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Working Out With Kara Goucher At Mile High Run Club
Hi from jury duty!
I had a mini meltdown leaving Ellie this morning (it’s my first day away from her since the day we brought her home in December) and I’ve already plowed through all of my snacks (it’s 11:41 AM), but so far the day has been easy and productive. They called 60 people into the Important Jury Room and I wasn’t one of them, so me and my chocolate chip scone crumbs are plugging away thanks to the free WiFi!
But I’m not here to talk to you about how I secretly hope I get plucked from the pool of potential jurors and appointed as the newest Supreme Court Justice.
Yesterday I took a class at Mile High Run Club taught by Kara Goucher.
In my 8+ years as a writer, reporter, and editor, I’ve talked to a lot of people. My favorite part of my job is hearing peoples’ life stories (everyone has a story), finding out how they got where they are, and getting to share all that good stuff with the world. I am endlessly fascinated by people and the things they have to say.
So today I’m here to share some stories from Kara Goucher and her life.
After the 45-minute treadmill class — Kara’s first time teaching, and she did great and was sweet and motivating and I wasn’t not going to push myself — we had some time to ask Kara “anything you want,” she insisted. (I asked the first question which was, unsurprisingly, “Tell us about your puppy!!!”)
By now I’m used to the whole, “This celebrity seems so badass and intimidating but OMG I swear she’s soooo real.” It’s the opening paragraph of every cover story in every women’s magazine. But Kara…she’s as real, as down-to-earth, and as cool as they come. She was honest, she was emotional, and she was unbelievably relatable. Like, surprisingly relatable.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “OK, Ali, you and your maxed-out-at-8-minute-miles are totally the same as Kara Goucher, who just placed fourth at the Olympic Marathon Trials.” YEAH, ACTUALLY, WE ARE THE SAME. Here’s a bit of insight from Kara that elevates her cool-girl factor, will make you love her even more, and will prove how much we clearly have in common.
She unexpectedly adopted a rescue puppy with floppy ears. (SAME.)
“My husband and son have wanted a dog for years. I said we could get one after the Olympics. But the other day I asked my husband if he was going to go for a run, and he was like, ‘Let’s go to the Humane Society!’ Apparently he’d been checking the website for puppies and knew they were coming that day. So we go and he immediately gets in line for the puppies. He picks this one puppy and we take her outside for a playdate, and meanwhile I’m like, ignoring her. I’m on my phone, because I don’t want to fall in love with this thing! That’s a lot of work! (YUP.) The next thing I know, Adam was telling them we’d take her home. (YUP!) So she came home with us and Adam [her husband] and Colt [her son] were so excited, and of course she wore me down, too. I’ve already cleaned up way more poop and pee than I’d like (SAME), but she’s amazing. Her name is Freya, after the Nordic Goddess of Love, Beauty, Strength and War. So basically she’s a badass. Our cat, Ellie (SAME, but dog), hates her.”
She knows it’s hard to bounce back after putting your all into something and it not working out.
“That’s not being a Debbie Downer — that’s real life. I did everything I could to be ready for the Olympic Trials, and I was, but unfortunately there were three women better. I don’t have regrets about what happened in L.A. — I did the best I could, but I was fourth and only three get to go to the Olympics. I’m at peace with doing everything I could do, but I’d be lying if I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t care!’ I do care! I’m still crying about it a little bit. You want something so bad and you work so hard for it and it doesn’t happen… The dream of making a third Olympic team has gotten me through a lot in the last year. My coaches asked what’s next, if I want to go for a PR or do the Berlin Marathon or something, but I said no. I want to go to the Olympics. So the answer is clear: I’m throwing myself into the 10K, and I’m trying to make the 10K team.” (Same?)
She has no plans to retire, because she is a badass.
“Everyone asks me when I’m going to retire and I’m like, ‘Wait, what?!’ I love it still. I still feel like I can PR the marathon, and I’d love to run sub-69 in the half again. (SAME.) There’s still so much I want to do, but right now I just want to be on that team and there’s one more opportunity to get there, so I’m focused on that.”
She’s all heart.
“I said to my family before the Trials, if the team were for people wanting to make it, I would win by like 10 minutes.”
She’s a strong role model.
“I’ve never shied away from the fact that I’m a feminist. It feels good to have women in bigger roles in my life. It’s not like I hate men! I love my coach and all the men from the other companies I work with. But there’s a certain understanding between women, and it feels good to be a part of something where women are building each other up instead of always being competitive.”
She’s changing the game by signing with multiple sponsors, including separate apparel (Oiselle) and shoe (Skechers) sponsors.
“I don’t want this to be like, ‘Oh Kara did this thing out of the box.’ I want to be changing things and have it be the norm. It’s so rewarding to have all these companies working together, and I don’t know why it can’t be like that all the time. It would better our sport and give more opportunities for athletes. There are so many things I want to do, change, and shake up. I hope people see that this can work.”
