Nicole Lane's running story and balancing training with a big life move

September 30, 2021

Living a balanced life: determining what is most important to you and expending your time and energy accordingly. Finding balance comes from giving time and energy to the activities and individuals in your life that build you up and give you life; in contrast it requires eliminating the things that stress you out. That latter half is currently still a work in progress, but I’m working on it.

I learned to understand the true importance of balancing life upon entering my freshman year of college at UC Davis when I was 17 years old. I received a scholarship to my dream school to not only pursue my career goal of becoming a veterinarian, but also to run at a high level. I quickly learned that if you procrastinate too much, you fall behind. While it was initially hard to maintain,with dedication and focus, I was able to navigate balancing the stressful workload of classes and training.

My true journey to where I am today came when I found myself with a running career filled with stress fractures and other injuries that left me sidelined for a good portion of my college years. In addition, I became uncertain about pursuing the veterinary career path. The uncertainty of both was unsettling and I didn’t have a clear cut path or future that I had thought I would have upon the conclusion of my undergrad career. Not being able to reach the running goals I had aimed to achieve in college was disappointing, leaving me feeling unsatisfied and unfinished. However, it also made me more determined and motivated than ever to pursue goals like competing at USATF championship races, and qualifying and competing at the USATF Olympic Trials in the marathon. 

Fast forward another 4 years and here I am in a new state (Arizona), a new professional career and lifetime bests in distances, ranging from the mile to the marathon all within the span of a year! After competing in my first Olympic Trials marathon last year, I decided it was time to shift the focus from training to figuring out what the heck to do with my career. I had been nannying while training for the Olympic Trials for a child with special needs. Impacting his daily life inspired me to pursue a career within the applied behavioral field, a career path I find  unique, challenging and fulfilling. At the start of the year, I began a master’s program in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis and I hope to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

As a California native, the location change from California to Arizona has been difficult to adapt to and has come with many challenges. Dark and early morning 5am runs became the new norm in order to run in a low of 84 degrees. Monsoons came. I found that even in the desert there is humidity. And what’s with all the bugs and wild animals? If I said the first month and a half of training was an easy adjustment, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve encountered packs of Javelina’s (wild boar) during a run (California’s equivalent to having wild turkeys); found myself caught mid-workout in a monsoon that led to flash flooding and lightning, and I am frequently darting last minute from rattlesnakes who had slither upon the paths and trails. Workouts felt slow and tough due to the heat and elevation (not like Sacramento at all). I was extremely discouraged.  

Looking at all these “obstacles”,  I can now see Arizona as having the essential tools for making me a stronger runner. While I initially wasn’t sure how I felt about the desert and all that comes with it, I have grown to love it. Never have I experienced so many different  trails and gorgeous sunrises! While I can’t say that everyday I feel excited about getting out the door to run (like the other day when I accidentally wound up running up a mountain…) I do know that the hills, trails, heat, wild animals and unpredictable weather have made me a much tougher runner both mentally and physically. I was excited to test out my fitness for the first time since moving to Scottsdale on September 25th, a 25k trail race as I prepare to race the California International Marathon this December!





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