Get out the door & stick with it.


Moved by Music: Casey Nelson

For our next installment of “Moved by Music,” our series in collaboration with Jaybird, we want to introduce you to Casey Nelson, actuarial analyst, a father and runner usually found crushing miles on the roads outside of Minneapolis.

Anybody can throw on a pair of running shoes and head out the door to pound the pavement.  You don’t need to be a running expert or a fitness nut—you don’t need to be anything. All you need is a positive mindset and a desire to get a little bit better. Casey represents this reality of running. He has always prioritized an active lifestyle, but running was not always at the forefront. He played football and basketball through high school and college, building exercise into his daily routine. But he found that, after college, playing team sports was much more challenging. That’s when Casey’s running journey began. At 23, he had moved to a new town, away from friends, family, and the teams he was a part of. Looking for a way to stay fit, he laced up an old pair of gym shoes and headed out the door.

Running was an abrupt change from what he was used to. But instead of losing focus, Casey stuck with it. In his mind, the benefits outweighed a little physical discomfort. He didn’t fall in love with running immediately, but after seeing improvements in his times, and what his body could handle, it became something he really enjoyed doing.

As training became a staple in Casey’s life, his desire to test his fitness pushed him to start racing. Soon, he would toe the line at his first marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.

“When I think about this race, I think about how much I can accomplish when I put my mind to it. I didn’t know if I could run a marathon when I signed up to run this race, but I knew I was going to try my hardest to be able to say that I am a marathoner.”

This race would push Casey’s body farther than it had ever gone. It wasn’t easy, but he stayed patient and motivated.

“I dealt with it by just continuing to put one foot in front of the other, walking a bit, and knowing I had my future wife waiting for me at mile 17, and then again at the finish.”

After 26.2 hard miles, he officially became a marathoner. There is something incredible about accomplishing your goals. Casey set his mind to becoming a marathoner, and then went out and did it. We asked if there were any workouts in particular he enjoyed when preparing for tackling this hefty feat.

“It would have to be a moderately paced 4-5 mile run that involves variation in elevation. I have two routes close to my house that meet these conditions. One is around a lake and the other is in a park reserve. Both have great scenery and a variety of ups and downs. I said moderately paced, because sometimes the best workouts are the ones where you know you are still pushing it pace wise, but are still able to take in your surroundings!”

Being a successful runner requires more than just miles. Supplemental activities are crucial to developing all aspects of the body. Casey lifts weights and trains his core to keep his training fresh and interesting.

“My other supplement to running is chasing, and carrying, my kids around. I have 4 kids ranging in age from 5 months old to 6½ years old, and they never seem to tire!”

His kids also act as motivators to help him get up and out the door.

“I want to be a good role model and teach them to stick to something they started (like a training plan) and that getting exercise is fun.”

On those hard days, where he needs a little extra motivation, audiobooks on his Jaybirds tend to do the trick. He listens to these on easier, longer runs, and switches over to upbeat music when doing harder, more intense workouts.

To really enjoy running, you have to make it your own. Casey’s advice to his younger self is to trust the training, and take the easy days easy. Finding the balance between pushing your limits and recovery is a difficult challenge, but attainable through practice and perseverance. At the end of the day, in running you “get out of it what you put into it.”

Now for our Speed Round:

  • Favorite food: Pizza
  • Dream running buddies: Kara Goucher, Meb Keflezighi, and Shalane Flanagan
  • Spirit dog: British Labrador
  • Favorite TV show growing up: MacGyver
  • Biggest inspiration: His wife

Make sure to join the Rock & Run challenge to win a pair of Jaybird Run Buds, and connect with Casey on Instagram.


Ben Weingart

About the author:
Ben Weingart

Boston based runner, photographer, & burrito connoisseur. Follow and connect on instagram @benjaminweingart


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