This week we are high-fiving FiTONIC's Athlete of the Week: Runner, Paula Piscopo! Paula has a unique outlook on fitness and why she chooses to push herself every year toward her running goals. In this interview, she challenges us to not take our body for granted and keep the right perspective when pursing whole body health!
Hi! Tell us a little about yourself and your fitness journey!
I am a mother of two daughters, wife, runner & yogi. I was always an active kid growing up, trying to keep up with my older boy cousins. During high school I fell in love with basketball, & to stay in shape after I graduated I kept running. While living in Alaska in my early 20s I participated in my first 10k, the Midnight Sun Run in Fairbanks.
After that, I enjoyed having a race on the calendar to keep me motivated. So far I've completed 22 races of varying distances between 3.1 and 13.1 miles. I'm currently running towards a 500 mile goal for the year to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, training for my 4th half marathon, and gaining the confidence to run my 1st full marathon.
I've also stuck with a yoga routine for the last year, which I believe has been the greatest factor in improving my running. Oftentimes it counts as both strength and stretching, has improved my recovery and speed work, as well as body awareness and mental focus.
What first inspired you to pursue this path?
My first inspiration came from two close girlfriends who also kept running post high school, and made it look so effortless. My inspiration lately has come from those who can't run. When I run I think of them and how I don't want to take my body for granted.
What do you believe to be your greatest strength and weakness?
I think my greatest strength is a desire to keep learning and strive towards self improvement. I've been able to improve upon my mental game and positive attitude which I've found to be very helpful for endurance. My greatest weakness is not strength training! I think most runners would say this with a sigh, & I'm working on it - I know it’s what will keep me injury free.
Have you worked with coaches? If so, what is one major takeaway that you have learned through them?
I've never had a formal coach, but listen to some running podcasts, fitness coaches, and read a lot of articles & books. Recently I've resonated with the quote "every footfall is a prayer to mother earth, and breath a prayer to father sky" as well as Deena Kastor's positive attitude towards running, and Allie Van Fossen's, my online yoga teacher, advice on having a morning routine, meditation, self care, & doing the inner work. Mostly I stick to what feels good, and rest when I need it.
What is the hardest part about what you do?
The hardest part is scheduling the time to do the run/yoga/strength with two young kids. Not only the scheduling and doing but the not feeling guilty while your out there on a three hour run.
What is the most rewarding?
More recently it's been rewarding raising money for MS research, or running a race that contributes to a worthy cause or organization. On a smaller scale its rewarding in the moment of running, when you can appreciation all the sensory stimulation, & capability of your body. And I'm sure it's rewarding for my family when I return after a run in a much better mood.
What is your nutrition like? Any tips?
I've always been a proponent of everything in moderation including moderation. That being said the more active you are the easier it is to choose things that make you feel good like healthy fruits and veggies, protein smoothies, and WATER!
Do you have any words of encouragement for women who are just beginning their fitness journey?
If you are just starting, find any kind of movement that feels good for you, it might be dancing, walking, biking, swimming. Don't play into the comparison game of trying to keep up with your running friend for example if you don't enjoy running. I'd also advise not to focus on weight or body transformation only. Of course getting healthy is important but if you want to make a lifestyle change having fun, feeling good, and loving yourself for who you already are are essential.
Looking forward to the future, who do you WANNABE?
In the future I wannabe a marathon finisher! & possibly a yoga teacher. Mostly I want to be a good role model for my daughters.
BIG thank you to Paula for being our Athlete of the Week!
You can connect with her at:
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