© Copyright – 2009 – Athletics Illustrated
Jason Loutitt has lived just about everywhere in Western Canada. He was born in Trail, British Columbia where his father played Jr. Hockey. He grew up in Uranium City, Saskatchewan until he was age eight, Edmonton, Alberta for another eight years, and yet another eight years were spent in Winnipeg, Manitoba serving with the Canadian Forces, in the Army. Loutitt also attended University in Winnipeg and has called Fort McMurray, Saskatoon, Chemainus, Victoria, Regina, Vancouver, Shawnigan Lake, Canmore, Banff, and now Duncan, BC on Vancouver Island home. He has moved 37 times in 35 years.
Will he ever settle down and call one place home? Who knows. Perhaps his penchant for perpetually uprooting himself is a parallel manifestation of his inability to focus for long before he tends to disappear into two week-long alcoholic bouts of self-destruction. By all appearances, his transient tendencies work well with his running lifestyle and he believes the self-destructiveness is now behind him and feels he can focus well to take the next step in his running career.
What is his next step? Canadian Mountain Running Championships, June 13th in Canmore, Alberta to qualify for the World Mountain Running Championships.
Loutitt owns a 66-minute half-marathon and a 2:24 marathon personal best.
Christopher Kelsall: Since moving to the island last year has your training changed? Are you running around the Shawnigan Lake area a lot?
Jason Loutitt: It’s funny that as a trail runner I have spent most of all of my running time running around the lake on the 22k hilly road route. Something about having access to the rolling hills for the first time and the idea of it…running around the lake, made it ideal. Like running to the top of a mountain, training often takes on a different ideal for me. Sometimes I would feel that if my elders were watching from the sky, I would run enough for them to notice this crazy little guy leaving his path.
I used to run from Canmore to Banff (25km each way), work eight hours and run back. The Shawnigan Lake loop has been done over 100 times since October with no running for a couple of weeks in February and April… (laughing)… of those, over 95% have had my training partner Nanew – a 2-year-old Jack Russell right beside me. The bugger has only slowed on a run twice and we are talking about being able to run four, 20-milers-per-week during August temperatures. I started running him when he was four months old — he is the cutest little running machine.
CK: Jack Russell Terrier, that’s what they need, a lot of energy time. How is doing fartlek runs with Nanew? I would assume scattered and random.
JL: The little metronome comes with his own speed dial. I think because I would do strides with him, he is ready and willing to gut ‘er out on a moment’s notice and actually eases off when I do. I loop the leash and put it around my waist but don’t put up with any tension on it. He is that good to even keep it tension-free during fartleks, strides, and intervals.
CK: Don’t tell me his name is from Mork and Mindy, where Mork would say, “nanew, nanew”?
JL: Yes, his name is hello in Ork from the Mork and Mindy show. I had a cat for 22 years named Mindy from the show. Funny, I was watching a movie a year after getting him and ‘Nanu’ is also Inuit for ‘little white bear’. Both fit.
CK: You started marathon running in the late ’90s, is this correct? Can we talk about the progress since then?
JL: Yes, My development though always has taken a different approach. The old KISS — Keep It Simple Stupid, would only apply if you simply made life as tough as you could on yourself and then simply tried to survive. My second race ever was the 1999 Winnipeg Marathon and I ran a 2:59:09. My longest long run had been 90 minutes, so you could imagine the wall I faced. I ran an average of 3-4 marathons a year for 2004-2006, with two victories at the 2005 and 2006 Calgary Marathon. A 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finish at the Royal Victoria Marathon and a silver medal at the 2006 Canadian Marathon Championships. All were chosen as target races within three weeks to the event — kind of mountain running in itself. Add to that a lifetime of dealing with the disease of alcoholism and addiction, and the yearly escape/run to the dark side and we have a runner who ends up smoking a pack a day on top of everything else for 2-4 weeks a year. While I really have limited my ability as an athlete in one respect there has been this unusual development of strength in another, the constant pushing in lifelike training only leads to the annual self-punishment sessions. Now as I embrace Bikram Yoga and even look at getting certified as an instructor, I am hoping to use my certification in Stott Pilates and coaching experience to start a business in Duncan in the future. As of June 1st, I will have been relocated and quite fitting, Mt. Prevost and Mt. Tzouhalem have been calling out to me.
CK: Let’s talk about that tendency to stalk the dark halls of self-destruction.
JL: Just pulled myself out of another and that pull and part of my journey no longer defines me. I simply can’t afford it. I got better at self-destruction than running, so I gotta reverse that and that is only a minor excuse.
I now have a son in this world. Like building the pyramid, the strength phase is done and it is time to move on. It is tough as the disease of alcoholism and addiction rips through many more lives than we are aware of. If we aren’t personally affected, we either have family or friends who know someone who has died from it. It is a spiritual disease that for many requires a spiritual answer. Surrender, faith, letting go… getting through and beyond it requires the only real measures of true strength one will ever find in this world.
