a zone with little distractions. If I am running a 5:40 mile and I end up running a 5:43 I’m trying to figure out where and when I will make up that 3 seconds based on the course. Should I make it up on the next mile? Mile 3? Or at each mile for the next three? It’s hard for me to focus when there’s a crowd plus you also get to enjoy the scenery when there’s very little noise around you.
MSM: We’ve spoken about sneakers and you seem to be a sneaker geek…more so because you’re running through so many sneakers (see what I did there). I believe I saw your high for the month being 293. Rule of thumb is sneakers are only made to last for 300 miles. What are some of the kicks that work for you? I’m a Zoom Fly OG guy, if I can find them I’ll buy them as those are the BEST run kicks for me. What are your go-to kicks?
RJ: For sneakers I’m pretty much a Nike guy. There are shoes I can get cheaper than that brand such as Mizuno’s, Sketchers, Brooks and New Balance, and the other hundreds of other pairs of sneakers I have. My top 5:
- All Nike Vaporfly sneakers (I have yet to use my vaporflys)
- Nike Lunaracer 4. These are the best shoes for speed in a short race and comfort for a marathon outside of the Vaporflys.
- New BalanceRC 5000, a 4 ounce racing flat with a ton of grip and a snug fit shoe. I’ve run many races in these as primarily a shoe for a mile to a 5k.
- Nike Hyperfeel Run. I loved these because they were unpopular. They were a sneaker that looked as if there was no cushion but had a super thick Lunarun insole inside. They were Flyknit shoes shoes so they fit like a glove.
- Nike Zoomfly SP. These are just a notch below the Lunaracer 4 in terms of speed and comfort.
[Editor’s Note: As you can tell Ronald can provide some solid advice when it comes to running sneakers. With so much mileage per week and month its good to have a solid rotation of sneakers.]
MSM: I have to ask: It seems like there are things that irk you as a runner especially when it comes to cutting corners when it comes to training. You follow a pretty simple formula: do the work and results will follow. What are your feelings towards this?
RJ: Yes, I see lots of runners that cut corners and this does bother me, especially for the ones that want to be good and have the potential to be just that. This goes back to the Herman Edwards video I mentioned earlier.
MSM: So to get back to your training, there’s so many “right ways to do things” yet you seem to march to the beat of your own drum. Is there ever a moment where you’ll get a coach that comes along that tells you you need to do this and that, but you say well this is what works for me?
RJ: Not many people try to tell me what to do or what I should do. I’m usually faster than most so they think better of it…especially if they know where I started from. I usually tell people I know what works for me because over the last 5 years the results have shown with me getting faster each year.
MSM: Do you ever see yourself becoming a run coach? I feel like you would be a great one.
RJ: I’ve thought about coaching people and have coached a few for select races to some pretty huge personal records. The problem with me is I am very detailed and would never coach a runner the way I coach myself. I’ll coach someone way harder as I like to plod around at a pedestrian pace all the time. Most that don’t follow the workout tend to quit early and we both move on. If I were going to take coaching very seriously I feel that I’ve studied what works in terms of science when I was going to get my personal training certification.
MSM: With all these huge mileage counts how much of your training includes race pace runs, and do you also incorporate weight training?
RJ: Yeah, I pretty much don’t do any pace stuff unless I’m on the treadmill. No mile repeats 400/800 meter track workouts, which doesn’t really work for me. Speed work on the treadmill is different for me as I will do a hard 5k or 10k run near race pace…and that’s it. I have not touched a weight since the gyms closed down in March. The gym and weights does help you get better if you’re consistent and simply not just lifting to go through the motions. The light weights only get you marginally better.
MSM: What’s next for Ronald Joseph that our readers can look out for?
RJ: I’m making the move to San Diego next month and will be racing with Prado Racing Team which has a ton of Olympic Trails runners, both men and women, so I feel that I’ll fit right in.
MSM: Your progression is one of the best we’ve seen. We wish you nothing but the best. Keep grinding and running sole brother. Any last words you’d like to leave for our readers?
RJ: For me, it’s to really check out the Herman Edwards video. It might even change your life outside of running.