Iron Girl Featured Columnists, October, 2006
Evolving Athletic Goals by Dr. Cathy Utzschneider
Profiles in Performance is a series of interviews with female athletes -
beginners to elites, younger and older, competitors and self-declared
non-competitors – who share a recent success and/or setback in training.
These women include walkers, runners, swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes.
Each interview highlights a major training principle illustrated by their
Evolving Athletic Goals
by Dr. Cathy Utzschneider
Athlete: Mary Kachadurian, 48
You're someone who's been an athlete... in school and through the decades.
That's who you are – or one of the things you are.
But nothing stays the same.
Your involvement in sport changes, develops.
Mary Kachadurian, 48, is an excellent example of an athlete -- also
mother, community leader, and former businesswoman – whose involvement in
sports, and running in particular, has evolved.
"Evolving goals" are words she uses to describe her running goals over the
past decades. How so?
Mary started running at 22, single and a vice president of retail for the
Cambridge Dry Goods Company: "I jogged when working to stay in shape."
In her thirties running accelerated. She got married, had three children
(now 13, 15 and 16), and left work to stay home full-time with her
children. She started to race, often running seven days and 50 miles a
week. She ran eight marathons, including three "Bostons".
At that point her running was, as she says, "very singular. It was just
for me and my own personal achievements.I was home full-time and I didn’t
have a performance review and salary to validate my importance. I set
running goals as a way to measure achievement, to have a tangible
achievement --- and the trophies and ribbons didn't hurt."
Like many runners, she describes herself as having been obsessive. "That's
probably why I can't run so many miles now!"
Her "downfall" was in training for the 2000 Boston Marathon when also
playing on a women's soccer team (which she started and which is still
thriving): "I'd go out for long run and then go play soccer." A week
before the marathon she had to drop out.
Achilles tendonitis and a chronic hamstring strain have been on and off
"companions" since then.
Yet Mary is solution driven ("achievement" might be her middle name). Her
training now stresses moderation, stretching, cross training, and
listening to her body, and she's expanded her repertoire events to cycling
(she’s done two Pan Mass bike rides and a hand full of sprint triathlons).
She’s modified her weekly regime but running is still central. Her
training pattern might looks like this: Monday: run 6 miles; Tuesday:
strength training; Wednesday: run 6 miles, including track work; Thursday:
bike 25 to 30 miles (15 mph); Friday: run 10 miles; Saturday: off; and
Sunday, run 6 miles.
"Running also evolved into setting goals with friends, but still working
on my own personal achievement with the marathons."
Her running goals evolved further in her mid-forties. "I developed a need
to help others became stronger and still be involved in running." In 2004
she started the Suburban Striders Running Club (www.SuburbanStriders.com),
an all-comers running club for women. "I couldn't believe that not
everyone would want to take advantage of female camaraderie and support."
There are over 30 members now. As founder/president, she enjoys leading
women runners who come from different communities to run and support each
other so as "to be better people in the rest of our daily lives."
Her running goals are evolving into still another phase. Now also a
master's student in Simmon's School of Social Work and particularly
interested in issues related to adolescents, women and families, Mary
would like to initiate a plan combines running and the club with a
meaningful cause, be it battered women or homeless children. "What a way
to combine efforts in our busy lives!" she said. "The plan will allow us
to combine staying in shape, staying connected and giving back to others
at the same time."
Training and athletic priorities change as we age. Mary's evolving goals
in running support developmental psychologist Erik Erikson's description
of middle adulthood. It begins at 40 and is a period, at its best, of
generativity. Erikson found that individuals with a sense of individuality
and achievement by 40 can focus on maintaining their interests while also
nurturing others – children or the community at large
Dr. Cathy Utzschneider (email@example.com) is an athletic strategist
and, at Boston College, professor of competitive performance and goal
setting. She runs MOVE, a practice focused on setting and achieving
athletic goals for women, particularly runners and triathletes. She has
helped recreational athletes become nationally ranked in their age groups.
Dr. Utzschneider has achieved a #5 in the world age group ranking in the
mile and won five national masters track titles. She also coaches The
Suburban Striders Running Club in Weston, MA and is writing New Athletes,
New Women, a book about how women can take up new sports and excel in them
as adults. She holds an M.B.A. and Ed.D. from Boston University and lives
with her husband and two children in Chestnut Hill, MA.