Training For Ultra's Training Diaries - Issue #21


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Guest: Aaron Gonzales

Episode Title: We're All In This Together

Bio: Aaron is a 27-year-old ultrarunner currently based in Austin, Texas. Aaron’s ultrarunning journey originally began seven years ago when he moved from San Antonio, Texas, to Denver, Colorado. Aaron first heard of ultrarunning via a magazine article and decided to do some research and then try it. At the time, Aaron felt like something was missing in his life, and no matter what he did, he could not get out of the slump, amazingly it was through ultrarunning that he was able to discover a new passion and vigor for life. His first ever ultramarathon was in Texas, and although he is the first to admit he was incredibly unprepared, he was hooked and has not looked back since. Aaron loves to get into a flow state during long runs. He finds the connection running creates between mind, body, and nature especially important and meaningful in the ever-increasing digital age of abstraction and distraction. Two of Aaron’s favorite races are UTMB and Big Bend 50. In 2017, Aaron placed second in the Silver Heels 100-mile race, and in 2019 he was second in his age group at the Brazos Bend 100 Miler. Aaron has quite the ultra resume and has run some infamous races, including the Ouray 100 Mile Endurance Run, UTMB, Pikes Peak Ultra, and The Northface Endurance Challenge New York. Aaron’s goal races include Western States, Hardrock 100, Zion 100, and the Tahoe 200. In addition to running, Aaron enjoys reading, hanging out with friends, and traveling. Aaron’s primary focus is pursuing his graduate degree in public affairs, which he has running to thank! 

You may also like:

The Training For Ultra Podcast with Rob Steger: Emily Hawgood - From Crushing Western States to UTMB (

The Training For Ultra Podcast with Rob Steger: Episode 75 - Training For UTMB in Singapore w/ Ian Lye and Azlan Ithnin (

The Training For Ultra Podcast with Rob Steger: Episode 61 - Majo Srnik on Smashing His Ankle and then UTMB w/ Michelle Barton (

The Training For Ultra Podcast with Rob Steger: Episode 55 - Addie Bracy Interview, UTMB stories w/ Kaci Lickteig and Majo Srnik ( 


Quotes from podcast episode:

“I started out doing sprints and hurdles and somehow transitioned to 100-mile ultramarathons.” - 14:35 Aaron Gonzales

“I think just looking back, running was a way to allow me to process and cope with a lot of the crazy things that were going on in my family and my life, You. It’s it, quite frankly, kept me out of trouble.” - 15:39 Aaron Gonzales

“I think being a first-generation student, you get hit with a lot at one time.” - 20:47 Aaron Gonzales

“Essentially all the things that I thought were so far off and things that I would never be a part of; I am there on the frontlines intimately experiencing.” - 21:45 Aaron Gonzales

“The 100-miler seemed to click better than the 50-miler.” -  25:52 Aaron Gonzales

There is a huge opportunity to extend this experience, that we all love and that we have been so privileged to continue down, and connect with people all over the world, and to extend that to young people and people of color.” - 33:00 Aaron Gonzales

“As a young runner, you go through these constant balances of overconfidence and, just kind of that, youth arrogance, if you will, and being humbled and saying, “Hey, if you want to continue this, you really need to put in the work.” - 36:32 Aaron Gonzales

“When you don’t grow up in the mountains, you see them as something to be conquered… When you are in the mountains… the mountains allow you to pass through. You realize how little you have control over while you’re out there and how small that you are.” -  39:29 Aaron Gonzales

“If anyone has paced before, you know you start getting into things that you would never have imagined talking about four, five hours prior.” - 55:40 Aaron Gonzales

“You need to be helping somebody, but also at the same time, overcommunicate if you feel you are pushing yourself because there is still a long race ahead of yourself. It was the first time I had ever felt as responsible for the outcome of a race as the runner themselves.” - 1:04:38 Aaron Gonzales

“You can’t mention Badwater without mentioning how when one person goes down, another has to step up, and you are all operating as one unit.” - 1:12:21 Aaron Gonzales

“I think that’s ultra in a nutshell: in life, there are a lot of things that are outside of our control, but we are going to try to do what should be impossible.” -  1:14:55 Aaron Gonzales

“There was a moment where I had been having hallucinations, in the race, for eight hours straight.” - 1:23:37 Aaron Gonzales

“I knew my mother would kill me if I fell off a cliff.” - 1:24:23 Aaron Gonzales

“All those self-doubts that you had prior to the race are magnified in those first three miles because you’re out there asking yourself, “do I deserve to be here?”” - 1:27:46 Aaron Gonzales

“It is so terrifying because you’re saying if I am experiencing this now, what is it going to be like 12 hours from now?” - 1:43:29 Aaron Gonzales

“I had never experienced that, to where I don’t have control of my own mind.” - 1:51:34 Aaron Gonzales

“I felt like one: I gave it my all, but also that I was capable of so much more. I think it is that type of fire and that desire that keeps us all doing this crazy sport, you know, trying to get that perfect race, whatever that looks like for us individually, to really fulfill our potential, which is how I started down this whole ultrarunning path - wanting to fulfill my potential in every aspect of my life.” - 1:55:34 Aaron Gonzales

“I think that runners - we can change the world while we are on the road to changing ourselves.” 2:04:04 Aaron Gonzales

Episode Timeline:

3:50 Crewing and pacing Dion Leonard at the 2021 Badwater 135

4:34 “The Texas Tornado”

6:00 Aaron’s childhood and cultivating resilience

12:45 Aaron’s running origins

18:10 Returning to running after burnout

21:00 Discovering ultrarunning

22:30 Aaron’s first ultramarathon

24:30 Aaron’s first 100 miler

28:39 Build to first 100 miler

30:30 Entry fees and other financial barriers to ultramarathons

35:05 The humbling move to Colorado

36:50 First Colorado ultramarathon: Pikes Peak Ultra

40:00 Respecting the mountains

41:30 The Berkeley community

47:42 Journey to 2021 Badwater 135

48:00 Silverheels 100

50:10 Pacing Leadville

55:20 Pacing Lucja Leonard

58:20 Ouray 50

1:00:00 Crewing and pacing Dion Leonard at the 2021 Badwater 135

1:08:06 Importance of organization

1:11:20 Importance of teamwork

1:13:50 The toll Badwater 135 takes on your crew vehicle

1:16:30 The challenging logistics of the Badwater 135 finish

1:17:15 UTMB

1:19:30 UTMB start line and culture shock

1:27:00 First cutoff and maintaining a conservative pace

1:30:00 Poles

1:33:00 Climbing

1:38:00 30-minute miles

1:41:00 Challenges of getting a crew for international races

1:43:15 Hallucinations and exhaustion

1:48:30 Anxiety and trusting in your training

1:51:00 The hallucinations get worse

1:53:00 The power of trail naps

1:54:14 UTMB finish line

1:59:00 UTMB atmosphere

2:00:00 Words of wisdom

Social Media:

Instagram: Aaron Ryan Gonzales (@aarongnz) • Instagram photos and videos Facebook: Aaron Ryan Gonzales

Sponsors: Under Armour