Matt Muller is a native of southeast Louisiana and has lived in New Orleans for most of his life. He attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where he earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in history.
After graduation, he moved right into the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans, where he still resides today. Matt began his career in museum work, where he specialized in curating, event hosting, and docent training. He eventually worked his way up to manager, only to realize that he ultimately belonged in the classroom teaching. He fondly remembers his days of museum service, but now happily works as an educator where he has the opportunity to teach and participate in a way that he believes is more meaningful to his skill set.
As a side gig, Matt is also a licensed tour guide and owner of The History Dude tours in New Orleans. His vast knowledge of the local history combined with his effective communication social skills have developed into a fun and worthwhile experiment that he hopes to continue well into the future.
When Mr. Muller isn’t teaching, running, touring, or preserving historical relics, he loves to spend his time with his wife, Katie. They have been together for 14 years and married for 4 of them. They are partners in crime and hopelessly dedicated to one another in the most loving and hilarious of ways. They’re dog, Kodak, is pretty cool, too.
What is your hobby?
While I like to entertain myself with a large array of activities, I would have to say that running, in all of its many forms, would be my favorite. It may seem monotonous at a cursory glance, but it is arguably one of the most complex and difficult physical activities one can embark upon. It can boost your stamina, increase metabolism, strengthen the immune system, promote mental clarity, develop self confidence, and create an overall sense of well being. It’s the ultimate package deal.
How did you get started with this hobby?
I noticed in college that I had gotten a bit lazy and out of shape. I’m not one to let problems linger, so I specifically set out to start running simply as a means of getting healthier, and nothing more. It existed only as a means to an end at first. It wasn’t easy or especially enjoyable, but I began to develop a serious passion for it once I understood the fundamentals, mechanics, and science of it all.
Tell us what you love about your hobby.
Not to be trite or cliche, but everything. It’s so much more than just an exercise. Running contains so many multifaceted aspects to it, that it’s truly difficult to list them all. It’s a mental game that requires honest focus and a decent amount of forethought. Planning and executing require a combination of physical and mental commitment.
Interestingly, it can also create so many meaningful social opportunities. These only grow exponentially over time. Between run clubs, races, and the occasional large scale social fun run, you’d be amazed at how many eclectic people you meet. Some of my best friends that I know have come directly from my involvement in running.
Another favorite aspect of running comes in the form of the biological and historical links. We, as a human species, literally evolved to run. Our ancestors ran, for many reasons, with the same mechanics and momentum that we do today. Some running experts have gone as far as saying that running is our “biological destiny.” When taking that into mind, especially while on a run, it really brings in a heavy dose of context, history, and respect to the sport. I must reiterate, that it’s so much more than just running.
What types of things/equipment have you spent money on for your hobby?
That’s the beauty of running. Despite its complexities, it proved incredibly easy to jump into and maintain because of the low equipment requirement. Some people like to add all the bells and whistles with GPS watches, headlamps, earpods, etc., and that’s great if that works for them. For me, however, I just need shorts, socks, and shoes. I don’t listen to music, and I don’t particularly like carrying gadgets around. Being present and simply running is all I need.
What are some of your favorite places to shop for your hobby?
At first, I tended to shop online for convenience and price advantage. Over time, though, I came to appreciate the fantastic experience of shopping and supporting local run stores. Louisiana Running Company in New Orleans exemplifies this ideal model, for me at least. They have great products, thoroughly knowledgeable staff, and incredible customer service. Once you begin to develop a rapport with a wonderful local business, it’s extremely difficult to shop any other way.
How much money have you invested into this? How much would a beginner have to invest to get started?
It’s hard to say how much money I’ve invested over the years, especially since I’ve been at it for over a decade now. That being said, a beginner should only focus on a decent pair of shoes ($150), a good couple sets of running socks ($20), and a comfortable pair of moisture wicking shorts and shirt ($50). All in all, it’s a relatively low buy in point, especially when you consider the wide ranging benefits that you will receive almost immediately after starting.
Think about it. You can get in the best shape of your life, meet amazing people, develop mental toughness, and build strong tenets of self respect, all for just over $200 and some uncomfortable sweating. It’s an incredible deal when you frame it economically.
Are there any good books for beginners?
The Science of Running by Steve Magness is a solid source for understanding the mechanics and intricacies of the body, which in turn will help you better prevent injury and maximize your benefits and gains.
Aside from that, I would highly recommend to buy a book, any book, that offers a foundation in proper stretching technique. Stretching can be the single most important thing about running aside from the running itself. Like running, stretching may not be easy or fun at first, but it certainly pays off in more ways than one.
Are there any online videos you recommend to help beginners?
There are many on a quick Google search. But I can say it has really changed my life. I have so many ways to answer this. The obvious response is that it has allowed me to not only get in shape, but to be physically fit, even well into my 30’s. More than this, though, it has built up my self confidence, especially on a social and mental level. Once you overcome serious physical obstacles like a 10 or even 20 mile run, activities like social interactions, meeting new people, networking, and holding your head high become more natural and fluid. It is the physical and mental fitness that creates the self confidence, which only reciprocates upon itself and allows you to continue to grow as you encounter new obstacles and barriers.
Just as fun, running gives you an opportunity to jump into other recreational activities. Almost every competitive sport requires speed and stamina in the form of running. This simple foundation has allowed me to successfully participate in a wide range of physical activities like ultimate frisbee, basketball, soccer, etc. The joy and victory that I find in running seamlessly translates into other sports, which only offers unique challenges, skill development opportunities, and new social interactions. Running simply opens so many doors for the individual.
What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?
Don’t quit. It’s that simple. Running, like anything and everything else, requires practice. If one has a desire to be good, or even great, at something, they must simply practice. You won’t be great at it at first. Heck, you might not even like it. But give it a chance. Give it an honest chance. You’ll begin to appreciate and notice the subtle positive effects. These will only grow over time with, of course, more practice. Just keep at it. No matter how bad you may think you are, you’re lightyears ahead of everyone else sitting at home on the couch.
Also, find a running partner or, even better, a local running club. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t good at first. Runners are an incredibly welcoming and inclusive bunch. They’ll be glad to have a newcomer on board. Plus, the social camaraderie and encouragement offered by running socially only further boosts your confidence when you are just a novice starting out.