In the running world we have witnessed some really heart-wrenching events. When you work for years to come seconds short of a podium position, the contention and controversy can quickly rise. Running is a beautiful sport, but it’s not always pretty. It’s simple, instinctive, and accessible; but it’s also competitive, agonizing, and at times, mercenary. Athletes such as Kara Goucher have faced the media and brands head-on in an attempt to play by the rules and work hard. Dealing with doping, fame, and money has made the sport of running occasionally cringeworthy.
Shanna Burnette has seen firsthand everything that comes with the pressure to be great, to stay clean, and to work with the right brands. She is a longtime friend of Kara Goucher and also represents her as her agent. Shanna keeps herself extremely busy between being a wife and mother of three, running her own PR agency, and leading her non-profit, Clean Sport. A successful runner herself, Shanna has been in the game a long time, and today she is working hard to pull running back home to its innocent and exciting state.
Take the Right Path
Together, Shanna and Kara co-host the podcast for Clean Sport, along with Chris McClung. Clean Sport’s mission is to encourage athletes around the world to compete fairly. They work with pro athletes and brands to raise awareness and share stories that are positive. This podcast and non-profit helps runners feel confident in choosing the right path, knowing that there are others just like them and a whole slew of fans and consumers who value their values.
Shanna feels like she has always been a bit unconventional. Both her and Kara haven’t taken the easy or most widely accepted routes. She has seen Kara make difficult decisions that affect her income and her image, but she has also seen the incredible amount of peace that comes with it.
Shanna shares just how much Kara was shouldering before she decided to leave Nike. “She made this giant leap, to go to this company whose values she believed in” says Shanna, “I had so much admiration for her for that. The weight off her shoulders was so palpable, [and] we really didn’t realize what a strain and a toll that was.”
Being true to yourself is always worth it. You too may be faced with difficult decisions, ones that may turn your life upside down. In the end, the regret is never about taking the right, although difficult, path.
Gain Ownership of Your Running
Being true to your own version of running is also important. Shanna has had a complex relationship with running, but it’s been positive when she has taken control of what running is supposed to be for her.
Growing up, Shanna was a great runner from the beginning. She was one of the best in middle and high school, and was expected to turn it into a career after college. Things changed drastically when she suffered six stress fractures during college. Even worse was when her mother knocked on her university housing door to let her know her father died while running.
For a time, Shanna loathed running. It had taken her dad and given her injuries and disappointments. It wasn’t until later, when she used running to support her, that she began to appreciate it again. “I would be able to go on a run and just cry my head off,” she says, “to be angry and go fast, or go really slow and walk and jog and cry. I think that’s what’s so beautiful about running.”
Play the Long Game
When it comes to deciding how you want to run, or what brands you want to support, Sharra recommends playing the long game. One run, or one purchase may not seem like a big deal, but a lifetime of runs and a collective effort to support clean sport makes a huge difference.
Choose the best path, whether or not that seems like the popular or simple or easy route. Be true to yourself, and be true to your running. The more of us that choose the best path, the easier and more rewarding it will become.
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