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Did you know that belief in reliable social connections enhances our wellbeing, reduces stress, and boosts life satisfaction? That’s right, today we’re talking about a topic close to my heart: the power of perceived support. I’m thrilled to be joined by four incredible women athletes to explore how support fuels athletes’ performance, motivation, and self-belief.

From rising star cyclist Ellen Campbell to the trailblazing trail runner Courtney Dauwalter, each guest shares their unique journey and insights into the role of perceived support in their athletic endeavors. Learn from Jenny Vierling, co-founder of Tailwind Nutrition, and Maggie Guterl, athlete manager, about their experiences and strategies for overcoming challenges and inspiring others in the endurance sports community.

This conversation is filled with actionable insights and motivational stories that will leave you feeling empowered to tackle your own athletic goals with newfound vigor. I’m so grateful for the support of my new sponsor, Tailwind Nutrition, and the community support that comes along with it.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Perceived support enhances athlete performance and well-being.
  • Strong social connections drive athlete success.
  • Support from family, friends, and sponsors fuels athlete motivation.
  • Athletes need balance outside of sports to prevent burnout.
  • Believing in support boosts athletes’ confidence and resilience.

Listen to this episode on perceived support

If you found today’s episode enlightening and want to hear more, make sure to subscribe and leave a review on your favorite podcast platform. Be sure to share this episode!

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Transcript: Women of Tailwind

Sonya Looney 0:00
I think the countdown Ellen to when we start is actually kind of fun. It puts us in a, like an excited, focused mood when we see 54321. Yeah,

Ellen Campbell 0:11
it’s Go ahead.

Sonya Looney 0:14
I’m really excited to get to chat to you. You’re about to head to Europe. Yeah,

Ellen Campbell 0:21
I am. I’m about to Well, first, I’m gonna go to whiskey 50. Tomorrow, and then I’m gonna go to Spain for the Troika. I’m gonna go to Jerome. So

Sonya Looney 0:35
yeah, very fun. Yeah, the whirlwind life of a professional cyclist, people don’t realize how often you’re traveling, the things that you have to choose to prioritize for your training and for your sleep. You know, sometimes that means you don’t go to certain social events. Yeah. It’s it’s a lifestyle. It’s not just some work you go to it’s, it’s, it’s 24/7. And, you know, I like to think about the people in our corner, when we’re doing really hard things when we’re, we’re all over the map, we might not be seeing all of our friends regularly. So tell me, you know, to kick this off, about the support that you have in your life right now, as you are, right, a rising star in cycling? Yeah, I, well, I

Ellen Campbell 1:22
have a really good support crew. I think, living in Durango, the community just kind of gets it a bit more than maybe other communities. And that’s like a bigger kind of underlying piece. But I also have very supportive parents that actually live in Durango. So I’m, I still live near home, I wouldn’t say I don’t live at home. But yeah, my parents both are cyclists. My dad has come from a background of professional racing. He used to kind of be a Swanee and mechanic way back, way back when, and so he definitely gets it. But yeah, my parents are like, extremely supportive. In terms of chasing my goals, and kind of the, the hard work I need to do. And so when I have to cancel on dinner, they totally get it. But I also have, like, a lot of good friends that are racers and, or are used to race so that they, they also know and get it. And that honestly is like really helpful for training and just like getting out because there’s other people to ride with, or other people like, hey, like I can ride but I also have these intervals or I’m supposed to ride like this, this hard or whatever. So that’s really nice to have people that just like understand what you’re doing and like poke fun at you a little bit and just kind of keep it fresh and funny. But also, like, totally get it. And then yeah, sponsor wise, I have some awesome sponsors that are, you know, really, really supportive, and they definitely get they get the bigger picture and they get, you know, where I come from as kind of an A newer to the endurance scene, and also like, being relatively younger in the field, kind of chasing those goals. And, and yeah, most of my sponsors are really excited. And also, like, supportive of like, if I’m like, I want to do the lifetime grand per year. This year, I’m going to do Breck epic right after Leadville. And I think, like, they’re stoked on that. And that honestly just, like helps me like, make those decisions and like, if you know, someone’s like, yeah, go after like, what feels good, then. I’m like, sweet, lets, you know, like, that’s awesome. That’s great to hear instead of, you know, someone that wants me to do specific things. So yeah,

Sonya Looney 3:53
yeah, it sounds like number one. You have a very strong sense of belonging, like within your community where you live in your family. And then number two people are being your tailwind to you know, we’re talking about tailwind here but also your other sponsors. People are are pushing you to be your best and they’re giving you the freedom to make those choices. So belonging and freedom with your choices and without support is really something that is power you forward. Yeah,

Ellen Campbell 4:23
exactly. Like tailwind. Well. tailwind sweet, mostly like one or like a big piece of it for me is that they’re local and I’m local. Like we’re both locally together in Durango and that like is just helpful like I’ve can pop into the office and sit down with Maggie or whoever and like have meetings and like make it easier if like shoot I’m running really low on this like cannot you know like it’s just here and then also like, I started some like workshop series all women’s Workshop Series. And, like the main main people that showed up to my first one were like tail end employees, which was sweet because they were just, like, stoked that I was doing it. And like they genuinely were curious about what I was teaching. And I don’t know, it just Yeah, it’s a good community. And it feels a lot like a friendship. So yeah, it’s nice to have that, that. Yeah, that friendship, that’s also very supportive on the, you know, sponsorship side.

