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Interview with an Olympian: Our Q&A with Nick Symmonds

We had the opportunity to interview 2-time Olympian, Nick Symmonds, for our blog. For those not familiar with Nick, he was an American professional runner that specialized in the 800m on the track. Yes - he got paid to run for a living. Pretty sweet.

Nick grew up in Boise and, after graduating from Willamette University, Nick ran professionally for Oregon Track Club Elite, then later in his career for the Brooks Beasts.

Some of Nick's achievements are pretty insane:

  • 2-time Olympian (2008 & 2012) in the 800m

  • 2013 World Championship Silver medalist (800m)

  • 6-time US Outdoor National Champion (800m)

  • 800m PR of 1:42.95 (yes - he ran 2 laps around the track in less than 1:43)

  • 7-time NCAA Division III National Champion

Since retiring from professional running in 2017, Nick has focused on running the company he co-founded with his former coach and friend (Sam LaPray), Run Gum and tackling some new challenges including his first marathon and climbing some crazy high mountains.

In this interview, we asked Nick about his career and some of his achievements, as well as discussing doping in the sport. We also threw in some random, non-running related questions because we like to mix it up a bit. Nick is never afraid to state his opinion and doesn't back down from questions that others may avoid - one of the reasons we like him!

After you read this wonderful journalistic masterpiece, please give Nick a follow at the social media handles below:

run nebraska (rn): You’ve had a very accomplished career in the sport, all the way from high school to the pros. Aside from your World Championship medal, what’s your proudest running accomplishment?

(Nick Symmonds) NS: Winning the 2008 Olympic Trials was a big one for me. It was the toughest race I’ve ever run from a mental standpoint. So much pressure!

rn: Who was the most confident athlete you ever raced, whether it was a simple confidence in their ability, or outright arrogance?

NS: David Rudisha. But I imagine it’s easy to have that confidence when you are that much better than everyone else!

rn: Usain Bolt famously ate a ton of Chicken McNuggets at the Beijing Olympics. Did you ever indulge in any specific food or drink during your Olympic or World Championship appearances?

NS: Not really. I tried to eat healthy while in the village. I did always have a tradition of indulging in a cheeseburger and beer after most track races.

photo courtesy of Run Gum

rn: We think that Rule 40 is really stupid. On a scale of 1 to let’s tear it to shreds, how bad do you think this rule is and how would you change it?

NS: It completely treads on the rights of the athletes. It needs to be done away with completely.

rn: Is there someone during your career that you never raced that you would have wanted to compete against?

NS: I always wanted to race Allyson Felix in a 200m. I think it would have been really close!

rn: Many would argue that the sport is, to a certain extent, broken. If you were Seb Coe, Max Siegel or Vin Lanana, how would you fix it?

NS: The only way it can be fixed is to find a way for it to be successful away from the Olympic model. As long as the NGBs [National Governing Bodies] control the sport they will keep it stuck in the 20th century.

rn: Who are some of the runners you’re following right now?

NS: Not many, to be honest. I like to watch my friends who are still running, but most of my close running friends are all retired now.

rn: If you had to live without one of the following for the rest of your life, which would it be?

  1. Pizza

  2. Burgers

  3. Beer

  4. Tacos

NS: Tough one, but I’d prob ditch the tacos. I consume them the least out of those four.

rn: What’s your daily PR of pieces of Run Gum?

NS: HA! Sometimes we do taste testing on new flavors and on those days we get into 10+ pieces. It ends up being kind of like wine tasting, you chew it for a few seconds and then spit it out.

rn: You gave an interview on the Citius Mag Podcast with Chris Chavez and you said that you’d want to go on a run with Hicham El Guerrouj and you’d ask him if he was clean. Gut reaction – do you think he was?

NS: The logical side of my brain tells me that he most likely used performance enhancing drugs at some time during his career.

rn: Which World Record do you think is the most suspect? Personally, I think the women’s WRs from the 100m to 800m are all debatable/questionable.

NS: Honestly I think they all have some degree of suspicion associated with them. But I agree with you on women’s 100m - 800m being the most suspect.

rn: With the success and growth of Run Gum what’s next on your “to-do” list either personally or professionally?

NS: I’d like to make Run Gum a household name. I’d also like to climb some very large mountains.

Rapid fire questions

  • rn: Convicted dopers: lifetime ban?

  • NS: Absolutely.

  • rn: What would you rather have: the 800m world record, or an Olympic gold medal?

  • NS: Olympic Gold.