About Me

Photo: Patrick Sweeney

Photo credit: Patrick Sweeney

My name is Vanessa.

I’m a trail runner, mountain lover, and author.

I studied journalism and worked for magazines and other media companies as an Assistant Editor, and then an Online Editor. But it was office work, and all I saw in my future was advancement, more money, and more office work. I lived for the weekends and my dog was bored.

It wasn’t what I wanted.

In 2012, I quit my job, bought a small Rialta RV with my boyfriend, gave away all my possessions, and hit the trails to run and write books full-time. My first book, The Summit Seeker, hit Amazon’s list of Best Sellers and Hot New Releases in the Sports & Outdoors category. You can check it out HERE.

We aim to live day-to-day, bartering or trading for things that we need, sometimes doing freelance or contract work, and following our whims wherever they take us.

Our goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible, living off solar panels and parking at remote trailheads. Free wi-fi connections allow us to upload our stories, adventures, and books. Everyday is an adventure.

I have written for UltraRunning Magazine, Trail Running Magazine, and Active.com, among other publications. You can view some of my previously published articles and interviews here.

Running for me was something that was born in the midst of my worst hardships and continues to carry me through life. I started running trail ultras in 2011 and never looked back.

Ultrarunning has taught me that there is nothing broken that cannot be made strong. It has healed all my wounds and forced me to reclaim my body, mind, and spirit.

I started this blog in 2007 when I was still trying to finish 5Ks. I am now a four-time 100-mile finisher, training to run longer and faster on the trails. The blog has changed over the years, as have I. The focus now is on trail and mountain running, living simply, traveling, and racing ultras.

I have run several ultra distance races as well as a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim crossing of the Grand Canyon. In 2012, I covered 2053 miles and snagged five 100-mile finisher buckles. In 2013 we drove across the continent, exploring trails from California to Alaska, across Canada, and down the East coast. Come share in my journey and run some miles with me.

Some Popular Posts to Get You Started

Why We Need Nomads

Winter Life on a Homestead

Are You There, Running? It’s Me, Vanessa

Social Media–Bane or Boon to Trail Running?

10 Overlooked Rights Worth Fighting For

Sequoia National Park: Finding Resilience in the Forest

4 Powerful Lessons From a Nomadic Life


“Reading your post is almost as good as standing on a mountaintop after a several-mile run to the top. It’s in those moments that I feel my spirit’s immenseness and I explode with a smile that emanates from everywhere and nowhere.” – Erskien Lenier

“It’s refreshing when someone thinks with their heart, processes with their head, and answers with their very soul. Stain the Earth with the passing of you.” – John Y.

“Vanessa, thank you for simply being you. I love reading your stuff. Your courage to journey and share is ultra incredible. Your talent with words, your passion for bending them just the right way and splashing in, is always right on time. It’s always an exciting read. You are living the life so many of us runners want to. I’m grateful I can live, at times, vicariously through you. Keep dreaming and living it.” – Teyana Viscarra

“I just love your way with words. You stir the emotional pot and make me think. Well done!” – Angie Bee Hotz

“Vanessa you are amazing and I wish I were a great writer like you. I am really enjoying your book. I must say I feel like I have known you forever and I feel like you were my little sister in a past life. Hugs to you, Shacky and Ginger and Momma kitty.” – Catra Corbett

“Vanessa, you have more wealth than Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Larry Ellison combined because you are contented and you have your health. I am inspired to follow by your example.” – Naeem Ravat

“It’s so awesome to see all that you’ve done with this year. It feels like you guys just started this adventure and a whole year has already passed. Time flies! That’s why we need to start living now. I’m continually inspired by you.” – Kate Buntenbach

“Your writing is so clear and the ideas so important. With much gratitude for a great read.” – Leah


Facebook: www.facebook.com/vanessaruns
Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanessaruns

My Book:
The Summit Seeker
Amazon Author Page: Vanessa Runs

Goodreads Author Page: Vanessa Runs
Videos: https://vimeo.com/vanessaruns
Daily paper: Ultra Running’s Top Stories


Check out THE SUMMIT SEEKER here

The Summit Seeker

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey

64 responses

  1. Good luck! When did you start, btw?

    I did NYC last year and would do it again in a heartbeat! It is an absolute blast.

  2. Excellent. I’m guessing you know that there’s a lottery for getting in to NYC. There’s a reasonable likelihood of getting in. I know a few women who’ve gotten in on their first try. For men, it seems to take longer, presumably because they get more men entering. If you apply 3 years in a row, you automatically get in the 4th year.

    Have fun!

