Name: Sara Russell (alias- Sara Barracuda)
Based out of: Half the year in Boulder, Colorado…. Half the year, around the world, usually with a last-minute notice ;) I travel heaps for work and school
Favorite Distance: Marathon! Or 25K.
Favorite place to run: Above tree line in the sunshine.
Currently training for: Boston Marathon, Cortina Trail 48K, and Whistler Alpine Meadows 25k… and some not-yet-decided-upon fall races.
Photo c/o: Troy Kellenberger
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? If someone is thinking about Sara Russell what should immediately come to mind?
A: I am a gal on the go! I travel heaps for work and my grad program and really love engaging with the world in interesting ways- running, wandering, laughing. I’ve met loads of people running on trails all around the world, too. I also have this funny reputation of being someone who loves pink, glitter, unicorns, and rainbows! I’m generally a happy, smiley soul, but I’ve got a wicked sarcastic side of me, too!
Q: Where did your love of running come from? How did you get started running?
A: I think I’ve just always loved the feeling of a restorative run-- those magical moments where you simultaneously get lost in your own head while also being so deeply connected to the world around you. I had plenty as a kiddo galavanting around in the woods in my backyard; and I guess I had enough of those moments in high school, kinda-sorta in college, and then started running again in my early 20s.
Q: What keeps you running?
A: The good vibes I get from an amazing run, the beautiful views, the chance to give myself a gift of challenge, of peace, or of totally zoning out.
And friends! So many mornings I would have bailed on a run, were it not for the knowledge that someone was counting on me to meet them at a trailhead. In the snow. At 5am.
Q: Do you have a weekly mileage that your body is happiest at?
A: Depends on the week! I am the worst at precisely tracking miles some weeks and just run based on time. I don’t take myself or my running too seriously ever, so you’ll never find me posting on Strava or Instagram with an enormous description of the workout and how it felt and why. No hate if you do that- just isn’t my style. I keep a running log (sometimes), though if I put enormous pressure on myself to perform, I can check out. My body is truly happiest when I can run on trails in beautiful places and nail some speed and tempo work and still love running at the end of the week!
Q: What does a typical day of training look like for you? Is there anything you definitely need to have or do to feel like you had a successful day of miles?
A: It seems lately that the sweet spot of a run is somewhere between 8-12 miles because I can really get into the groove and lose myself in the run itself. But, I have been having tons of fun with shorter speedwork. I also love fitness classes that leave me smiling and sweating oceans of perspiration by the time I finish! I recently got into Orange Theory, and I have loved doing power yoga.
Q: Do you follow a training plan? Or do you run more on feel?
A: Right now it’s feel-- it’s been a busy and hard and draining year, so I’ve been trying to keep running as something I love, while also not being dumb. I had an AMAZING coach for my last marathon training cycle, and I’ll go back to having a coach when the time is right! Right now, I’m traveling too much to have anything particularly consistent.
Q: You’re based out of Boulder, CO, basically the trail runner’s mecca! Is it easy to keep feeling fresh in your training when your access to beauty seems like it’s unending? Do you have any advice for other women who may feel a little stuck in their training right now?
A: Go outside! Get off Instagram. Get off Strava. Get off Garmin Connect… and just RUN! Fall in love with running and fall in love with the woman you run with (yourself!), and the feeling you get from pushing yourself and prevailing-- whether that means nailing a workout, finishing a workout, or even just showing up to it. At the end of the day, in the most loving of ways, no one cares if you nailed your tempo run or not, but you’ll remember those warm fuzzies and the pride in yourself for a long time from getting out there and showing up for yourself.
Q: I saw on Instagram that your currently in grad school! How do you balance the workload of a student, training, relationships, and travel?
A: I’m a master of time efficiency, only because I decide to be and make time to plan. I plan every day out and chunk my time. I’m diligent with deadlines. If I say I’m done with email at noon and will run until 1:30, I’ll do that, then hop back to work. I’m also most creative and efficient around 4pm, so I do smaller, less brainy tasks in the morning, workout, get that second coffee, and then KABOOM! I let the creative powers rip in the afternoon. Observing and heeding to my creativity cycles has made me really efficient everyday.
And, of course, clearing my head via working out does WONDERS for my productivity! Everyone’s got 184 hours per week-- it’s just a matter of using them the best way your you!
Q: It looks like your grad program has really brought you to so many places! Have you always been passionate about travel and culture?
A: Yes, but I didn’t really know what it meant to be a traveler versus a tourist. Thanks to my work in global education, I really think critically about how and why I travel now. I try not to travel in a bucket list sort of way… but rather see where I can travel where I can step the most lightly, disrupt existing communities the least, and in which I can engage with the community in ethical ways. I tend not to take photos of myself “conquering” a place, a peak, and I tend to return to places I’ve been to and remain relationships.
Q: Do you keep up training while abroad?
A: Yes, but it becomes more about the place than the workouts. If I have access and it’s safe to run, I’ll run, though I may have to shift my expected paces or workouts. The places I work in India, it’s actually a bit stand-offish for (Western) women to be running by people who are out laboring, so I might bring a jump rope and sweat in that way (holy crap, jumproping is HARD, by the way!).
Q: Has traveling so much impacted the way you view of the world? Of being an American?
A: Absolutely. I’m aware of the physical and vocal space I take up as an American, and my expectations of this type of space. I end up traveling to places with small, tight-knit communities, and I’ve seen what it means to welcome others, to love others without reservation, and to work hard. People often immediately ask me if I “do service” when I travel, and I’ve been fortunate to work with incredible people who dedicate their lives educating others about ethical and dignified work, in which one learns about service.
Q: What advice would you give to a young woman considering pursuing solo travel?
A: Do it! Research where you want to go, what you want to do, and be flexible! Think about where you are going and why. Research where you are going, see where you might build community before traveling and if there are any group runs or training groups in town. It’s a great way to get connected and maybe even see some stunning environments you normally wouldn’t venture to see.
THE FUN STUFF
Q: Do you have a best run ever?
A: I had a really spectacular run for no particular reason on the BCMC trail in Vancouver the other day. It was just a beautiful day, and I was grinding up a beautiful trail with a person I love!
Q: Dream races or places to run?
A: Oh golly. So many. Would love to go back to Nepal, the Andes, adn Patagonia, Iceland, Bolivia,
Q: Do you have any favorite runner you follow?
A: @Tritonal_Runner always keeps it real, @Jessdoingit_ will forever be my workout buddy extraordinare, @misshellshock always makes me laugh and is a total badass and @kkroo917 is my Colorado mountain adventure buddy! These girls always cheer me up!
Q: Favorite post-run food:
A: I’m never hungry right after I run… but in a few hours, usually tacos! And a margarita :)
Q: Favorite coffee:
A: COFFEE!!!!!!!!!! All of it! Especially foamy macchiattos
Q: Something that is challenging you right now?
A:Jump squats, Donald Trump, and tight hip flexors
Q: Something that is rewarding you right now?
A: Teaching, learning, and foam rolling
Q; What are you most looking forward to in 2018?
A: Oh golly! Heaps. I am excited for new and different races, more focused training, and being a bit more settled in my job with more attention on training. I’m building a race calendar this year, and I’m getting really pumped about it! I’m in education, so my year starts in September.