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Running Advice from Joan Benoit Samuelson (Running Coaches Corner)


I was fortunate enough to sit down and gain running advice from Joan Benoit Samuelson, one of the greatest runners in the marathon, and one of the trailblazers for women’s running. What did I take away from our chat? Find out on this Running Coaches Corner!

Running a Boston Qualifying Marathon accomplishment, but so is running a marathon, period. Establish your own standards of success!

Advice from Running Great Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Previously posted September 25, 2015.

Thank you to Nike Chicago for this incredible opportunity!

First things first, about the lady herself!

From Joan’s Website:

Joan Benoit Samuelson’s name is synonymous with women’s running. She began running track in high school in the town of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Samuelson continued on to Bowdoin College, where her career soared. She received All-American honors in cross-country and track, and won the Boston Marathon in 1979, setting an American and course record, all before she graduated. Samuelson won the Boston Marathon again in 1983, this time breaking the world record. One year later, at the age of 27, she won the gold medal in the first women’s marathon at the Los Angeles Olympics. In 1985, Samuelson won the Chicago Marathon with an American record time of 2:21:21.

Currently, she is a consultant to Nike, Inc. and a clinician, conducting numerous running, health, and fitness clinics throughout the United States and the world. Samuelson is also an experienced motivational speaker, giving regular addresses to corporations, civic groups, schools, and athletes. She has authored two books, her autobiography Running Tide (Knopf, 1987), and Joan Samuelson’s Running for Women (Rodale Press, 1995).

In other words, JBS is a bad ass mother runner. Also, still fast as crap–she is aiming to run the Chicago Marathon this year (the 30th anniversary of her record time) within 30 minutes of her 2:21:21!!

Running Advice from Joan Benoit Samuelson

1) No Finish Line

Both Joan and Nike put a lot of stock in the fact that “there is no finish line.” I have spoken to this before, so I’ll admit that I felt a bit validated by hearing this from the lips of running greatness. I try to think of these races as milestones or checkpoints in the larger picture. Life doesn’t end when you cross that finish line. Have a plan for moving on past your heavy training, and don’t just drop everything because you no longer “have” to run. 

2) Trust Your Training, Don’t Test Your Training

We all know this, but I’m still glad that Joan reiterated the Trust Your Training advice. If you’ve read my post on dealing with Taper Madness, you know how much weight I give to this statement (and Body Glide). I liked the addendum of “don’t test your training,” too. Sometimes, you just have to have faith in the process (assuming that you have enlisted proper educational sources). 

I would take this a little bit further to live in the mile: don’t sit there and fret about the miles before or after–deal with where you are right now.

3) Running is All Inclusive

As one of the fastest American female marathoners, I wanted to ask Joan about the other side of the spectrum: what would she say to those runners who feel like they don’t “qualify” as runners on account of their pace or how they compare to others? At first, Joan said that as long as they are getting out there for their health and enjoying themselves, they should keep on, but later, she seemed to have had some time to think about what she wanted to say and she said that one of the great aspects of running as a sport is that it is “all inclusive.” It doesn’t care what color, weight, height, speed, distance… if you run, you are a runner. 

4) Create a Story for Motivation

For Joan, the way that she stays motivated for each race, for each training, and to keep going after each of her pursuits is by creating a motivation story for herself (reminds me of Laura’s Running Narrative!) for whatever she is going after, and that she reminds herself of. This seemed to be very personal to her–she didn’t divulge the story that she currently is working on for Chicago–but it was obviously something that meant a lot to her, and her alone. This marathon is part of a larger life, a larger story, and she is building it every day!

5) Take advantage of the resources available to you.

Not Joanie’s words, but the moral of a story that she told us. Joanie says that she doesn’t really have any regrets when she looks back at her career, but the closest that she has to a regret was not looking at the course map ahead of time. As a result, she didn’t realize how fast the finish of the Chicago Marathon would come up and didn’t empty her tank at the end–she says that she still had more to give!

Nike Run Club Chicago getting surprised! (Can you find me?)

Nike Run Club Chicago getting surprised! (Can you find me?)

Great advice from #running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson via #runchat #chicagomarathon @WMMajors Click To Tweet

What would your “blurb” about running be? 

What do you hope to take away from your running?

Join the link up and Running Coaches Corner for more great running advice and content!

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I am linking up with myself, RachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

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