Humans of HOKA: Jonathan Throne

Jonathan Throne runs on a trail.

Jonathan Throne is an avid trail runner and ultramarathoner from Sacramento, CA. After completing his first marathon, he worked his way up in distance and found his niche in ultra trail running. He most recently finished the Rio Del Lago 100-mile race.

After struggling with a genetic disorder for two years, Throne eventually needed colon surgery. It took him a year to recover. Today, Throne works hard to stay healthy while he trains for trail races with the Fleet Feet Sacramento running community.

We sat down with Throne to discuss his health, his running journey and his love for the trails.

FF: You’ve been through major health struggles in your life. What were they and what happened?

JT: I didn't know what was wrong at first but I felt lethargic and slow. I was having issues with digestion and stuff like that. My mom got really sick too, and the doctors said she had a genetic disorder that causes cancer in your colon. I had similar symptoms and my test came back positive.

I ended up having a two part surgery where they remove parts of the colon and, after healing, they reverse some of the surgery. My body didn't take the surgery well, mentally or physically. I pretty much withered away. I went from being really active to not being able to walk around the block. I had a choice to live or a choice to let go. Finally, I pushed through. It was very hard but I didn't want to give up.

Afterwards, I had a lot of body image issues. I got to a point where I became very sedentary and I didn’t like how I looked so I would hide myself. I ballooned up in weight. I stopped eating healthily and being active and ended up developing a non-alcoholic fatty liver disorder. Then, I started going to the gym. I just wanted to get back to where I was. I never wanted to see myself like that again.

I still have nutritional issues and deficiencies. It's kind of a handicap when I go out and do these ultras. During races, I have to take in more nutrition and worry about fiber because I don’t have a colon. I can't absorb water and retain nutrients. I have to eat more fiber and salt. That was a big hurdle I had to go over and I'm still working with it. I'm going to be doing some blog posts on my own about how I’m doing it.

A close up of Jonathan Throne

FF: In the video, you spoke about your first experience with trail running. What was that like, and do you have any advice you would give to first timers?

JT: On my first trail run I was totally inexperienced. It was interesting because I was so focused on not falling over that I wasn’t even looking up at stuff. Now, I can plan ahead where I want to go and plan my foot strike but I can also look around and enjoy the scenery.

As for advice, I would definitely say get used to the groups and ask some local runners. You can make your own route and make your own fun. It's not like road running where you have to stick to the pavement. There's all these different variabilities in trail running, there’s so much more that you can add on.

Running should be fun. If it's not fun, don't do it. You don't need anything special to run, you just need a pair of shoes and the willingness to go out there and run.

Jonathan Throne runs through a trail.

FF: What role has the running community played in your journey?

JT: I’ve only been trail running for a while but the community is so great. We’re a bunch of misfits out there enjoying each other's company, suffering together and enjoying nature. We're all out there suffering for different reasons and seeing each other out the other side.

I'm not a professional elite runner, I'm not fast and I’m not experienced but I feel like the community is always accepting. The trail runners are the friendliest people I've ever met. You wave at each other and sometimes recognize each other on runs. I've never seen such a dedicated group of runners suffering together.

FF: You mention at the end of the video that running is a keystone in your life. What does that mean to you?

JT: Running has helped me understand my place in the universe and in life. Everyone is uncertain in life, you just work and sit at home. And you get all these anxieties and worries. When I’m running, I don't have to think about anything but running.

You become so small while trail running in nature, you're almost like a drop of water. It makes me feel how small we are and it makes me feel like my primitive self. Life has ups and downs but as long as you stay the course you'll see yourself through and not have any regrets.

Keep Reading