MEET JOSEPH GRAY: RUNNING CHAMPION AND MORE
Joseph Gray is the name, and if you don’t know it by now, you should. He has won 17 U.S. national championships, trail raced internationally for the U.S. 30 times, is a world mountain running champion and so much more. His trail accomplishments are unfathomable and seemingly endless, but his off-trail work is also second-to-none.
In addition to being an unstoppable force on the trails as a HOKA ONE ONE trail runner, he also has another near-and-dear initiative – helping to create space in the trail running community to promote racial diversity through working with his sponsors and getting in touch with various schools and communities. Joe is a role model to so many in the running community through his sheer perseverance on the trail and also due to his down-to-earth personality and altruistic goals and ambitions.
We had the chance to learn more about Joe and how he approaches his running, his life and his ambition all while wearing his favorite HOKA running shoes.
JACKRABBIT INTERVIEW WITH JOE GRAY
Do you have a favorite pre/post-race ritual? And what is your preferred pre/post race meal?
I pray before and after every race. Not asking for anything but thanking for the opportunity and the gifts that allow me to chase my dreams.
Usually with every breakfast I like to have Fuel 100 Electrobites to help boost my electrolytes pre race. Post race i typically will eat something local if i can. If not, I try to find whatever I'm craving at that moment.
You're not known for being hurt – how do you keep yourself so healthy for so long?
I try to make sure I take my breaks throughout the year and time off. I've always avoided streak running as it doesnt equate to longevity from a competitive standpoint in the sport
Where has been your favorite place to run? Why?
I think Switzerland and Austria have been 2 very special places for me to run, train and race. On top of having the best selection of gummies and some of my favorite foods I've come across through my travels, I've also built strong relationships with the people in these countries. I find many pieces of their mountain running culture intriguing which keeps me coming back.
Is there a particular race you ran that has stood out?
Not really. To be honest, many races are great, many have amazing views and many have great competition. Few trips/races end with you leaving with new friends who become almost like family. I find that the connection socially at races really draw me to them. Since beginning my career I've come across many of these which til this day I still like to return to.
What is your favorite workout?
I really like progressive tempos!
TALKING DIVERSITY AND DISTANCE RUNNING
You play a large role in working to safely diversify the trail running community and creating accessibility. What steps do you take to do so? What made you decide to take on the responsibility?
I first like to ask the public if they know of a minority athlete who could use support. I do my research on a few prospects then I set up a meeting once I have the athlete picked. Thankfully, my sponsors have backed me on this and to aid the movement, they provide product to help support the athlete. This fills my heart knowing that I can help an athlete pursue their goals in the sport.
I look back on my journey with the sport and realize that I was given free gear by someone years ago and remember the impact of that experience. It motivated me. I want to provide that same gift to help motivate the next generation of minority kids who are involved in distance running.
You've won 17 U.S. national championships, numerous awards and have done so much for the unseen community over the years. What is your ultimate goal with the work you've put into your own training, as well as the community?
The work I put into my competitions is part of the goal to spark interest in other young minorities to give distance running a try. I hope that I can continue my success in the sport to give hope that anything is possible to athletes who maybe don’t have confidence or feel they aren’t talented.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes who may be experiencing what you have and do?
Keep doing what you love. If you truly love what you do, don't let racism hold you back from putting in the work necessary to conquer your goals.
How do you utilize your brands like HOKA to support your mission?
HOKA ONE ONE is a brand that understand the importance of diversity in the sport. I try to utilize the brand to help promote the need for diversity not only with media but also I've been blessed to have HOKA assist my project diversity by providing shoes to athletes in need.
What was your worst running habit you had to break? What is the best running habit you've developed?
My worst running habit was being too obsessive. Allowing running to take over every aspect of my life. Finding balance allowed me to grow in ways I hadn't imagined.
The best running habit I've developed is making sure to enjoy the opportunities I'm given in the sport. Making sure I reflect on the fact that nothing is promised and that running is truly a gift.
SHOP JOSEPH GRAY'S FAVORITE SHOE
FOLLOW JACKRABBIT AND OUR RUNNING CREW
Follow JackRabbit and our running lives on Facebook and Instagram where we share training tips, interviews and gear guides for every runner's lifestyle.
Comment below how many pairs of running shoes you have in your collection? There is no shaming here at JackRabbit!