While living in a hotel with my husband and dogs after a derecho hit western VA, I had the opportunity of interviewing Kara Goucher by telephone. Kara took time out of her 4th of July to speak with me and offered kind words of support for our situation. Prior my interview I admired her professional successes, but after getting off of the phone with her, that admiration extended to her as a whole person. Read and enjoy!
In the fall of 2011, Kara Goucher was a three time NCAA champion, the fastest American woman ever in the half marathon and an Olympian. But she needed a change. She needed a challenge. Change and challenge she got when she joined Jerry Schumacher’s group and started training with Shalane Flanagan and Lisa Uhl.
The early going with the new group left Goucher tired, but confident that the change was what her running career needed. In January 2012 she made the US Women’s Olympic Marathon Team by finishing third at the marathon Olympic trials in Houston, joining Desiree Davila and Shalane Flanagan in London.
Goucher is proud to represent the US in London and says that she “hopes that London is my best marathon so far, but I have a lot of things left to [accomplish].”
Leading up to the Olympics, Kara is adjusting to Schumacher’s training, which is quite different than that of Salazar, her former coach. While cross training played a big role in her weekly regimen under Salazar, now the focus is higher mileage, mostly done at a quick pace. Goucher had to ease into the new system and is still adapting. She is confident that long term she will achieve greatness in the marathon, but that will require patience and small steps.
Goucher stated “I could not jump right in to 120 mile weeks. I had to take small steps to get there.” She also had to be “careful not to overdo it to get there as runs with the girls (Lisa and Shalane) were faster than what [she] was used to. One precaution Kara takes is to keep the pace of her second run of the day, which is usually not with the group, controlled.
Sometimes backing off the pace is not enough. Right after watching the exciting 10,000 meter races at the Olympic Trials, Goucher “went through a weird patch” and struggled for about ten days.
What does an Olympian do in this situation? Kara went through her training log to remind herself of all the hard work and strong workouts she has had and took an afternoon off, which Goucher admitted “is a big deal.” Her sister came over with her girls so that Goucher would not be tempted to run. “It revived me. Stepping away even for a moment helps.”
Family time, an afternoon off, mixed with revising her training a bit after a chat with her coach did the trick. Goucher suggests “don’t be so strict to a schedule. Consistency over time is what matters. One workout will not make you great. It is OK to step away for a little while.”
Stepping back is also very important on your birthday by the way. Goucher’s birthday (July 9th) is typically overlooked since she is usually competing in Europe. This year is special as she will be home with her family. It sounds like she is going to make the most of it.
The birthday plan: “I have a difficult workout that morning (run with 16 miles at marathon pace), so it’s perfect! I don’t have to run again that day.” After the run, Adam, Colt and Kara will go to the park. Later Adam and Kara have a rare date-night. Kara said that she is going to enjoy herself and even have a glass of wine or two, but still be ready for her morning workout with the girls. “I am going to live it up my way” proclaimed Goucher.
Kara Goucher has learned that the key to greatness and achieving your goals is taking baby steps, not giant leaps. The Running Economist is excited to watch her run in London on August 5, but even more excited to see her achieve greatness in the years to come. Happy birthday Kara and good luck in London and beyond.