Our positive running story this time is on Kirsten Borbe, a runner, mum and shining light who currently lives in Boulder, Colorado. (Kirsten is pictured above, photo credit Glen Delman) Kirsten is a member of Revolution Running in Boulder, although I sadly haven’t had the opportunity to run with or coach her as yet! She has always impressed with her positive and reflective outlook on running and life – you will get a flavor for this from her story below. We recently asked Kirsten if we could interview her and share her positive running story – here is the result of our interview:
Can you share a brief running history up to the present day?
I think I started running as soon as I could walk. I was an active child and took to sports and physical movement very easily. Throughout my younger years, other than a brief bit of track and field in middle school, I played soccer, lacrosse and downhill ski raced. In the field sports, I was often playing midfield positions where I had the opportunity to run quite a bit and with bursts of speed. It wasn’t really until after college that I started to dabble in road races. I raced sporadically at best while in medical school and residency—running the Chicago marathon during my internship year proved an interesting challenge. My thirties were consumed with medical practice and growing a family. It wasn’t really until about age 40/41 that I started to run with more focus and reentered the world of recreational racing. Since that time, I’ve covered distances from the 5K to the marathon. I’ve toggled back and forth between road and trail running and find I enjoy both for different reasons.
What are the top three things you like most about running, and why?
Oh my! It would be very hard to pick only three things, but I will try my best 🙂
1) Running literally makes every cell in my body joyful. It is a chance to reboot, recharge, refocus, feel grateful and experience strength and a feeling of capability.
2) Running has a sweet simplicity about it. It doesn’t require complicated equipment and it can be done anywhere; “anywhere” can take me on some pretty fantastic adventures, that’s for sure. This unfettered feeling amidst a busy life with many responsibilities is so freeing.
3). Last, but certainly not least, the running community is a vibrant and steadfast group of amazing people. It’s really an honor to connect and share in the camaraderie and support that weaves us all together.
You recently posted on Facebook about the importance of filling his confidence cup for your son. Have you always been a confident person, and what do you do to fill your confidence cup?
As a younger person, confidence was not necessarily overflowing from my cup. I had to cultivate it by choosing purposely challenging goals to overcome. For me, the confidence usually came after I achieved the stated goal. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to draw from prior experiences to feel more confident in new and novel challenges; re-framing thoughts and perspectives around situations has been key. Developing resilience has been a huge boost for my confidence; resilience enables me to feel confident in my effort even if I’m uncertain of the outcome.
You are a member of Revolution Running, one of the top training groups in the Front Range. What difference has being a part of this group made to your running, and what are your top three reasons to be working with a coach as a member of the club?
Running is an activity that can be done alone or with others and each has its benefits. The group dynamic is so helpful in pushing through hard efforts. The encouragement and support of a group is such a gift both directly related to run training and in life in general. We are social beings and feeling connected is super important.
In my opinion, it is a huge benefit to work with a good coach who gets to know you. My coach provides a sensible and safe structure to workouts so that all I have to do is execute. There is no second guessing and that lowers the stress. He puts it all together so that I can just enjoy the effort (and yes, I enjoy even the hardest efforts even though I might feel differently in the moment ). 😉 A good coach will know when to push you and when to hold you back a little. Of course, we rely on our own body cues to know this as well, but it’s great to have someone helping you progress who is an objective observer. (Club Director Ewen North is Kirsten’s coach.)
You recently said that running is like a stew. You need to have all the ingredients in there, in the right amounts! How do you get tempted to leave out some ingredients or adapt quantities so it messes up your stew, and how have you learned to get yourself back on track?
Running is the most delicious stew! And yes, all the ingredients do need to be in there in the right amounts. I get tempted to leave out the ingredients that I enjoy the least…the biggest one is recovery. The recovery ingredient is a bit of a moving target, so it’s the hardest one to optimize, in my opinion. I’ve learned to be honest in admitting how my body is feeling and how it is responding. I’ve had to really prioritize my commitment to recovery. If I’m feeling tempted to push when I know I probably shouldn’t, I just remind myself of the science…and I remind myself how much better a stew is when a key ingredient hasn’t been left out. 😉
Can you share one thing that is uniquely Kirsten that no one would know by looking at you?
I do actually own a hairbrush even though I don’t look like I own one most of the time. 😛 😛 😛
Ok serious-I think many people see me as intense and tough. While those may be accurate descriptions, I also am a tender hearted “softie”. It’s kind of a unique combination of traits🤷♀️.
Last Spring, you were finding yourself questioning your training, yourself, your abilities, and more….you also got sick, something you said at the time that hardly ever happens. How did you get yourself out of that funky place, and did any lessons come from this that you still use today?
At that time I was following a program for a marathon build that was very aggressive. I was struggling with Achilles issues and pushing quite hard. I was giving myself very little permission to back things off and I think I started to overreach too far; I also was not recovering properly. Eventually, the illness sidelined me for about a week. In retrospect, I ended up being grateful for that illness because my structural issues got a chance to heal and improve. It was my body waving the white flag of surrender and I had to stop and listen. I learned to employ patience instead of panic; I gained comfort with the concept of “marinating a little”…it brings out the flavor later. 😀
If we could share one key message on your behalf to the World, what would it say?
Oh wow. There is a lot riding on this one!! Love should be at the center of every action and choice that we make in life—both in how we interact with others and ourselves. Our passions and aspirations (be they running or something else) should be fueled by devotion rather than discipline.
What are you running and life goals for 2019, and beyond?
In 2019, I’m running my first Boston Marathon! I’m excited for this opportunity and will give it my all. After three sequential road marathon builds, I’ll be reconnecting with the trails a bit more this summer in preparation for the Grand Traverse. This will be my first attempt at an ultra. There will be lots of running at high altitude and I’m hopeful there will be some epic adventures in there. If I am successful in GT, I would love to plan to do the R2R2R in the fall. The theme here is taking a small break from the road marathon to let the body re-balance and the mind rest and recharge.
As for life goals in 2019, I’m looking for peace and a feeling of wholeness as well as a chance to really grab life and look it square in the eyes, so to speak. In addition to raising my two amazing kids, it’ll be time to refocus on my career and possibly create a bit of reinvention around my vocation. 2019 is uncharted waters…it’s simultaneously terrifying and thrilling like many awesome adventures are ;)!!! Stay tuned…
We wish Kirsten every success with her running and life goals for the year ahead, especially with your creative reinvention on your vocation!
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