CK: Care to describe your two-week trips into darkness and what is the catalysis of this behavior?
JL: While generational conditions can affect all of us. Our Aboriginal people have been used to the struggle of having to be hardened to survive. This sometimes develops into coping mechanisms that aren’t the healthiest. Although this can be an excuse for many and one I have fallen back on many times, the total responsibility for my choices and ability to have power for each and every decision I make are mine and mine alone. Deeper issues around self-sabotage and not letting myself truly achieve or feel I deserved success (shame) were being held onto for my way of being.
CK: As for an aboriginal role model, who is the ultimate for you?
JL: In terms of running and a message, nobody comes close to Billy Mills. The finish of his Olympic 10K victory from 1964 in Tokyo gives the same feeling I am sure a bird feels when he first learns to fly. The fact that he is also a motivational speaker and has put his heart behind helping the aboriginal youth, speaks much more volume than any footstep.
CK: Any specific goals for you right now?
JL: Right now it’s getting into fitness I haven’t been in before. I am working out more hours per week now than I have ever had. Bikram Yoga – the hot one done for 90-min is the #1 priority for the meditation time, breathing and lung development, flexibility, and even cardiovascular efficiency. Did 30 classes in 17 days and even had 3 and 4 class days. Add running on top of that for just one class and anyone reading who has done it before will know what type of training I am doing. Needless to say off of less than 8 runs, I set the course record at the local Mt. Tzouhalem Gutbuster. Even ran the first 10k split of the Kool Oak Bay half marathon the next weekend going through in 32:10. The only quality run done within the past two months was that Gutbuster race.
This summer I am actually looking at starting up a Pilates business in Duncan, BC, and also I am going to get certified in Bikram Yoga to teach and start a new running fitness kick. After the Calgary marathon on May 31st, it’s back to Canmore for the June 13th Canadian Mountain Championships, then NACAC down in the US on June 28th. After Calgary, it’ll be nothing but easy mountain runs and speed interval work (first time in 4 years) back in Duncan. I live close to the track there so it’s perfect. Focus on some local mountain races for the summer and short 5k racing. Then it’s World Mountain in September and a winter Marathon. I know I could move up to Ultra and do well as my marathon pb of 2:27:29 was from the 2004 Honolulu Marathon and I was the head coach of Team Diabetes and after finishing 9th, ran back on the course out there moving until my last runner crossed the line at 9 hours and 56 min. Gotta work on speed though for the next year.
CK: Talking about speed, I know Taeko your wife is back running again after becoming a mom, how is that process going? Is she also aiming at a marathon?
JL: Taeko and I met running around the world during the 2007 Blue Planet Run and she is slowly getting back to the training. She is so tough and will be fully able to reach her goals. Truthfully we have separated as a couple to have some space as we simply moved so fast and 2 days after running around the world, she came to Canada with me. It is so tough as we now have an 8-month-old son named Shouken (Japanese for ‘awareness’), but she will go to Japan for the summer and regroup for her priorities. Being in Japan and connecting to her old running community should inspire her. I hope she decides to follow through on her dream to qualify and run for Canada in 2012 in London. She can do it.
CK: Taeko has run a marathon as fast as 2:28, has she not?
JL: Yes, Taeko finished with a 2:28:10 at the 1999 Osaka marathon. If she focuses on getting into condition to qualify for Canada, she will stand a great chance at doing it.
CK: Do you have a favourite book?
JL: Something about reading a series of adventure books in my early 20’s — R.A. Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms series about Drizzt Do Urden (a fantasy character aligned in Chaotic Goodness…(laughs)
JL: A life Less Ordinary, which is about the power of love in a world of craziness where everything can be seen through a lens of fun.
JL: Leonard Cohen.
JL: I am a soapstone carver and actually have a minor in fine arts. The soapstone and also charcoal runs true. If I stay out in Cowichan, I really want to get into carving.
CK: Are you planning on running with the Canadian Mountain team in the inaugural IAAF recognized World Mountain Trophy?
JL: It is exciting to now have the Trophy event fully affiliated with the IAAF and now is a ‘World’ event. Funny, I became a mountain runner and finished as the top Canadian at NACAC and the Trophy race in 2004 after living in Winnipeg for eight years. The only hill there is an old garbage dump they covered with grass. Playing hockey for 22 years and martial arts for 12 must have helped.
I started running and ran my first race in 1999 with the 2nd Battalion of the 2 PPCLI regiment for the Canadian Forces. That was the Columbia Ice field leg of the Jasper-Banff Relay… a mountain run. You know that while I have dedicated myself to being the best runner I could be, I have also gotten certified as a level 2 NCCP coach and managed to coach over 800 runners from newbies to competitive. Something about the sport and giving back to the community is so important as over 13,000 youth and adults have put up with my ramblings about my life and my adventures. As a motivational speaker, it is incredible to return the energy that those trails, mountains, and most recently what the ‘lakes’ have given me.