13| Vicki Hunter, runner, writer, and coach: Success lives at the intersection of passion and discipline

Guest Bio

At the age of 36 Vicki Hunter wasn’t guaranteed she’d survive the injuries she’d sustained in a major car accident, let alone whether she’d ever run again. 14 weeks pregnant with her first child at the time, she’d shattered nearly all the bones on her right side, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung, a punctured liver, and no promise she’d fully recover. Now 60, not only has she fully recovered, she’s just as strong of a runner – and arguably even stronger a person than ever.

Having qualified for the Olympic Marathon trials in 1988, she applied everything she knew about marathon training to her rehab. Today she continues to compete in all kinds of running races, from 5k’s to 50k’s, and is currently gearing up for the Boston Marathon. 

Retired from teaching Political Science at the University of Colorado, she’s now focusing on coaching. A certified level II Foundation Training Instructor and a Lydiard certified running coach, Vicki is committed to helping people of all ages maximize their ability to move well. 

She’s also completing a memoir; as it turns out the writing process has a lot in common with endurance sports, which we get into in this episode. 

Connect with Vicki

If you enjoy this episode, please consider buying me a cup of coffee!

In this episode, we talked about…

  • Playing to win from the age of five 
  • Always being the smallest of her friends and her family 
  • Playing competitive tennis at summer camp starting at age 10
  • Playing lacrosse starting her junior year 
  • How sports helped her cope with her mom’s chronic depression and her parents’ divorce
  • How her parents’ death gave her “permission” to write her memoir 
  • How the process of writing her book has not been what she expected it to be (and why that’s okay). 
  • What every commitment you make or goal you set actually has in common with marriage 
  • Training with some of the greatest American runners of the 1980’s in Boulder, Colo. (including Olympic marathon medalist Lorraine Moller, Dave Welsh, Priscilla Welsh, and others)
  • What made her train to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials- despite having only run one marathon in a time of 4:09; she would need to shave well over an hour off her time to meet the qualifying standard of 2:50 
  • How she took about an hour and 20 minutes off her marathon time over an 18-month period.
  • Discovering ultramarathons 
  • The traumatic car accident that could have ended her running career (and her life) when she was 14 weeks pregnant with her first child at the age of 36
  • How she approached her recovery like an athlete 
  • Learning to temper her goal-driven nature and listen to her body 
  • How not listening to her body lead to a major trail running injury in 2016
  • How slowing down gave her the chance to make a beautiful connection on the trail 
  • How writing her memoir has helped her process her family history of addiction and trauma across multiple generations (from her mother to her daughter, who has also struggled with addiction)
  • Why memoir writing is a “soul excavation.”
  • Carrying trauma in your DNA
  • On finding flow as a writer 
  • How running and writing are similar 
  • Expectations for the Boston Marathon 

Quotes
I remember from the time I was five playing tetherball to win.

Moving was always an outlet.

Being married is not easy. I love my husband dearly but you have to choose to stay in it.

Passion has to translate into discipline.

I took everything I knew about training and put it into recovery so I could deliver a healthy baby.

Achievement can ring hollow if you miss steps along the way.

I had to go really deep inside myself to figure out what I needed to change in my life. 

It’s all about balance. 

For me, success is when I follow my passions, I live through those times when it’s really hard, accept those times, but I don’t give up. 

Links/Resources
After Rebounding From a Near-Fatal Car Crash, Vicki Hunter Runs with an Open Mind (Runner’s World)

Bolder Boulder 

Lydiard run training method 

Twin Cities Marathon

Four pass loop at maroon bells in Aspen 

HRV measurement 

Wim Hof Breathing 

Foundation Training 

Eric Goodman’s TEDx talk 

Self-compassion makes you more resilient (research)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Della Owens 

To Sir With Love 

My Octopus Teacher 

DeFeet socks 

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