On her blog Chic Runner, Danica tells the world about her running experiences. But it’s not just a blog about logging workouts. From documenting weight loss to telling the emotional story of losing her mother to breast cancer, Danica shares her journey—and how running has helped every step of the way—with her readers. We sat down with her to talk about everything from coaching high school runners to what keeps her going on those long training workouts.
Why did you first start running?
I first started running back in middle school. I joined the cross country team with no intention to actually keep running or to run in high school, but I enjoyed it and decided to keep running in high school. Now, 15 years later, I’m still running!
What are the best and worst things about running?
The best part of running is the time it allows you to be alone with your thoughts. When I don’t run, I am not as creative and struggle to keep my attention on one thing. When I run, I feel like I have my thoughts in order and am able to be much more creative. The hardest thing is making time for it. Even though I do love it, it’s always something I have to make myself do—you have to shower and prepare yourself for the day or the evening. Even if I run three miles in 30 minutes, just getting ready takes another 30 minutes, so it’s always a process. I find that it helps when I schedule it in just like an appointment!
What has been your favorite race? Why does this race stand out and what made it feel like such an accomplishment?
My favorite race varies on what the goal of the race was! One of my all time favorite races was the Little Rock Marathon because the people there were so welcoming. It was such a small town feel and is a unique area for me to run. A great race that I had because of my time was Mountains to Beach, where I somewhat surprisingly qualified to run the 2015 Boston Marathon. I honestly never thought I would be able to hold on to the pace needed to qualify, so I feel like that was both a huge shock and accomplishment for me.
Do you have any causes that are close to your heart? Why is it important to you?
Yes! I am very passionate about helping animals in animal shelters. My husband and I have two dogs we adopted. I think it’s so sad that so many people don’t understand that many animals are turned into the shelter and put to sleep because they are not adopted. You can find any kind of dog at a shelter and at different rescue groups, so I recommend people check out all their options to find their best friend. Make sure to adopt and not shop!
Have you ever ran for charity or fundraised for a cause?
I have done the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (a two-day walk) and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. Both were amazing experiences—I lost my mom to breast cancer eight years ago. I really think it helped the community supporting the walk learn more about these events. It was also a great experience teaming up with so many people who are passionate about the cause and raising awareness!
How has coaching high school cross-country impacted your life?
Coaching has changed my life in so many ways that I was never expecting. I quit my full time job to do freelance work from home and to try coaching. I never imagined how much I would love it and how much the kids have changed my life! They inspired me to push myself and get into the best shape I’ve been in running-wise since high school. Running is one of the toughest sports there is, and the fact that these athletes come out day after day and work harder to succeed is one of the most motivational things I’ve had the opportunity to experience. Sometimes, they do drive me insane but it’s been an amazing journey that I never imagined myself doing. I’m so glad that I have the chance to show them that running can be a lifelong activity.
What advice do you have for people just getting started with running?
Just take it one day at a time, and do it because you love it! So many people get discouraged that they aren’t running fast enough or improving, but it takes time. Just getting out there and doing it is something that is a great accomplishment in itself. Take each run in and when bad runs happen, start over the next day.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from running?
To allow myself to enjoy it and not compare myself to others.
What is your next big race?
This upcoming April, I will be running the Boston Marathon, which I never imagined running. I really want to be healthy for the race and allow myself to soak in every moment.