Sonya Looney 5:30
I was smiling when you’re talking about workshops, because it was about it was a long time ago, like 2010, I started doing these these workshop talks, and there was only like, one or two people at some of them. So having people show up for you feels really good.

Ellen Campbell 5:44
Yes. Yeah, it does feel super nice.

Sonya Looney 5:49
So I wanted to ask you, you know, we’re talking about belonging and freedom and people who are in your corner, how does this impact your belief in yourself? Because, you know, you have, nobody does this alone. And when you get to the start line, there’s all these different people in different capacities that have supported you. But when you’re in those tough moments, or in those exciting moments, the belief in yourself is what carries you forward. So how does that idea of the people who are behind you impacting how, how optimistic and, and how much you believe in yourself moving forward when you have a challenge? Yeah, that’s

Ellen Campbell 6:21
a great, great piece to touch on, honestly, because I think the in the last year or so that’s the biggest piece I’ve been kind of working on is belief in myself, I think. I think like kind of swallowing the pill that people do really believe in me and like letting that sink in. And seeing how that feels like I’ve honestly worked on this a lot with my, my therapist, because I some I have moments where I’m confident, and I believe in myself, and that’s awesome. And then other moments where I don’t And generally when I’m like, in a bad mood, or like, I don’t have a good result, like things definitely. You know, I don’t believe in myself as much, but I think with you know, Taylan and with other sponsors, like when, when, you know, Maggie reaches out and asked me about my, my race or my event and is asking, you know, like, ask me questions and, and that just feels good to know that people are like rooting for me and, and checking in on me to like, honestly, just like that was that was like a really brutal race Elon, like that is gnarly that you did that. And like, I think you’re right, that is kind of gnarly. Like, it just kind of reaffirms, like, these, like feelings that I thought, you know, this race was super hard and gnarly and 200 miles long. And then, you know, they’re also like, like, blown away that I’m doing that and like, yeah, reaffirms those feelings that I have. And I think it also helps me like, push forward a bit. And like, know, that, like, I can do really hard things, I can do this. And I have like, an awesome support crew that like, is cheering for me or is like, willing to help, like, work on a nutrition plan for me, like, they want to see me succeed. And like, that, like, definitely motivates me to like, push a little bit further, when I want to give up or, you know, try new things and try to race at the front or whatever it is. So yeah, I don’t know. It’s just, it’s just like a, like a hug from your mom kind of, like just knowing that no matter what, whether you’re like first or last, like they’re, they’re still there for you. And even if you’re not like racing, and just like they’re like curious about like your adventures, like Maggie’s always wondering, like, what cool rides I’m doing, or, you know, like, how I’m training, she’s always asking about the training piece. And so that that aspect is helpful to like it just integrated into my, into my sport and into my profession. So yeah,

Sonya Looney 8:58
I think that’s something people don’t think about is how hard it is to believe in yourself when you’re pushing. Because on the outside, it looks like it’s so easy for you or for us, you know, that we’re out there doing these races. And, you know, sometimes we do really well and well, that must be so easy, or we have sponsors so therefore, you know, we always believe in ourself. And that’s not the case and the people that are in our corner, when we’ve lost that belief in ourself. They’re the ones that carry us forward. Their belief in US can carry us forward when we’ve lost it a little bit. Yeah, totally.

Ellen Campbell 9:35
I like I definitely have those moments, especially like I’ve been racing the grant lifetime Grand Prix the last couple of years and I think the the races are just really stacked like there’s just a lot

Sonya Looney 9:47
of bad women’s women’s racing right now is incredible, especially like North American women are just absolutely crushing it across all disciplines. So if you just show up for a domestic race like you’re lining up With the best in the world, yeah,

Ellen Campbell 10:01
I just, it’s hard to like, kind of wrap your brain or wrap my brain around it. And I don’t think I realize it until I come and talk to well, like, talk to like my friends or talk to like, you know, honestly, like a lot of sponsors, too. They’re like, No, you’re doing like this really, really hard thing. And I think in the moment, it’s hard to like, keep that perspective. Like, I’m doing like, you know, one of the, like, I’m racing against some of the best, and I’m doing one of the harder things out there and like, you’re a badass, like, you’re really cool. And that’s, yeah, that’s, it’s good to hear, like, good to have that perspective, when you’re, you know, have a good support. crew that like kind of reminds you in the moment like, Yeah, dude, you’re really doing it.

Sonya Looney 10:47
Thank you for saying that. I think that’s that’s such an important point that we often forget how amazing the things are that we’re doing, because we’re in it, we’re trying so hard. And we’re looking around us at people who are who are, you know, doing the same thing. So having like, a zoomed out perspective from somebody else, or even somebody not in the sport, can really remind you that wow, like I actually did that. Another thing that I think is actually helpful, this is just a personal story that I’ve been noticing is I have one of those digital photo frames that kind of scroll pictures from your phone. And I have favorited photos over the years just to post on social media from from races and things like that, that I just don’t look at anymore. And it’s been bring bringing up those photos from all of these races I’ve done in the past, where I looked at that those results, or that experience was like, whatever. And now when I look back, I’m like, holy crap, I did that. So like the reflection piece of what you did, whether it’s through something like a photo frame, or from somebody else reflecting that back for you like that really brings more satisfaction without accomplishment. Yeah,

Ellen Campbell 11:50
I yeah, I totally agree. That’s, uh, maybe I need one of those.

