FitView-Marathon Man

FitView By Efren Martinez Modesto’s Marathon Man

As a teacher, he’s well liked by his students, as a runner, he’s a marvel to his fellow runners. Just the sight of him at any race can gets his competitor’s heart rates up. At 37 years young, Jon Olsen isn’t new to running, he’s been running for over 12 years and it showed last year with his 1st place win overall for the 2nd time at The 2nd Annual Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon. In my book, that makes him The Modesto Marathon Man.

For Jon, running a Marathon is like any other day of training. Jon runs 6 days a week or 24/26 days a month. On the average, his weekday training consists of 10/20 miles and 20/30 miles on the weekends. The weather is never a problem because in his own words, “the weather is never poor enough not to get a run in.” What Jon shared with me here will help anyone, whatever your fitness quest might be.

I asked Jon if he would ever consider running on a treadmill and much to my surprise, he said yes. Some runners despise treadmills, so I was excited to hear why. His answer was the hills. Modesto wasn’t born with any so it gives him the necessary training he needs to tackle any up hill or for that matter any down hill grade in a race. Downhill? I guess he’s rigged his treadmill so that he’s not only able to run uphill, but also downhill. Hardcore? You bet.

Back in 2007 Jon entered a 24-hour race and ran 111 miles. He has also has successfully finished ten 100-mile races. Just recently he raced The Tahoe Rim 100 Mile Race and finished 3rd overall in a time of 21:27 and in February won the Rocky Road 100 Miler in Orange County’s Cota De Caza in a blazing 13:14.

So you see, running a marathon to Jon is just like another training day because distance is his thing and he prefers longer races. His favorite distance is 50 miles or 100k races, although he does like running an occasional marathon because it allows him to run fast. According to Jon, there is something to be said for being able to put the pedal to the floor and just go. In most of his races, you are on cruise control and trying to conserve as much energy as possible but in a marathon, its full throttle. My goodness, so are we feeling inspired yet?

No doubt in my mind this man is an amazing runner and all around good guy. With that being said, I went on to ask him about injuries. In every runner’s career there are and always will be an injury, its part of the game. I asked Jon how he copes with injuries and looking for a Superman kind of answer, I got just what I asked for. Jon had foot surgery back in July of 2009 and the healing process took a couple of years. He was able to run and sometimes when he ran, the foot pain always lingered and he would have segments of times that he couldn’t run. At first he had a tough time getting through this, and if you’re a dedicated runner, you know exactly what I’m referring to. Jon shared with me that he was able to get through this with the help of one his church pastors who helped him improve his relationship with God and after that everything fell into place. Since then, injuries and time off don’t bother him anymore. There you have it, a hardcore runner with the Superman answer I was looking for, Marvel! Want to find out more about what it takes to be a Modesto Marathon Champ. Log onto The Modesto View Magazine website to get Jon’s nutrition habits, where he will be racing next, his preferred running shoe and much more valuable insight from Jon in his own words.


Marathon Man Continued


So, we’ve learned much about Jon’s will and his amazing feats he has completed as a runner, so what about his nutrition? What is it  about the mentality of a man that can run for 24 hours covering over 100 plus miles in a race? In any sport, having the right nutrition is the key. Its simple, eat a Twinkie run like a Twinkie. Thus, Twinkie’s can’t run so instead I invite you to take note on what consists of Jon Olsen nutrition that has helped make him a two-time Champion of The Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon in 2010 & 2011.

As a Tri-Athlete myself, I have learned the importance of what types of food are best prior to and afterwards in a Triathlon but honestly, I was eager to get Jon’s take on what his typical eating habits are prior to an endurance race. Jon shared with me that he’s on a heavy protein/vegetable diet with strategic carbohydrates with fruit and tubers thrown in. With this particular nutrition, he tells me that he has never felt better. He recovers faster and he’s dropped more weight, which his mother has freaked out because Jon’s naturally a thin man to begin with and getting thinner doesn’t sound too healthy. With mom’s that’s understandable because it’s just a mother’s protective love that’s taking over. Jon also has cut out wheat and white flour and sugar, corn syrup from his diet as much as he humanly can.



As Jon mentioned, he wasn’t able to cope with injuries very well at first but with the help of his faith he practices, it all fit well just like the right pair of running shoes. Jon’s preferred running shoe would be Saucony but he’s had his sights on New Balance because the company has started to make some lighter more flexible shoe for efficient running.



