#038 – Sara McInerney Hauck, host of Facing Fear podcast, helps others face their fears while she has faced and overcomes her own. In this two-part episode, Sara shares her running journey and how she managed physical and health challenges to achieve her fitness goals.
Fitness journey after an injury
Differences between virtual and live races
Experience running a virtual marathon
Support needed to run longer distances
Sara McInerney Hauck Sara McInerney Hauck describes herself as an ever-evolving individual who wants to make the world a better place through storytelling. She is the host of the Facing Fear podcast, a show that encourages individuals to face fear in pursuit of their own unapologetically authentic life. The Facing Fear podcast has more than 15,000 listens and over 50 episodes. She’s a daughter to awesome parents, wife, sister, nonprofit manager, lover of things food, yoga, and adventure.
Welcome to Episode 38. Today we’re going to continue our conversation with Sara McInerney Hauck about facing fear. And we’re going to go a little bit deeper into her marathon journey. Hope you enjoy. Here’s what you can look forward to on this episode of Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast.
Sara McInerney Hauck 0:21
Yeah, absolutely. I never wanted to sit back or sit on the bench, like I want to be right there in the action. I’m also the oldest of four siblings. So I’ve always wanted to be the best or be the leader and everything athletically, and I’m just super competitive. So whatever I had to do to get to my finish lines, whether it was a nebulizer or an inhaler, seven times, which is not recommended, or changing my diet a little bit, I was like, I will do this. And it has made my life better too. Because like you said, accepting that is you can until you try to like see what’s on the other side and see that it could be a little bit better. And I’m so glad I’ve done those things. Are there other things I could probably be doing, like cutting out gluten completely? Yeah, but I just I can’t right now. So you know, take what you can do. Do what you can with what you have, and keep it moving.
Welcome to Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast, whether you are new to running or seasoned, get tips in the inspiration that you need to achieve your health and fitness goals. Now, here’s your host, Richard Conner.
Richard Conner 1:38
And then the story with your knee, is this part of your marathon story, or is this kind of still when you’re kind of getting up to speed up to speed no pun intended with with running.
Sara McInerney Hauck 1:49
So I tore my ACL for the first time in 2010 on my last club soccer game when I was a senior in high school, and that was super heartbreaking. I went to college to play soccer and spent my freshman year rehabbing. It’s a pretty, it’s an intense injury. But also I knew that I never wanted this to happen to me again. So I took all my PT super seriously. Um, I recovered from my first ACL surgery almost perfectly, I went back to running, jumping, all these crazy things with little to no pain it was it was very, very awesome. My second surgery happened in 2016. So six years later, and at that point, I was a full grown adult, I was working full time, I’m no longer you know, a collegiate athlete or important to anyone in athletic way. And I was also paying for the surgery this time, you know, I was on my own insurance. And so it was much more stressful. In college, I was going to physical therapy every day. As an adult, I was lucky if I could schedule it in twice a week. And that’s just not enough when you have an injury like this. So the knees have been a part of my athletic journey since that first time I had that tear, but especially after 2016 Because I truly thought that my athletic identity was over and I wasn’t going to be able to do all the things that I had done before. And that was true. I’m not able to do some things. But that’s when you pick yourself up and say, Well, fine. If it’s a no over here, where is it? A Yes. And so I started finding my yeses. Okay, yes, I can do a sprint triathlon that only requires X amount of swimming, the biking and then like a 5k, I can do that. And so eventually, I just kept working up like I talked about before. And so I wouldn’t say my knee was a huge part of my marathon journey last year at all because I was in such a good place. And it was actually bothering me a lot in January, February, March of 2020. But luckily for me, I have great insurance. So I went to physical therapy did the little stupid exercises that I hate. And then when Corona Yeah, when COVID shut us down, I stopped going to physical therapy, but I also stopped needing it. I don’t know what it was about the training, I think it was my knee knowing every day this girl works out, we’re just gonna go in a straight line that my knee was like cool with it. So I had minimal to no discomfort or pain while training for my marathon, thanks to my knee with two surgeries. So I’m super proud of that. Because in our pre interview conversation, a lot of people love to say, Oh, well, I have this injury or I have quote, bad knees and I’m like, do you though, like have you had two major surgeries? And it’s not to say that to rub it in their face or make them feel bad. It’s just to show you that what you think is impossible is possible. So that was a huge highlight for me because I really thought my athleticism was over in 2016. And years later, I went and did something bigger and greater and grander than I ever could have prior to a second surgery. And that’s just very cool and self reassuring.
