Luis Cocco has Successfully Merged Martial Arts and Ultra Running

My guest today is an ultra runner that has also been a taekwondo instructor for over 25 years.

Luis Cocco

As a runner, he has got several 100-mile finishes under his belt along with numerous other ultras.

Luis Cocco and I will go a few easy miles as he shares how his two passions work together to make him better at both disciplines.

First Love

With a father that was a master of taekwondo, Luis was born into the world of martial arts.

From a young age, Luis practiced taekwondo competitively with dreams of someday making an Olympic Team.

The only running he did was for cross-training to help him become a better fighter.

His Olympic dream ended when he tore his ACL in 2011 during a fight.

The injury turned out to be the catalyst for him to begin running as a way to rehab his knee.

In 2012, Luis crossed the finish line of the Miami Half Marathon with his wife and he was hooked.

He stumbled into the world of ultras after reading Dean Karnazes’s book, “Ultra Marathon Man.”

The Chattanooga Stump Jump 50k was his first foray into the ultra world.

Luis was still teaching and training others in martial arts even as he was going farther in the running world.

Luis Cocco

Finding Balance

Luis has found that it can be tricky at times to find a balance between martial arts and ultra running.

He has learned through experience that not taking a break between the two sports can lead to injuries and setbacks.

While his body isn’t completely injury proof, he can still push it to cover 100 miles.

Luis finds the 100-mile distance a transformative process that is much more than a race.

He still considers himself a rookie in the ultra world and is still learning what he is capable of.

Luis struggles with two very different mentalities:

  • To race less and possibly lead to a better performance during races


  • To not miss out on experiences and possibly sacrifice reaching his true potential when racing.

Along with owning a martial arts studio and training for ultras, Luis is now adding race director to his already hectic schedule.

Miami 100 Ultra

Luis Cocco, Running in Miami

On September 29, 2018, Luis will host his first ever 100-mile ultra event in Miami, Florida.

Luis has been putting on martial arts events for some time and is familiar with the process of creating an event.

The idea to start a 100-mile race in Miami has been on his mind since he started in the sport.

Though as he has realized, putting on an event in a big city can have its challenges.

The race is solely the 100-mile distance and is mostly urban running.

The Miami 100 is unique in that it requires some navigation components and has 6 checkpoints along the course.

A runner must either be 100% dependent on their crew during the race or be self-sufficient.

The ultra world has in many ways reinforced the philosophies that Luis grew up within martial arts.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Stay connected with Luis by following him on Instagram and Facebook.

Luis Cocco has a background and a career in the martial arts. Taekwondo and ultra #running may not seem like a good pairing, but it certainly works for him! Share on X

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