“This Makes You a Runner”: Interview with Elite Runner Tina Muir

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I had the opportunity to interview Tina Muir, an elite runner, wife,  creator of the Running for Real podcast, and overall amazingly inspirational woman. Tina was born and raised in St. Albans in England, but the “camaraderie, the support, the enthusiasm towards” athletics in the USA inspired her to move to the USA in 2007. She attended and graduated from Ferris State University as an 11 time All-American Track and Field athlete. She then completed her Masters Degree in Business at LaSalle University in 2012 while working as an assistant Track and Field coach. She has since lived in various states across the country. Currently, she continues to train, with her husband as her coach, while working to create an amazing community and podcast called Running for Real.

Although Tina is an elite runner she recognizes that all athletes, whether beginners or professionals, often don’t “give themselves the respect they deserve.” Running is for everyone, and every success, no matter how small, should be recognized–not necessarily by others, but by yourself. Tina explains, “runners often introduce themselves to me as, “hi, I am X, I am not a fast runner, but….”

No matter how fast you run, how much you run, how experienced you are…YOU are still out there doing it, and that makes YOU a runner, and that’s something to celebrate. We are all out there battling the same demons, and you should be proud everyday you get out there and hit the pavement.

Tell me a little bit about your running and fitness background: how did you first get into running–did you always enjoy it?

I wish I could say that I was a natural runner from birth, and I loved it from the very first time, but actually, it was quite the opposite. I remember liking Sports Day in Primary School, where we would sprint for around 60 meters, and I was always very competitive with everything I did, but my first distance running memory was not a good one. There were tryouts for the cross country team at school, but I had no interest in being on that team, so I hid in the bathroom to avoid it. Over time, I worked my way through my PE classes, and ended up near the front in cross country, and was therefore recruited onto the very team I tried to avoid. I wouldn’t say I particularly enjoyed it, but once I started to do well, it became addictive. I loved feeling and seeing myself improve, and constantly keeping my eyes focused the person in front of me, catching people one by one. When I met my coach Brad Plummer at the age of 14, I finally realized I was actually enjoying this.

Looking back, what advice do you wish you could’ve told your younger self when you were first starting out? Is there anything you’d tell brand new runners to help them to learn to love running?

Make sure your number one priority is to always have fun. I used to put a LOT of pressure on myself, it’s something we all do from time to time, so it’s not necessarily a new runner thing, but it can take the fun out of it. You are always going to run your best when you’re relaxed, and at the end of the day, it’s just running. It does not define you. As runners we’re lucky this is a sport where there will always be another races, another opportunity to try again. So just relax and have fun. No one who loves you will care whether you crossed the finish line an extra few seconds than you had hoped.

Do you have any tips for staying motivated? What advice do you have for runner who are in a rut?

Well, first I would like to say that I definitely get that, often. People think elite runners love running every single day, and glide along having so much fun. In reality, most days are a slog, but that is what each one of us have to do if we want to achieve our best. If you are struggling with motivation, I like to find people to run with to keep you distracted, I also love podcasts, especially inspiring ones, as they will remind you why you do this. I hope you will consider checking out my podcast once I launch the Running for Real podcast in just a few weeks. In the meantime, this podcast episode I did with Dick Beardsley is always my go to inspirational podcast. You could also try a new event. I think people often get tunnel vision on improving in a certain event, usually the marathon, when actually, the best thing you could do, is try something new or something you have not raced in a while.

What has been your biggest running/triathlon accomplishment to date, and what is your dream race or goal?

Representing Great Britain in the World Half Marathon Championships. This was my lifelong running goal, and the one I had thought about every day since I first started really running around age 14. I knew that someday I would get there, but I didn’t know how. It took 13 years, but the feeling of running that race representing my country, was a dream come true, I was smiling the entire way!

I have a few bucket list races I would love to do, including the rest of the marathon majors. I am actually going to race the Gold Coast Marathon this July, which is another dream race I have wanted to do, but for the most part, as much as it sounds cheesy, I just want to make the most of every opportunity from now, as I have achieved the one thing that meant more to me than anything, so I have nothing to prove 🙂

What are your 2017 racing and personal fitness/wellness goals?

As I mentioned, I will be running the Gold Coast Marathon (GCAM17), which is my biggest goal race of the year. I would love to run another big PR, and reach the next level (around 2:33), but as I said before, I tend to run the best when relaxed, so I am not putting too much focus on a time goal or pace, as my body will tell me what it’s ready for. I will pick a few races later in the year I will really try to run fast at, but I have not decided yet 🙂

Based on your years of experience, what would you say is the toughest part of training and/or the toughest part about being an athlete/runner? The most fun part?

The toughest part is believing in yourself. We know we have to put the training in, and we do, but we don’t give ourselves enough credit for getting out there and putting in the work, instead we look at what has gone wrong, what we missed. We are so cruel to ourselves during our runs, and it really affects our confidence, which then affects how well we can run. If you try to talk to yourself like you would a best friend, you will find that you feel better, and are able to actually enjoy it more, as you are being supportive, rather than cruel.

What is it like to have your husband as your coach?

Image credit: TinaMuir.com

People are always surprised to hear it works. It shouldn’t really, our lives are far too tangled together, but actually, for the most part, it helps us even more. He knows when I did not sleep well the night before, he can tell when I am not feeling great, or if something is off, and I can be totally honest with him. I think most of it is actually holding me back. I am always asking for more, but when he says no, that is enough, I trust and respect him to stop. It is fun, especially as that means he doesn’t mind biking alongside me on my workouts, which makes it easier for me to imagine him talking to me in a race (the be your own best friend I noticed earlier).

In addition to being a runner, Tina is also using her previous experience as a podcast host and community manager into creating her very own community and podcast called Running for Real, which launches in just a short few weeks. (To get information about when the podcast is ready, sign up here or follow Tina’s daily Facebook live chats.) According to Tina, the podcast will focus on “the mental side of running and injuries. I want to help people feel good about themselves, to help BUILD confidence rather than destroy it. I also want to create a community where we can be honest with one another, because at the end of the day, running has a LOT of ups and downs, but we are often too afraid to share those downs. I want us to be real with one another, and help build one another up.”

Tina hopes to create an open environment for sharing lessons she has learned throughout her experiences. She reflected on a conversation with Jared Ward, he said “I expected to feel like a different person after participating in the Olympics, but instead I felt the same” he said.

“We often think we’ll be satisfied if we accomplish…..”X”, but really, there is always more to do, and we always want more. That’s a great thing, but often we don’t celebrate our own achievements. If an Olympian doesn’t feel like he’s different, the rest of us definitely won’t be,” said Tina.

Tina will soon be launching the Running for Real podcast, which will be a wonderful, supportive, and collaborative community for runners. Through her own experiences and what she has learned by conducting countless interviews with other athletes and runners, Tina has so much to share with the running community. And I for one can’t wait to join in!

Want to hear more from Tina? Subscribe to her podcast and find her here:

TinaMuir.com, Facebook: Running for Real, Instagram: @tinamuir88, Twitter: @tinamuir

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