Runner’s Tribe interview with Alexi Pappas – The multifaceted high achiever – filmmaker, poet, actress and Olympian.
Where are you currently at with your training and what projects have you got going on?
I am currently preparing for a half-marathon and eventual marathon debut! I have many creative projects in the works, and the one I’m most excited about is my brand new Vlog on YouTube!!! For running wisdom and fun slices of my life, come check it out: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ3lrwGbN0z1QGMdmz1RNxA
Can you outline one of your most testing track sessions?
8×1000 meters on the track at 7,000 ft before going to Rio– I had to take my watch off and just get through the laps!!!!!!
So it’s set in stone, you will transition to the marathon in the future?
Yes, that’s in the works — but first, I’ve got to tackle the half!
You’ve totally debunked the old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.” How have you managed to excel at such a range of elite and finite endeavours?
I believe that balance is the key to my success as a runner, writer, and filmmaker — it’s taken some time, but now it feels like each pursuit enhances the other. When I’m out running, I’m excited to be thinking about my writing — and after a few hours of writing, I’m ready to get back out on the trails!
When did you start writing poetry? Who are some of your favorite poets and authors?
I started writing poetry in college — it was frustrating at first, but then I learned to just sit and *write*, even if I didn’t like what I was writing at first. I remember the first poem I actually liked came after a full day of writing and several dozen pages of throwaway rough drafts! My favorite poets are the New York Poets, though I just discovered Rupi Kaur and I love her too!
writing this book was extremely difficult for my spirit. i’ve never faced more self doubt than i have over these past two years. so to sit here now and read all your words of support helps transform how i see myself and my work. your kindness has brought in some radical self love. thank you. since i opened up to the craft of writing and i first took the stage to perform in 2009 i’ve always gone out of my way to work really hard and strive to make my vision come to life. but no one makes it happen on their own. since day 1 my family and best friends have always taught me to speak up and speak clearly. the activists and teachers that i did community work with helped build the ideals i stand by today. my team holds me down on tour. at the office. in spirit. 365 days a year. my agent and the publishers who trust my vision no matter how ridiculous it may sound have such a big part to play. and you all. your love of the art gives me the strength to continue to write and share through the most difficult times. someone once told me “the centre of the wheel spins because of all its surrounding parts” and it’s true. this journey is possible because it goes beyond me. the wheel turns with support. this has become a movement because we are standing together. and i am just deeply thankful for all of it.
Do you listen to music pre-race and if so what’s on the playlist?
Music is absolutely a key component to my pre-race ritual. I tend to become obsessed with songs on a monthly basis, but one pre-race song that will always be close to my heart is “Reptilia” by The Strokes. My dad and I listened to that one countless times throughout high school.
How amazing was the Rio experience and representing Greece?
Rio was life changing! It was like meeting a role model that I’ve looked up to for my whole life and dreamed about meeting, and then finally the day came! Representing Greece made me so proud and honoured– Greece has such deep history in running and the Olympics, so it was amazing to add to that tradition.
What’s next on the cards regarding your filmmaking after the success of Tracktown?
There are some very exciting projects in the works, but nothing I can reveal just yet — for now, check out my vlog on YouTube!! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ3lrwGbN0z1QGMdmz1RNxA
Who have been some of your biggest influences in your running career?
Deena Kastor, Mark Coogan, Ian Dobson, Maurica Powell, and my dad.
Can you talk us through a pivotal race over your career which you have learned the most from?
I learned so much from my race in Rio. It was a race where I knew big things could happen! And big things did (a world record was broken!). I learned how to run my own best race among other people running their own best races. I learned how to stay calm when I got lapped! I knew I was running my own lifetime best. I learned that keeping confidence and running my own race is always the best plan.
If you could have a coffee/chat and pick the brain of any famous public figure living or not, who would it be?
I would have a coffee and chat with Lena Dunham. She’s a fantastic writer. I admire her!
What advice can you offer young up and coming runners who would love to become professionals one day?
What advice can you offer young up and coming filmmakers who would love to become professionals one day?
My answer to both of these questions is the same: 1) Write down your goals so that when you get them, you know you were brave enough to want them. 2) Remember, nerves mean you care. 3) Don’t be afraid to be brave.