Culture

A Chat with Kara Goucher: Strava Partnership and a Return to Racing

Goucher is now sharing her training on Strava and gearing up for RnR Philadelphia.

Photo courtesy of Oiselle
Photo courtesy of Oiselle

Last week was a whirlwind for professional runner and Olympian Kara Goucher. She announced that she will be returning to the New York City Marathon on Nov. 2 (Goucher holds the American course record there). She strutted down the runway at her apparel sponsor Oiselle’s fashion show. And she broke the news of a new partnership with Strava, an online social community where athletes track and share their fitness activities (follow her training leading up to the NYC Marathon at strava.com/pros/karagoucher). We caught up with Goucher to learn more about Strava and to chat about upcoming races.

Last week you announced your partnership with Strava. What made you excited to work with them?

When I first started using [Strava], I was running on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill]. I would just manually enter a run so I didn’t really get it. Then my husband started using [Strava]. He was like “Oh my God, Kara, you’re going to love this. It maps out all your runs and you can compete against other people.” When I finally got healed and started running outside, I actually started uploading real runs and not just 5 miles on the AlterG. Then I became totally addicted to it. I just love it. I like how people interact with each other and cheer each other on. I love the kudos button. I love seeing courses mapped out and being able to compare myself to other people in the area. I ran on the West Side Highway in New York City last Tuesday. I did a workout there. And of course that was already mapped out by other people.

Strava seems like a really positive website for training as well. Did that factor into your decision?

It is so positive. I try to put up a couple workouts a week on there and the feedback is so great. And this was even before I announced my partnership. It’s interesting to see what other people are doing. It’s fun to see that other people I know are human. They have their days where they jog, and they have their days where they really hammer, but it is nice to see the variety. It’s like a sneak peak into other people’s training logs, which I think is really fascinating.

Are you going to share every run on Strava or just select workouts?

When I do tempo runs or fartleks or long runs, I put that up on Strava. People can see variety in my training. Sometimes I run faster, sometimes I run slower. It depends on the elevation I’m at or how tired I am. Like this Sunday I backed off quite a bit because I was still tired from the week.

The partnership seems like a natural extension of your social media presence, where you’ve been really open and communicative with fellow runners.

I think it’s just fun. It’s like the Twitter for athletes. You get to see what people are doing. I love that people are positive and they give little shout-outs or comment, “Great job.” I really have fallen in love with the site and the whole concept. It’s just been fun to interact with people. I think it could help so many people. You can find different places to run and meet other people that way. It is such a great positive site for running and it’s important. We need places like that.

Shifting gears, are you excited about Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly this weekend?

I am. I am officially starting to get nervous. I’m so excited, but I was going over logistics with my coach and I was like, “Oh this is getting real.” It’s been a long time since I’ve raced and of course this is what I want. I miss it terribly. It’s just a mixture of excitement and nerves. My husband raced there in 2011. Everyone that I’ve talked to said it’s a really fun course. So I’m excited. The first one when you’ve been out for a while is always so scary. It’s kind of like a Band-Aid. You just have to rip it off. You have to get out there and just do it.

So after RnR Philly, is it straight on to New York after that?

Yeah. So I think I’ll be able to bank 3 ½ more big weeks and then it will be time to taper for 10 to 12 days before the race. So I’ll come back and hit a few more big weeks and then it will be marathon time, which is crazy too.

What made you decide to run New York out of other possible fall marathons?

It was where my first marathon was. I had never even run 26.2 miles before New York so I’ve always wanted to go back as an accomplished marathoner. But also I just felt like I missed some time. I had a sacral stress fracture this spring. I felt like I necessarily wasn’t going to be as fast as my competitors but I could still be tough and I can still be gritty. I feel like New York favors a runner who has more of that strength. I have been able to do a lot of strength stuff and hill running so I felt like New York was a good fit. I love the atmosphere. It’s electric. You come down off the Queensboro Bridge and it’s like a wall of noise. It’s so intense. That’s one of those things that is really cool about it. You have those points in the race where you have your doubts, and you realize how tired you are, but it is one of the best places in the world to race for that because you can just draw from the crowd.

You’re also part of a strong American contingent going into the race.

We have so many people. I know I’ve gotten a lot of attention but Deena [Kastor] has been running great and Desi [Linden] obviously ran 2:23 at Boston this year. There is a good chance that we have a lot of American women in the top 10 or 8.

With Oiselle, Strava and your other sponsors, do you feel you are involved in partnerships that empower runners and women?

It’s so positive. It’s great we got to this point and it’s kind of our job to continue this on. Running can empower so many of us. And we can get so much further as women. Every time a woman is able to go further in her job or her career or in her life, it only empowers the rest of us. Now that we have gotten to that point, it’s time to keep going.