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April 27, 2018

Spotlight On: Deena Kastor, Olympic Medalist and Author of Let Your Mind Run

The 4-1-1 on Deena:

  • Born: Waltham, Massachusetts
  • Current hometown: Mammoth Lakes, California
  • Astrological sign: Aquarius
  • Favorite podcast: Live Happy Now
  • Dream job when you were younger: Baker
  • Area of focus: I'm an Olympic medalist and American record holder in the marathon. I currently balance my time between being an athlete, mom, wife, and author.

5 Questions With Deena

Tell us a little bit about Let Your Mind Run. What inspired you to write it?
My first professional coach showed me that all we possessbe it money, food, time, or knowledgeincreases in value the moment it is shared. He inspired my lifes philosophy: If you have it, share it. So, all of the lessons Ive learned from the sport that went beyond my training program and came from harnessing a positive mindset are revealed in the book.

How have the practices of positivity and strategic joy shaped your life and your career as a professional runner?
Positivity and strategic joy has not only enhanced my running career, it has affected every aspect of my life. With a positive mindset, the days are packed, abundant and totally satisfying to my body, mind, and spirit. It has taken years of practice to be immersed in happiness, but every shift and focus along the way has been met with a better outcome and perspective. It doesnt surprise me that positivity works, what surprises me is that it works every time. Each practice builds on the one before and its never too late, and always worth it, to begin.

What are some everyday rituals people can do to cultivate a positive mindset?
The two easiest practices to jumpstart a positive path are to focus on gratitude and strategically add joy to your routine. When you keep a gratitude list, with no duplicate items on the list, you begin to focus on things that bring you joy in the day as opposed to things that irritate, frustrate, or bring you down. Re-wiring yourself to look at the good, brings good to the forefront and negativity to the background of your perspective. And strategically adding joy to the more mundane or unpleasant aspect of our jobs or daily lives is simple and rewarding. Im a homebody who needs to travel for races and motivational speeches. Sometimes, checking into a hotel feels depressing and isolating, so I go to a local florist and grab a small arrangement for my nightstand. Even a pot of basil from a local grocer has brightened the feel of a sterile room. The act alone is a way of respecting my feelings and making a hotel room feel like home. I also put lavender in my running shoes to freshen them, bake fresh scones or cinnamon rolls for breakfast when mornings begin to feel routine or boring, and put fun quotes on our great room chalkboard to inspire. There is most likely an aspect of your job that is necessary but that you dont enjoy as much this is where strategic joy does its best work.

Being in a competitive profession, how did you fight the temptation to compare yourself to other or to not feel good enough?
Oh, gosh! Comparing ourselves to others or even ourselves when we we're at our best is normal, but not necessarily productive. I take the approach of making the best of a moment, because when we give the best of ourselves in any place in time, the accumulation of those choices offers confidence that we are at our best.

Whats one of the greatest pieces of advice youve ever received?
Define yourself. It was what my coach said to me before I got to the starting line of the Chicago Marathon. It has become my mantra in tough moments. Because we can sometimes feel like victims, and sorry for ourselves or defeated, but if we take that moment to define who we are, it becomes about our character and how we want to respond in the face of adversity. Defining ourselves gives us power no matter the circumstances.

Learn more about Deena here.

Photo: Jeremy Teicher


Natalie Reece

Creator of @WordsMeetWalls. Ginger. Yogi. Usually has a pen, book, or glass of red wine in hand.