Catching up with Joan Benoit Samuelson


Joan Benoit Samuelson’s name is synonymous with women’s running. She began running track in high school in the town of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Samuelson continued on to Bowdoin College, where her career soared. She received All-American honors in cross-country and track, and won the Boston Marathon in 1979, setting an American and course record, all before she graduated. Samuelson won the Boston Marathon again in 1983, this time breaking the world record. One year later, at the age of 27, she won the gold medal in the first women’s marathon at the Los Angeles Olympics. In 1985, Samuelson won the Chicago Marathon with an American record time of 2:21:21.

Samuelson will be in Michigan January 7-9, visiting the Gazelle Sports stores in Grand Rapids, Holland and Northville. Click here for more information. Prior to her trip here, she took some time to answer some of our questions:

What’s your favorite thing about running?
It wakes me up and allows me time to think and prioritize what is important to me during the course of the day or week.  It is one of the few times during the day when I can really think without interruption

How do you stay motivated through the winter? How do you stay motivated with running in general?
I set goals for myself as I look forward to upcoming races and events.  I also don’t look at the temperature before I go out the door, even though I have some idea of the temperature.  Windchills are my primary concern when it comes to winter temperatures

What’s the thing you remember most about the ’84 Olympics?
The Opening Ceremonies when we all “reached out” to touch the Romanians who were the only Eastern Europeans to attend the 1984 Olympics. Also, making the decision to skip the first water station to break from the pack and find my own stride. Running on the LA Freeway by myself was quite a memory as I was approaching the tunnel and wondering what it would be like to come into the light of the Coliseum while trying to hold my lead to the finish.

What’s the one thing you would want women to know about training for any race?
Patience. Also, what works in training for one person won’t necessarily work for others

What’s your favorite pre-race meal? What’s your favorite post-race meal?
Pre-race: Pasta and fish or chicken. Post-race: Fish or steak, salad

How has running/training changed since your first marathon to today? Are strategies different?
There’s been very little change.  However, I run fewer miles and only run once a day as opposed to twice a day as I did when I was younger and before I had children.

What’s your favorite race?
The Boston Marathon, The Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women

How do you balance running with the rest of your life?
I have many interests including family, friends and gardening and other outside activities that I like to balance.  Balance is very important in my life.