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Jon and Bryan speak with Master’s World Record holder Alisa Harvey about her amazing career and sustaining her passion.


In this episode, Jon and I speak with Masters World Record holder and legendary runner Alisa Harvey about her life and love of running.

Born in Fairfax, Virginia, Alisa originally wanted to be a sprinter and a gymnast. But she found her calling in the middle distances. She set high school records that stood for decades, won NCAA championships, represented the US internationally, and eventually set numerous masters age group records. And she’s still going! She shares with us the ups and downs of her journey and what keeps her motivated today.

I don’t think we’ve ever laughed this much in an episode. Alisa was such a joy to speak with.


We talk with Alisa about her amazing accomplishments and what keeps her going:

– Her childhood growing up in Fairfax, Virginia, outside of Washington DC, where she attended Thomas Jefferson High School
– Her parents’ background in southern Virginia, and her mother’s decision to be amongst the first students to integrate at the white high school, and her father’s experience being the first African American postal worker in Fairfax, Virginia
– Her start as a sprinter at summer track meets and her desire to be like Wilma Rudolph but her even stronger desire to be a gymnast like Nadia Comaneci.
– The potential benefits of using other sports in your training to improve and unlock our athleticism
– The experience running in high school at that time, on asphalt tracks before the internet
– Her personal best race where she won an elite mile race at MIT while still in high school

Tennessee & Early Professional
– Why she left Tennessee after a rough freshman year and had to be persuaded to come back
– Her experience running with Joetta Clark, Carol Davidson, Cathy Rattray, winning the NCAA title and competing against Suzy Favor Hamilton
– Training as part of Nike Athletics West, which included runners like Mary Slaney and Kim Gallagher
– Her experience racing at the Pan Am Games in Havana, Cuba, where she won the 1500 meters, ran a personal best at 800m and challenged Cuban legend Ana Quirot, and was one of very few Americans to visit Cuba at that time
– Her experiences at the US Olympic Trials and why she chose to run the double (800m and 1500m) at both
– Why she made various life choices, from living and training in Boston without a coach to having a baby when she was at her peak
– The challenges she faced trying to be a competitive athlete and mother, from losing weight to losing sponsors and coaches
– The approaches Alisa took to stay noticeable and retain sponsorships

Masters Career
– How showing her athletes at George Mason how to run an 800 inspired her to keep racing at the age of 38
– How her competitiveness drives her, and her recent experience chasing down a 12-year old at a local 5k
– Why the current 55+ world record 800m of 2:22 is still possible for her when she turns 55 in September
– The experience of competing at a masters competition
– Why we need challenges to get the best out of ourselves
– The students she’s currently coaching and the advice she has for student-athletes affected by the pandemic
– Why the worst thing in the world is to have an opportunity arrive and you aren’t prepared to seize it
– And finally, Alisa’s Go Be More, to try and be more inspirational and reach more people with her message.

If you liked this episode, check out our interviews with Abdi Abdirahman and Khadevis Robinson.

And, you can now get these show notes sent directly to your email. Sign up here!

Recorded July 22, 2020.


Alisa Harvey – Wikipedia

Women’s Indoor World Records – World Masters Athletics


Alisa Harvey


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