Richard Conner 5:14
Very cool. Thank you so much Sara. I love this part of your story. And it’s really helpful, I think, for all of us to, to see someone who did it, right, you wanted to do it, you took the steps to overcome these challenges, and you didn’t let fear get the best of you and just say, You know what, I absolutely right. I can’t, I can’t do it. So so thank you for sharing that. You know, and I’d love to move into like the next part of the conversation and talk a little bit more about your marathon journey. And, you know, share a little bit about my story. And I’ve shared a little bit with the community. I started running in high school, I did cross country, mostly in a little bit of track. And I was okay, right, I was okay, I wasn’t the fastest person on the team. But I felt pretty good about it was one of the sports that I thought I could do. But after high school, I didn’t run as much and really only ran as part of my obviously workouts. But I didn’t take running as seriously as when I was in high school. Until a few years ago, I went back to two things happen one and went back to my old high school after decades, and did the annual 5k. And it was so wonderful, just like we’re talking about just being in the race. And it was also very nostalgic for me to be back in my old high school and kind of remind me what it was like to run, you know, across country and track during those days. So that was the first thing. And then the second thing is I was introduced by a family friend to get into Spartan Races. And for me, Spartan Races, allowed me to challenge myself in different ways. Like for me running wasn’t as much of a challenge and I didn’t have the desire to go long distances, but physically doing other things were very challenging. Like I, you know, I don’t have a lot of upper body strength. And, you know, there’s a lot of sports that would be very tough for me, but but Spartan really challenged me in different ways. And I use it as an opportunity to overcome fears that I had. I had fear of heights, big times. I still do, but in the Spartan Race, you you know, you’re going on obstacles, it’s gonna require you to, to go up pretty high to
Sara McInerney Hauck 7:20
Climb up there.
Richard Conner 7:22
Yeah. Right. And, and there are other fears that I had around that. So, you know, I love to talk, you know, here. So that’s kind of my story. And since then, I’ve run seven Spartan Races, three of which were Oh, yeah, so it was like super exciting for the muddy while they were all muddy before, like the in person ones, I’ll say, some are muddy some weren’t. And then three virtual, which are the ones that I did last year and a half marathon was kind of that that capstone race there that that my coach ran with me. So that’s a little bit about my, you know, journey doing that. So I’d love to hear more about yours, you know, your marathon journey and kind of how you did that to the course of the year.
Sara McInerney Hauck 8:00
Yeah, again, I got inspired because people around me at work, were doing marathons. And my original thought was, I’ll do 26.2, before I turned 26. Well, that dream was crushed because I tore my second ACL at 26 instead. And so I always had this fear, too, of aging and thinking, if I don’t do this in my 20s, I probably will never do it. And I actually did an episode with a woman named Lindsay Hein on my podcast. And it’s a great one. She’s huge in the running community. She’s a runner herself, but she also has her own running community. And she gave me this great piece of advice. And she was like, you just never know. And she has four little boys. And she says, I run better now than I ever did when I was by myself in my 20s. And thought I was at my peak. So I have this fear of my peak is gonna end like I’m not going to be able to get this thing. And so after I, you know, had the 26.2 before 26 In my mind, that died. And then I just let go of the dream for years because I just thought it was literally impossible. And then it just kept staying on my mind. And it was one of those things in life where I just knew deep down if I don’t try this, and I were to die tomorrow, I would be mad at myself. And so I didn’t want to have any regrets. And so I said fine at the end of 2020 I gave myself also 11 months. That’s another big thing that I think a lot of people have misconceptions about with running or races is you think these people just make this goal overnight and go run the next weekend. This is months, months, months in the working so I gave myself 11 months from decision day to race day. So I decided at the end of 2020 Okay, I’m going to do a marathon next year and I just cancelled out anything else. Um, you know, I used to do like these really intense outdoor workouts. I was a part of a different athletic community. And I let go of my I didn’t actually have a gym membership. But I was still doing CrossFit a little bit through my company’s gym. And I dropped everything and said, Okay, I’m gonna do the marathon. And luckily for me, my training brought me a lot of joy and great times, and I enjoyed it, otherwise, I wouldn’t have stuck with it. But that’s kind of how I got to my training and how I decided I wanted to do a full marathon, I wanted that 26.2 metal next to all my 13.1. And it was just something that was so bucket list for me that I had to try before. You know, my time was up, my clock was out. So
Richard Conner 10:35
that’s great. That’s great. And what do you think? Was your biggest fear? In terms of going for the for the marathon? Was it was it your age? or were there other things are kind of holding you back at that time saying, I don’t know if this is right for me, like, what do you think that was?
