Throughout 2020, our goal is to introduce our readers to as many of our athletes as we can. Their stories constantly inspire and challenge us to be better, do better and move better as a company. We will be launching a blog series focused on our “Apex Crew”—a small yet powerful group of athletes, whose outdoor passions connect with their larger communities in new and exciting ways. Our “At the Apex” series strives to introduce you to their stories and help share some insight into what makes these athletes so influential.
Today we’re chatting with Jonathan Guffain. Jonathan is sharing with us his experience working on the frontlines of COVID-19, how being a father has influenced his running, his goals, favorite Topos and more!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey! What is something other people should know about you?
I’m a transplant from Florida who ended up in California with my job as a Respiratory therapist. I’ve been a soccer player since the age of 5, but after a knee injury I had to shift my fitness. I found OCR with Spartan Race and my love of trail running was born! I now dabble in high intensity interval training during the week, with trail runs on the weekends and Spartan races in between (all this pre coronavirus).
Something people should know about me is that my nickname in high school during soccer was “Flea,” because I would pester and bother everyone for the ball, and I was on the smaller side.
You are currently working on the front-line of COVID-19 as a respiratory therapist. What does that mean right now and how has the current situation formed your opinions about your work, family life or your passion for athletics?
Big heavy question! As respiratory therapists, we know of the risks that come with our profession, but we never could have imagined we would be dealing with such a virus and such a monumental time in all of our lives (this will be in the history books as well as science books for our children to read).
Prior to coronavirus, fitness and health were a cornerstone in my life as well as my family’s. Now, in the middle of this pandemic, it has just heightened it even more! It has shown me even clearer that it’s the small things that matter – the time with your family.
With fitness, eating healthy and staying fit, it’s even more important now. It’s also more important that I pass that down to my daughter Zoey – the great outdoors is so needed (I love it even more), to be free in mother nature’s splendid playground, to teach Zoey that this planet is not ours to destroy but it’s our duty to take care of her as she takes care of us. This shelter-in-place really narrows down what’s important and how trivial the other things we can make seem big, really are not.
How do you balance your tough work life with your home life?
As far as balancing work with my home life, I’m good at just working at work but once I leave, I leave work at the hospital. My family is my decompressor, my happy joy time. To run around with Zoey playing hide-and-go-seek, dress up, cooking (in her fake kitchen), doing homework time with her, or going for a run or exercise at home are all to re-charge my battery and help me deal with the stressors of work.
How has fatherhood made you a stronger runner? How has running made you a better parent?
Fatherhood has made me a stronger runner in the sense that when the terrain gets harder or a race is challenging, I think of Zoey, how I have to push past this for her to show her that hard work and never giving up pays off. Also, she puts a smile on my face, or I just bust out laughing in the middle of a race during a hard part. I’ll think of a memory of a funny event we had together will pop up.
Prior to being a parent, running definitely helped me in overcoming challenges and adapting to the situation at hand, which plays well into being a father.
If you could go back in time and change one thing about your journey, would you? What would that one thing be?
Not as much change (my journey up until now has shaped me in ways I wouldn’t have imagined) but to experience going through college in a dorm setting, living the campus life is something I would have done differently.
One of our main ideologies is that “better is not an accident. Stronger is not a gift. Faster is not a coincidence. It’s a choice.” How does this resonate with your story on a personal level?
I’ve always said, “if it matters to you, you will do it, you will put in the work!” I hear people say if I could eat right, or get fit or be stronger, or be a better husband etc. If something is important to you, you will work hard for it, you will help others, you will help the environment, anything—just do it! Topo’s ideology resonates with me in many ways – my family, self-growth as an individual and a father, healthy eating, fitness, helping others, as well as taking care of the environment. It’s all interconnected.
What goals do you have this year or what are larger goals you have in your life?
One of my biggest goals I had set this year was to run Tahoe Rim Trail Race (doing the 30-miler for the first time ever). I still have that goal but given coronavirus, we will see how that will play out in the future. Another goal in life is to live in Europe with my family and give Zoey that worldly experience to see and explore a new country and culture. I also want to run more trail races (non-spartan) at different distances.
What would you tell people who are just getting into running for the first time or are facing any type of difficulties in their life, be it personal, professional, etc.?
The best advice I can give someone getting into running or any challenge in life is to 1) set your goals for the challenge you are facing and 2) break them down into small steps. Identify the challenge or goal or distance running, then make them into smaller achievable sub-goals. That way, as you accomplish the sub-goals, it boosts your self-esteem and it’s not as overwhelming or daunting, which often makes people give up on their goals.
We have to know – what is your favorite Topo shoe and why?
Damn the hardest question, it’s such a hard call to make, because it depends on the exercise, but I’ll keep it simple with 1 pair for road and 1 pair for the trail. Even with so many new models to try out, I have to say the Fli-Lyte 3 is my go-to for the road. It gives me that response and cushion that strikes a perfect balance, as well as a light upper. For the trails, this is so hard because it’s between the Terraventure line or the MTN racer. Since I have to choose one, it’s my first love, Terraventure 2! It strikes up the perfect balance of grip and protection for me. I’m also excited to try the Zephyr and Ultrafly 3!