      • The first time I tried in 2005, I got in. Unfortunately I got a bad injury during the late part of my training and couldn’t do it (bad IT injury. Took about 4 months to recover and be able to run just 10k again.)

        I tried each year 2006-2009, got in automatically in 2009. I’ve already entered for 2010, not expecting to get in, but starting my 4 year countdown again. :)

  3. How long have you been running?

    My physio talked to me about IT-strengthening techniques.. I’m actually going to blog about it this week.

    What was your time in 2009?

    • I did 4:45. My worst marathon time ever, but the most fun marathon, too. I have a hip/butt injury now that’s been plaguing me for a couple of years and I had to walk a lot when that got too painful.

      When my mileage goes up, my hip/butt (piriformis to be specific) gets really aggravated. ART has been very helpful, but it’s hard to fit in physio time-wise. Plus it gets expensive!

      I wish I’d paid more attention to stretching during my first couple of marathons. I’ve always been super flexible and think I was a bit too confident that that would always be. Running longer distances has taken its toll now and really tightened up my muscles and I think that is the single root cause for all of my injuries since then. So – I’m trying to improve that habit. My husband keeps telling me to go for more ART – and I should – but it’s kind of pointless until I get into a proper stretching routine. The good news is I’m getting much better. It’s just so easy to fall off the bandwagon – done it too many times in the past!

  4. Wow, quite a background you bring you to your blog. Your courage and perseverence in life as well as running shows through. I hope you are still in touch with your family and that your partner has regained a quality of life following his accident. I know it had to take a toll on both of you. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

  5. hey …. its Ali …. I admire your passion……for Athletics……… talk to ya soon senorita……..


  6. Vannessa!
    Ive just found your blog and I extremly aprecciate all what you´ve written. I think you are really honest with your words. And it is always so nice to find people like you.
    Recently ive quit on swimming because of university and work which take me so much time . It also has been such a fight between mental and physical reactions ( that come out when someone produce a break in lifestyle) , but now ive decided to start running which is easier because i can actually practice this near home . So if you can give some advices i would really aprecciate that!!!!

    lots of greets from Chile!!!!
    bye :D

  7. What an inspiration you are to have overcome such trying things in your life! We have all been through trying times, but to hear your story just moves me. Thank you for sharing your true life, including its highs and lows, with the world. I enjoy reading your blog even more because of your courage and honesty.
    Justine :)

  8. Nice read. As a fellow runner I wish you the best in your endeavors. I read your blog on “I’m probably a masochist” and I must admit that while you didn’t meet your goal you looked the part (like a runner, i mean that in a good way). Your approach to that race was definitely different then anything i have or would try, but it was an interesting strategy. I enjoy reading about how others prepare and execute their race day strategies for there is always something to be learned. I’m no expert in running but by keeping an open mind and disciplined training I managed to achieve a marathon PR this year at 3:20:12 and qualify for Boston. I wish you the best in achieving your goals and keep sharing. Ciao! (I’m not Italian but like the word)

  9. Naked foot running is sizzling right now. Since Chris McDougall’s e book, Born to Run, about the Tarahumara Indians who ran (and gained) ultra-marathons either barefoot or carrying hurraches — low-tech running sandals they typically constructed out of old tires and string, increasingly more individuals are excited by barefoot running. Folks, together with me, were transfixed by the tales of Caballo Blanco (the “white horse”) and Barefoot Ted, who got rid of their regular running shoes and went barefoot or in huaraches instead.

  10. Vanessa,

    I want to say congratulations on everything you’ve done with your running, your blog, and the resource and service you’re providing to the community at large! Your site popped up in a Google search I was doing on October 19 on recovering from marathons. In fact, you and I happened to complete in our first respective marathons during the same weekend! I did Baltimore(http://results.active.com/pages/oneResult.jsp?pID=94243931&rsID=100741), and it was a mind-blowing, life altering blast, and I experienced much of what you did afterwards. Afterwards I’ve discovered (or refocused on) the value of rest, the power of swimming with running, and some other fun things like yoga! I caught the barefoot bug about a year ago after reading McDougall’s BTR book and having stopped running from an overuse ache behind my knee, and have since experienced many of the joys, trials, and tribulations that the barefoot transition brings along with it. You continue to inspire me to put my old writing cap on and get to work sharing my experiences and spreading the good word about barefoot running (speaking of religious and/or spiritual connections of running…). So I’ve got some domains reserved, and a million things to write about on such topics, but I’m still waiting for the drive and focus to sit down and really get started (and not accidentally write a book) :). And you’re helping motivate me, so keep it up, and good luck with your goals! I’ve got my own, I’ll shoot you my site when I get it together!

