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TF360: Kara Goucher's Big Transition - Part I

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   on Mar 20 2014, 12:14 AM

From Portland to Boulder

By Scott Bush - Click Here for all TF360 Archives

The end of 2013 brought a tremendous amount of change for World Championship medalist, Olympian and US champion Kara Goucher. One of the most remarkable and marketable in the sport made two life-changing decisions. The first, to pack up her bags and move from Portland, Oregon where she lived for the past nine years, back to Boulder, Colorado, where she attended the University of Colorado and first went professional. The second big change came from not immediately renewing her sponsorship contract with Nike, thus making the 35 year old a free agent.

We caught up with Goucher since her move, asking her about the transition, how it came to be, her new training partners and a host of other topics. In this TF365 interview with Goucher, we decided to break it up into two parts. Part one focuses on Goucher's decision to leave Portland and join forces with her collegiate coach Mark Wetmore and the growing training group in Boulder, while part two focuses on shoe sponsorship, where she's headed as an athlete and a few other agenda items.

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SB: You hit the reset button in a lot of ways this off-season. When did the thought of switching it up come into play for you at first?

KG: The last couple years I started to reestablish a relationship with Mark (Wetmore) and Heather (Burroughs), mostly over email. I started to struggle the past year with injuries. I finally got healthy, then got injured right before Boston, got through that okay, worked on my fitness and just had one of the worst performances of my life at the USA Outdoor Championships. Got over that and my first workout back I broke my foot. So to have a year of struggles, when you’re in a place like that, your mind goes a little crazy and I just started thinking about what I wanted out of the last couple years of my career. That’s when I realized it was time for a change. Oregon had been great to me, and Jerry and the group were so welcoming, it was definitely not a personality issue at all, it’s just that Oregon had kind of run its course.

I reached out to Mark and Heather at the very beginning of November just to see what they would think and they said right away they would take me back. Then I went and talked to Jerry, and then spent a few weeks talking with Mark and Heather and talking with Jerry trying to make a decision. After this open discussion, Jerry approached me and could tell that my heart belonged in Boulder, which at that point I decided to do it.

SB: The transition has seemed pretty smooth. Would that be a fair assessment?

KG: Yeah, I’ve been surprised by how easy the relationship with Mark and Heather has been. I left nine years ago and didn’t leave on the best terms. It’s been pretty seamless. The women have been great to me. The training is much different than it was nine years ago. The hardest adjustment to me has been the weather, where we didn’t have the types of weather problems we have in Boulder in Portland. But my workouts, my relationships with Mark and Heather, it's been such an easy transition.

SB: What’s changed between you and your relationship with Mark and Heather, but what else has changed with regards to your training?

KG: Well I would have to say the biggest change has been me. For a long time my happiness in my running life was dependent on how my coach viewed me. But I no longer base my happiness off of what Mark thinks, or what Jerry thinks, or what Alberto thinks.  My biggest change is I am more confident in myself and what I need for myself. I can trust someone, but my identity is no longer wrapped up into what they think of me.

Regarding the training, it’s just really different from when I was here before. It’s really different. However, the one thing that’s remained the same are just how hard those long runs are. They are the cornerstone of the entire training program. Those girls are serious on Sundays and I kind of forgot what that was like. Shalane and I would run hard, but we’d always give ourselves two or three miles to work ourselves into the workout. These girls are so young and so sharp and they just take off from the beginning. Honestly, on Sundays, Heather has me start a minute before the rest of the girls start so I can get my old body moving. I get a minute head start! Once they catch up to me I run the rest of the way with them.

SB: What’s it like having a new group of teammates?

KG: It’s been really great. I was really lucky that Lisa, Shalane, Emily and I all got along really well.  Coming here I’ve experienced the same thing. Jenny, Emma and Shalaya are the big people I’ve run with, and there was never any having to prove myself to them, no awkwardness. Emma especially, I am a bit older than her, and she kind of took me under her wing a bit, showing me the weight routine and different exercises.

Another thing is that they are just really fast. Jenny’s gone under 4 for 1,500m and Emma’s run 4:06 and I am sure she’s going to run faster.  So there are just certain things I just won’t be able to do with them. For example, yesterday, we were doing 150’s and they were supposed to be at your mile pace. I was going all out going 24.5 and they would just dust me. But it’s okay because there is still camaraderie. They were doing short work today while I was doing my 2ks and they were cheering me on. But it’s nice because we’re not competing for spots.

Check back tomorrow, as we chat with Kara about her lack of a shoe contract, what her future racing plans are and much more.

Click Here for all TF360 Archives

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