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Here’s the Wild Idea

Brendan’s Wild Idea: To make a living creating stories about adventure and the human experience through books, film and art.

Brendan Leonard is the creator of Semi-Rad, a blog he started in 2011. He’s also an author, adventurer, illustrator, filmmaker, ultra-marathoner, and an all-around interesting guy. Most of his work showcases the joy that comes from adventures done by the everyman and woman, not just for the experts and pros, but people like you and I who like to hit the trails and mountains too!

You may recognize Brendan from the movie he just made with REI called How to Run 100 Miles, which is not only about his journey to train for and run an ultra-marathon with his close friend, but it’s about so much more. He’s also a contributor to sites like Dirtbag Diaries and The Adventure Journal, and the author of three books including a memoir about how he overcame addiction. Over the last year, he has built a large following, from his hilarious Seinfeld-esque illustration on his Semi_Rad Instagram account that documents the daily choices we make in the outdoors and as adults.

This episode is full of gems and wisdom from a guy making it happen in a major way. Brendan has a great sense of humor, and is not afraid to laugh at himself, a trait I find incredibly admirable. Enjoy!

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You’ve ever run a long race (have any desire to run one).
  • You want to work for yourself.
  • You want to get paid to do art without being a pro.
  • You love being outside.
  • You’re an adventurer or you like to laugh.

Key Takeaways

  • 2:00 – Why Brendan would never make another movie and train for an ultra-marathon at the same.

  • 6:20 – How many miles Brendan ran to actually train for the ultra-marathon.

  • 6:50 – How to train for an ultra-marathon.

  • 8:20 – What lured Brendan to the outdoors.

  • 10:00 – Brendan’s struggle with addiction and how he overcame it.

  • 14:45 – Semi-Rad, Brendan’s blog and Instagram.

  • 16:45 – How Brendan started illustrating professionally.

  • 20:30 – Why Brendan named his blog Semi-Rad.

  • 23:30 – How Brendan got into writing and decided to self-publish on the blog.

  • 27:30 – Brendan’s approach to writing involves a lot of doing.

  • 28:30 – Why you have to go do things to have stories to tell.

  • 33:10 – Brendan worked at REI out of grad school.

  • 35:15 – Why Brendan loves camping.

  • 37:00 – What gear Brendan always takes camping.

  • 37:55 – Why Brendan take his iPhone camping.

  • 43:30 – What 15-year-olds should know. 

  • 48:00 – Why van life may not be as glamorous as social media makes it out to be.

  • 49:20 – Why following your passion is more work and takes more time than you think.

Brendan’s Movie How to Run 100 Miles, Presented by REI

Connect with Brendan



The Great Outdoors: A User’s Guide
Best Served Wild
Sixteen Years to Anywhere
The New American Road Trip Mix Tape


Hello Happiness Card Co.
Ellis Rosen
Jake Likes Onions
Big City Mountaineers
The Dirtbag Diaries
The Adventure Journal
Episode with Steve Casimiro
Cabin Porn



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