Originally from Bellingham, Washington, Jake Riley started racing when he was just seven years old. He was an eight-time All-American in track and cross country at Stanford University and has been competing professionally since 2012. One of his biggest achievements to date was becoming a US Olympic Marathon Team qualifier in February 2020.
So, Jake tell us why running and how did you get started?
I’ve always been very competitive and loved playing sports. But the only reason I was ever any good at any of them was because I could keep going longer than the others. Then I ran my first cross-country race and it clicked: running was what I was good at. Eventually I fell in love with the other parts of running – the joy of finding a new trail, an easy run with teammates, the sense of calm after a hard run – but it always comes back to my love of competing and trying to see just how good I can be.
On days where you might not feel like training, what inspires you to get out there?
When I’m having one of those days, I try to think about times when I’ve performed well or my next big race. Either way, I try to focus on how good it feels to be fit and to run fast – I don’t get to feel that way, unless I push through feeling like this.
Can you tell us about a race that taught you a few lessons in this sport? Or that you would want to relive?
The 2020 Olympic trial was both of those for me. It was a very hilly course on a very windy day; those conditions took their toll on almost everyone, but not until pretty late in the race. With 5 miles to go, there was a 45 second gap between me and the chase pack that I managed to close – I had been patient and conservative early on. That race taught me a lot about the value of patience and calm in the marathon, about not relenting when you finally make the decision to go, and about trusting my training and race plan. And then the last 200 meters, kicking home in the middle of a roaring crowd to make my first Olympic team, is a memory I could relive a thousand times and not get tired of.
Do you have a special pre-race ritual?
I do two strides with a yoga cat stretch in the middle of the starting line. The stretch is awkward looking, and I feel a bit silly doing it, but the ritual of it and the feeling of “opening up” that it gives me puts me in the right headspace to race.
Is nutrition a big focus for you? And what would you say is your go-to meal after a tough run?
I don’t get very micro with my diet, I mainly try to keep sensible portions with a good mix of foods, avoid processed things, and try to make sure I’m getting enough fuel in me for recovery. My post run go to right now is breakfast burritos with sausage, potato, egg, beans and green salsa.
What are your top tips for a speedy recovery after training?
Get something in you (something is better than nothing, but ideally a 3:1 mix of carbs and protein) within 30 minutes of training, get some sort of flush – rolling or massage – post run, and get as much sleep as you can.
Who is your “team”?
My parents are my biggest fans and greatest supporters, my girlfriend keeps me centered, and my coach and training partners keep pushing me to be my best.
What was the best piece of running advice you ever received?
Success in distance running is about consistency – no one workout is going to make or break your training, it’s about staying healthy and getting the work in over a long period of time.
If you can keep at it, your breakthrough will come.
Apart from running, what are your passions?
I love playing pub trivia, I was a professional quizmaster for a while. I also love camping – one of the only downsides to being a professional athlete is that it means I don’t have many opportunities to get out backpacking.
What’s your favorite On shoe and why?
The Cloudsurfer. As a marathoner, I spend a lot time just putting in miles, and I like a good amount of cushion in my go-to trainer. The Cloudsurfer has the amount of support I like without feeling bulky.
What’s your favorite item of On apparel and why?
The Performance T. I’m a pretty heavy sweater and this is one of the few shirts I find can keep up. Plus, it’s nice and light and it sits right without having to be adjusted.
Finally, why On?
When I was talking with potential sponsors, it was important to me to be with a company that was committed to running and runners. I’m excited to represent a company that takes such obvious pride in growing the sport and making the best possible equipment for runners, so we can focus on doing what we love.
Unsponsored No More: After Earning Olympic Spot, Marathoner Jake Riley Signs with On, LetsRun 3 July 2020
Swiss Running Brand On Sponsors Olympic Qualifier Jake Riley, Endurance Sportswire, 3 July 2020
Olympics-Bound Marathoner Jake Riley Signs With On, Flotrack, 3 July 2020
On Running signs Olympic marathon qualifier Jake Riley, Canadian Running Magazine, 3 July 2020
A New Deal With On Clinched, Jake Riley’s Future Looks Bright, Podium Runner, 3 July 2020