Sara McInerney Hauck 10:53
Luckily, I had matured enough to the point where I understood it’s not about age, it’s really about how you feel and what you’re fueling your body with. So I was in a really good place that way. I did have a fear of abusing my knee and the beautiful reconstruction that my surgeon did for me on my ACL, my mother also, every time I would post a long run, she would be like, Oh my gosh, like, you better be able to run around with your kids one day, like don’t hurt yourself. I’m like, I know. I know, Mom. But I would say my biggest fear was when the race got canceled. And they went virtual. I was just last night, I had a journal author 2020. Now I was looking back at this time in late June, and I had wrote in there, I think I will still do it. I’m not sure. But I think I’ll still be able to do it. And now I’m like, dude, thank God, I still did it that day. I would have been so mad at myself. Had I not? Um, am I sad? I didn’t get the traditional experience. Yes. But I’m so happy that I continue through with it and face that fear of no crowds, no corale, no big festival to kick it off. Nobody on the course watching cheering throughout. And then none of those posts, post race goodies. Those weren’t present either. So that was probably my biggest fear of doing it, quote alone.
Richard Conner 12:17
Yeah, yeah. And I could see that. And, you know, in the community, we talk a lot about two elements are virtual one is the virtual races. And the other one is the virtual community. And on the virtual race side, it’s for folks who maybe prefer right the virtual races and kind of running alone. And maybe they kind of want to stay away from the crowds, rigors of the pandemic. And also, it’s an opportunity to but on the other side, it’s also an opportunity to maybe augment what you’re already doing. So if you’re running live races, but you want to challenge yourself and run, you could run a virtual race, and then you have a lot of flexibility. And yes, we talk a lot about like the the virtual races. But you’re right, if someone is very focused on all the things you just said for an in person race, that’s just you know, that can be challenging to Yeah, virtual race.
Sara McInerney Hauck 13:09
Yeah, mentally, for sure of all the glitz and glamour being gone. You’re like, ah, but I will say, huge shout out to Monumental Marathon here in Indianapolis, they did a great job of sending in inspirational emails. And then also they gave us our race materials prior to running. So going into my day, I already had my metals, I had gloves, I had a few snacks in this box that I received. And it was they did a great job of making you feel like this is a big deal. without anybody there to say this is a big deal. So they did a great job.
Richard Conner 13:45
That’s super cool. That’s super cool. And thank you for sharing your journey and kind of just reflecting on my own journey to the half marathon. So not quite marathon. I’m haven’t made the decision yet. But there’s a few folks that are encouraging me to take that step. So we’ll see not 21 Maybe in 2022 Yes, thinking about the half marathon. I’m like, I’m going to do a virtual and I’m going to train and I had you know, training plan. Like you said, it’s critically important. And I just kind of worked my way up. And the first race is the 5k Plus obstacles because it was a Spartan virtual race. Second was a 10k. And even the 10k I hadn’t done too much for that was like a stretch. And then I got there and I’m like, All right. Okay, I’m a little closer, you know, and then and then the half marathon came and that was it’s called the beast by the way. It’s a Spartan beast. And yeah, yeah, okay, like for virtual. It was a beast, but I can’t even imagine what the in person is gonna be like, when I get there
Sara McInerney Hauck 14:46
was a virtual Spartan. Are you just running the distance?
Richard Conner 14:50
No. So you’re doing the distance plus you’re doing the obstacles as if you were running an in person race. But the the obstacles are different. So obviously, there’s no rope climb. I mean, you’re not crawling. Yeah. Which is, you know, super cool and sometimes dangerous at the same time. Yeah. But you’re doing bodyweight exercises and basically they’re similar. Okay, you know what you’d have to go through because it’s still it’s still work, right, going through those bodyweight exercises to simulate the Oh, yeah. And then you run, right. Oh, by the way, that you’re gonna run.
Sara McInerney Hauck 15:21
Richard Conner 15:22
Sara McInerney Hauck 15:23
Oh, that’s so awesome. Well, congrats to you, too, because I’ve done a few Spartans as well. And that’s another thing with Spartan is it’s the people, it’s the energy. It’s the looking at the cool adrenaline junkie thing in front of you. So to take it from that to just being outside on the sidewalk doing bodyweight bodyweight exercises, you know, there’s almost no reason for you to be like, interested in still doing that. So I’m glad you still did it.
Richard Conner 15:47
Right. Well, like you said, I’ve got I’m looking right here at my metals. You know, we got a chip that’s here. And spring also did a nice job of hyping us up right, you know, yeah, as races were supporting each other. They had campaigns where if you ran on a certain weekend, then you’re kind of ranked with with other folks doing the same thing. It was Yeah. So it was really nice to kind of have that that community to, to kind of carry this through that. That’s awesome. So, so cool. So thank you for sharing, you know, your story about the the marathon. And I’m thinking again, just like we talked about, before, getting starting into running, we talked about that. But now going longer distances. What should runners Think about if they’re, they made it to the 5k? They don’t know if they could do the half marathon or marathon? Like, what should they be thinking about to kind of make that decision and then mentally prepare for?
