We interviewed Kara Goucher in August, 2020, and our conversation covered a wide range of topics, from her start in running to her breakthrough senior collegiate season and her current work to reform the sport.
In this episode, Jon and I speak with two-time Olympian and World Championships silver medalist Kara Goucher about the ups and downs of her career and how she’s working to improve the sport today.
Kara had a lot of success running, but it didn’t always come easily. She was a Footlocker Finalist as a high school sophomore and then got slower by the time she was a senior. She won NCAA Championships at the University of Colorado and then went six years before running another personal best. She chose to have her son while still competing and dealt with numerous setbacks as as result.
Through it all, Kara learned the value of patience, of trusting in herself and sticking with it. And she’s taking that same approach in her fight against performance enhancing drugs and to improve athlete contracts.
And despite all her success, she maintains a charm and genuineness that truly set her apart. This was a fun conversation.
We talk with Kara about the ups and downs of her career, how she’s working to change the sport today, and the role that patience has played throughout her life:
Early Life and High School
– How Kara ended up in her mother’s hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, after her father was killed by a drunk driver when she was 4 years old
– Growing up in a family with six kids and the benefits she got from doing a lot of sports where she wasn’t the best (or even very good at all)
– How she relates to the person she was in high school now that she’s able to sit for two hours and watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (something she definitely would not have done then!)
– How her grandfather introduced her to running and the first race she entered
– The fun she had running for her high school coach, and how he helped her deal with the difficulties she faced going through puberty
– How she was not recruited by the University of Colorado but sent herself there, and the crazy experience she had on her visit to the school
NCAA and Pro Career
– What makes the University of Colorado’s Mark Wetmore such a good coach and what he got Kara to believe about herself
– The factors that caused her to leave Colorado and join the Oregon Project at Nike in Portland, Oregon, what it feels like to leave a coach, and how difficult those transitions can be
– Getting immediately sidelined by injury and how she persisted through that period to eventually run her first personal best in six years(!)
– How winning the bronze medal (since moved up to silver) changed her life overnight
– The various thoughts and emotions Kara went through finding out that one of the women who beat her was doping
– The anti-doping case brought against Alberto Salazar
– Her involvement with the Clean Sport Collective and the pledge they ask all athletes to take
– Where and how the lines should be drawn regarding anti-doping initiatives, including with regards to Jon’s experience with an experimental stem cell treatment for his chronic kidney disease
– The abuse of the therapeutic use exemption and the medicalization of the sport, and how the culture of one’s training group can influence how much you question certain behaviors
– Kara’s work on contract reform in the sport and how it is also a lever against performance enhancing drug use
– Kara’s decision to have a child mid-career and the career-impacting challenges she faced as a result
– How the power of a few women speaking out caused all the biggest sponsors to change their contracts
– And finally, how Kara feels Go Be More represents the idea to go be more than yourself, to be part of a community and help lift others
Originally recorded July 29, 2020.
Osaka World Championships 10000m – YouTube
Oiselle – website
Altra – website
Nuun – website
Strong: A Runner’s Guide to Boosting Confidence and Becoming the Best Version of You by Kara Goucher – Amazon