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Olympic marathoner Kara Goucher is no stranger to the balancing act many women manage on a daily basis. As a mother (to 2-year-old Colt), wife, friend and full-time professional athlete, Goucher prioritizes her commitments to achieve success and happiness. When Women’s Running recently caught up with Goucher, she opened up about becoming a mom, being married to a former Olympian, and how she really feels about running rival Shalane Flanagan.
MOTHERHOOD AND MARRIAGE
Women’s Running: How far into your pregnancy did you run?
Kara Goucher: I ran throughout my entire pregnancy. Even the day that I went into labor, I ran for 50 minutes and lifted weights that day. I loved running when I was pregnant because it was the first time I didn’t care about my pace or time. I actually looked up and saw things that I never see because my head is always down and I’m in the zone.
WR: How would you compare the pain of childbirth to the final miles of a marathon?
KG: The pain of childbirth is hard because you just don’t know when it’s going to end. For someone like me, who at the end of a marathon is suffering, you still know when it’s going to end. With childbirth, you just don’t know. The unknown was difficult.
WR: How do you manage to get in quality training while dealing with the challenges of having a young child?
KG: My son in general is an amazing sleeper, but of course there are nights where he’s whiny, fussy or doesn’t feel well. There are days when it can test my training, but in general I think Colt has really helped my running. He’s given me perspective on running that at the end of the day it is just running —it’s getting from one point to another as fast as I can.
WR: What do you hope Colt will learn from your running?
KG: I hope that Colt will learn that no dream or goal is too big. I want him to see the passion. Of course it would be fun to have him run, but what I really want for Colt is for him to feel as passionate about something as [my husband] Adam and I have felt about running.
WR: What benefits and challenges do you encounter as a professional athlete who is married to another professional athlete?
KG: He gets it and I get it. It’s a little different because he’s not racing anymore, but he’s an Olympian so he’ll never stop working out. It’s in his blood. He gets [my schedule] and he understands it. He knows [my profession] is a lifestyle. There’s just an understanding there that I don’t think if he would get if he hadn’t been in my shoes.
WR: How would you describe your relationship with fellow Olympic marathon runner Shalane Flanagan?
KG: I haven’t even been running with Shalane for a year [we started training together with coach Jeremy Schumacher in mid-October 2011], but from the beginning she was just really supportive. There was never any animosity or cattiness or weirdness or anything like that. I knew that we would get along because I had met her before and had gone to events with her, so I knew we could be friends but I had no idea just how close we would become. At a recent volunteer day, Shalane told a group of foster kids, “One of her happiest moments as a runner was leading the Olympic marathon with her best friend.” I think that pretty much sums up how we feel about each other. It’s been an awesome ride so far and I look forward to running out my career with her.
WR: What type of music would we find pumping through your headphones?
KG: I’m a complete Top 40 girl. If a song is being overplayed on the radio, it’s probably on my iPod.
WR: What’s your favorite indulgent treat?
KG: I have a horrible sweet tooth. It always kicks in after Colt’s in bed and ends up being cookies or ice cream.
WR: What did you eat for breakfast today?
KG: Starbucks oatmeal, with nuts and fruit for a little crunch, and a coffee.
WR: When you’re not in running clothes, what’s your favorite fashion?
KG: I got really into colored jeans this year. I can’t remember wearing regular jeans anymore! I love bright blue and pink!
WR: What has running taught you about life?
KG: Running has taught me to keep moving forward through the good times and the bad times. There’s always another day, there’s always another race.
WR: What’s next for you and running?
KG: I will be at the New York City Marathon as an ambassador for Nissan’s Innovation for Endurance campaign*. In terms of racing, I will be focusing on preparing for the 2013 Boston Marathon. (Kara will be racing the Boston Marathon along with her training partner Shalane and fellow Olympian Desiree Davila).
WR: As runners prepare for the New York City Marathon coming up next month, what tips would you share?
KG: NYC is a very difficult course. It’s an awesome course that lets you experience the city like you never would in any other way, but it is a tough course. Take [your run] a little conservative in the first half so that when you come back and enter the park you’ll have a little bit of running left in your legs. It’s such an awesome race and the crowds are amazing in NYC. It’s a tremendous experience.
*Nissan’s Innovation for Endurance campaign aims to help athletes take their performance to a whole new level through exclusive daily content that showcases the latest innovations in running, cycling and general fitness. Visit www.facebook.com/InnovationForEndurance for state-of-the-art tips from the Nissan Innovation for Endurance Innovators: Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, elite runners Ryan Hall, Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher; and cycling champion Chris Horner.