Surprisingly, Jon prefers not to run with an iPod, he try’s not to train with one too often because he feels that it prepares him better mentally to run without one, then on race day he will use an iPod for part of the race where they are allowed.


Prior to race day Jon likes to plan ahead the night before and he will generally lay out all the stuff he needs for an easy morning to get out the door to make his way to the start line. Some of his preparations that night consist of having his bib number on his shorts ready to go and he will usually set at least two alarm clocks just to make sure he will not oversleep.  Ready set go?  Not quite yet, the morning of a race he’ll have a little oatmeal, half a cup of coffee, and one VESPA (nutritional supplement). The hydration he needed started a few days ago and having a tall glass of water the morning of the race wouldn’t be a good idea according to any endurance athlete unless your looking to have a few restroom pit stops during the race.

Like the hydration, the fuel Jon needs was put in his body a couple of days ago prior to race day.  Jon’s typical dinner the night before would be Protein but that is it. If it’s a long run, he will also make sure to consume some carbohydrates. His preferred carbohydrates the night prior would be berries and whipping cream after his Protein meal.



I asked Jon what he enjoys after the race for recovery or perhaps just as an indulgent. Jon and I aren’t to far off on this. I personally enjoy a chocolate milk shake and Jon’s target at the recovery station after a race would be Chocolate milk and a lot of it! For whatever reason’s, that’s what his body craves than soon after his stomach has calmed down, he’s also been known to enjoy a good cheeseburger.


This is the advice of a champion and I’m taking it for what its worth. He is a champion and after studying his record I was more then impressed. Some of Jon’s personal best times are 5k-16:18, ½ marathon: 1:19, Marathon: 2:39, 50k: 3:35, 50 mile: 5:47, 100k: 7:12, 100 mile:15:31.


Impressive? You bet, and by now you must be thinking, wow, this guy really loves to run and sure, he does but he also loves what he does for a living.  He’s very much into his job. Jon’s a math teacher at a Modesto City School and in Jon’s own words, “I LOVE IT! I love interacting with the kids and teaching a subject that is so fascinating! Can you imagine our world without numbers? I try to pass that passion down to the kids. And in turn the kids make me a better teacher, father, and overall person.”

I have to agree here Modesto View Readers, Jon is a better person indeed for that and I would like to add a great role model as well. In conclusion, I asked Jon to share a few words with our readers who can’t seem to find the time to get in some fitness.


“You can always make time if it is a priority. Find an athletic activity you enjoy and just do it. Get your friends involved too; At Prescott Middle School, where I teach, we have the Teens Run Modesto Program, which helps train kids to run the Modesto Full or Half Marathon. These kids bring their friends out and they motivate each other four days a week on their training runs to get better. It has now become a tradition at our school that already had a great tradition of producing good runners. Just like adults, kids like to be challenged and the kids see running a half or full marathon as a challenge that they would like to take on.”


Look for Jon Olsen this year at these Races:

Rocky Road 100-mile February 18th/19th

Modesto Marathon March 18th

Sonoma 50 Mile April 14th

100k World Cup Race (Italy) April 22nd Note! (He was named second alternate to the US 100k World Cup Team, so this is up in the air depending on whether two U.S. team members don’t travel.)


Don’t miss seeing Jon Olsen and other fantastic runners from our area at the 3rd Annual Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon on March 18th 2012 for more information log onto




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About the Author:

I answered the call back in 1983; mixing Music and Entertainment with an eccentric European style has always come easy for me. In the early 80's I was the Disc Jockey for most of the high school dances in Modesto. In the late 80's I found myself in Hollywood working as a dancer and sound engineer for various professional recording industries. In 1990 my wife of 25 years and I started (The Quake Mobile DJ ®) which was seeded from San Francisco's 1985, The Quake, radio station that only lasted a short while on the air. 26 years later The Quake Mobile DJ is bigger & better than ever in the Entertainment industry. Real-Estate, photojournalism, event promoter, saving animals, travel and fitness are a few other of my interests. I also enjoy motivational speaking to children and to those who are struggling with addiction. In my life, I have always been a very direct person and once I see a goal I won't quit till I've achieved it. But out of all of the above I feel in my heart that the best inspiration in my life is my wife and my love for the faith that I practice. Phil 4:20