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Girl Talk: Advice for new and seasoned runners from top female athletes

Professional runner Emma Coburn poses for a photo with the American flag

6 pro female runners share inspiring tips

Professional runner Emma Coburn holds an American flag after a race

Emma Coburn holds the American record in the 3000-meter steeplechase. She is also the 2017 steeplechase World Champion.


How do you push yourself to run faster in a race?

Practice discomfort and learn how to push. And you will surprise yourself. How? Start incorporating sprints and intervals into your training so that you really learn how to take it to the next gear. We all have different mind games we play with ourselves. But really, it’s just about practicing discomfort and going for it. When it comes to a workout, always aim to run your last rep the fastest after already running the second half of your workout faster than the first half. It's all about training your body to get better at hurting.

And just remember: it's going to hurt no matter what. Letting off of the gas will just leave you disappointed.

Professional runner Alexi Pappas ties her shoes

Alexi Pappas is a Greek-American long distance runner, filmmaker, actress, and writer. She represented Greece in the 10,000 meters at the 2016 Olympics.


From your experience, what advice would you give other women looking to train at a high level while also working full time jobs?

The best advice I would give is this:

1. Be kind to yourself and know that the body only knows effort. So, a stressful day is just as tough on the body as a long run. Factor your whole life in.

2. Call it "practice" no matter what ... even if you're meeting only yourself! for! a! run! call it practice. set a time to get out the door. By calling it practice, we're more likely to do it. Also, lay out your clothes the night before, because tomorrow starts tonight!

What does it mean to bravely go after your dreams?

I imitate people I look up to until I can look up to myself. I also say out loud and write down my goals. I think it's also important to ask for help and, always be kind to ourselves!

What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had told you when you first started running?

Oooh ... I think ... to know that in training (and life?!), in order to progress, it's normal to feel great 33% of the time, OKAY 33% of the time, and not great 33% of the time. This is how we know we're pushing on our limits, but not going over the top.

Professional runner Molly Huddle carries an American flag after a race

Molly Huddle set the American record in the 10,000 meters at the 2016 Olympics. She ran a time of 30:13.17.


How do you stay motivated to train every day?

There are plenty of days when I don’t feel like training. If it’s due to nasty weather, I put on my iPod (I keep a lot of different playlists to choose from) and stay warm on the treadmill or indoor track. If I’m just feeling tired, I seek a new scenic place I’ve always wanted to run, or call a running buddy (that’s the best advice for the early morning run!). If neither of those options work, I bribe myself with an extra coffee or post-run donut (I have run both from the coffee shop and to the donut shop before). On hard workout days when I feel tired, I think of my competitors for inspiration to push harder because I know they are training hard somewhere.

Professsional runner Gabe Grunewald runs in the snow

Gabrielle Grunewald is an elite middle-distance runner (800 to 5000 meters) who has been diagnosed with cancer twice (2009 and 2011). Against all odds, she continues running.


How do you deal with uncertainty?

I think the best way to deal with short-term and long-term uncertainty is to live as best as you can one day at a time. This is hard because we're programmed from a young age to keep looking years ahead under the assumption we're going to be alive all of those years.

A trail runner smiles for a camera

Gina Lucrezi is an elite trail and ultramarathon runner. She is also the founder of Trail Sisters, a website dedicated to empowering women to explore the outdoors together.


How do you conquer fear and tackle the things you love most?

In life we encounter a lot of things we are scared or intimidated by, but we still push forward. Trail running is no different. I find that running with a friend is the best way to help develop a comfort level with the sport and the all the elements that go along with it. Once you are more confident about your abilities and the trails, you will feel better about doing it solo.

I feel the growth of women’s participation in trail running is important because it adds a piece to larger objective of equal opportunity for women in all aspects of life. Women deserve to enjoy the outdoors just as much as their male counterparts, after all this land was made for you and me. And, one of the best ways to grow participation is through camaraderie.

Elite runner Deena Kastor runs with her daughter

Deena Kastor is an Olympic Medalist and American Record holder in the marathon and half marathon.


How do you maximize rest?

If you are adding miles, or a yoga class or anything else to your already busy schedule, make sure you are also getting more rest. It can be as easy as getting into bed 30 minutes early or indulging in a Sunday afternoon nap.

It's also important to work on your mental health. Pay attention to your thoughts and perspective and then shape them to better serve your situation. We have more than 50,000 thoughts every day and if we can redirect many of them to support, encourage, promote, and bolster ourselves, we’ll see results immediately.