In the intense and sweaty matrix of ultrarunning, Rory Bosio is the glitch.
The 5-foot 8-inch, pediatric ICU nurse has routinely crushed the competition since entering her first ultra-marathon at age 21, collecting wins at some of the most challenging mountain races in the world and landing a spot on the revered North Face ultrarunning team.
But here’s the thing: She doesn’t believe in training. At least, not with the same fervor and volume of some of her counterparts.
See, she’s tried that already, training under a coach who demanded such intensity from her that it left her barely able to walk (let alone run). So she went back to square-one and emerged with a new plan: She’d run for the fun of it.
“I started running as a teen and I hated it at first,” the Truckee, California native explains of her shift in mentality. “Since then it’s become my favorite means of exploring the outdoors. Running continues to be something I have to work at, but I love the work; it’s more like play to me now.”
When Bosio races, she does it in the most colorful sneakers she can find, warming up with a pair of headphones and her best dance moves. But under her bubbly and energetic exterior (our email exchanges overflow with exclamation points), there lies a steely determination to win.
This propelled her into the spotlight as the first woman to be featured on Esquire Networks’ docu-series, “Boundless,” which follows the adventures of some of the most formidable endurance athletes in the world — an accolade she doesn’t take lightly.
“It doesn’t take a genius to look around and realize that the majority of things in our world — politics, positions of power, sports — are dominated by men,” she says. “It was important to represent myself well on the show. I didn’t want to be viewed as the token female who can’t pull her weight on the team. The guys didn’t give me a any special treatment.”
Bosio routinely logs 80-100 miles per week, combining mountain runs with a cocktail of yoga, skiing, hiking and paddleboarding.
And while long distances can quickly catch up with ultrarunners and morph into career-ending injuries, Bosio insists “suffering” has little to do with blisters and body aches — it’s all about perspective.
Here, her tips for learning to love the sports that don’t always love us back:
Be your own biggest fan
Bosio says self-doubt begins to plague her on every race as soon as the starting gun fires. “But I don’t think I’ve ever said in my head, ‘You can’t do this,'” she explains. “I usually tell myself that pain is temporary and to grin and bear it.”
Being your own biggest fan also means letting yourself out easy when necessary. “On some occasions, I drop out, but it doesn’t bother me the way it used to. There will always be more races,” she says.
Recovery can be fun
“It took me a while to appreciate the role of recovery and incorporate it more fully into my routine,” says Bosio. After a big test of endurance, she prioritizes nutrition and logs plenty of sleep, but she also believes a body in motion stays in motion.
“My one secret is that I like to go dancing the night after a race,” she laughs. “It’s the best way to get rid of lactic acid. Then I can use a race as an excuse for why I’m such an abysmal dancer. I have the rhythm of an inebriated donkey.”
Segment big challenges
Despite her sunny outlook on running, Bosio is the first to admit that running 100 miles comes hand-in-hand with pain and exhaustion.
To make it more manageable, she breaks down each race into smaller components when she’s feeling low. “I’ll focus on just getting to the next aid station, and tell myself I can regroup there and decide if I want to go on,” Bosio says.
Bosio suggests entering an endurance challenge with some talking points — for yourself.
“I daydream a lot,” she says. “Some recent topics include winning the lotto, gardening in arid climates, dating Alex Trebek, becoming the new host of Jeopardy (those last two are in heavy rotation), dinner and traveling the world via pogo stick.”
Keep it all in perspective
“My life is cushy and I feel very lucky I don’t have to experience the horrible economic, physical and mental suffering a lot of people deal with on a daily basis,” Bosio says. “Remind yourself that you chose to do it and the pain is temporary.”
When that fails, Bosio falls back on an old standby: smiling. “Tell yourself a joke or find a way to smile, even if you’re faking it,” she says. “It might trick your mind into thinking you’re happy.”
Treat yourself like a queen (or a king)
After a race, Bosio treats herself like “Queen Victoria” — minus the corsets. “Chocolate and red wine never hurt,” she laughs. “All things in moderation. Except moderation!”
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