Q: International Friendships?

Good Morning, Lauren!

Do you forge strong relationships with your international peers?
Cheers, UK

 

A:

Dear Cheers-

Yes, I do.  I’ll tell you why, and I’ll also give a few examples so you can see how these relationships take shape for me.

In general, I have closer relationships with international peers than I do with other American women in my events.  With American women, competitiveness tends to make it awkward.  It takes special chemistry to overcome that.

With international women, our backgrounds are entirely different, training concepts are often novel, and perceptions of what is possible can be strikingly different.  My relationships with foreign athletes have shaped my career goals and opened my eyes to new ways of doing things.  The fact that we represent different nations makes us less competitive with one another, and more likely to work together to reach a time or a goal.  Also, its easier to be around an international athlete and find hundreds of topics to discuss other than running since our experiences and opinions are so varied.  Relationships can be more multi-dimensional.

Malindi Elmore from Canada and I were best friends and teammates at Stanford.

We became sisters and learned so much from one another about pretty much every topic in life.  When it came to running, she was the first person to bring an international view to my attention, and she guided my focus toward the possibility of a post-collegiate career.  She was brought up in a system from a young age that focused on international competition and had role models who were Olympians.  She taught me how to think about the big picture.

Georgie and I Georgina Clarke from Australia and I met on a train in London and have remained close ever since.  We plan training camps in each other’s countries and build each other up for success.

Kim Smith from New Zealand is someone I greatly respect, who opens my eyes to new ways of doing things.  I’ll never forget when we sat down over coffee in Belgium, and I said I wanted to know how to get her endurance and she said she wanted to learn how to get my finishing speed.  We scribbled out and described all our key workouts, holding back nothing, believing that there is enough room at the top for both of us on a great year.

I know lovely women athletes from Ireland whose friendships were built on mutual respect and months of time spent messing around in Europe between meets.  I would gladly rabbit any of these women to a personal best if they asked me to.  When they, or any of the previously mentioned women succeed, I am filled with confidence.

To be honest, women like these are the most intimate part of my professional athlete experience, and the part that I know I will miss most when I eventually hang up my spikes.  The racing is great, but it pales in comparison to the friendships.

-Lauren