Sonya Looney 11:56
I found it so helped. Like, I’m so surprised how helpful that’s been because you just you just forget you forget. Yeah.

Ellen Campbell 12:03
Yeah, truly, you do forget. It feels like even last year, forget like the hard thing. I mean, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Really hard unbound to under miles. Like, maybe your body is forgetting for a reason. Making sure you don’t, you know, don’t get hurt again, or something. But yeah, yeah.

Sonya Looney 12:23
And I have one more little thing I want to bring up and then I’ll let you go. Because I know you got to get ready for your trip. Sometimes whenever we have support, we worry about letting them down. Or we worry that if you know if I don’t do well, then then when does that mean? Are they even going to want to support me anymore? So can you talk about that? Yeah,

Ellen Campbell 12:46
I think that is also that’s also like a definitely a big piece of it. And I would say it sometimes weighs on me a bit more than other times. I’m sure for many folks, that’s the case. But yeah, I think I tried to build relationships that have bigger meaning than just performance. And I think that’s kind of something I learned from Sarah, my teammate who brought me on kind of took me under her wing and taught me the ropes. I mean, if anyone knows Sarah, or like, even from her social media, you can tell that’s just like, who she is as a human. And I think not. It’s just like being a multifaceted human and multifaceted like athlete, like, having more to your story and more to your life than just like performance is like one, I think really important and to like, really helpful for building those relationships. I think being a relatable human and like being able to communicate and having you know, something, something else going on in your day to day life, besides just training and robot, professional athlete mode is like helpful for, for people to see and also for sponsors to, you know, support crew to help you just because they’re like, yeah, like, I want to support, Ellen, because, you know, she’s a great athlete, but also because, you know, she runs these workshops, and she comes to the office and hangs out, and like we liked hanging out with at least that’s what I like. But yeah, so I think, I mean, I try to keep that perspective, like I’ve worked really hard to, like, maintain some of those relationships and, and be president in my relationships with my support crew and all the sponsors I have, but I also, you know, try to find that balance of like, doing really well. And I obviously do want to do really well and competitive and I want to, you know, win and be on the podium and that sort of thing, but I also don’t want to do it at the cost of any sort of relationship. I don’t want to be a turd of a human worked out very well or not for very long. So Yeah, that’s kind of how I try to keep that perspective. And try not to overthink it, you know, I try to just, they support me. And honestly, like, my friend had a good perspective. He said, most people in this, in the cycling profession that are getting paid are probably getting underpaid. And or there’s a lot of people that are not getting paid, just how it is. And so it’s like, well, just keep that in mind, too. We’re all probably getting under. But yeah, mostly just like trying to be a good human and, and be a good relatable human that people actually want to like, support, not just for their performance. So yeah.

Sonya Looney 15:44
Now having relationships that aren’t conditional on performance, that have a lot of a lot of depth to them, so that it doesn’t matter how you do you know, those people love you, for you, not for the result that you put up. And also, you mentioned, a diversified identity. And I wrote a paper on this actually, there’s an actual measured construct called athlete identity, and how it’s very important to have self complexity. So having different parts to you that are, are not just athlete, because that reduces burnout, and it improves your mental health as an athlete. So yeah, sounds like yeah, you got that you’re doing that.

Ellen Campbell 16:23
I’m trying trying to keep that. Yeah, I think Durango is like a fun draining goes like, at least for me growing up here. It’s like a double edged sword of like, there’s so much amazing riding here. There’s so many great athletes here. There’s group rides, there’s the development programs, there’s all sorts of everything, like a bunch of bike shops, everything you could ever want as like a mountain bike maker. But then growing up here, it’s like, well, I’ve just been in melt, like, I’ve just been in cycling my whole life. And how do I, you know, how do I keep that diversity going? As I discovered my identity, and my identity as a cyclist, and as a female professional athlete like it, there’s just so many aspects. But yeah, I appreciate that. I’d have to read your paper sounds very interesting.

Sonya Looney 17:12
I’ll throw I’ll throw it out for you. And for those who are like cliffhanger, like, what do I do? There’s lots of different things you can do. The focus of this paper was for a class that was about the positive humanities, which is looking to the arts to improve your well being so and I’ve had to experientially do this the entire semester. And it’s helped me so like, looking at going to a museum with a friend and looking at a piece or pieces of visual art and sitting there and contemplating that piece of art. It reminds you of different parts of who you are, or listening to music like going and taking part or reading literature, there’s, there’s like different works of literature that will remind you of different parts of who you are. And then remembering to think on that. So just the experience of it is one thing, but then the reflection upon what that did for you is another thing. So that’s just if there’s something that resonates like think about that and give it a try. Yeah,

Ellen Campbell 18:03
that’s cool. Yeah, I’d love to read it. I will definitely be doing that. There’s lots of I will want to say there’s lots of time, but there’s not a lot.

Sonya Looney 18:14
Yeah, I would love to do that. Even just doing it digitally. Like for a second. Okay, just to Yeah, cool.

Ellen Campbell 18:20
I will I will be doing that. Thank you. Okay. Yeah, I’m

Sonya Looney 18:23
glad you’re interested. I’m hoping to be bringing I’m graduating soon bringing all of this to cycling to help athletes. Sweet.

Ellen Campbell 18:29
I love that. Yeah. Well, congrats on graduating soon. Thanks.

