Tommy Rivers Puzey is the beloved American ultrarunner and marathoner who is being treated for a rare and aggressive form of lung cancer in an Arizona hospital. His brother Jacob has been providing the running community with updates. Rivers Puzey is known for his storytelling via Instagram. On his social media, he would address everything from his injuries to his most memorable running days, to the stories behind some of his best (and worst) race performances. Here’s a roundup of some of his most impressive social media posts, with an anecdote for every kind of runner.
If you’d like to help out, the family is accepting donations for medical bills via a GoFundMe page, which can be found here.
For runners who are missing out due to injury
Rivers Puzey sustained an injury over the winter that sidelined him from the Atlanta U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February. He knew he’d be unable to compete in his goal race (a place no one wants to be), so here’s what he wrote ahead of the event: “I can’t fly these days. Or run. But I can walk now, slowly, and that fills me with an overwhelming gratitude that wasn’t within me just a few weeks ago. That’s the odd thing about challenges and detours. They teach you to value what you had and urge you to remember that value when it returns.”
For runners who like to run ambitiously
At the Houston Marathon in 2018, Rivers Puzey went out extremely hard and maintained a pace way beyond his PB for 18 miles before hitting a serious wall. While he acknowledges this approach isn’t for everyone, it’s the way he likes to run. He writes, ” I know I’m gonna get hell for my approach. I always have. There’s a time for prudence and a time for caution, but that does nothing for me. But swinging big, and really chasing what I’m capable of, that sets my soul on fire.”
For runners who are looking to take care of the little things
Rivers Puzey does side planks every day, and he recommends other runners master the basics as well. “It doesn’t have to be complicated. It shouldn’t be complicated. The key to achieving results and creating positive adaptive changes in our bodies is based in consistency, not in secret workouts. This is a side plank. It doesn’t get any more simple. This is part of my “Every Day” routine, meaning I don’t go a day without doing it. Typically two to three times on each side for around 60 seconds each.”
Runners looking for Boston advice
When Rivers Puzey ran Boston in 2017, he found that he hadn’t done enough training on the road to handle racing on the road for 42.2K. He writes, “Volume is important, but if you’re racing on the road, then road-specific durability in your legs is more important. You can build a V-8, but if your suspension can’t handle the load, then it will do you no good. You’ll be there at mile 20, with that big old motor intact, gas tank full, broken down and deflated as you painfully crawl along in the right lane.”
For runners who have fun while they race
Anyone who’s running the Boston Marathon takes running seriously – you’ve trained hard enough to get there, meaning that your running is very important to you. Rivers Puzey gives a good reminder that even if you find yourself in the elite race in Boston, it’s important to have fun. He tells a story about coming up on Geoffrey Mutai (a 2:03 marathoner) and passing him: “I come up on a small Kenyan runner. I realize just before I catch him that it is Mutai – the same one who I awoke this morning with my laughter at seeing Erin’s margarita photo. I remember her note saying that I could beat him. The whole irony of all of it causes another fit of laughter. The crowd to my left sees it and begins to cheer. I can’t stop laughing but raise my finger to my lips, asking for a hush – both out of respect for Mutai, but also because after my exchange with Erin I really, really want to beat him and it seems a “sneak attack” is the best option.”