Assistant general counsel, the Walt Disney Co.
For the past decade, Eugene Holmes has been running. He runs mostly marathons—he tries for two a year—but for the past three years he’s also competed in Oregon’s Hood to Coast Relay race, a 200-mile segmented trek from the slopes of Mount Hood through Portland and along the coast to the town of Seaside. Holmes trains up to seven days a week, and when he enters a race, he runs it to win it. But that’s where this employee benefits lawyer’s laser focus stops.
“I try not to make my running really structured because it’s about freedom and spontaneity,” he says. “My profession is about structure, so I try not to turn my hobby into a vocation.” Instead, Holmes goes outside to nurture his physical and mental health by breaking with demands and expectations of marathon training and reconnecting with the simple rhythms of nature and movement. It’s an approach that’s characterized as much by what he does as what he doesn’t do.
For example, Holmes doesn’t follow a set training schedule. He simply runs wherever and whenever the mood strikes. “Whenever I have time to break away, I do that,” he says. By running at different times of the day, he can embrace changes in light and city sounds. Varying the location, terrain and sight lines ensures a different run every time, he says, whether he leaves from home, from work or undertakes a drive to a nature trail. “Sometimes,” he says, “I just take off from wherever I am.”
Holmes also never needs a portable device to give him a beat to keep up his pace. “My heartbeat, my breathing, the wind, the birds—that’s my music,” he says. (Of course, it goes without saying that Holmes doesn’t need to take a selfie at the mile markers.) Often, he’s not even wearing a watch. He simply doesn’t need it. “I’m not trying to go a certain speed or distance. I just run until I am fulfilled with running for the day.” Holmes isn’t sure which marathons he’ll run this year. Maybe Big Sur, maybe Detroit. It all depends on scheduling, on timing and, presumably, which destination happens to be speaking to Holmes that day.
Attribution: Photo by Earnie Grafton. Text by Jenny B. Davis.