Nicki’s running background: Nicki and I have been running since 6th grade, but she was much more competitive than I was early on. She won basically every single middle school distance race she ever ran, and was immediately successful when we got to high school. She ran 2:14 in the 800m our freshman year (in Denver, so high altitude) to earn 2nd place at state, was 3rd in our state Cross Country race sophomore year, earned 2nd place in the 3200m run our junior year, and was ready for a big senior year before she suffered her first stress fracture at the beginning of the cross country season.
Nicki is my twin sister, so of course her story of injury and finding passion outside of running is important to me. One big part of my motivation to achieve my highest potential in my own running was because Nicki simply could not. She faced her first stress fracture our senior year of high school, and went on recruiting visits to college on crutches/in a boot. After that, she entered into a vicious cycle of stress fractures— one that is familiar for many female runners. Her second fracture was right before beginning her freshman year at CU. The third fracture was right before starting her sophomore year at CU. And they didn’t stop there. In total, she’s had 7 stress fractures in the last 7 years.
She ended up leaving CU altogether halfway through sophomore year, heading to a smaller D2 school. Instead of obsessing about cross training and spending the rest of her college career chasing PR’s and All-American honors, she threw herself into studying exercise science, with the goal of getting into a DPT (doctoral physical therapy) program after undergrad. She achieved this goal and is now ending her 2nd year in her DPT program at Cal State Sacramento. Although she’s tried to continue running off and on, it hasn’t been her main focus. I wanted to share her story because it’s important to remember that when the running door closes, others will open. Here’s Nicki’s story:
When did you start running?
I can’t quite pin point a time in my life that I would say I started running just because I was a hyper kid and just kind of ran everywhere but if I had to say a time I would say in 2nd-3rd grade when my twin sister got a medal at the “fun run” (everyone in the school racing each other) and I was jealous and so I made it my goal for the next year to beat her. From then on, both my sister and I have been running competitively since 6th grade.
What was your relationship with running during college?
My relationship with running during college was one of much heart break and lost potential. By lost potential, I just mean always wondering “what could have been.” I started my college running career at the University of Colorado with high hopes and aspirations. Unfortunately, as I’m sure many runners can relate, injuries got in the way.
Talk about any injuries you dealt with:
I have had 7 stress fractures from running (two in my left tibia, right tibia, left mid-shaft femur, right mid-shaft femur, right neck of femur and left neck of femur). I would be lying if I said going through these injuries didn’t make me who I am today or influence my career choice. I believe everything happens for a reason and yes, it was disappointing and miserable at times to deal with being injured and not running but it made me who I am.
What are you doing now?
Currently, I’m working on my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. I’m finishing my second year and about to start my first clinical rotation this summer. So for the most part I just study and workout ha! (with of course frozen yogurt outings). In terms of working out, I’ve been really into indoor cycling the past couple of years. My workouts usually consist of cycling and core workouts. Right now, I’m inspired to incorporate more circuit training and resistance training into my workout routine to get stronger.
What are your plans for running in the future?
I don’t have any plans…only to enjoy it whenever I do it but also to not over do it!
How did you discover your interests outside of running?
My interests outside of running really took hold because of the role running played in my life. I spent time in physical therapy due to the running injuries I had and it sparked my interest in pursuing a career in it. My interests in cycling are also due to having to find some other form of cardio besides running that I could do for cross training. It used to be something I had to do while injured, but now I just enjoy it!
Were you always able to balance running and these other passions?
In high school my twin sister and I took it upon ourselves to do ALL of the sports and join EVERY club possible so we really got good at balancing everything we had going on. I think that the experience of staying busy in high school and college has really made it easy and somewhat satisfying to balancing running/working out with everything else going on in life. Working out has just become something that I do every day to feel energized and to destress.
Has running ever gotten in the way of developing other passions or interests?
I definitely think it could have gotten in the way while I was training competitively because I was always worried about what to eat, how much to sleep, scheduling, etc and it was hard to be adventurous and to find other passions or hobbies. But running is something that I love and I loved competing so I don’t regret it at all.
How has your early career development been affected by running, if it has?
My first few years of college I didn’t focus at all on my career or what I wanted to do because of running and dealing with injuries. After I was able to come to terms with not competing in running any more I was able to take a step back and focus on what I needed to do to make a plan for a career.
Do you see running as your main passion, or as something that you do on the side?
At one time in my life it was my main passion and something I identified with. Now, it’s more of something I do on the side but still enjoy. My focus now is more on school and staying healthy.
How has running’s role changed in your life from college to post-college?
While running in college I feel like I was confined to only running and that’s it. The only time I really did anything else was when I was injured and was “forced” to go in the pool or on the bike for cross training. Now I really enjoy being able to switch up running with cycling or swim workouts and not feeling confined to only doing one thing. I definitely miss training for races and having a race to look forward to but now I mostly do it to stay healthy and to feel good.
-Nicki and Jenny