Catha Mullen has put her heart and soul into preparing for the U.S. Marathon Olympic Trials. She took a leave from being a full-time MBA student at Stanford, naps when needed, and performs her injury prevention routine religiously. Read more to find out what a typical day looks like for Mullen, how she got healthy (and plans to stay healthy), as well as who will be in Houston screaming her name.
Runners Feed: Take us through a typical day of your life
Catha Mullen: A typical day in the life for me, I must admit, is pretty sweet right now. I’m taking a year off between my two years of business school at the Stanford GSB to be a full-time runner. On a typical day, I wake up around 9, brew a delicious cup of coffee in the French press (usually Farm to Cup!), eat some yogurt or toast, read the news, and then hit the roads! I often run in the hills in Huddart or Wunderlich parks or just along the roads where I live in Woodside, CA. On workout days, I’ll head up to Sawyer Camp to do a tempo (with my coach, Dena Evans, cycling behind me), or to Stanford to meet my NBSV (New Balance Silicon Valley) teammates for intervals.
After my morning run, I’ll do core, shower, and fix myself something healthy for lunch. After that, if I don’t have any work to do or physical therapy, I’ll settle down for one of my all-time favorite activities: a nap. Later, I’ll meet my twin sister, Caroline, or some of my GSB classmates for a second run in the afternoon at another beautiful park in the Stanford vicinity such as the Dish, Windy Hill, Arastradero Preserve, or I’ll head to the gym or the pool for some cross training. Then, I usually meet friends for dinner. One of the biggest perks of getting an MBA at Stanford is the insanely interesting and accomplished peers that you get to be friends with, and I’m never short of fun dinner companions! After dinner, I usually do something low-key (for instance, Settlers of Catan with my roommates) before sneaking off to read whatever book I’m engrossed in and then hitting the hay around midnight.
Did I mention I’m living the dream?
RF: Do you work full or part-time while training? If so, what do you do? If not, what has kept you afloat while you pursue your dream?
CM: Although I do work part-time (doing projects for Farm to Cup, a start-up I founded with my sister Caroline and another classmate, Monica Lewis, Physic Ventures, and various other organizations I’m involved with), these jobs don’t quite pay the bills! I’ve been buoyed by the savings I earned working in finance before business school, as well as by some generous support from my sponsors, New Balance and Apercen Partners (via NBSV), and my family. But even more than financial support, my family gives me lots of love, TLC and the confidence to dream big. I’m also immensely thankful to Stanford, which responded to my request to take a leave of absence with heartfelt encouragement.
RF: What do you do on a regular basis to make sure you toe the line healthy?
CM: I’ve been healthy for about six weeks now, and anyone who’s had persistent injuries can relate to what an absolute relief and joy it’s been to run injury-free! I have many people to thank for defeating my injuries (mainly, plantar fascia and hamstring problems). Dr. Amol Saxena at PAMF, Dr. Michael Fredericson, at Stanford, and Dr. Zawadsky at Georgetown helped me to diagnose the problems. Kelly Ofoph at Agile Physical Therapy did a lot of manual work on my foot, improved my stretching routine and taught me some great strengthening exercises. I now swear by lunges and squats. I’m also a convert to Chris McDougall’s barefoot running theory, and have started wearing minimalist shoes and running barefoot from time to time. I’m a big believer in massage, which is excellent for both soft tissue ailments and injury prevention. Catherine Ryan and Jon Dapon at SMI are my go-to’s there.
Finally, no discussion of health would be complete without a shout-out to Dr. Duke in New York! My ability to train for the trials was in peril after two severe hamstring pulls in early October when I was on the east coast for a race. What could have taken six weeks to heal took less than a week after he worked his magic.
RF: My onsite support team will include…
CM: My coach, Dena Evans will be everywhere on her bike! My parents and sisters Caroline and Elizabeth will be there too, as well as a few friends from Stanford and Princeton (my alma mater), including Laura Garwood and her family, who hosted me for a few days before I head to the Hilton and who have given me a very warm welcome to Houston!
RF: How will you be decorating your bottles to make them easily recognizable?
CM: Apercen Partners has generously donated some blue water bottles that will be easily discernible from the race-issued water bottles. I’ll probably add some colorful pipecleaners for some flare to distinguish them from my teammates.