Sonya Looney 18:33
So yeah, thanks so much for coming on the show. Where can people follow your adventures through lifetime Grand Prix and all of your racing and your growth as an athlete? Yeah,

Ellen Campbell 18:43
I mostly stick to Instagram. Juggling a couple is a little tricky for me. And it’s just my name, my handles My name lnM Campbell. And I also am doing a suite workshops, series this kind of summer and fall if you’re in the Durango region, or if you’re traveling, I’ll be posting I have a little website that has some of those events. I’m going to do some mountain bikes, some gravel, and basic repairs, basically, how to get familiar with your bike.

Sonya Looney 19:20
Knowing that so yeah, right. Yeah,

Ellen Campbell 19:23
I really I just I think during like I said, Durango is like a great place. There’s also some pieces that are missing. And that is like a lot of women riding together in a very casual recreational setting. And I wanted to include that. So yeah, that’s where I’ll be and mostly just racing all over the all over the place. You may or may not see some of that.

Sonya Looney 19:48
Great, well, I’m so grateful for that work you’re doing in the community. Like how powerful is that to be able to do that and the impact you’re having on all these women. So yeah, I know that takes a lot of time to do It

Ellen Campbell 20:00
does. It does, but it’s also like, I think my, the vibe is like very casual but also very fun. And I have again, my, my sponsors love supporting it. They think it’s great. And I think it’s great and yeah, a lot of tailwind employees show up and their friends so it’s a good time it is I show up if I was in Durango, too. We’d love that.

Sonya Looney 20:23
Alright, well, thanks so much, Ellen. Yeah, have great race season.

Ellen Campbell 20:26
Thank you. Yeah, you too. I’ll see you at breath. Probably. Yeah. Other one. Oh, okay. All right.

Sonya Looney 21:24
Jenny, it’s so cool to have you here as the co founder of tailwind and also as an incredible athlete. You’re just telling me how you’re going to New Zealand to take on this amazing adventure with your husband. So welcome.

Jenny 21:37
Thank you. Thanks for having me. Super excited to be here.

Sonya Looney 21:41
So I’d love to hear about your background a little bit like how you came to be an athlete. And also, you know how you came to start tailwind?

Jenny 21:51
Yes. So my story in terms of how I became an athlete really started when I graduated from undergrad, and a friend of mine approached several of us and they said, and she said, Hey, I’m thinking about playing this bike trip together, do you want to go and I was like, all about the adventure and the journey. And I said, Sure, I’d love to go. And then as we got closer and closer to the date, everybody else dropped out. So it’s just myself and my friend. It’s just my myself and my friend Amy. And I was not an athlete, by definition at all I had grown up doing valet that was my passion and my joy. But in terms of, you know, team sports or individual sports, that was not me. And so I remember landing in, in, in Virginia, and we were in Atlanta at the Charleston airport. And I wrote six miles that first day to the KOA campground. And I was just, it was just incredible. I never thought of myself of being able to ride six miles. And it sounds kind of stupid, in a way, but for me, it was a huge accomplishment. And that kind of set me on my path. It was just such a joyful experience to be in nature with a really good friend having these experiences not just on the bike, but just culturally and meeting people and discovering a different part of the country. And I took that back with me and I went moved to St. Louis, which was where my first job was. And I started writing and what I loved doing work longer distances, and it kept on writing further and further. And there’s a race called the bicycle cross Missouri race, bam. And I did that and one thing led to another and before I knew that I was doing a ram qualifier, and then did Paris Brest, Paris and things just got longer. And through the course of that I met my husband, Jeff, who was an avid mountain biker, and got introduced to the world of mountain biking, and doing longer mountain bike races as well. So that’s what really brought me to the sport was just this feeling of being in nature. And being fully capable of doing it. I remember the first time I learned how to change my own tire on my bike, and I felt so empowered, like I can do this. And yeah, it’s great. And you know, fast forward to where we are now and who would have thought that we would be starting a sports nutrition company certainly when I graduated from undergrad way back when I never thought that I would end up where I am today. So that’s kind of like in a nutshell my background in endurance sports and what brought me there. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 24:33
it’s pretty incredible whenever you think about it, like number one, what got you to sign up for this event? And then even when people were dropping out you still committed to doing it. And then to like you said, you know, you’re laughing about the idea that you did six miles with six miles is a lot when you have done when you’ve never done it before and how six turned into like for those who aren’t familiar with Ram is Race Across America. How How, how doing one small thing thing can grow and build your belief in yourself. And you mentioned changing your tire like how, how that really helps you believe like, wow, I am so capable.

Jenny 25:10
Mm hmm, exactly. And even in my personal life, it’s how I met my husband, because we started mountain biking together. And that’s how we got to know one another. So impacting me both from a personal and professional perspective.

Sonya Looney 25:25
A little aside as I met my husband through mountain biking as well. So, you know, Tillman is about support, right. So I guess I’d like to hear about the experience of support when you signed up for this first event, because it sounds like that was the keyhole that unlocked, you know, this entire life that you have?

