Skip to content (Press Enter)

Diego Estrada on Running Together, Acceptance and Citizenship

Professional runner Diego Estrada runs on a path

“Running is one of the purest sports. You don’t have to be anyone or anything specific to do it,” says Diego Estrada, an ASICS marathon runner.

For Estrada, who’s been committed to the sport since he was a child, running fosters a sense of belonging, something that hasn’t always been easy for him.

Estrada was only 13 months old when his mother carried him across the US-Mexico border in search of a better life for their family. Once they arrived, Estrada's parents struggled to make ends meet with long hours at low paying jobs. But they kept at it.

“My parents wanted us to have a better life,” says Estrada. And for him, running was a huge part of that.

“It brings together all genders and all races,” he says, “When we go for a run, we forget about all of the things going on in the world, and we just run together. I’ve met so many of my closest friends this way.”

Professional runner Diego Estrada running on a trail

And yet, running also brought heartbreak. It was 2012 and Estrada was running track for the University of Northern Arizona when his home country, Mexico, reached out to see if he would run the 10,000 meters for their team at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. For most athletes, it's a dream come true. But Estrada wasn’t so sure.

“All I wanted to do was run in the US Trials, but I knew it would be nearly impossible for me to make the US team,” he says. “I mean, I was barely cracking the top squad of my group.”

In the end, he actually ran the US qualifying standard, which he wasn’t sure he could reach. To complicate matters even more, though, there was confusion about his USATF eligibility, which prevented him from the chance to qualify for the US team.

He weighed his options. What if he could never run again? What if this was his only chance to compete on the world stage? At long last, he said yes.

“It all happened so fast,” he says. When he got to Mexico, his welcome was less than enthusiastic. People asked him if he even spoke Spanish, if he knew anything about Mexico.

“My experience at the Olympics was more emotional rollercoaster. I felt like a traitor to the country that gave me everything and I felt little pride about representing my country of birth,” he says. “I felt like I was doing wrong for both sides.”

Professional runner Diego Estrada poses for a photo

When he crossed the line, Estrada says he just wanted the whole thing to be over. And, he decided then and there that he would do everything he could to land a spot on the US team.

“It’s hard. I say I am a Mexican-American,” says Estrada. “I was born there, but all I know is living here. So I am an American.”

Estrada missed his spot at the 2020 trials race in Atlanta. But he isn’t done yet.

“He has shown that there is no substitute for hard work,” says Ben Cesar of ASICS. “We are thrilled to be a part of his journey and will cheer him on this year and beyond.”

That’s the thing: It is a journey. Being committed to something doesn’t always mean the outcome will go as planned. That you’ll make the team or even cross the line in your goal time (or sometimes at all). Estrada knows this, and he pushes anyway.

“If you want to be good, you have to dissect yourself as an athlete,” he says. “Put it out into the open that maybe you’re not the athlete that you thought you were, that you’re something different and that you can always, always improve.”

As long as you stay committed.

Shop Estrada's Favorite Gear

Professional runner Diego Estrada wears the ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite running shoes

ASICS GEL-NIMBUS LITE

“I love training in the Nimbus Gel-Lite because it’s the most cushioned and lightest shoe I’ve ever worn," says Estrada. "They make my daily runs more enjoyable. My legs feel fresh thanks to the amazing energy return I get from them.” What's more, they're made with sustainable materials.

LEARN MORE
Professional runner Diego Estrada holds a Maurten Gel 100 packet

MAURTEN

"I don't touch anything else but Maurten and water," says Estrada. "In a marathon my stomach is always my biggest struggle. But when I'm taking Maurten I never have stomach issues."

SHOP MAURTEN GEL AND DRINK MIX

By Ashley Arnold. Ashley has been running competitively since 2000. She went from winning the high school 300m hurdle state championship as a sophomore in 2002 to breaking the tape at the Leadville Trail 100 in 2013. Now, her full time role is managing content as the Senior Content Marketing Manger at Fleet Feet.