Feature Friday: How An Olympic Runner Finds Time For Raising Two Kids While Training

Every Friday we chat with one of our blog content network contributors to find out what most inspires them to be fit and find adventure every day.

This week we're chatting with Blake Russell of BlakeRussellRuns.com.

Russell has represented the U.S. as a professional runner for 16 years. In 2008 she qualified for the Olympic marathon team and travelled to race in Beijing where she was the only American finisher. After having her second child, Blake is currently in the process of making a career comeback, aiming to prove that she can still keep up with the young elite runners at the head of today's pack.

Read on to find out how she balances her family life with hundreds of miles of training every week, the most important lesson she's learned from her mistakes and her motivating advice to beginner runners.
—Katie Rosenbrock

The Active Times: How did you first become involved in running?
Blake Russell:
I was not good at tennis. A friend knew I was a good runner in PE class and asked me to try out for the XC team in ninth grade. I did, and have been running ever since.

What spurred you start your blog?
I think blogging has always intrigued me, but I was little nervous to start. I recently started writing a monthly column for our local paper and decided to finally take the plunge. I thought it would be fun to chronicle some running and family adventures. I have also found that people enjoy reading about what it takes to be an elite runner, while juggling family and other pursuits.

What is the greatest joy you get from running?
That much needed "me" time. Time to reflect on things or just be in the moment and enjoy the simple process of just running where all I can here is my breathing and footsteps.

What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome while running?
Time—with two kids, trying to fit in 100 miles a week of training is tough. Now that it is no longer my job, I try and make sure it does not interfere with family time other than the occasional races I travel to alone. I have often gotten in 12 miles before 7 am.

What is the one mistake you've learned the most from?
Trying to run through and injury. Pain is there for a reason. Be wise and listen to your body, because most of the time you cannot run through injuries.

What advice would you give to someone trying running for the first time?
Be patient. Running is painful when you are new. When I came back from pregnancy it was horrible, and my goal was to be able to run an hour and not be miserable. It takes a long time to build your cardiovascular system and strength for running enough to the point where you can feel great on a run and enjoy it. Stick with it because it will be worth it in the end.

What is the one piece of kit or equipment you'd never be without?
My watch...I hardly ever take it off. I am pretty sure I wore it with my wedding dress 15 years ago, because I am so used to it. You never know when you will need to go for run.

If money were no object, what piece of kit or equipment would you buy?
Hmmm. Maybe a mountain house in Tahoe for some altitude training. I have tried sleeping in altitude tents and that is no fun.

What is the one book everyone should read about running?
John L. Parker's "Once a Runner"— Kind of a cult classic, it can appeal to the casual runner or the competitive runner as the main character pursues his running dreams. It is one I love to give to high school runners that really love the sport.

What is your favorite quote, and what do you so like about it?
"For the resolute and determined, there is time and opportunity."–Ralph Waldo Emerson.  

I like it because it describes my personality. I think I am above all a really hard worker and I love working towards a goal. It took me a few tries at the Olympic Trials- waiting four years between each one before I finally made the team on the third try. I worked harder and harder ever year to get to that goal.

What is top of your bucket list when it comes to running?
I would love to travel to Europe and hit some great running spots. St. Moritz, Swistzerland is on the top of my list.

What is your least favorite word, and why?
"Can't" — I like to think I am a positive person. The other day my son said he couldn't do something, and it made me a little angry. My goal with kids is to teach them to try, and never give up without a fight.

What would your life be like without running?
Strange. I honestly can't imagine life without running, but maybe I would have found another sport I like just as much.

To learn more about Blake visit blakerussellruns.com.