Greg Nance is an ultra runner, mountaineer, entrepreneur, and mental health advocate who’s about to embark on a cross-country run – and we mean cross-country: it will literally span the entire width of the USA. We caught up with Greg to hear more about why he’s undertaking this mammoth task and how he’s training for it.
A Run with a Cause
On his birthday, September 29th 2021, Greg will start an epic cross-country run from New York City all the way home to Seattle. Averaging 50 miles a day, the almost 3,000-mile run will take in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Gary, Chicago, Standing Rock, and Spokane en route. Yet this is more than just a way to celebrate his big day; Greg is raising awareness about America’s addiction and mental health epidemics to investigate how we can better support those most in need.
The impetus for this challenge comes from Greg’s own past. Following the death of his cousin Brandon in a tragic car accident when Greg was 14, he began to suffer from anxiety and depression, which led to self-medication with alcohol and opiates. Although he is now in recovery, Greg knows that he is far from alone in this experience. “There are millions of Americans that are self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and it’s time for a national dialogue about how we can support folks going through this.”
Movement for Healing
Running, and movement in general, have been the two most crucial factors in Greg’s recovery. “A daily running ritual has been the single most important kind of habit where I can clear my head. I can put into perspective the challenges that I face, the stress, the pressure, all this, and those mountains become the molehills they actually are. In the course of just a 15 or 30 or 60-minute run, I have perspective again, I have serotonin and dopamine and oxytocin again.”
1 in 7 Film
Greg’s epic run from NYC to Seattle will also be accompanied by a documentary film, directed by Sarah Schutzki. Greg got into filmmaking as a way of healing during the comedown from another grueling challenge: running seven marathons in seven continents in seven days as part of The World Marathon Challenge.
“At that final finish line, I am a totally broken man. I should be on top of the world, but I’m not. My body feels broken and mentally, I’m not all there. And that was a really tough night because, for the first time in years, I picked up the phone intending to score painkillers. The next day, I felt ashamed, confused, anguished. And that was the first moment where I was able to be a little bit more honest with myself about the extent of the challenges that I had faced and that I was actively facing. And that led to a lot of writing about how I’m feeling. Lo and behold, this slowly becomes a film treatment.”
The hope for Greg Nance is that this cross-country run and the accompanying documentary will spark conversations about mental health, addiction, recovery, and most importantly, the need for compassion. “Every one of us has our own mental health journey. Many of us are personally dealing with addiction or have a loved one that is and the aim is to really show how with compassion, with loving support, we can really provide that community, that connection to help folks overcome those challenges.”
The Power of Plants
The PurePower System is a key part of Greg’s training routine. He was introduced to PurePower by his good friend, Tez Steinberg. After Tez completed his epic challenge of rowing the 2,500 miles to Hawaii completely unaided, Greg asked him to share the factors that helped him succeed. Without a doubt, Tez said, it was PurePower. Despite being skeptical by nature, Greg figured he had to give it a try before embarking on his own challenge.
Just over a month later, Greg was already seeing the benefits in terms of more energy when waking up and better recovery after training. He sums it up by saying, “I’ve had a smile on my face most mornings.” The greatest advantage that Greg has seen, though, is the improvement in his sleep. As a self-described “sleep geek,” Greg is constantly on the search for ways to get better rest more consistently. “I am always looking to get a better night’s sleep because it’s so foundational to my mental and physical health. And Power Down 30 minutes before bed has been the single biggest sleep boost that I’ve experienced in my journey.”
Follow Greg Nance on His Journey
Follow along with Greg’s training and journey on his website, or connect with him on Instagram. “I love hearing from folks sharing your mental health journey, your fitness journey, addiction, or recovery. If you’re somewhere nearby on my cross-country run, come out, run a few miles, bike a few miles, have a meal with me. I would love to connect.”
Watch the full interview below.