Since October I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview an incredible line up of runners for my “5 Questions” interview series, and this week is no different! I am excited to share with you my interview with professional runner Lauren Fleshman!
A talented track and field athlete, Lauren attended Stanford University where she racked up an incredible number of accolades, including being a 15-time All-American and 5-time NCAA champion…in addition to earning her BA in Human Biology and MA in Education. Professionally, Lauren was the U.S. 5000M champion in 2006 and 2011, with many impressive finishes at the IAAF World Championships and other events over the years.
Lauren’s success does not end on the track, however. In 2010 she helped found Picky Bars, a gluten and diary free energy bar company. She has been featured multiple times on the cover of Runner’s World magazine. At the beginning of 2013 she joined Oiselle as a runner and business partner. Later that year, Lauren and husband Jesse Thomas welcomed their son Jude into the world. Lauren also runs a successful website, Ask Lauren Fleshman, where she shares insights and inspiration from her life and career. She currently lives in Oregon with her family, where she also coaches a group of professional women runners.
5 Questions With: Lauren Fleshman
In 2013 you gave birth to your son Jude. How has becoming a mom changed your perspective on running and life in general?
Motherhood is hard. Co-parenting is hard. But so is running. So is school. So is anything worth doing. It hasn’t changed my perspective on running as much as I thought it would. But I feel more connected to the next generation, to my ancestors, and more aware of the legacy we are all leaving by how we live every day.
How important do you feel it is to have companies such as Oiselle who cater specifically to women, and what does it mean to you to be able to be involved with them?
It means everything to have a healthy ecosystem of companies passionate and invested in our sport. No matter how big or small, men’s only, women’s only, or gargantuan like the big shoe co’s, we need to make sure our sport has a seat at the table for everyone. This means staying on top of USATF’s selling of athlete’s marketing assets to one big brand without compensating the athletes while alienating everyone else, and protecting athlete’s rights to make a living.
Having an opportunity to jump on board with a small but powerful women’s brand, Oiselle, at this important time in our sport’s history, is a gift. The product is the best hands down, the people are incredibly smart and creative, and the community is unlike any other in their willingness to support, encourage, and support what’s right, no matter what logo is on someone’s chest.
Your website is not only beautifully designed but brings useful and inspirational messages to so many people. What has been the most rewarding part of your work through the site?
ALF is a place where I can be myself, process things, and go through my development as an athlete and human in a way that is open to others. I’m not a particularly private person, though I do need my me time daily, but the most rewarding part of the experience with my site over the years is realizing what a positive difference it makes to people to simply see the truth before their eyes on sometimes difficult topics.
We all have a tendency to hide our flaws and try to present our “best selves” publicly but my blog has taught me that our flaws are part of the development of our best selves, and if we don’t share the ugly moments, nobody gets to see the mechanisms for growth taking place in real time.
Our heroes seem impossible, and our low points make us feel inferior, when the reality is everyone is screwing up all the time and all we need to do is learn how to process it and move forward more effectively so we can spend more time on earth growing with our eyes wide open.
I love this quote from your website:
“When you dream big, the line to success is far from straight, peppered with injuries, screw ups, and plain old bad luck. You just keep fighting, learning, and adapting, and victories come. Things don’t always turn out the way you imagined, but take it from me, the journey is worth it.”
What other advice might you have for those working hard towards their dreams, whatever they may be?
Don’t be a slave to a dream. Just because you once said you wanted something doesn’t mean you have to want it forever. Dreams and goals should be something you re-cast every so often, making sure they still resonate with your heart. Otherwise, you are being dragged around by a dream with a blindfold on, missing other dreams that are more relevant to you now. Refine your dreams, let them evolve, and don’t let other people’s definition of success define what is meaningful to you.
With the 2016 Olympics looming in distance, what is your plan of attack for 2015 and what is your outlook for 2016?
My plan for 2015 is to get back into nationally competitive shape, hopefully sniffing the world standard of 15:20, and then in 2016 do USA XC in Bend, OR and be ready by track season to set a PR and crack into the 14:50’s and be competitive on the international stage.
Bonus: If you could build a running Dream Team, who would be on it and who would coach it?
I am living my running Dream Team right now. I coach Little Wing, Oiselle’s pro women team, and on that team are Christine Babcock, Mel Lawrence, Collier Lawrence, and Kate Grace. Our support crew can’t be beat between Focus, Rebound, and Justine Lucia for body work, and our brain trust within Oiselle for intellectual, financial, and emotional support makes the whole thing possible.