Sara McInerney Hauck 16:43
Yeah, one last piece I want to share about my marathon story. And this kind of goes into like, what what should you do and you want to take that next step is figure out what support you need? Is it a professional coach? Is it a virtual coach who you know, are hired online? Is it changing your diet a little bit, ask a nutritionist, ask your doctor, is it bringing that community around you and I, this is the last piece of my marathon story that I did want to share. Because throughout this interview, and when I talk about doing my marathon, I say I was alone for so much of it. And I really was. But at my marathon, I made it a whole event. I did my marathon by starting at one point, and then I would run out and back, out and back. And so I organized for friends to come with me on different legs, and then they would peace out and go home. But I also had friends who stayed the whole time who brought balloons, who brought signs. I had a girl who could not participate. But she just came up during one of my my little stops and brought me champagne and orange juice. So I did want to say and give a ton of credit to everybody who made my marathon. Awesome. But yeah, if you’re wanting to take it to the next level, you got to ask yourself, what do I need? I think sometimes when we’re reaching for athletic goals, or we’re trying to take the next step in our journey, we think about where should I be? Instead of asking, Where should you be? What what do you need to get there? Like, what do you as an athlete need? I think we need to be more selfish. And we need to figure out is it something physical is it inspiration is a gear, we haven’t even talked about gear. But gear is a huge difference maker I for the first time got like, actually fitted for a pair of shoes and years and years and years for my marathon. And it was also a game changer. And that played into keeping me healthy with my knee. So I would ask yourself, what do I need to get there? It’s not what time should I be running? Who should I keep up with? What Instagram should I follow? Just take a breath and say what do I need and try to give yourself the best tools possible.
Richard Conner 18:53
Very insightful. And I’m thinking if I ever make the decision to go do a marathon? That will be my first question. Like, what? What do I need to get there? Yes, I’ll probably need a lot. So that’ll be
Sara McInerney Hauck 19:07
Yeah, I did too.
Richard Conner 19:11
That’s very cool. Very cool. Okay. All right. Excellent. So I think that that’s very, very helpful. Again, in the context of someone thinking about once they’re starting to run, you know, five K’s or that distance, and they want to progress. That’s really interesting. Like not so much. Thinking about so much the outcome necessarily, but like, how to get there and like you said, what, what they need, that’s a really interesting way. Okay. Very cool. So, anything else about your marathon journey that you want to want to share with our listeners, kind of as we we wrap up here?
Sara McInerney Hauck 19:46
I thank people for listening to it. And I’m super thankful for everybody who did help me get to where I wanted to go in the way that I did. And I would just encourage people if you think something Is impossible but you really do want it, you have to really want it. Set those smart goals, you know those specific, attainable, measurable, all of that set those goals and you can get there. I feel so incredibly proud. And I’m so thankful to 29 year old Sarah, who looks back at 15 year old Sarah and is like, look what we can do so many years later, you know. So if you want to set those goals, you got to want it and then figure out how you can get there and the pride and the adrenaline and the accomplishment is so we’re at the endgame for sure.
Richard Conner 20:39
Very cool. Sara, thank you so much. I love this conversation, such insightful conversation here. And how can the Inspire two runs community? Find you follow your journey online and listen to your podcast? Maybe talk about that a little bit?
Sara McInerney Hauck 20:54
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. So you can find me on Instagram. I spend most of my social media time there. My name on there is Sarah Sa ra MCI ner N EY hawk. So Sarah McInerney Hawk, Sa ra MCI will get you there. I have, you know, a difficult last name, but it’s a part of my roots. So I don’t want to let it go. And then my podcast you can find everywhere on social media at Facing Fear with Sara. I’ve interviewed some runners on my show as well. So you guys can go back and check those out for some running inspiration, specifically. And then also, I have some really awesome merch at facingfearwithsara.com and there’s a blog there and just a lot of different content of how to face fear and many different aspects of life. And hopefully, on my personal social media, I’ll continue to share my exercise journey and continue to move forward with that and be an inspiration. I’m also a group fitness performer at
ifetime. So I got to give lifetime a shout out as well. It’s been my fitness community for seven months now. And I’m super thankful for them. So thanks to lifetime for helping me be able to give back to the community as well.
Richard Conner 22:12
Very cool. Very cool. Sara, thank you so much. I really enjoyed this conversation. I love your podcast. I listened to the episodes I’m making my way through.
Sara McInerney Hauck 22:21
Richard Conner 22:22
To more, and I appreciate your time this conversation.
Sara McInerney Hauck 22:26
Well, thank you so much for having me. And thanks, everybody for listening today. Go enjoy yourself on your next run.
That’s it for this episode of Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast. If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review. Also, be sure to click the subscribe button so you don’t miss an episode. Thanks for listening