In July of 2015 I made a huge life decision: to put the trajectory of my academic career on hold in order to see what would happen if I focused solely on my running. I took a leave of absence from grad school and lived my life in accordance to how I thought a professional runner would live – I slept more, ran more, saw a nutritionist [a runner's diet is her fuel], began having regular sports massages, took up yoga, and I also found a sports psychologist. In October of 2015 I dropped almost 10 minutes from my previous marathon PR and ran an Olympic Trials marathon qualifying time of 2:38:39. Since becoming a pro runner (for Oiselle) in marathon running, the past six months have been a whirlwind of new and invaluable life lessons.
Even the professionals struggle with finding motivation.
I mistakenly thought that when I went pro, I would suddenly wake up every morning and have never ending amounts of athletic motivation. Ha! As it turns out, everyone struggles from time to time with taking those first steps, even the runners who run for a living. Sometimes, it even seems as though it is even more difficult to find motivation than when I was working because I often have more free time during the day to procrastinate!
Behind every good Instagram photo is an Instagram husband (or wife. Or friend. Or stranger).
Before going pro I was often amazed at how perfect the social media feeds of elite runners seemed. It turns out that having a friend who can take good photos on his or her phone is crucial. When I get together with my teammates, we often laugh about how patient our spouses/friends/neighbors/etc. are about taking and retaking photos of us running, jumping, or peddling products.
The little things are most important.
At the elite level, competition is not about who has the most natural talent, but who can arrive on the starting line healthiest [stay injury-free!] and most mentally prepared. I wish I had known this concept years ago, because I think I would have performed better. In truth, running is only 25% of the preparation required in order to get to the starting line. Sleep, a healthy diet, foam rolling, hydration, core work, a positive attitude, and willingness to listen to your body are the other 75%. [Psst recovery is major key and we know Anna's favorite natural recovery hacks]
Running communities are the same everywhere you go.
I was concerned that when I reached the level of national competition that the people I raced against would have intimidating personalities and approach running with a cutthroat attitude. I could not have been more wrong! Outside of race time, competing at the elite level is similar to competing at a local road race. We catch up beforehand, inquiring after each other’s training, kids, dogs, life, etc., and then drink a beer (or three) together afterward.
Make no mistake: no professional runner is following this career path for fame or fortune. Instead, we are doing this because we simply love the sport. The greatest lesson I have learned is that giving up a traditional lifestyle to follow my passion has been rewarded with some of the happiest moments of my life, inside and outside of competition.
Guest contributor/run blogger/speed demon Anna Weber runs a 2:38 marathon (!) and qualified for the Olympic Trails, runs with our friends at Oiselle (only love for them here!), is a Nuun and Zensah ambassador, a chemist, and a believer in karma (like us!). Follow Anna and her running career online here: Twitter @Anna_Weber413, Instagram @anna_weber413 /, blog: AnnaWeberRuns