An Interview with Aaron Yoder, the World’s Fastest (backwards!) Runner

Aaron Yoder is one fast dude. He holds the world record for the backward mile – formally known as “retro running” – at 5 minutes and 54 seconds. That’s faster than 99% of athletes can run a forward mile! Aaron also holds two additional Guinness World Records: the 1,000-meter and 200-meter retro dash, and he’s the Head Track and Cross Country coach at Bethany College.

We’re super excited to share more about Aaron’s journey, as well as how he’s incorporating cocoa flavanols into his daily routine. You can see Aaron do his thing here (he’s already got nearly 2 million views!). 

1. How did you discover backwards running as a competitive sport? 

My initial experience with backwards running came as a kid. I trained on a cheap treadmill and found that it didn’t go fast enough, so I started running backwards to get a harder workout. I didn’t get into competitive retro running until my early twenties, when doctors advised me to stop running due to a severe knee injury and arthritis. This was distressing and scary! At the time, I was in training for the Olympic trials, and running was a huge part of my identity. Fortunately, the doctors didn’t say I couldn’t run backwards! Backwards running was actually therapeutic. It allowed me to train hard without causing joint damage. When I learned retro running had become a competitive sport, I registered for the 2016 world championships in Germany. The rest is history…

2. Tell us about your experience in breaking the retro mile world record.

I had actually only been training exclusively for retro running for a couple of months, and it was my first time running the full mile on the track. It was even more interesting because it was just me and a videographer riding his bike behind me. The run itself was a bit nerve-wracking and kind of painful – especially the final 400 meters! But breaking the mile world record, crossing the finish line in 5:54, was surreal! The first person I called was my dad, then my mom and brothers. I like to say the records and world titles belong to my family, coaches, teachers and friends because they make it possible.

3. What inspired you to become a running coach?

Great coaches in Peabody and Hillsboro, Kansas, including my parents, have meant so much to me as both an athlete and person! They truly inspired me. Now I love working with student athletes, and I take pride in helping them achieve their potential on and off the track. I’m currently going into my 10th year as Head Track and Cross Country coach at Bethany College!

4. What is your philosophy on nutrition as it pertains to health and performance?

I believe diet and nutrition separate the good from the great. It really boils down to discipline and consistency. Everyone needs something a little different, but natural foods are key. For me, I use an all-natural, anti-inflammatory diet that is high in fat. It helps keep my arthritis at bay. The diet includes lots of green leafy vegetables and lean farm-raised meat that comes directly from our family farm. Healthy eating powers me through long and demanding days as both a coach and an athlete. It also serves as the best way to recover for my next workout.

5 Tell us about your experience with cocoa flavanols. How do you like to #havaflava?

I personally eat little sugar but one thing I really enjoy is dark chocolate. I have consistently had dark chocolate in my training diet for over a decade. When I discovered FlavaNaturals I was very excited. The chocolate tastes much better that what I usually ate! It comes in unique and delicious flavors, and is naturally loaded with cocoa flavanol super nutrients. I like to start my day with FlavaMix cocoa powder in my coffee before a workout, followed sometimes by a chocolate bar after dinner. I am a huge fan! I really feel FlavaNaturals products support my performance, endurance and mental acuity.