Aisha Praught Leer on Dreaming Big

Aisha Praught Leer dreams big. Between setting Olympic-sized goals and tackling an intense daily training regimen, Praught strives for excellence on a daily basis.

Often, we think of the recipe for success consisting of hard hours of training, long mileage and little else. Praught Leer and her teammates at Team Boss in Boulder, Colorado, challenge this idea by placing an emphasis on rest and healthy recovery.

We sat down with Praught Leer to learn more about her relationship with recovery and chasing down goals.

FF: How has your relationship with recovery changed over the years?

FF: When did you know that you wanted to be a professional runner?

APL: So I had just planned to be a geologist. I planned to stick around the University of Illinois, get my graduate degree and maybe run for a few more years. But I had a big defining moment when I was a runner up at the 2012 NCAA Indoor meet and I had found more success than I anticipated.

The end of my senior year of college just solidified that my trajectory was going to be a little bit different. And still I thought that maybe I’d do it for four years or something like that, but when I got to compete at the Olympics in 2016, I realized that I love this and I want to do it as long as I can in the most sustainable way.

Moving to Boulder has made me think long term about how long can I be successful, how robust can I make my body, how can I do what I love for as long as I possibly can?

Running professionally is the best job ever. And having a better life balance, not that what we do is balanced, has changed the mindset for me. I know how to rest, how to take care of my body, and I know how to be my full self while pursuing this excellence.

FF: What helps you dream big?

APL: In my mind, there is no other way. I’ve just always been like this–If I’m going to do something I’m going to go 100% into it.

When I was a younger athlete, my goals weren’t the same, but they were tailored to what my ability was at the time. I can think of early goals being like I want to be 8th in the Diamond league. Which if you think about it is kind of a crazy goal to somebody off the street, but I wasn’t necessarily thinking about World Championship finals or breaking National records.

My goals have been appropriately just above where I am at the moment; within striking distance if everything goes right. There have been times where I’ve totally failed at goals. I had a terrible World Championships in 2019 at Doha, but I also have the perspective that I put my whole heart into it, I did everything that I could, and I didn't have it on the day and that's OK.

I think I set high enough goals that I have to be the best version of myself on a day to day basis. They’re not unachievable but they’re just that next level where you really have to reach.

FF: Do you feel like your sponsors overall align with your personal mission statement? How important is that for you and your goal setting?

APL: When I was young, running felt temporary. And now I’m 9 years into a running career. This is my life, this is my career. Having brands that align with my values is paramount. I’m very selective about who I want to work with. To me it feels strange that I have a social media following and something I feel passionate about is not selling things I don’t believe in. If I talk about something it’s because I use it and I love it and I believe in it. That’s how I feel about Hyperice, Puma and Camelback. These are very firm parts of my life that are so embedded in my every day that it’s just a natural continuation of things that I’m about.

Speed Round Questions

What is your go to coffee order?

Oatmilk latte

What is an essential you can’t leave the house without?

Sunglasses. It’s really sunny in Colorado and any day I forget them I’m in a panic

Do you have a favorite podcast right now?

I like “So Many White Guys” by Phoebe Robinson of “Two Dope Queens.” I love comedy podcasts. Phoebe Robinson is hilarious and insightful, I’m obsessed with her.

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