Jenny 25:44
Yeah, and it wasn’t really an event it was, it was a tour. So the idea was to bike from Charleston to Savannah over the course of a week. And we just jumped on our bikes, we didn’t really know what we were doing. We landed at the airport. I borrowed my friend’s sister’s bike, I got introduced to this, this, this idea of a pioneer and being able to pack your, all your stuff into the mirror and attaching it to the bike. And I think what’s really interesting when you are touring is you are really supported along the way because you’re constantly asking questions, people look at you and are like, Oh, you’re touring. And we have to remember that this was back in 1987. So it was before Google, it was before cell phones. And so we were literally we literally had printed maps and trying to navigate. And you were forced to ask people questions, and then you’d end up in these wonderful conversations. And everyone literally was supporting us along the way, they were, in a sense, invested in our success, to have an success I define as for that particular type of rider just having an amazing time, and being introduced to this beautiful area of our country, and interacting with the locals and such so. So the support along that way, was was great, you know, people were just always willing to help us a hand. And then progressing further as my distances grew longer riding with a group of fantastic people. And if anybody knows about the Rajinder, and community, it’s all about helping one another. So somebody that you’re riding with, you’re on a group ride, somebody gets a flat, people pull off, and they wait until the person has fixed their flat before they can join the group again. So I was introduced to that sense of support in the community. When I start first started writing in St. Louis, I wrote with rode with American youth hostels, they would have weekly rides, met some wonderful people, and we all worked together. And then I heard about this thing called Paris Brest, Paris. And it was like, oh, that sounds kind of cool. And we all went over there as a group, and we all supported one another. And yeah, just an amazing, amazing experience all around, not just about the ride in the journey, but about the community and the support you get along the way. And those are the same kind of values, as you mentioned, that we try to bring to the table and nutrition brand as well. Yeah.

Sonya Looney 28:08
Isn’t it interesting how a shared interest can build connection? That is more than just saying hello, that builds into stories?

Jenny 28:16
Yep, exactly. Yep. And it’s funny, I was talking to someone earlier about when you do do these longer distances, also, invariably, something goes wrong. And then you have this unexpected any of these unexpectedly delightful experiences, because people want to help you get out of those bad moments. And those are the things you look back on. You think, Wow, that was really an amazing experience. So even though it might have been a downer at the time, you look back on it, and it becomes a cherished memory. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 28:50
I think that in these times, you know, we don’t want to be alone. A lot of people don’t want to be vulnerable. They don’t want to ask for help. They don’t want to ask for support, and how, how powerful it is, whenever you actually do make yourself vulnerable and accept that support from somebody. And it not only benefits you but it benefits the person who’s giving that support.

Jenny 29:10
Oh, I think you’re absolutely right. Yeah. Smiles miles around everywhere. Yeah. Because I think that the person and you know, it’s the golden rule, right, do unto others as you would have others do unto you. And there’s so much happiness and joy that comes out of from that from that two direction. You know, it’s bi directional. So absolutely agree.

Sonya Looney 29:33
And, you know, it sounds like you’ve made some some big decisions, you know, deciding to take on some of these really hard and challenging events that require support, getting married, starting a business, all of these pivots in your life, also required a sort of thought process behind you know, I should do this or I shouldn’t do this. So how much do you think that the idea that you have support pushed you along to actually make these decisions because there’s All these things that we want to do in our lives. And we a lot of times people don’t take action on it. So I’m trying to figure out, you know, what is the thing underneath that is being the tailwind to push somebody forward to help them step into the person that they want to be?

Jenny 30:14
You know, that’s? That’s a really good question. And then I think it’s pretty complicated. I think it depends upon the individual. For myself, personally, I’ve always been fairly self self motivated, and driven by the journey and the experience. And just, I’m also I’m also an optimist. So I was looking at the glass half full. So even though I started on these adventures, there’s this thing at the back of my mind that if I get into trouble, or if I need help, there will be someone there who can help me along the way. And I think that’s just part of my nature. I’m not sure if that exists for everyone. So I would say that, on a personal level, for me, the initial decision to do something is a personal decision that oh, yeah, sounds amazing. I love to do this. And now that I’m married, and I have a family, I do the check in Hey, what do you think about this? Do you think this will work? I remember, the year that I turned 50, PDP Harris has Perez happens every four years, so I really wanted to do it again. But there’s a lot going in, or going on in our personal household. And so I did a check in and the family was super supportive. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do it, because I ended up with an injury. But But yeah, I think it does depend upon the person. And some people do require that support knowing that it’s going to be there ahead of time before committing to some to something for me, I just, I just kind of think things are gonna work out. Just maybe naive, but it’s just the way I am.

Sonya Looney 31:54
No, actually, there’s there’s a lot of positive benefits to being optimistic. And, yeah, I can relate with you like, I’m more self motivated. And I just go after the thing. But I’m asking the question, because a lot of people aren’t that way. And they need to have that support. But it also sounds like for you, you know, you mentioned I’m an optimist. And I know that if I get into trouble that there’ll be somebody else there that can potentially help me. So it sounds like you have an underlying belief that that people are good, and that people are going to help you. And that contributes your sense of optimism, about how you’re going to move forward whenever you encounter an adversity.

Jenny 32:28
And I think of so my daughter, literally, she just came back yesterday from running the rim to rim to rim in the Grand Canyon. And she had trained for it. But there were there were dark moments. And she was running it with a really close friend of hers. They’ve been friends since elementary school. And she talked about how important that support was. And at the same time, she also realized after going through this experience, she said, Wow, I realized that I can probably get myself out of anything, I had the mental capacity to do it. But leaning on her friend and her friend being there to support her, made such a huge difference for her as well. So it’s it’s a little bit of both there is this self motivation. But there’s also that ability of someone who’s very near and dear to you to help pull you out and make sure that yes, you can do this, you know, in those dark moments, you can do this, you have the capacity to do this.

