An interview with professional women’s elite runner, Allie Kieffer, about her journey with running and my thoughts on why she inspires ME as a runner!
This post is sponsored by adidas.
We all have people we look up to. Whether it’s in our careers, in sports, or just in our everyday lives.
As a runner, I closely follow the world of professional running and love seeing American women (or really ANY women!) excel at the sport. Over the years, I’ve come to be very familiar with the top athletes in the marathon distance and always love seeing new up and comers begin to thrive and progress in their careers.
One person that really caught my attention last year was Allie Kieffer during her historic 5th place finish at the NYC Marathon. No one expected her to do as well as she did, but once I looked into her background and delved a little deeper into her story, it didn’t surprise me that she was quickly becoming one of the top runners in the field.
Aside from her incredible athleticism and talent, I also loved the fact that she promotes body positivity, self-love, and makes people aware that “skinny” does not equal “better” or “faster” when it comes to running. Training smart, eating well, and caring for your body is what makes a good athlete…not how light or heavy you are.
Plus, she lives in my hometown (Buffalo, NY)…so she definitely gets bonus points for that! 😉
Allie is my ultimate running inspiration because she’s realistic. She’s been through setbacks and adversity but continually overcomes those obstacles, progresses, and moves forward.
I will certainly be looking to her and her training for motivation as I begin my own journey back to running after more than a year off.
Read on to learn more about Allie in the interview I recently did with her as she prepares for the NYC marathon in a few weeks….
Tell me a bit about your running and fitness background. At what age did you passion for running start and did you enjoy it from the very beginning?
I joined a running club when I was only 5 years old! From my memory we spent more time singing than running, but I loved it from the first step!
Looking back, is there any advice you wish you could have told your younger self when you were first starting out in the sport?
Progress isn’t linear, so don’t let your happiness be tied to PR’s. Remember the little 5-year-old who ran with pure joy.
In college, you mentioned feeling the pressure to set down a certain “race weight”… what allowed you to rise above that dangerous social pressure and stay focused on the sport itself?
When I was a student athlete at Wake Forest University the eating habits of the distance squad were dysfunctional. From the top down we were strongly encouraged to lose weight to run fast, to the point that several people had eating disorders. I didn’t immediately fall into the restrictive diet trap, at first I rebelled against it, rationally acknowledging it was unhealthy. But, over time, as I strived to live up to my potential, I thought maybe I needed to slim down to run to the level I thought I was capable of. In 2012 that mentality led me to injury, and eventually quitting the sport. Ironically, a life outside of elite running helped me feel comfortable in my own skin. I stopped being consumed by the idea that I needed to lose weight. So, when I started training seriously again in 2017 I had an entirely different outlook on my dietary choices – I wanted to put as many nutrients onto my plate instead of as little food as possible.
When you think about setting goals for yourself, what’s the process like? How far in advance do you try to plan for?
I love having a goal. I usually have a long and short-term plan with respective goals. In the past I’ve had some ludicrous/out of this world goals, and others that seem more logical. I let my gut tell me what to go for – what race is most meaningful and what I believe I can accomplish.
What’s one important thing this past year of training has taught you?
I’m better with a team than alone. This past year, I’ve had the opportunity to train under Brad Hudson and with teammates. It’s made training more fun and pushed me to new heights!
Injury is no stranger to the sport of running and you’ve dealt with some of your own. Having come out on the other side of a major injury, what’s your number one practice or tip in your own training regimen for staying injury free?
Self care! I foam roll, use Roll Recovery, sit on a lacrosse ball, or all of the above on the daily.
If you weren’t running professionally, what would you dream career be?
I currently coach people online, and once my own career is over I’d like to coach a college distance team!
What do you consider do you consider to be your biggest running accomplishment to be thus far in your career?
Placing 5th at the NYC Marathon.
How is your training for this year’s NYC Marathon different from last year’s training cycle?
This year I am doing a shorter marathon cycle, only 8 weeks instead of 13. I’ll spend half of that at altitude in Colorado, and the last 4 weeks in Buffalo, NY where I trained last year. I’ve been more consistent this season, and the long runs overall have been longer, albeit slower. Compared to last year I feel like I’ve been able to step up both the training by running more mileage and the opposite extreme of recovering.
Training every day at your level of intensity is NO JOKE. Are there any time where you struggle with lack of motivation or mental fatigue? If so, how do you push through those times?
I’ve been extremely motivated this season, and I know it’s almost unbelievable, but I haven’t had a day that I woke up and said, man I don’t want to run today. I’ve been hungry to get after it every single day. I’m really grateful I’ve been given the opportunity to chase my dreams and I’m unwilling to waste it.
During the longer workouts I do get mentally fatigued, which reveals itself by making me feel like I can’t finish the run or I need to slow down. In those instances I just follow the person I’m running with and use positive self talk to hang on to them. I’ll break the workout down into smaller segments, and just tell myself to get to the end of the road, once we turn I’ll come up with another spot, and so on.
What’s one piece of advice you have for anyone chasing a running goal? Whether it’s to run professionally or finish their first 5k.
Failure isn’t the enemy, it’s part of the path to success. People are often discouraged when they don’t hit their goal and then they give up. I did that once too when I quit the sport in 2013, and I really wish I had stuck with it. Figure out what you did well, remind yourself what you have accomplished, think about how good running makes the rest of your day feel, and keep chasing those goals!
Favorite “get hype” song before a race?
I don’t listen to music usually before races, I’m a podcaster!
Go-to pre-race or pre-run meal?
Favorite form of cross training?
Biking, outdoors on the road.
Favorite type of workout to run?
Who is one person you look up to in the sport of running?
Kara Goucher – she’s been successful on and off the track, which I really admire. It’s not common for runners to build their brand and create business opportunities outside of the typical shoe and clothing companies, but she’s been able to do that while still staying genuine and down to earth.
One way you like to “treat yourself”? (doesn’t have to be food related…we’re talking binge watching a Netflix show, getting a massage, sleeping in on a Sunday, anything you want!)
I like to take a vacation after each season!
One professional goal you have for 2019?
Win a race.
One personal goal you have for 2019?
Learn to be more compassionate and empathetic of other people and their personal situations.
Tell me something about yourself that you LOVE.
I’m introspective and try to learn and grow each year to become a better me.
And last but not least, you lived in Buffalo, NY for the year leading up to your historic NY Marathon finish…so what’s one thing you miss about living in Western New York? 😀
Everyone is so nice!
WOW WOW WOW. That’s all I have to say about this interview. It was SUCH an honor getting to ask Allie some personal questions and get to know her better. She is absolutely incredible and all of her answers here just reaffirm my admiration for her as an athlete….and PERSON in general.
And now that I’ve posted incredibly inspiring piece…I have a major urge to go for a run! I’m suiting up in my Wanderlust Tee and High Rise Wanderlust Tights from adidas and hitting the pavement. Nice and slow, of course. 😉
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