She wants equality. (MAJOR SAME.)
“I care deeply that women are treated the same as men in our sport. I want to see females highlighted the same as men.”
She’s become a major advocate for a clean sport. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Kara.)
“I’m most passionate about clean sport. I’ve always cared about it, but it was a silent caring for a while. Coming out to the public with it last year was the hardest thing I’ve gone through, but it solidified that I care about it so much. If I lose all of my fans I don’t care, if it means I did the right thing for our sport moving forward. I mean, I’d be really sad! But I just care really deeply about it.”
On this front, Kara says there’s more coming out on the topic, and that while she’s in the loop a little bit, she doesn’t get daily updates. She’s “holding out hope that it will come to be,” and said she has “faith that sooner than later, something will come out.”
She loves the freedom of running without data sometimes. (Could we BE any more similar right now?)
“My favorite workout is a fartlek because it eases the stress or anxiety of trying to hit certain paces and certain numbers. I like to mix it up. It gives you relief from the watch and the expectation of goal time. It’s more organic and more fun.”
When the going gets tough, she reminds herself that she’s tougher.
“My mantra is telling myself, ‘You can do anything in this moment.’ A moment isn’t even a second. So when it got hard during training for the Trials, I’d tell myself to just survive one more moment. I got through some really hard workouts that way. Leading up to the race, I had done this three-hour run and then, two days later, I did 10×1 mile at 5:17 pace (SAME) on tired legs. During the race, I kept repeating, ‘5:17, 5:17, 5:17’ over and over to remind myself how strong I was. I like to remind myself of hard times when I got through things. I don’t care how fit you are, you’re going to have a moment where you’re doubting yourself or you’re feeling kinda tired. Everyone has those moments. I like to draw back on things I’ve done and survived.”
She says this training cycle was the happiest she’s ever been.
“Running never felt like a chore. I was excited to work out every day. I felt like things were off my chest, and that made me feel lighter. It made it easier to always make the right choice.”
She’s learned from her injury mistakes! (SAMEish!)
“For 10 years, I would get injured, so I’d do some core stuff to get stronger, but then I’d abandon all of it as soon as I could run again. Now I’m like, ‘No!’ I do my core exercises every single day, even if it’s at 10 PM in my hotel room while everyone’s getting ready for bed. It’s like brushing my teeth. It’s a 20-minute commitment that’s made a huge difference. I’m really focused on doing the right thing.”
After a goal race, she just wants to run for fun. (YUP.)
“I need two weeks where I run for happiness. Even though I really want to focus on the 10K, I need a 2–3-week break where I’m just running for the joy of it.”
She says running is what gave her confidence.
“I was such a shy kid. My father died when I was little, and I wasn’t particularly good at anything. I was always by my mom, and could never picture going away to college or anything like that. I couldn’t even order a pizza—I’d be like, ‘Mom, can you just call?!’ Running made me realize I’m really strong. I felt like a different person when I ran. I didn’t feel like this timid person who was too nervous to talk to anyone and needed my mom to make every decision for me. I was in control of myself, and running did that for me.”
She may be a badass, an inspiration, and one of the most talented women in sports, but she still has feelings. (Edit out the beginning part, then YES, MAJOR SAMESIES. Reading mean comments never feels good.)
“It’s been hard for me. There have always been people who say I’m overrated or that I never win anything. I’ve gotten that a lot throughout my career and OK, whatever. But last year [after speaking out against her former team and coach Alberto Salazar] was the first time I receive hate mail and stuff. It was really hard, and it was even harder seeing my family crying. They were so upset for me, and that made it all seem harder. I’m not gonna say this stuff doesn’t bother me. People lay into me, and my family is always like, ‘Just block them.’ But I don’t even want to give them the power to know I put in the effort to block them. I really try to let positivity into my life because I know I’m not a bad person. But I’d be lying if I was like, ‘Oh I don’t care.’ I do. And there are some days where I’m just like, ‘I’m not strong enough to handle this.’ But there’s way more positive than negative.”
…and she knows to just avoid the negative stuff.
“After the Trials, I did 45 minutes of interviews. In two of those minutes I was asked about my former coach and teammate. I didn’t even remember doing that interview because that’s how insignificant it was to me. I got back to the hotel and didn’t have my phone, and I just took a shower and was back in bed, about to go down to team processing. My little sister comes into my room like, ‘Oh my god, the internet is going crazy over your interview.’ And I’m like, ‘What interview? I was just crying because I got fourth.’ At that moment, I said I will never read anything about the race. I just won’t, because I know no matter what it is, somehow it’ll link me back to a comment or something.”
Hugest hugs and thanks to Kara for spending the afternoon with me and some other happy runners, and thanks to Mile High Run Club for making it happen. Kara, I love you forever. Thank you for the inspiration, the motivation, and for hugging me when I was sweaty. (But it was your fault I was so sweaty anyway, so ha!)