Sunday, May 1, 2022

Episode 66: Gretchen Shoenstein, on Autoimmunity & 100 Half Marathons

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Gretchen Rock n' Rollin' thru another 13.1!

What would you do if you woke up and couldn't run around the block? What makes someone a dedicated distance runner? Is it the distance, number of steps training, effort, or the obstacles they overcome to finish? Or to even toe up to the start line? Maybe it's just the act of trying despite all difficulties, day in and day out? These are just a few of the questions we ponder in Episode 66.

Gretchen Shoenstein has dealt with these existential questions regularly, and many more, during her battle with several autoimmune disorders in her running lifetime, including one which attacks her lungs. The diagnoses she has received would normally mean an end to distance running, and truth be told she heard this from doctors... However, having a purpose to run 100 half marathons and give back to autoimmune disease research was a worthy enough goal to keep her running, even during the pandemic. And spoiler alert: she made it, just under her 10 year goal! She did so on her own schedule and with the support of an intentional village she has built, and also with intention in every mile. 

However, remarkably this is not the most impressive part of Gretchen's life or Gretchen as a person, rather it's her attitude and gratitude which shine through in every word, as she recounts stories and life lessons during this lifelong battle. It is as if running were the tap through which this force de vivre lives and shines, rather than "the answer". In our conversation, we examine how perhaps running is best as a catalyst for community, strength and purpose building, i.e. finding out what running can teach us about life, and vice versa. It has been part of the solution, for her and for me.  Among the best interviews I have done at Running Anthropologist, she demonstrates what it means to truly be grateful for each step and each breath, with her mantra "Every mile, every step, counts". She has so many good ones. Below are just a sample of what she shares in the episode.

Tips/Life hacks:

1) Have grace for yourself. Best way to do so? Pause and breathe.
2) Have a light, nimble touch on goals - know that you can pivot when need to.
3) Every. Step. Counts. (as does every mile) With each step is the possibility of joy and awe.
4) Listen to your body - *you* know best. Find that voice that tells you when to push and when to let off the gas.
5) Create your own finish lines - set smaller goals to achieve to keep the momentum going.

Last but not least, there is a worthy cause. She has both fundraised and raised awareness around autoimmune disease and autoimmune system disorders this entire journey, for "Operation Shooting Star" and "Benaroya Research Institute", who are on the cutting edge of treating, research and hopeful for the future of curing autoimmune diseases. Links to both of these organizations, and all the organizations and sponsors mentioned in the podcast can be found below under "services", provided directly by Gretchen (bottom of page).

Gretchen can also be found on her IG account @rungrateful

To read more about fundraising/awareness building efforts specifically and about her struggle and story of finishing an unexpected 100 half marathons journey, I encourage you to go to check out article:

As always, Message us @runninganthropologist on Facebook or Instagram with ideas, inspiration and input!

--Mark R Lane-Holbert, PhD(c) Educational Psychology, University of South Florida

Running Anthropologist, Copyright 2020-2022

Services Mentioned:

Seattle Acupuncture and Coaching, Ben Dorfman

Ascension Performance in San Diego

Training with Tucker Run Coach (anywhere)

Hot Yoga Experience in WA state

Science in Sport 

Newton Running Shoes

AI Research/Awareness
Benaroya Research Institute

Operation Shooting Star

General inspiration/foundation
Brad Stuhlberg and Growth Equation