Podcast: Episode 22 with Deena Kastor

Photo: Jeremy Teicher

“I really believe that running is such a great way to challenge us and to add that difficulty to our life in a very controlled way so that we can deal with challenge and adversity. And I love that. I love getting to the crux of a workout. I go out hard in races and workouts because I want to suffer early on so I can find ways to get through it. And to me it’s always been a game—just this playful pursuit of seeing how badly I can hurt and then what tools I can learn to get through it…When I can handle these challenges in running continuously, then when something shows up in life, I feel like it’s a breeze to get through it.” 

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Honored to welcome Deena Kastor to the podcast this week. The 45-year-old, who lives in Mammoth Lakes, California with her husband (and coach) Andrew and daughter Piper, is an Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon, multi-time national champion at various distances, and holds numerous American records, including the still-standing women’s marathon mark of 2:19:36. She also holds multiple Masters world and American records from 5K to the marathon.

Kastor, who published her first book, Let Your Mind Run, in April, recently sat down with me to discuss a wide range of topics, including:

— Living and training in Mammoth Lakes, California, a place she’s called home since 2000.

— The launch of the Mammoth Track Club 18 years ago and how it’s evolved since then.

— What keeps her going and brings her excitement at the age of 45.

— Writing her memoir, Let Your Mind Run, and what that experience was like.

— The importance of surrounding yourself with a great team, both in running and in life.

— Training under coach Joe Vigil after graduating from Arkansas in 1996 and how he helped shape her life philosophy: “If you have it, share it.”

— Using disappointment as a means to fuel the next big breakthrough.

— How training for and racing cross-country “feeds her soul” and helps her become a better racer on the track and on the roads.

— Transitioning to the marathon as a means to get stronger for the 10K. “I wouldn’t even call myself a marathoner [at the time],” she admitted to me. “I was a 10K racer using the marathon to strengthen myself for the track.”

— The buildup to the 2004 Olympic Games and what it felt like to bring home an Olympic medal.

— Breaking 2:20 in the marathon to set a still-standing American record in 2006 and who she thinks might be able to break it. “I don’t believe the record is mine to own,” she told me.

— Dropping out of the Boston Marathon in April due to hypothermia and where she was when she learned that Des Linden had won the race.

— What’s exciting her in running right now.

— And a whole lot more.

This was a fun conversation and gives a good glimpse into how one of America’s greatest distance runners thinks about and approaches her craft. Listen in, learn, and be inspired by one of the most accomplished athletes of our generation.

Related links, references, and resources:

— Follow Deena on Instagram and Twitter.

— Check out her website.

A Day In The Life: “Flexibility and being in the moment have helped me so much,” Kastor told Amanda Loudin for espnW. “When I’m running, I’m all about the run. When I’m with Piper, I’m immersed in being a mom. I’m proud to always give 100 percent to what I am doing.”

Watch Deena run her way into third place in the marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens to capture the bronze medal.

— “I want to help these younger runners aspire to reach their Olympic dreams and at the same time I’m still enjoying the sport at a really high level,” Kastor told The L.A. Times in 2015. “The pursuit of running, even in practice every day, gives me a lot of joy, and to be able to go out in competitions and meet the running community is also rewarding.”

Deena’s 10 Tips For Success, Health, and Happiness: “I don’t need to be faster tomorrow than I was today,” she says for tip #6, “but I need to be better than I was today.”

— “It’s really been since turning 40 that I have truly seen the value in running, racing, and pushing my own limits,” Kastor told Michelle Hamilton for Runner’s World in 2014. “It’s been healthy, physically and mentally.”

The Mammoth Track Club’s Famous Tempo Run: “Catch me if you can,” Kastor tells her male teammates before setting off on one of her key workouts.

This episode is brought to you by the Anthem Richmond Marathon, which takes place on November 10. From phenomenal course support, to idyllic fall weather and supportive spectators, when you run Richmond, you get it all. Plus the course is mostly flat, it’s a top-20 Boston qualifier, and ends with a beautiful, downhill riverfront finish. Dubbed America’s Friendliest Marathon by Runner’s World, you’ve got every reason to start planning your trip to Richmond today. Use the discount code ‘morningshakeout’—all one word, all lowercase—when you register to save $10 on your registration today. Best part: I’ll be there running the Markel Richmond Half Marathon and hosting all kinds of other fun events throughout the weekend, including an actual morning shakeout run on Friday morning. I’d love to see there!

Want more of the morning shakeout podcast? Check out past episodes here and here.

This episode of the morning shakeout podcast was edited by John Isaac at BaresRecords.com

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