Sonya Looney 33:28
And along the lines of optimism, there’s some really interesting research on how optimism is key to athletic performance and also to social support. So people who are high in optimism tend to have better relationships because of the idea of support the perceived support, and also their perceived support the idea that people are going to be there for them have actually increased performance and Olympians as well. So this idea of support is, is important for optimism. It’s important for mental toughness. And yeah, I think it’s interesting because whenever we talk about performance, we don’t always talk about the idea of perceived support or actual support whenever we make decisions and we go after things so I’m excited about this podcast and just kind of raising that that that point because I think it can go unnoticed and then making sure that we think people that are there for us whether they’re there physically or whether we just in the back of our mind know like those people are there for me whenever I need them.

Jenny 34:29
Yeah, and even in a very like during the race if you have a formal support crew, I cannot I cannot say enough how critical they are to your success when you’re coming through and you’re doing a long effort or even during the short of it’s just having that smile and someone you know like you got this you keep going as you’re leaving. Sounds really dorky but as you’re leaving that station, or you know your crew, that those words ring in your head as you keep on riding through the race is like Yeah, yeah. Okay. Okay. And then you’re also looking forward to seeing them, but the next group stop as well. So super important to your success in finishing. And I always tell athletes, like never underestimate your support group because they will pull you through when you think that you can’t do it anymore. So

Sonya Looney 35:26
I love that it’s like a resonance of positive energy that you get that you get that powers you forward. Even whenever you think to yourself. I’m never gonna be able to leave this aid station, and then you have people around you who are just cheering you on and it gets you back out there.

Jenny 35:39
Yeah, no, I remember. I had finished the RAM qualifiers in the West RAM qualifier. And I had finished it and it my crew, they brought me over to this table and they said, okay, just lay down. And then there was a misuse who was there? It was the best reward for finishing that. They really took care of me. And it was it was great. Yeah.

Sonya Looney 36:04
I have one last question for you. How did you name come up with a name tailwind?

Jenny 36:10
So my husband and I were out on a hike on Hermoza Creek, and we were kind of just playing along with some names. And then we decided to name tailwind because we thought of when you’re on your bike, and there’s a tailwind. The moment becomes effortless, right? Well, especially if you’re on the road, so much comes by, like you feel this, you feel this little and you just feel this gentle push on the back. And so that’s how we came up with a name for tailwind nutrition, because when you do have your nutrition dialed in, it does seem effortless is one thing less that you need to think of me like to think of it as your unencumbered so you can focus on your race. Because you don’t even think about your nutrition. You know, you’re just sipping away on on on our tailwind nutrition. And you don’t need to think about anything else because everything is taken care of like all your calories and electrolytes in your hydration are all mixed together. A bottle an hour and you’re good. So it just becomes effortless. You don’t even need to think about it. Jackie members lining up at the Leadville 100, and it was literally a racer next to next to him. And she had taped between your handlebars and Excel spreadsheet and two watches, telling her when to take the electrolytes when to when to eat. And she was like oh my god, it’s so complicated. So so that’s how, anyways, circling back to your next year. Your last question. That’s how we came up with the name of tailwind. It’s just a gentle push on your back. And it’s just as really easy.

Sonya Looney 37:47
Well, thanks so much. And I just want to personally thank you for, you know, allowing me to be on the tailwind crew. And I feel very supported. I feel like the team believes in me and everything that I’m doing. And having that level of support as an athlete is so important, because I’ll just be candidly like, you know, I’ve worked with lots of sponsors. And there’s, there’s different levels of engagement, I would say from sponsors. And whenever you have a personal relationship with a person and a brand, it really enhances how you perform, and even how you think about yourself because you feel like well, these people truly believe in what I’m doing too. So you and Maggie and the team do such a fantastic job. And I just wanted to say thank you.

Jenny 38:31
Well, thank you. We’re so happy to have you as part of tailwind. And I think what’s so amazing about you is that you you bring value to so many people at so many different levels not only as a professional athlete, but also as a mother. And, you know, pursuing your education, I think is just fantastic. So thank you for being a part of tailwind.

Sonya Looney 38:57
Now. Thanks a lot.

He coordinates so great to meet you and to actually get to talk to you, because I admire you so much. Oh,

Courtney Duwalter 40:06
thank you. It’s great to meet you, too. I hope we can share some trails someday.

Sonya Looney 40:10
Yeah, you should come up here and show me how to run downhill.

Courtney Duwalter 40:15
I’ll show I’ll show you running and you can show me biking and it’ll be a perfect exchange.

Sonya Looney 40:22
It’s a deal and and also uphill. Don’t want to leave that out. So, you know, you’re like, what’s it like to hear somebody say, you know, you’re one of the You are the greatest of all time. Children entrepreneur, like, what is that like for you?

Courtney Duwalter 40:38
I am just thankful to have found this sport and to be in this sport right now. And specifically, I guess to be in it, like, as it’s blowing up right now is really cool. There’s so many more people getting into the trails, so many more people pushing themselves to see what’s possible, and cheering for each other along the way. Like, the community is so uplifting, and everyone is here to help. So yeah, I guess I feel really lucky in all of those ways.

Sonya Looney 41:11
Yeah. And what is trail running done for you, or like taught you about yourself? Or what has it unlocked within you?

