Phil Torres on What Makes Him Move
Conservationist, Entomologist, TV Host, Photographer, RUNNER.
Phil Torres is a scientist, educator and adventurer whose research and reporting has brought him into some of the most diverse natural landscapes across the world including Mongolia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Sweden, and the Arctic.
His travels are intense — carrying gear while walking for entire days through lush rainforest — and running is a major tool in helping him prepare physically and mentally for his expeditions. At home in New York, Torres listens to a mix of instrumental and soulful tunes for runs across the Williamsburg Bridge alongside his fiancé or solo on his way to the boxing gym.
Bose caught up with Torres before his latest journey to Mexico City to learn more about his running philosophy and how music fuels his workouts and his brilliant mind.
Phil’s Running Playlist
This playlist has a mix of more ethereal sounding songs and others with romantic/soulful melodies. I grew up singing and playing guitar, so I like something I can sing along to in my head but I also like the more instrumental music that bring out the daydreams in me and distract me from being too aware of getting tired or needing to slow down. I’m really big on Odezsa and Daniel Caesar right now.
Favorite Running Routes:
The Ramble in Prospect Park (NYC)
My other favorite route is in Central Park, starting at around the Plaza Hotel and running up to the area known as The Ramble, which has a lot more wildlife and bird feeders that attract some really spectacular native birds. It’s nice to run around feeling a little lost in the woods while in one of the biggest cities in the world, and Central Park can deliver on that.
Start at Nolita and run across the Williamsburg Bridge (NYC)
I start in Williamsburg and run across the Williamsburg Bridge in the Nolita neighborhood. It’s just over two miles there, two miles back, and something about running over a bridge in NYC always makes me feel like I’m in a movie or something, it still feels surreal living here after only two years. Nolita is also my favorite neighborhood for cafes and healthy options, so if I want a quick snack before turning around for the two miles back I have plenty of options.
Running to me started as the necessary evil of working out, so I had to try for years to find a way that made it more of an experience than a “just doing this to burn calories.” Music and environment were a big influence in getting me to love running. I now treat it as my visualization time- I get into a rhythm, put on some music that gets my brain moving as steadily as my legs, and let my mind wander as I keep up a good pace. I learned this from my fiance, who is also my workout partner. We’ll have times that we talk when running but other times we put on music and just keep on going.
On How I Use Music:
I use music and running to warm up, get my body and brain to associate working out with good tunes and good feelings. I always run before my other workouts, whether that is lifting weights or the boxing gym. I used to listen to more pump up music that most people would associate with working out, but as I hit 30 years old I realized I don’t need to keep that crazy fast pace anymore to feel healthy and get a good workout, and my music has taken a more chill turn during my workout.
On Travel and Running:
Travel and workout is always a nice idea in theory, but harder to pull off. I always make sure I go on a good 1–2 mile walk in whatever city I am to just get a sense of the place, but my work usually involves long hours on my feet or carrying gear which is workout enough. But on less active travel jobs, I get at least one good run in to relieve stress and get some time in to process.
When I Use Music:
I’m kind of weird with a strict rule that when I run in a city/neighborhood I’ll use headphones and listen to music, but when I run in nature I let the wild be my soundtrack. After working in the rainforest for several years, I learned that what you hear in nature can be just as important as what you see and can lead to some exciting wildlife encounters. I love trying to figure out what bird call I just heard or what creature is rummaging around in the bushes over there… so yeah, a lot of my runs in nature have quite a few stops in them as I dig around to see what I can find.
I grew up wandering, biking, and running around the fields and forests near my home in Colorado and used my exercise as a way to get outside to my favorite wild spots to find something new and be stimulated by nature. I still regularly run to a particular location (like The Ramble area in Central Park) and then take it down to a quick walk as I see what wildlife I can find, then run back.
My expeditions are usually pretty physically demanding, carrying gear and hiking for miles in rough terrain. I like to get into extra good running shape before a big one, it helps me get out the excited energy leading up to a trip and helps me make sure being tired is off the list of excuses for missing a shot.