John Zilly Isn’t Afraid To Take Risks, Both In Running And In Business


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Today’s guest is an endurance athlete with some notable highlights including cycling around the USA and competing in the USATF 50-mile trail championships twice!

He is also the co-founder of a company that has the potential to revolutionize the running shoe industry and co-author of a book that could change the way you think about track workouts.

There will be no shortage of topics today as I try to keep up with John Zilly for a few easy miles.

John Zilly

The Longer The Better

John Zilly was hooked on running from an early age.

He was first officially introduced to the sport in the eighth grade when he joined the track team.

John competed in the half-mile race, which he deemed too short.

He know from early on that he was more suited to longer distances.

John competed in both track and cross country during high school.

The camaraderie and competition kept him excited about the sport.

In his own words, John was “good enough” to run at the D3 level collegiately.

Even after graduation, John continued to run consistently.

If I Can Dream It, I Can Do It

Immediately after graduating from college, a friend jokingly suggested they take a year off and cycle around the country.

John was intrigued and began to plan how they could make it a reality.

At the time, he had very little cycling experience, yet he was not deterred.

Their vision became reality with the adventure beginning in Seattle, Washington in early October.

They rode to San Diego, then across the southern US to Florida, up to Maine, and back across the country to Washington.

In total, the trip took about 9 months to complete.

Overall the trip went fairly smoothly, except for an unprecedented snowstorm in Texas.

The experience taught John that if he could dream something up, that he could do it.

John Zilly

Always Learning

John has been an endurance athlete for most of his life and has learned quite a bit in that time.

He has authored 11 recreational guidebooks mostly for mountain biking in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of California.

Along with sharing his knowledge in books, he has also learned what works for him in terms of training.

While cycling has helped to reduce his injuries and get him in better overall fitness it’s not what he would recommend to everyone.

John is a firm believer that if someone wants to get better at running they need to run more.

He knows a thing or two about maximizing running potential since he competed in the USATF 50-mile trail championship twice.

The philosophies surrounding training and fueling have changed a lot since John first entered the sport.

Pace Tuned Shoes

John is the co-owner of a shoe business that will be launching in the near future with a new take on running efficiency.

His business partner, Scott Tucker, has worked at various shoe companies over the last few decades.

Scott’s knowledge of running shoes is vast and yet he noticed there was more that could be improved upon.

While on a run, Scott was brainstorming about ways a shoe could make him faster.

That’s when he came upon the idea that forces vary among paces and one type of foam can’t work efficiently with all paces.

Running efficiency could be maximized if the foam was specific to the runner along with tuning the heel to dial in the cushioning to fit the specific runner’s needs.

All of his ideas came together to form a product they call “pace tuned shoes.”

The shoes will be available by the end of summer/early fall of 2022.

Pace Tuned Shoes

A Shoe For Every Runner (Or Walker)

The process from brainstorming to having an actual product has not been without obstacles.

The biggest hurdle during the process has been the pandemic and the delays that it has caused.

John and Scott have been able to continue to move ahead with the process, although the timeline has had to be altered.

When the business launches there will be 6 pace zone shoes available.

The fastest range will be 4:30-5:30 per mile with the slowest range being 10:00-12:30 per mile.

They have a shoe that is in development to cover the 12-15 minute range in the near future.

Pace-tuned shoes also include a few trail running options along with a shoe for walking.

The shoes will be available on the website and those that sign up for a newsletter before the shoes are launched will receive a discount.

Running In Circles

Along with co-owning a business, John is also the co-author of a book.

“Running in Circles: Sciency, Gamey, Head-Scratching Track Workouts for Faster Running,” is a compilation of workouts that will never get boring.

Scott runs a weekly track workout and is known for coming up with fun and unusual workouts with clever names.

His workout each week has a theme to match.

The workouts don’t have to be done exactly as written but can be tailored to the runner’s needs.

John has a lot to keep him busy and yet he will always make time in his day to go for a run.

There are many reasons why he runs, but the main one is that he enjoys feeling fit.

John Zilly


Mentioned In This Episode:

Stay connected with John Zilly by following him on Twitter and/or LinkedIn.


John Zilly learned from a young age that if he could dream something up that he was capable of accomplishing it. He has built his life on taking risks. Click To Tweet


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