This interview is about a man on an epic running mission. Justin Daniels’ quest started in 2013 when he found out that his Dad was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) – a disease that essentially attacks the lungs. He started by running 5K races in 2013 and it all just escalated from there. Most recently, he completed a 500 km race across the state of Tennessee in the middle of the summer heat. We’re grateful to get some running and fueling tips as well as some advice about working with running brands to help you on your running mission.
Congrats on finishing the VolState 500k. That’s pretty badass. Tell us about the experience – what was the most challenging part of the race.
Thank you I really appreciate it. The most challenging part of the race for me was the lack of sleep followed by the 115-degree temperatures for sure. Coming into this race you know sleep is going to be minimal but long hot days added can make things miserable at times until you start to adapt.
How did you deal with the high temperatures? Did it have any effect on your fueling and hydration strategy?
It was very warm on the course throughout the 9 days I was out there. It did not have any negative effects on me or my hydration. I love to run in the heat because I feel my body does better so this was right up my alley. Biggest thing was walk when it was the hottest parts of the day and continue to drink and fuel even if you didn’t feel you needed to.
Was this race part of your COPD awareness mission of running a marathon in all 50 states? (We understand that 500k is a little longer than a marathon). Can you give us some more background about this mission? How did it get started and why did you choose running to spread awareness?
Yeah, it was for sure part of my COPD awareness mission. Every run that I do no matter the distance is for my mission and the people that have to deal with the deadly disease each year. Haha yeah, a 500k is a little longer than a marathon or any other ultra that I have completed.
I stared running for COPD awareness in 2013 after my dad was diagnosed with the disease. Many people want to do something to raise awareness for something and I felt the same way. After thinking for awhile of something that I could do, I felt running was the best idea because you use your lungs, and I could be a voice for the people that didn’t have one.
I started out running local 5k races around Indiana and Ohio until signing up for a marathon. After completing a marathon, I felt there was more that I could do so I signed up for two marathons the next year and it has taken off since. I’ve now completed 68 marathons in 48 states, completed a 50 miler in Daytona, 50k in New York City and completed the VolState 500k across Tennessee.
Running has helped me reach so many people living with or dealing with COPD just like I wanted it to. My goal has always been to meet as many people as possible dealing with COPD in whatever state that I’m running in so they have a chance to see that someone really does care about them and willing to fight for them.
We understand that you have had a few brands supporting your quests over the years. Do you want to give a shout out to any of them? Do you have any favorite flavors of the products you’ve used?
I have had some of the best companies support myself and my mission throughout my journey. Newton Running Shoes has been with me since 2017 and made sure that I’ve had the best shoes possible to get me to whichever finish line I was at.
Honey Stinger has been my fuel of choice with the waffles and energy gels. While I’m running I’m not a person that really eats a lot so the Honey Waffles are always my go to when packing for a race.
During a race I go with the Honey Stinger Fruit Smoothie Energy Chews because of the taste and the amount of energy I can get. Taste is a big thing with me if I’m using a product while running.
SaltStick is another company that I feel everyone should check out because while you’re working out you are losing salt and with their FastChews you are able to get what you need quicker and with great tasting flavors.
Other brands that I am currently working with are: GoPro, Michelob Ultra, Alter-Ego Running, Road ID, Roka Sports, Ogio Inc.
What’s the relationship like with the brands that you work with? How did you find them or how did they find you?
My relationship with the brands that I’m working with has been great. They all have the same beliefs that I do and have been very supportive in whatever run that I am doing. Most brands I went and found them years ago because I have always felt if you sit around and wait on people to come to you then you won’t get anywhere.
When I wanted to do this, I researched what I needed to do and I went after it wanted to do it the right way so the brands knew I wasn’t just some guy wanting their products.
Every brand I went after in the beginning I had already been using their products, so I felt I needed to support them as if I owned the company and give them the recognition they deserved.
Do you have any tips for other athletes looking to get some support from big brands?
Tips that I have for other athletes looking to get some support for big brands is don’t give up and never let the company down. If you promise to do something, make sure you do it and treat every company that supports you as if it were your company.
Create a resume for the brands to look at with what you’ve done and how you can support their brand then be willing to put in the work to get the support you want.
Outside of racing, what is your approach to nutrition and diet?
During racing season my nutrition depends a lot on the distance of the race. While I was running the 500k I was able to eat whatever gas station food pretty much I could find and still lost 11lbs.
I typically go back and forth with a low carb/higher carb diet depending how close to a race I’m getting. I always make sure to drink at least one gallon of water a day so that there is always some water in me for hydration.
I do begin each morning with an energy drink to get my heart rate up and get ready for the day. During the month of December, I take off from running and just relax and heal my body so that is when I have the big meals because of the holidays!
Finally, where can people find you and learn more about your mission?
There are a couple different places that people can find me and learn about my mission or to ask questions about what I am doing.
Get in touch at: email@example.com