Failures Make You Stronger- Sara Slattery

I already know that you enjoy reading my website because you get to see the ups and many downs of being an elite turned mom but I wanted to show you that it is not just me, but all elites go through struggles, and have the same doubts as you do. Hopefully by the time I return, you will see that. I asked each of my friends to share their story with you, but I gave them very little instruction. Each had their own take on it, and each shared a different aspect of their lives. 

My first guest blogger is Sara Slattery. Sara and I met last year at Cherry Blossom, and we have stayed in touch ever since. Sara is such a lovely person, and I really look up to her. I look forward to seeing what she can do over the next few years as she returns from pregnancy. I am sure you are going to love her too, so without making you wait any longer; here is Sara’s story.

Sara is a professional runner based in Phoenix, Arizona.  She is married to Steve Slattery a steeplechaser from New Jersey.  Sara is Mom of Steve Slattery 3.0 and Cali Slattery. She enjoys spending time outdoors, cooking, shopping,  riding motorcycles with her hubby and spending time with family and friends.

Sara grew up in Phoenix, Arizona.  She attended Mountain Pointe High School where she was a 9 time State Champion and a Jr. National Champion.  She was a 2 Time National Champion and 9 time All American while attending the University of Colorado and has been a professional runner since 2005.  Sara mainly competes in track races, but has transitioned onto the roads in recent years. Slattery has represented the United States at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships at both junior and senior level.

Sara Slattery

Introducing: Sara!

My name is Sara Slattery, I am a mother of two amazing children Stevie 2, and Cali 3 months, wife to my husband Steve Slattery, a professional distance runner and an unofficial coffee and peanut butter cup connoisseur. I was recently asked by my good friend Tina Muir to write a blog for her website about my running story.

To understand my running story you have to understand my background and where I came from. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona with my parents Terry and Helen Gorton and my younger sister Lindsey. My parents grew up in Michigan and had a blue collar, hardworking, and humble attitude.

My parents started their own sign company and worked hard to make it a success.  They started their business out of our living room and built it into well-known business in the local community.  My sister and I watched my parents put their heart and soul into growing the business and making it successful and it made us want to work hard in whatever we did.

I grew up playing several sports (t-ball, soccer, softball, basketball and swimming), and I had early success and really enjoyed swimming. I started by swimming on the local summer recreational team and became one of the top age group swimmers in the state. By the age of 9, I joined the club swim team to train year round.

It was by far the best sport to be involved in growing up in Arizona to avoid the heat!   However, it was also a tough sport that showed me how to work hard, set goals, and gave me an amazing aerobic system. By the age of 12,  I would often have two hour practices twice a day. Eventually, I became one of the top age group swimmers in the state and qualified for the Junior National Championships.

My first introduction to running came in 6th grade PE class when we had to run a mile for time.  I ended up running a 5:45 mile and beat everyone in my class including the guys(which made me love the sport right away).  The cross country and track coaches recruited me to run on the middle school teams.  I joined the teams, but continued to swim on my club team.  I ended up winning our District and State middle school championships in 7th and 8th Grade for cross country and track.

When I went to high school, I was recruited to run cross country, however it was the same season as swimming and I decided to swim. I told the cross country and track coach I would run track in the spring.  In my freshman season of track, I was 4th in the 800, and 2nd in the 1600 and 3200m at the state meet.

The next year I decided to concentrate on running. I had accomplished more in one season of running than I had in 8 years of swimming.  I was very successful in a short amount of time without a lot of training and I wanted to see what I could do with more training and hard work.  I ended up having a very successful high school career where I was a 10 time State Champion in track and cross country, Junior World Cross Country team member, Junior National and Junior Pan American Games Champion in the 3K.

After high school, I ran at the University of Colorado where I went on to be a 11 Time Big 12 Champion, 10 Time All-American and won two NCAA Championships team championships as well as two individual titles. Since graduating, I have been running professionally.

During my career, I have made a World Cross Country Championship team, was the USATF Runner-up in the 10K in 2006, Pan-American Games Champion 2007, 4th at the Olympic Trials and the US 8K Champion on the road.

What is funny is when you look back at an athlete’s career or a person’s resume it only lists the successes.  What I think would be much more interesting and inspiring is to see the list of “failures” or struggles they had along the way.  In my career, I have had my biggest successes in running and life when I haven’t been afraid to fail.  In my running career I have had:

  • Countless Lost Toenails/Blisters
  • 4 Stress Fractures
  • 2 Posterior Tibial Tears
  • 1 Posterior Tibial Surgical Repair
  • 1 Appendectomy
  • 1 Year of Mononucleosis
  • 2 Cesarean Sections

Most of these struggles have been followed by a breakthrough and have made me much stronger, and hungrier to succeed. I know that I am not an anomaly and many others have had similar experiences. 3 months ago, I gave birth to my daughter Cali and in 7 months plan to compete in Olympic Marathon Trials.