    ~Andy, maybe Barefoot Andy if that isn’t already a bit of a cliche ;)

  11. I stumbled across your blog while looking for info on runner’s trots. I’m also Salvadoran (American) and was pretty excited to see a Salvadoreña writing about running. I can identify with your overprotective father. :)

    I’m looking forward to continuing to read your blog!

  12. Hiya!

    I found your blog because under my post on MDs: Are they all evil it linked to your entry on doctors as well (related entry) super amazing by the way! I am an RHN and studying to become an ND and my aunt (Bonnie Black) also works at Vitality so, seems we have a lot in common! I’m also paleo which seems to be a theme (at least a guest theme) on here! Will love to keep in touch and follow your blog,

    Good luck with the running!

    – Erica

  13. Hi Vanessa. Loved reading about you. My mom lives in Canada and I just got back from a visit there. I am a CSCS and it is a great certification to get. Very cool that you are also branching into holistic nutrition!
    Your mom’s death and your comments about her being your best friend really struck home with me. My mom is my best friend too and I am so lucky to still have her! Look forward to reading updates about you! Cheers! Tracy

  14. I am glad to have found your blog. I’ll keep my eye on you here and see how the running goes for you. I’ve been BF/M since I started running last year and I’m very happy to have my feet on the ground.
    Suerte y salud!

  15. Hi, perhaps you could give me some advice. I’ve been playing around with VFFs for about a year, and I’ve started running in them, mostly on “barefoot friendly” terrain for the past 6 weeks. About two weeks ago, I ditched the shoes entirely for my runs. After reading “Step by Step” by Barefoot Ken Bob a few days ago I decided to work on my form and hit the asphalt. I did about 2 1/2 miles and developed some serious blistering due, I suppose, to bad form.

    I rested for a couple days and this morning I went for a run, once again trying to work on my form for completely barefoot running. Last week I ran 6 miles at about an 8:45 pace with no problems. However, this morning while adopting the style promoted by Ken Bob, I could barely squeeze out 2 miles, and they were around 11 mins each.

    Is it normal to slow down this much while trying to adopt the correct barefoot running form? I’m feeling a little discouraged, but I want to figure this out…

  16. Thank you for sharing your story; it’s very inspirational. I hope you and your partner are doing well. I’m interested in finding out more about barefoot running and would like to find a reputable trainer/nutritionist. Also, I follow a high raw diet. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  17. RAW is good. Ever see “Food Matters” or “The Gerson Miracles” DVDs. David Wolfe’s book called “Superfoods” is awesome too! Barefoot and RAW are “the way I roll” too! Mostly Raw anyway…probably 75%. Never felt better and my asthma is nearly non-existant now for 4 months and no meds at all! YIPPEE!!!

  18. Hey Vanessa,

    Just stumbled across your blog and I’m excited to see you’re a barefoot runner. I have just started running with Vibrams and I’m intending to go totally barefoot once my calf and foot muscles get in shape. Running in Vibrams has definitely transformed my running for the better! I’ll definitely be exploring your blog for more advice on that…

    I noticed you’re doing a Vegan 30-day challenge. Seeing that you’re 1. into nutrition and 2. an ultra-athlete, I’m curious if you’ve ever heard about or tried the raw vegan fruitarian lifestyle. (I’ve been fruitarian for 6 months now and its definitely revolutionized my energy levels and goes hand in hand with running!)

    This is the site of an online community that’s got tons of info: http://www.30bananasaday.com

    and this is the blog of a fruitarian ultra-runner, who blows my mind:

    Anyway, thanks for putting up your blog and best of wishes.

  19. Hey there- just came by your blog through facebook and am inspired by your barefoot running. Any info on arch issues? I have tried barefoot shoes, arch free, arches and am now hardly able to have a pain free day.It feels like my arch is being ripped when I apply any pressure. I used to run, now am hardly able to walk more than a few minutes or push the gas pedal. Any nutrition advice on this? I am a very healthy, I eat a lot of raw/vegan, organic eater….and have always been super healthy. Just a strange thing that has turned up and suddenly ruining my whole world…

  20. Wow – Im so excited I stumbled across your blog! Not only are some of your posts making me rethink the way my husband and I have our life planned out – it is also making me feel like my goal of running ultras one day is more realistic. I just turned 29 this year – I feel like I’m soooo behind on the running game! My first 1/2 marathon (first race ever) will be on Sept. 29th and I’m super excited. I may be slow, but I’m going to finish, and keep training after that. I really want to run a 50 miler in the next couple of years and am toying with the idea of a 100 miler but everyone says either goal is pretty nuts. Hopefully it isn’t too nuts and will happen one day :) thanks for your inspiration, insight, and for sharing your experiences!

