Running and music fuel each other. That’s the opinion of marathon runner Cal Calamia (they/he). Here, we learn about the powerful impact music and movement have on their training mindset, and how they use running as a tool to create a more inclusive community.
When Cal came in first place in both the San Francisco Marathon and Bay to Breakers 12k run, they became the first non-binary winner of these historic events. They have since founded non-binary run club, which celebrates, uplifts, and provides a training community for trans and non-binary runners.
“Trail running provides a unique opportunity to be more in nature.”
“Running is my happy place,” states Cal. “It’s a really important part of my routine – to have that time and space to be able to move in a way that makes me feel empowered and happy.” When they’re not conquering marathons, Cal trains in nature’s playground. “Trail running provides a unique opportunity to be more in nature. With all the distractions of modern life, just being able to be at one with our natural environment is a special gift.”
Trail runs are an important part of Cal’s training, particularly for long-distance runs. “When I plan my trail runs, it’s the main event of the day,” says Cal. “Running in nature reminds me that I am a runner and that running is a natural thing.”
“I feel like running and music are super interconnected.”
Cal is a runner that likes to push themselves to the limit, and the best running companion for them is music. “I listen to music every single time I run,” says Cal. “Choosing the genre of music is all part of curating the space and experience of that run and how the run is going to fuel my day and make me feel.”
Music also has the power to affect the pace they run at. “I find myself physically running faster just based off the tempo of the music I’m listening to,” says Cal. “If I choose a lo-fi instrumental type of music I end up in a more meditative state when I’m running versus if I choose angsty music, then I feel like I’m releasing something when I’m running. If I put on a more up-tempo, higher bpm music I feel like I have a lot more motivation and find myself physically running faster. I feel like running and music are super interconnected. They fuel each other, which I both appreciate and enjoy.”
“Music helps transport me to a different space.”
Focus is a big part of Cal’s training. Music provides a valuable support in turning off distractions. “Music helps transport me to a different space where I can separate myself from what has already happened in that day. I make the time and the run about me and what I feel like I need in that moment.”
So, how does Cal push through the challenges of long-distance running? For them it’s simple: make it happen and prove themself right. “I find that running is 50 percent physical and 50 percent mental in how much you’re able to overcome,” they explain. “For me, the psychology of being able to continue to run is telling myself that I am strong enough and that I can and will do it. And every single time I do, I prove myself right. So, I know that the next time I’m faced with the challenge of a long run or hard workout, I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. There’s something really empowering about that cycle.”
“We can elevate and use [running] as a tool to bring us closer to each other.”
One of Cal’s biggest motivations for why they run is to increase visibility for trans and non-binary people in sports. The non-binary run club offers Cal a chance to strike a healthy balance between their social approach to running and when they’re in competition mode. “When I’m running with a crew of people it’s more conversational; a lighter, easier pace and more about being part of a community. When I’m running on the track, I know I’m there to hustle and do a hard workout.”
Cal is passionate that running can be used as a tool to create more inclusivity among communities. “There’s this sense of community and solidarity because all of us have endured this challenging thing,” explains Cal. “We’re all running together anyway. In prioritizing this common experience, we can elevate and use it as a tool to bring us closer to each other instead of excluding people.”
NO HOLDING BACK
Cal is trail running with adidas FWD-02 SPORT buds. With no wires and no hassle, there’s nothing stopping them from pushing their limits and going the distance.
Calamia uses both he/him and they/them pronouns. This story uses they/them pronouns for consistency