Runner Profile: Jonathan Ellsworth, Founder / Editor, Blister

Vitals: 5’10”, ~175 lbs.

Running Background, Style, and General Preferences

For most of my life, I’ve been one of those people who has said things like, “I hate running. Running is stupid.”

As a little kid, high school student, college athlete, and most of my adult life, I basically believed that running only made sense if you were (1) chasing a soccer ball, football, or basketball, or (2) training for those sports, which is the only reason why I ran track in high school — being a sprinter was good speed work for football.

In the last 5-6 years, however, the unthinkable has occurred: I have come to … “appreciate” running.

Jonathan Ellsworth, Blister Review, Runner Profile

Jonathan Ellsworth

I wouldn’t exactly say that I have come to love it, but I would definitely say that I love the satisfaction of having gone running, and I really dislike the way I feel when I don’t run at least 2-3 times a week.

I don’t run for fun, I run for fitness. And the discipline of running is now very much a part of my fitness regiment.

Also, I don’t run long distances. Three to four miles a clip, 3-4 times a week. Typically, that’s it.

Such things seem to be subject to change, however, and so while I can imagine a world where I start tossing in a 5-8 mile run every so often, I currently have zero interest in running an ultramarathon. Or even a marathon. Or even a half. I don’t show up at 5Ks. I like to run solo. And listening to the right hip-hop definitely makes me run faster.

Surface Preferences

Most of my running is done right out my front door, on a cement bike path that goes in both directions from my house. And while I really dislike cheap, unstable treadmills, I won’t refuse to run on a professional-grade treadmill — I actually like the suspension of good treadmills. (And I realize that half of you reading this just gasped. Or vomited.)

I don’t love running on cement or pavement — I’d love to run on even grass; smooth, dirt trails; or (in the dead of winter) a very sturdy treadmill. But given some medial meniscus injuries to both knees that I’ve dealt with over the years (and then a broken neck last year), sticking to even surfaces rather than rocky, rooty trails has made more sense for now. (Plus, if the trail is truly rocky and rooty, I’d rather be on a mountain bike than running.)

So again, it’s not that I love running on rock-hard surfaces, but there are pros and cons to everything, and while it’s a longer story, the fact is that my knees don’t hurt at all when running on hard surfaces, and I’m not running long distances on cement / pavement.

Shoe Preferences

While I have claimed that I wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of Vibram five-finger glove shoe thingies, I do tend to roll more “minimalist” than “maximalist” when it comes to running shoes. So you can keep your moon-boot running shoes that have fat heels and huge drops. I prefer zero-drop shoes, but I can typically get along with shoes with drops that range from 0 – 8 mm.

I’m also in the camp that believes that it makes sense to strengthen your feet as much as you can rather than rely on a ton of support from your shoe. So I like flexible soles, stretchy uppers and fairly firm cushioning.

In sum: roomy, low-drop shoes with a bit of firm cushioning = my current sweet spot. But I also believe that such things, too, are subject to change. So we shall see where this particular running path takes me.

Some Shoes I’ve Clicked With

Merrell Bare Access 2 (zero-drop shoe for treadmill & road running); Merrell Merrell Mix Master 2 (4mm-drop shoe for road and trail running); Altra Escalante (zero-drop shoe for road / hardpack-dirt trails).


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