Sara Slattery

Coming back from pregnancy and running at an elite level is not easy and can be very humbling. I know there will be a lot of sacrifice and struggles along the way.  As a new Mom, I want to inspire my son and daughter as well as other Moms to never be afraid to go for their dreams.

I want to show them that it doesn’t happen overnight and it takes a lot of miles, hard work and sacrifice to get there, but it can be very rewarding. It is important to me to have them watch me work hard for my goals like I saw with my parents work hard for their dreams and inspire them to do the same in their life.  Stevie will be old enough to remember the Olympic Trials and I want him to be proud of his Mom. I also want my little girl to understand that she doesn’t need to be afraid to go after her dreams like I am chasing my dreams of becoming an Olympian.

[bctt tweet=”Elite mother runner @saraslatruns is sharing her story on @tinamuir blog today. Loved it!” via=”no”]

A great way to start. Although Sara is very talented, and that was visible from a young age. Like she said, that did not come without many setbacks and struggles, but each of those made her stronger. We can all learn a lesson from this, and hopefully you enjoyed reading as much as I did. If you want to follow Sara (and you should), you can keep in touch here:


What would you like to ask Sara? (Don’t be shy! I am sure she will answer!)

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  • That was really interesting to read Sara and I appreciate your honesty. This is a great reminder that failures make you stronger!

    I actually swam all the way until college as well. I’ve had my fair share of injuries as well. I often wonder if it’s because in swimming, you swim 2-4 hours with practices. Since there is very little body weight, it’s tougher to get injured. If you ran 2-4 hours daily, your body would end up with multiple fractures.

    • Martina Di Marco
      July 31, 2015 3:04 pm

      I grew up as a swimmer as well and, more often than not, I find myself wondering why I didn’t just stick to it instead of starting running… I NEVER got injured when swimming while, with running, there’s always something! But I love running too much…

      • Sara Slattery
        August 3, 2015 3:44 pm

        I love running too! I love the simplicity of it. All you need is a good pair of shoes and you can do it anywhere. It is also much more fun than swimming because you can run anywhere. In swimming you are stuck in a pool and are often just staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool.

    • Sara Slattery
      August 3, 2015 3:39 pm

      Hey Hollie,
      Sorry for the delayed response. I see all the comments until today. It definitely takes an adjustment period for your body from swimming to running. Swimming gives you an amazing aerobic system but you have to build into the mileage and get used to the pounding and impact of running. You have to be much more careful with training because of the impact an risk for injury compared to swimming.

  • Michele Rosen
    July 31, 2015 6:51 am

    Reading the list of injuries made me cringe to think of all the pain (emotional and physical but clearly you have come back stronger each time! Thank you for sharing your story, it’s inspiring to read honest stories about how people deal with setbacks.

    • Sara Slattery
      August 3, 2015 3:47 pm

      What would have been more painful to me is to not be able to do what I love to do (run and compete). I am grateful I had these injuries and was able to return to running healthy and strong.

  • Thank you Sara! I think that “failures” happen to us all–reactions are what show the true character of a person.

  • Very interesting read!Always good to hear about the failures as well as the successes – shows your only human (though a very talented one at that!)

  • Fantastic post! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Sara! Hope you’re having a blast, Tina!!

  • I find it so inspiring how perseverance pays off so much for elite runners. The “failures” only make her that much stronger, harder working, and inspiring.

  • What an inspiring story Sara! Loved reading about how you grew up watching your parents work hard– it gives me hope for my own children.. they see my husband and do the same. So great to hear your story.

    • Sara Slattery
      August 3, 2015 3:49 pm

      I am sure it is going to translate to your kids. They are lucky to have parents like you!

  • Martina Di Marco
    July 31, 2015 2:54 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing, Sara. I’m currently injured and reading how you came back stronger every time gives me so much hope!

    • Sara Slattery
      August 3, 2015 3:50 pm

      I know you will come back stronger too! Stay positive and keep working hard!

  • Oh hey Sara! Love this picture of you and your family!

    • Sara Slattery
      August 3, 2015 3:52 pm

      Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much. I hope you are having a great summer so far!

  • Loved reading this! I have been in touch often with Sara in regards to marketing stuff but I’ve never know her background! This was awesome and totally inspirational! Not that we want anyone to fail of course but sometimes people have this vision of elites and about how easy it must be. It’s kind of nice that they have had failures as well. Although I hate to see that most of them were injuries (minus the C-section)!! Hope you are bouncing back from pregnancy Sara!! Thanks!

  • Love your story Sara! As an injured runner, slowly making my way back to running again, it is inspiring to read about your ups and downs. Wishing you all the best with your new baby girl and the Olympic trials training. We’ll be cheering for you!!

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