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5 Questions With Kara Goucher

She made a serious comeback in 2015, priming her for a serious go at the 2016 Olympics.

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If it’s mile 24 and there’s still four of you in contention for a spot on the team, what’s your move?

In 2012, Kara Goucher stood tall next to the Shalane Flanagan and Desi Linden as the third-place finisher at the Olympic Trials Marathon. Since then, Goucher has changed sponsors—from Nike to Oiselle and Skechers—returned to Colorado, battled off and on with injuries and returning from surgery, spoken out against the injustices of the sport and remained the face of honest determination among her fans. She came back in a big way in 2015, winning the Big Sur Half and Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half in November and December, with a course lined with screaming fans holding signs saying, “Goucher Is No Sloucher.” She will return to the trials next month not with the fastest qualifying time, but with one of the top personal bests in the marathon—and a well-earned target on her back. We threw some questions at her:

Women’s Runinng: How much do the various events of 2015, from speaking out again injustices to running some great races, fuel your fire to make that next Olympic team in LA?
Kara Goucher: It adds to my desire to make the team. I want people to know that I won’t back down and still continue to compete at the highest level of sport, and that I will keep fighting to make the sport clean and just.

Related: 5 Questions With Alana Hadley

WR: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you during one of your training runs?
KG: Oh my gosh, when you run as much as I do there is always something. Last Friday I got bit by a dog on my afternoon run and still bear a bruise. But probably the craziest thing was when I was running in San Moritz on the trails. I was running through thick trees and all of a sudden I come to an open field and there are a half-dozen men playing Alpenhorns. I couldn’t believe it and for a while and thought I was hallucinating, but Adam saw it on his run as well.

WR:  If you could have one song stuck in your head for the entire 26.2 miles, what would it be?
KG: I constantly have songs stuck in my head.  Lately it’s been “Good to Be Alive” by Andy Grammar. I’ve had some really annoying ones, like the Thomas the Train theme song, so Good to Be Alive is pretty good.

Related: 5 Questions With Deena Kastor

WR: How has Lottie from Running On Veggies cooking meals for you helped your training from a nutrition standpoint, and how important is your food to your overall training?
KG: Having Lottie here has been amazing. For one thing, I’m able to devote more time to training. Instead of going to the grocery store, I take a nap and instead of running in from my second run to make dinner, I take the time to stretch. We’ve played around with a lot of meals and I have learned what types of food make me feel more primed for a long workout and what helps me recover faster. In general, I’ve learned that for me, eating as plant based as possible with lots of fish makes me feel strong, energized, and happy.

WR: What’s your best advice for someone tackling their very first marathon in LA on Feb. 14?
KG: Be conservative. The marathon is a long way. You will hurt and you will have doubts, but you will be able to keep moving forward. And get ready for the experience of a lifetime. You will never look at yourself the same after you finish. You will learn you are stronger than you ever realized.