In the world of U.S. distance running, Becky Wade may not stand tall at 5’1″ but her impact has already been huge in the professional running scene. In 2013 she ran her debut marathon in a smoking fast time of 2:30, en route to taking home the win at the California International Marathon in Sacramento. She is also a speedster on the track where she qualified and raced in the 2012 Olympic Trials for Steeplechase. This past summer summer Becky moved from her home base in Houston to Mammoth Lakes, CA for an altitude training stint where she found herself living across the street from Morgan where the two shared many rides to practice, trail runs and delicious meals together. With lots of exciting running and personal happenings in the life of Becky right now, we took the time to chat with this adventurous, intelligent and all-around badass woman. Warning: inspiration is inevitable!
Tell us about a typical day in the life of Becky Wade!
I wake early, usually between 5-6 am, and depending on my workout time, I’m either out the door for a shake-out run or heading to a coffee shop to get the day going. I’m writing a book right now, so it’s given me a great outlet outside of running as well as a chance to explore the Houston cafe scene.
The book you are writing is tentatively titled Going The Distance. Tell us what it is going to be about and where the inspiration came from.
Going The Distance is a travel narrative about the year I spent traveling and running around the world. Right after graduating from Rice University and competing in the Olympic Trials, I left the U.S. and visited 22 countries, stayed with 72 hosts (all running-related in some way), and logged over 3,500 miles over the course of 12 months. Through this book, I hope to share my journey and some of the insights about other running traditions that I saw, and hopefully inspire others to seek new perspectives for this inclusive, global sport.
You traveled the world after earning the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for a year-long independent study. Tell us about your most memorable run and country that you visited.
My most memorable runs of the year occurred on Entoto Mountain in Sululta, Ethiopia. A few times per week during my two-month stay, I would hail a minibus in the dark, ride it to the base of the mountain, hike uphill for about an hour, stash my backpack with a market vendor in a little village at the top, and then take off on a run. I’d run anywhere between an hour and 3 hours (once, on accident), sometimes alone, sometimes with new friends. The views of Addis Ababa that I got, the steady burning feeling in my lungs at 10,000 feet, as well as the occasional glimpse of a hyena or monkey, made those mornings some of the most special runs of my life so far.
What is the best and craziest thing you ate during your world travels?
The best thing I ate was a fresh sushi feast that my host family in Tokyo, the Griffens, shared with me. Tim and Suse host an annual make-your-own sushi party and get all of the ingredients from Tsukiji fish market, the largest in the world. It set a new standard for sushi, and I’ve been hesitant to eat sushi in the U.S. since returning. The weirdest thing I ate was probably blood pudding (basically sausage made of pork blood and oatmeal) in Ireland. My friends and distant relatives, Padraig and Lisa, introduced me to a few classically Irish foods, and I have to say that blood pudding was one that I probably won’t seek out again. But I’m glad I tried it! I also had grilled kangaroo in Australia, which was a first.
You spent the summer training at altitude (8,000 feet) in Mammoth Lakes, CA alongside the likes of Deena Kastor and the Mammoth Track Club. What did you learn during your training stint? What was it like to train amongst such a big group of marathoners?
Last summer in Mammoth was one of the most enjoyable, peaceful, and inspiring training stints I’ve ever had. I was continually humbled and impressed by the incredible athletes I got to train with, and it was a dream to pick up some of Deena’s wisdom through runs and meals. I was used to training alone, so having a fun, close group of people to meet up with every single day was such a luxury. Coach (Andrew) Kastor took such good care of me, shuttling me around to the workouts, answering all of my questions, and including me in all of the team’s activities. Mammoth really is a runner’s paradise and I’m looking forward to my next visit.
You ran almost everyday with your boyfriend Will during your stay in Mammoth, do you two still have training that overlaps? Elaborate on what it’s like to be able to train together as a couple.
It was really nice having Will in Mammoth, and we had an awesome time exploring such a beautiful place together. Although he often can’t relate, he has a pretty good understanding of the way that I approach my running and bring a nice balance into my life. We got to run together a lot in Mammoth- most easy runs and a handful of long runs- and while he’s moved down to the mile for a little while, we still get to run together a little bit and I’m looking forward to logging some big miles with him again soon.
You come from a family with 2 sets of twins! Do any of your siblings or parents run? We know you are a close knit family, what are your favorite things to do when you get together?
I come from a very athletic family, and I’m definitely the least athletic of us (other than maybe my mom. Sorry, Suz!). My dad played football at the University of Texas, both of my brothers played club lacrosse at UT, and my sister has run a couple marathons. She still runs a lot, and my older brother got into running one summer that he lived in a house of runners with me in Boulder, logging almost 100 miles one week. My twin is ironically the least into running, much preferring to lift weights or eat candy. When all six of us are together, it can feel a bit like a zoo, but I love it that way! Some of my favorite moments are in the wintertime when we’re all lounging around the fire, reading, playing games, and just talking. My family is incredibly supportive of each other, and they really inspire me to get everything out of myself in running.
You dealt with an injury this fall. What did you do to bounce back and what are you doing now to stay healthy? What advice do you give an athlete dealing with a sports injury or looking to prevent them?
Staying occupied while I have to be off my legs is huge. It’s so easy to get consumed by an injury and rehab and projections for the future, so I find that doing other engaging, mentally stimulating things are helpful. When I got a little banged up in the fall, I picked up a part-time job as an HR Assistant at a homeless shelter for youth, and also got to spend extra time in the kitchen, reading, and hanging out at home in Dallas for a little bit. Being ultra-attentive to your body, keeping up with core and general strength exercises, and taking regular off days are bits of advice I’d give to other runners who struggle to stay healthy.
During your injury you gave currexSole RUNPRO insoles a try. Not only did you notice a difference, you also liked them so much that you jumped on board as a sponsored athlete (their first in the U.S.). tell us about how the insoles have helped you.
As a professional marathoner, my feet and footstrike are imperative parts of my performance and health. After trying about 5 different orthotics and insoles over the years, I’ve finally found my match in currexSole. They’re comfortable, light, and the perfect balance between soft yet supportive, and they allow me to run naturally and fluidly.
What is your next race?
The ASICS LA Marathon which is also the U.S. Marathon National Championships on March 15th.
What’s your favorite pump up song?
Falling Star R3K Remix by Kid Cudi and Florence + the Machine
What are your favorite running shoes?
My favorite shoes to train in are the ASICS DS-Trainers, and my favorite flats are the ASICS HyperSpeed.
What is a typical pre-race meal?
I don’t really have one standard pre-race dinner, but an example is grilled chicken or salmon with potatoes and a side salad. And breakfast before a morning race is always a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, honey, and cinnamon… and coffee of course!
What is your favorite thing to cook?
I’m on an Indian kick recently and have been making some fun stuff with lentils and fun spices.
When you’re not running you like to:
Cook, write, draw, go to coffee shops, watch documentaries, organize anything, and spend time with the people I love.
Be sure to follow Becky on twitter (@bexwade89) and to cheer her on at the upcoming LA Marathon where she will compete for the win and the U.S. National Marathon title! For more reading about Becky check out “Meet America’s Best Young Marathoner” via Runner’s World.