• Kate Mihevc Edwards PT, DPT

For the Love of Running: An Interview with Kara Goucher



Written By: Leda McDanial


For many of us who have experienced the “Runner’s high,” amazing running communities, the

thrill of training for and completing a race, or setting and surpassing personal bests or “PRs”

(Personal Records), the idea that running is enjoyable is not a tough idea to grasp. Despite the

rough parts of training, getting in shape, and physical and mental grit that it takes to commit to

running consistently there are numerous rewarding moments and benefits to embracing this

form of physical activity. We each have our own personal relationship with running, or our,

“running story,” if you will. Sometimes it is refreshing to hear from those at the top levels of

running competition that their experiences are much like our own; rife with not only success,

but with overcoming obstacles and the human spectrum of emotions that we all experience.


In Podcast Episode #33 of the More Than Miles Podcast, physical therapists Dr. Kate Mihevc

Edwards and Dr. Kacy Seynders interview two time Olympian and female running icon Kara

Goucher to talk about her journey and relationship with running. Most of us who love running

and follow the sport are at least familiar with her name and many of us know her for her

successes as a competitive runner including multiple track and field titles as a collegiate runner

at the University of Colorado, winning a silver medal at the world championships in the 10,000

meters race, and competing in two Olympic games. She has had success as a distance runner at

multiple distances from 5,000 meters all the way up to the marathon (26.2 miles) on the

international scene. However, what is most touching about Kara continues to be her humility

and her openness and vulnerability as she has traversed a variety of struggles, both personal

and professional. This ‘humanness’ from one of female distance running’s greats, makes her an

easy hero to root for, especially with the newest health challenge that she has faced, a

diagnosis of “Runner’s Dystonia,” that has left her, at times unable to walk and has definitely

taken a toll on her ability to run.


Kara’s early love of running was inspired by watching her grandfather’s passion for running. He

ran well into his 90s, and Kara had him as a close role model and example of what running

through a lifetime could look like. Kara began running at age six, as she saw the pure joy that it

brought to her grandfather. In the podcast interview, Kara describes that he ran because he

loved the movement of it and the freedom he felt while doing it.


As Kara entered high school and began participating in track and field and cross-country events,

she found that she took to the sport quickly and excelled in this early stage of distance running

and racing. Despite her high school success, Kara struggled early as a collegiate runner at the

University of Colorado, experiencing what she describes as a three-year string of injuries and, in

her words, “an inability to put together a good race during this period.” She describes certain

cultural pressures within the sport to attain a certain body weight and ‘look’ that was not

necessarily linked to health or performance. Though, in retrospect Kara says she knew she was

flirting with an unhealthy way of eating, the pressure and early success it afforded her pushed

her in this direction and she thinks contributed to her string of injuries during this period in her

career.



Ultimately, Kara climbed out of this slump and changed her approach to nutrition finding a

healthier, more sustainable way to fuel her body for the volume of training she was doing.

Subsequently, she went on to win three NCAA national titles towards the end of her collegiate

running career (two in track and field and one in cross country). Having recovered her health,

Kara continued to add to her running accolades, experiencing success on the world scene by

placing second in the track and field world championships in the 10,000 meters in 2007 and

competing in two Olympics (the Beijing games in 2008 and the London games in 2012). These

races are just a few of her podium placements as her racing career and successes have been

numerous and span across two decades.


In the podcast interview with Dr. Kate and Dr. Kacy, Kara also discusses some of what she has

experienced lately and the transitions it has necessitated for her in relation to the sport of

competitive distance running. Kara was diagnosed with “Runner’s Dystonia,” in 2021 and has

transitioned to a sideline role in the running scene. Kara touchingly describes some of the

emotional struggles that she has gone through being faced with giving up competitive running

and as she has reintroduced recreational running in a limited fashion, the joy that it has brought

her again. She talks about negotiating this new diagnosis and what it has meant for her

relationship with running saying, “I was like, ‘why am I crying? I’m not gonna die. I just can’t

run. Why am I crying?’” and says, “I’ve gone back and forth between feeling stupid that I’m sad,

but then being like ‘this is my thing’, ‘this is my refuge,’ ‘this is my happy place…’” Those of us

for whom running has been an equally important refuge can surely relate to this sentiment.

Kara also gracefully opens up about starting therapy to help support her mental and emotional

health during these trying times. Hearing Kara’s vulnerability and raw emotion as she talks with

Dr. Kate and Dr. Kacy on the podcast is truly heartfelt.


As part of her transition period, Kara recently began working for NBC as a commentator where

she can be found on the sidelines of races that used to see her as a competitor in the field, such

as this year’s Boston Marathon. Despite her running prowess and success on an international

level, Kara talks about her initial start with this new venture and her, “camera shy,” moments

and endearing wardrobe snafus! Throughout the interview, though Kara is a running celebrity

and hero to many, she becomes infinitely relatable to listeners as she talks about the

importance of family in her life and various treats that she looks forward to on a daily basis

including her love of “trashy TV,” iced coffee, and chocolate M & Ms!


Now, more than ever, Kara has been left with an immense gratitude for participating in this

movement of running just as she entered into it; inspired by her grandfather and exuberant at

love of feeling her body in motion! As Kara describes, “I feel we’ve lost the main message,

which is that it’s supposed to be enjoyable, and a long journey for those of us who love

running.”


We all have our running story and in this podcast episode we get to hear Kara Goucher’s

running story. Beyond all her successes and her diverse experiences with running in her 20-year

career, what shines through is Kara’s deep love of running. And, as most of us know, that is the

factor that keeps us lacing up our running shoes each day! Please check out Episode #33 of the

More Than Miles Podcast, to listen to the full interview with Kara Goucher. If you love running

as much as we do, we know you will absolutely love this episode!

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