Courtney Duwalter 41:19
trail running keeps teaching me that we are capable of way more than we think when I lined up for my first road marathon, I thought it would kill me, I thought 26.2 miles would be the death of me, I’d be a pile of just skin and bones on the side of the road. And when I finished it, it triggered this whole thing for me of like, that sounded too hard. But then I did it. And I made it to that finish line. So what’s another thing? That sounds too hard. And in the course of doing that, it just keeps pointing out to me and making more obvious the fact that like the bar we set for ourselves, what we think we’re capable of is, usually it seems like too low. And we need to flip the bar up a few more notches and go after that thing that sounds a little bit crazy. And try and surprise ourselves. That’s

Sonya Looney 42:21
so inspiring. And I love thinking about exploration when going after that next thing and to overcome that that limit that you’ve set or that you want to overcome.

Courtney Duwalter 42:31
Yeah, and exploring with our feet, or our bodies being out there. I mean, you know, you do the same with a bike. But when you’re out in the middle of the mountains, and you stop for a second, then realize that you got there with your body and some snacks. And you’re like, you know, this tiny speck in this huge landscape, it feels really special.

Sonya Looney 42:53
So I love talking about keyhole moments. Because there’s a moment for a lot of people that changes the trajectory of their life. And it sounded like for you, you know, lining up for that first marathon potentially, was a keyhole moment to leading you down this path. For me doing my first mountain bike race completely changed my life. What got you to open that first door to sign up for that first marathon?

Courtney Duwalter 43:19
I think so it was after college. And I think I just needed something I always feel better when I run. So throughout college after college, I was still running every single day just casually but because it made my brain turned on and made my body feel like it was working together. It made my day feel more productive. So I was running every day. And I think I just had heard of all of these people doing road marathons and I wanted to put a bib on and try for myself. I think it was curiosity that got me to that start line. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 43:58
and seeing other seeing other people do that. And it that like piqued your curiosity. Totally

Courtney Duwalter 44:03
like they can they can do that. Look at all these people who have done road marathons. I want to try

Sonya Looney 44:12
I’ll tell you a funny secret is my for my very first endurance sport that I ever did was run a marathon. And that got me into endurance sports. I

Courtney Duwalter 44:21
love it. And how did you feel before the marathon? Were you prepared? Or are you like trained up for it? And then how did you feel after?

Sonya Looney 44:31
I don’t really remember I was 17. I just remember thinking like, I want to do this thing. And it was the first thing I’d ever done for myself. Not to meet somebody else’s expectations. So yeah, I trained them as best I could. And afterwards, I was like, I need more. I want more. Yeah,

Courtney Duwalter 44:46
yeah. Something about it. That’s like, when people are getting into Ultra running and they do a 50k or something. I’m like, Man, you better buckle up because I see 100 miler in your future. You know, like, there’s something about getting a taste of like, pushing hard and and working and then getting this thing that you’ve put in so much time and energy towards getting to that finish line makes you just want to do it again and to see what else is out there, I think.

Sonya Looney 45:20
Yeah, it’s like a journey of, of living, but a very intense journey of living in a short amount of a relatively short amount of time. Yeah, so cool. So I want to ask you, so you’re a tailwind athlete. And you know, tailwind is, is about support. So in your life number one, for that very first marathon, you signed up for? What support? Do you remember being around you to feel comfortable enough to explore that boundary and that curiosity?

Courtney Duwalter 45:49
At that time, I mean, my parents have been my number one supporters and fans from day one. So for sure, they were you know, all in on being just my biggest cheerleaders of like, yes, sign up for that marathon. And yeah, like, we’ll be at the finish line, or, you know, wanting to hear progress along the way as I was like, trying to go out for a 15 mile training run, or something that I thought seemed really crazy at the time. And I think just the people in general, like, the community, when you’re running a road marathon, you’re surrounded by people the whole time, everyone, you know, is like charging the streets at the same time. And I think I remember everyone out there, just creating this feeling of momentum, like, you stay in the stream, and you keep going with this group of people, because you’re all going for the same thing. You’re all trying to get to that finish line as best you can. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 46:57
I love the thought of momentum. And also just your your family. You know, some people have chosen family, some people have, like, the real family that’s there for them to help build a bridge so that they take that next thing.

Courtney Duwalter 47:10
Totally, yeah. And my family has been just so amazing. And always think, yeah, they’re just always ready to be my number one cheerleaders, when I first got into Ultra running, they had never heard of people running these distances of 50 miles or 100 miles, but they were like, full on into it and wanted to help in whatever way they could. Same with Kevin like, from the get go, I asked him to crew me at my first 100 mile race. And he had no idea that these things existed, but was just like, Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s figure it out together. And I think in tandem with like, their support, always at the events, it’s also their support, just have me as a person after the events, like they don’t care about the results. They don’t care about the time or the place. They want to know, did you have fun? What were some memories you created out there? And can we like crack a beverage together now, you know? So I think that’s a really cool piece of the support as well. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 48:26
knowing that you have people there for you that just unconditionally positively regard you and love you, it doesn’t matter what happens out there doesn’t matter what place you come, none of that stuff matters. They’re just there. And that impacts your performance so much. Absolutely.

Courtney Duwalter 48:39
And they are, you know, your fan because they like you as a person, not because they like your results or whatever, you know, yeah.

