Quotes for a healthy, happy life: from Fabrice Calmels, Donna Deegan, Tiffani Thiessen

Every once in a while, I’m lucky to get to interview someone who excites and inspires me, and who makes me want to live a better, healthier life by virtue of the way they live theirs. Recently, I’ve gotten to profile several such people, and I wanted to share some of their words of wisdom here.

I wrote a profile of Fabrice Calmels, a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet who is a recreational runner, for the April issue of Runner’s World. I believe the comparison he offered between running and dancing applies to most things in life that require determination and mental strength:

“The physicality of “running” is similar to some parts of the ballet. There’s a part in Othello where I’m nearly upside down. I’m dehydrated, exhausted, but something mental makes you do it. A long race is similar. It becomes a decision, “I’m just going to keep going through this struggle.””

I also recently got to write a Women’s Running profile about Donna Deegan, founder of 26.2 with Donna National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer in Jacksonville, Fla., which has raised more than $3.5 million to help women with breast cancer cope financially while they go through treatments. Deegan, who has beaten three cancer diagnoses herself, offered the following thoughts about training for a marathon through cancer treatments:

“It’s very empowering to keep running while you’re going through cancer treatments. Marathoning is a great analogy for treatment, and for every kind of struggle. There’s a point in every marathon where you want to sit in the road and cry. But if you push through those struggles, you get to a really good place.”

Photo of Donna Deegan courtesy of Women's Running.

Photo of Donna Deegan courtesy of Women’s Running.

I was perhaps most inspired by talking to Boston Marathon bombing victim Nicole Gross for another Women’s Running profile. Gross, a triathlon coach and personal trainer, said the following about getting back to training following her injuries:

“I’m fortunate to have experienced athletic success. Now, it’s like I’m laying a new foundation with a brand-new body. I’ll start thinking about a half Ironman, or a half marathon, but I’ll pump my own brakes and think, ‘No, just walking a 5K is going to be an amazing accomplishment.’”

Photo courtesy of Women's Running.

Photo of Nicole Gross courtesy of Women’s Running.

Oh—and did I mention that I got to interview Tiffani Thiessen for Women’s Running, too? (Yeah—THAT Tiffani Thiessen!). Turns out, Thiessen took up running and cycling in her post-Saved By The Bell years. I was impressed that her perspective on racing and training was as grounded and down-to-earth as that of any other recreational athlete:

“I love the training, and I really love race day. For me, it’s not about the competition or what I can do, but about the energy of being part of a crowd.”


Photo of Tiffani Thiessen courtesy of Women’s Running.

I hope these incredible runners—and humans—inspire you as much as they inspired me.

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