    • 3 years. I wanted to get into ultras right away, but I lived in Toronto and we had no ultras or trail races there. So I just ran long and trained on my own. Then I moved San Diego and immediately ran 14 trails ultras in that first year. I find trail ultra MUCH easier than road marathons.

  21. 14? In one year? That is AWESOME! My plan is to do 2 1/2 marathons this year, a full next year, and try for a 50k or 50 miler at the end of next year. Thanks for the inspiration and advice! Loving all your race reports and information!

  22. Thanks so much for the time and effort you put into writing your blog! It’s a great read and very inspiring. I recently began running again and promised myself I would run my 1st 1/2 before I hit 40, which is happening this month. I also said that I wouldn’t run farther than that but thanks to runners such as yourself that share their experiences I have started a blog, decided to run a full and explore my love of trails more often. Who knows, maybe an ultra is on the horizon too! Thanks again and happy running!

  23. Wow. I quit my job 2.5 years ago for a similar reason but I really never thought I would get into ultra running which is now creeping into my life. I really enjoy it.

    I thought about doing what you did, sell everything and get an RV to travel to places to run and bike!

    You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your experience.

  24. I am also Salvadoreña, and a trail runner. I should have recognized you were Salvadoreña just based on the description of your sense of humor. No wonder it was so familiar.

  25. Vanessa, I stumbled upon your site today, and as they say, things come your way when your open. I left my corporate gig after 25 years two months after you, with the intent to slow down, find peace, and to live more authentically. Like you, my wife and running partner (teamed at TR in 2011) have been traveling around mostly CA in a small motor home running, hiking and exploring all the trails and culture we can find on the road. We have yet to scale down from a base of a home, but we will work through that. Spent the last month in Big Sur watching Spring evolve. Some days though, I get the voices in my head questioning what I am doing, how we are living, and all the voices of reason that come from the past. Today was like that.. and then I read about someone trying to carve out the same. Thanks for being there… tomorrow will be an inspired run. Love to meet you guys if you are ever rolling through Santa Cruz, or maybe somewhere on the road. Peace.

  26. Wow! I’m so glad I came across your blog! I heard you in one of Caity’s stories (during one of her podcasts) and I always meant to look you up. Then this post came up on my WordPress Reader. Awesome. I love what you’ve done with your life. I’m a late bloomer when it comes to running but my heart knows it wants to be an ultra runner. Your stories inspire me and quiet that critic who wants me to believe it can’t be done.

    Rock on, awesome woman. Cheers!

  27. I came upon your site yesterday and now have lots of catching up to do! Most sites I see either focus on 1 thing or too many things. You have a couple of concepts and focus areas (running, simple living, life philosophy) that are all inspiring. I may live through you a little bit as although I’m still young I have 4 children. I get them out and about on the weekends and enjoy spending no money taking them to parks, preserves and more and packing a lunch but of course not the same as what you have done. So I’ll keep reading and getting inspired by your posts. Enjoy the weekend!

  28. Hi Vanessa, congratulations on being Fresh Pressed, but more imporatantly for flipping the pyramid and taking control of your life! Our work has made us nomads in a sense, having lived on 4 continents and counting. (We currently live in India–our company RAXA Collective is a conservation based tourism company http://raxacollective.wordpress.com/.) For several years we were involved with the Patagonian Expedition Race. It sounds like the Patagonian Internatioanl Marathon would be right up your alley! Please contact them! http://www.patagonianinternationalmarathon.com/. Cheers!

  29. Hi Vanessa,

    I truly admire the adventurous spirit and courage it took to take the leap into the unknown in order to live the dream. While my blog does not reflect it I am an avid cyclist/endurance athlete as well, but do not have the means to take that courageous leap. It reminds me of a post I wrote for my blog, entitled “what we have become…..” feel free to check it out. And promise me that each day you are living your dream, NEVER FORGET how lucky you are. I wish you all the best and look forward to following your blog closely.


  30. Vanessa, I just discovered your blog and really enjoy it. I’m making my way though your old posts. Question: What whould you say is the best ultra in California for a first time ultra runner?


  31. Hey, Vanessa!

    It’s been so fun meeting you and being inspired by you through your blog (which I was referred to through a post on the blog Run Pretty Far).

    You should check out a poem by Marvin Bell, simply entitled “When I Run”. It totally moves me, and I think that is how I usually feel about running. It’s not exercise – it’s being in the moment and enjoying where you are, whether running through a foggy fall evening at dusk when all the Halloween decorations are out and everything is muffled and quiet or when lining up for a race and enjoying the intensity and energy of the people around me.

    Keep on running and writing!

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