Sonya Looney 48:48
And I imagine, you know, that becomes more challenging just mentally, when you have people around you as you become more accomplished in your sport. And like you, you’re, you’re, you’re at the pinnacle, and there’s, I’m sure there’s more to go. So like how do you whenever you’re, you know, working or interacting with your friends or making new friends. And then people like me are like, Oh, tell me what it’s like to be the greatest of all time asking stupid questions like that. You know, I’m sure that you think about that in the back of your mind and you want that like that piece where people just know Courtney as Courtney not Courtney, this incredible runner. Like what’s that? How do you approach that?

Courtney Duwalter 49:24
Um, I, I guess I just am who I am. And you know, you create friendships with people who like you for being that person and you know, want to hear your jokes and spend time with you and not necessarily, like run with you. But yeah, I think it’s like a internal thing to have like, thinking of yourself as a person and not results and not identifying yourself as the things you’ve done, but of like, you know, your characteristics and what you can bring to a relationship that helps shape those friendships as well. And I

Sonya Looney 50:11
imagine that shapes how you perceive your accomplishments, too.

Courtney Duwalter 50:16
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I, I don’t care if anyone knows any of my results, I hope at the end of it all people think of me and you know, can smile about a memory we shared, rather than like a thing that I did.

Sonya Looney 50:34
And, you know, whenever you’re out there doing these, like 100 mile trail running events, there are periods of time where it’ll be loud, like, you’ll come through an aid station or whatever, there’s fans or support crews. But most of it, it’s quiet, and you’re by yourself. So, you know, how do you how do you deal with the transitions of coming into like, the loud, exciting, too, all of a sudden, things are quiet again, and you’re out there.

Courtney Duwalter 50:57
I love that I love that there’s both sides of it in a race. And I think when you’re in the loud, you know, energize towns, or places where people are cheering it’s, you know, soaking that up as much as you can, and like the give and take of energy, and, like, I don’t know, like momentum that you can get from those areas. And then appreciating the silence of just you and your breathing and your feet and the mountain and like, being able to really dig in, inside your brain in those quiet moments.

Sonya Looney 51:38
Yeah, I love thinking about those quiet moments, because it’s like, you come to face with yourself, you find that thing inside yourself that you can’t explain.

Courtney Duwalter 51:48
Yeah, yeah. So cool. So in

Sonya Looney 51:51
those moments in the races, you know, I’m speaking for myself here, but I’m hoping that that you, you’ve had these experiences to where it’s like, really hard, and you’re just like, I don’t know how I’m gonna go on, you know, I guess one step at a time here. I can’t even imagine one more mile, but I’m just going to keep going. Like, where do you go to pull that resilience through so that you keep going and not give up on yourself?

Courtney Duwalter 52:18
I use a lot of mantras in those hardest moments. So repeating a small simple phrase, over and over in my head, helps calm me down, it helps me you know, think more clearly about what problem solving I might need to do in order to get past this low point. And it also just like, keeps the focus on the next step. And it doesn’t let my brain Whirlpool into negativity or into thinking about how far away the finish line is. So my mantras, I don’t plan out, but oftentimes, like my fallback mantra is just, this is fine, you’re fine. Everything is fine. And that one, you know is like, one I always keep in my pocket ready to go if I need something, but sometimes random ones just pop up as well. Do you use mantras?

Sonya Looney 53:17
I do. Yeah. It’s funny that you say that, because one that comes up for me a lot is just it’s okay. Like alarm bells, or it’s okay. Yeah. Yeah. And another one is, this is what you came for. Which

Courtney Duwalter 53:29
I do that one too. Like you wanted it to her you wanted to push and see what’s possible. This is exactly what you came for. That one I’ve used before as well. I love it.

Sonya Looney 53:39
So how do you think about, you know, what the next race is or how to decide what to sign up for, because there’s so many different things out there.

Courtney Duwalter 53:49
I sign up, I make my race season based on you know, what’s pulling out my curiosity the most and what kind of challenge it creates an opportunity for so I’m really intrigued right now by the longer stuff. And like, what, what we can do mentally and physically and those 100 plus mile races. So currently, that’s how I build a season is I’ll find a few of those that I’m really jazzed about and then kind of build into it with a spring season and then maybe throw in some fall races for fun.

Sonya Looney 54:29
And in making those decisions how big of a part of that is the support piece the people that are your friends the people that love you for being Courtney and also the people who are in the arena who might be the same people supporting you actually in the race.

Courtney Duwalter 54:43
Like as far as choosing the races, choosing the

Sonya Looney 54:45
races and just that deciding like I can do this, like I’m able to do this.

Courtney Duwalter 54:51
Um, I mean for sure the Yeah, they’re of course supporting any anything I Choose if I said, you know, I’m gonna run 2000 miles and try and do this thing those people would support and be like, Okay, how can we help like what’s the way we can make this so that it could go more smoothly? So no matter what I’m signing up for, I’m really fortunate the support is always support no matter how crazy the idea. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 55:26
so knowing that somebody is going to be there to support you when you have a crazy idea that you want to do, and that helps you move forward with the whatever the idea is.

Courtney Duwalter 55:34
Absolutely, yeah, the people around us are so important, and I’m really lucky to have the support I have.

Sonya Looney 55:43
Well, thanks so much for taking time to come on the show and we really appreciate it and can’t wait to follow you and watch you the rest of the year. Thank

Courtney Duwalter 55:51
you. Hope to see you

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