Big - no, HUGE - changes!!
I've decided to make a leap. A giant, scary leap. As of this Friday, I am a professional runner.
I am very thankful for the opportunities I had with Red Wing Shoes. I learned so much there, and was surrounded by brilliant, hard working, and great people. I will truly miss working there. But had come to the realization in the last few months that I was stretching myself too thin and I was not able to be as successful in either my career or my running as I wanted to be.
I also knew my heart wasn't 100% into my position at RWSC. As much as I love finance and business (I've known that's what I wanted to do since I was 10, asking to do my parents taxes and household budgeting!), I found myself struggling to find the motivation to go above and beyond and be creative with the businesses I was managing. This is very a-typical of me. Anyone that knows me knows that I love nothing more than to think of ways to improve things and seek out opportunities. I found myself exhausted almost all of the time. Weekends were spent working and catching up on the sleep I didn't get during the week. One recent weekend morning Nate and I had planned to go up to a ski race (I was scheduled for a 20 mile run so was going to do that while he skied) and then we were going to go to a wine tasting together. How fun, right? When the alarm went off, I couldn't get out of bed. I told Nate that I was just too exhausted and just needed to sleep. Nate understood, but commented on how sad that was - how I wasn't able to enjoy things like I once was, and how truly exhausted and tired I was all the time.
At the same time, I've found myself becoming more and more interested in and excited about the prospect of coaching. While I should have been reading blogs and websites about finance, I was reading blogs about endurance running/training, strength routines, and fitness. I went to track meets to cheer on my Gusties and found myself bouncing around, happy, talking to athletes, cheering, timing, etc. The true Nichole. It was natural for me, and I had a huge smile on my face the entire time :)
This is something that Nate and I have talked about for a while. I really wanted to leave the corporate world and run professionally, but knew it just wasn't smart. My entire life I've set myself up for the position I had - I graduated summa cum laude from Gustavus, pursued the internships I needed, landed a great job at Lockheed Martin, pursued my MBA part-time at night (was the youngest person admitted into the Carlson School program), graduated from LM's leadership program, took a job as a business unit controller at Red Wing, etc - every move that I had made was in pursuit of that next promotion and more responsibility. So what do you do when you want to do something that isn't "smart", isn't part of that lifelong plan? And especially, when what you want do is a huge financial change??? It certainly can't be smart, leaving a six figure income.
I waited for the longest time, praying that something would come and help make the decision for me... but I was too swamped, too busy every minute of the day to recognize or create an opportunity (WHEN do I have time to shadow coaches? Or take the USATF certification course?). Is coaching really what I want to do? I've considered teaching at the collegiate level as well, pursuing a 2nd Masters or PhD in something like exercise science, nutrition, math, or business/finance). Now I'll have time to explore all of these opportunities. Again, I think coaching is where I will land, but I will be thankful to make the most informed decision possible.
Jerry sent me my plan a few weeks ago, saying, "This will be hard to do with full time work". A schedule with a high of 120 miles/week, plus strength, striders, plyos, and all of the other little things;. I've become very good at managing mileage with full time work, but knew it'd be hard. Most of the Tuesdays were scheduled for 20-24 miles (usually a 18-20 mile morning workout plus a PM shake out run). He also threw around the idea of shooting for the A standard this fall (sub 2:37). I stared at that for a while. Is that even possible?!? I really don't know if I have that much natural talent - but at least now I can see where I can get, instead of wondering who I could have been.
I am thankful for the hard work that I have put in over the last 10 years. We have made sound financial decisions, I have so many sponsors that believe in me, that this allows me the opportunity to make such a change, which is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I am also very excited to explore my career paths. Over the next couple of weeks I hope to get in contact with some of the best coaches in the US to ask if I can shadow them for 2-3 days to see how they work - how they've built their teams, how their athletes view them, how the recruit - everything! [Does anyone reading have anyone I should contact?!??] I'll pursue a level 1 USATF coaches certification. I'll shadow Donna and train with the Carleton team (Donna is such an amazing coach!). I'll train my tail off, trying to learn everything I can about high mileage training, tapering, strength training and nutrition.
I'll also pursue personal coaching relationships to broaden my experience. I've been doing some personal coaching for a couple of months now, but am very excited for the time to expand that going forward. (If anyone is looking for some help with their running, let me know!). I will build a coaching section to this blog in the next week or so with more info.
I'll also use this time to focus on my overall health, which has needed more attention.
I cannot tell you how excited this makes me!!
My schedule is obviously much more open now, so let me know if you'd like to sync up for a run!
Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!
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