Posted by: Susan Loken | February 16, 2015

Take Daily Action to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Your Dreams

Life is series of ups and downs, but sometimes the negatives appear to outweigh the positives. The biggest lesson I’ve taken away from the challenge and frustration is to fall seven times and get up eight.

2010 was a great year for me.  I ran the Twin Cities Marathon in 2:44:41 to win my 4th Masters Title, got engaged to a wonderful man and qualified for my 3rd Olympic Marathon Trials. This was all after 8 years of amazing successes. Since then, it seems that I’ve had one setback after another. However, I love the my journey and my heart will not let me give up or back down.


In 2012, I went into the USA Olympic Marathon Trials with a severely torn hamstring and finished 3:05:11 (3rd from last).

In 2013, after a year spent healing my hamstring, I pulled my calf muscle two weeks before the PF Chang’s at Houston Half Marathon, finishing 6th place overall in a disappointing 2:59:55.

In 2014, after working to get back in shape, I ran the Boston Marathon with a sore ankle and later learned that I had a partial tear in my posterior tibialis tendon. I placed first in my age group with a disappointing 2:55:02, missing the Veterans Course record.

Since the 2014 Boston Marathon, I have completely fixed and strengthened my ankle tendon (through PT with Nicole Armbrust, Prolotherapy with Dr. Tallman, and ST with Watus Cooper) and have been training for the 2015 Boston Marathon Veterans Course record that I missed in 2014. My excitement was shattered four weeks ago when the hamstring that gave me trouble in 2012 tore again!

Seeing me disappointed and broken-hearted, my dad asked, “Why do you keep doing this, baby? Why don’t you just hang it up and be happy with the success that you’ve had? You are a great coach–isn’t that enough?”

The mere thought of giving up on my goal to run the 2016 Olympic Trials at 52 and break the Boston Marathon Course record brought crocodile tears to my eyes and a heaviness to my heart. Giving up my passion and giving up on my dreams would feel like death, whereas getting up after each fall makes me feel alive!

I love the journey, I love the athlete lifestyle, and I love being a role model for the BTB runners that I coach! I love being part of an Elite women’s team (SDP Stronger Together) and, most of all, I love the opportunity to inspire others to dream big! I love waking up everyday with a goal, a purpose, a dream–this is why I can’t bring myself to stop.

So, after my seventh fall, I decided to get up an eighth time. I quickly got over my pity party and began my plan of attack for moving forward. Watch out dreams–I’m coming after you!!

So here’s the plan for attaining my big dreams:

Weekly Schedule

Monday: 5:30 am Barbell Class at Lifetime Fitness + ElliptiGO or Swim + Physical Therapy (PT) with Nicole Armbrust

Tuesday: 7:30 am Strength Training (ST) with Watus Cooper + 6:30 pm Master Swim Session at Lifetime

Wednesday: 5:30 am Coach Track + ElliptiGO or Swim for 60 minutes + 9:30 am PT with Nicole

Thursday: 8:30 am Barbell Class at Lifetime + 6:30 pm Master Swim at Lifetime

Friday: 7:30 am ST with Watus + Swim or EliptiGO

Saturday: 6 am BTB Long Run (walk or ElliptiGO with group)

Sunday: Endurance Swim or ElliptiGO

Additional: Daily stretching (including Hip flexor stretch, Front butt stretch, and Single leg hip abduction), Rehab exercises, Prolotherapy on my hamstring (which was instrumental to healing my ankle) and a bi-weekly massage

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it! The setbacks have been tough, but it would be even worse to give up. I BELIEVE I can do this, and I will!!


Sometimes life gets in the way of training, so here’s a workout that Watus gave me to follow when I’m out of town and don’t have access to my normal equipment.

Travel Workout

The below workout consists of parts:”Series A, B and C.” Move through each series twice before moving onto the next series (i.e. Complete 2 rounds of Series A before moving on to Series B).

Warm Up:
Mini Band Forward/Side Walks
15 Steps in each direction

Series A – Repeat 2x
Band above knees, TINY Squat Jumps w/ 5 sec. hold at bottom
15 reps

Band above knees Glute Bridge (2 sec. hold at top)
15 reps

Deep Sumo Squats
25 reps

Side Plank w/ Leg Raise
15 reps each side

Series B – Repeat 2x
1 Leg Box/Chair Squats
12 each

Lateral Lunge Walks
12 Steps in each direction

Lateral Step Ups on to bench or chair (or small wall on the boardwalk)
12 each leg

Side Plank with Leg Raises
15 reps each side

Series C – Repeat 2x
Band Hydrant Kick Backs
20 each leg

Curtsy Lunges
10-12 each leg

Band above knees – 20 Squats followed by 20 sec. of Holding the squat position

These are all great exercises to keep you moving and in-shape when you’re on the road or don’t have access to a track, a gym or your favorite equipment!


Of all the lessons I’ve learned, one of the most important has been to Dream Big and Plan Hard! Dreams motivate us to keep going, but we’ll never know how to reach our goals without taking daily action and defining tangible milestones.

Though many of my big goals have been  interrupted by challenges and setbacks, I always make the CHOICE to find a new training plan that will allow me to still pursue my big dreams, in spite of ANY injury. The right attitude and a commitment to your goals can help you to also overcome your obstacles and achieve all of your dreams!


  1. Well that made cry for you, for me and for the obstacles in life that try to knock everyone down no matter what they are trying to accomplish. The universe must like to see us get up with attitude b/c I don’t believe for a minute that the universe wants us to quit! I’m on deadline for a presentation, but I just sent my Aunt to Sole Sports to get those gosh darn metatarsal pads that Flash recommended so I can get back up and run today!! GRRR!

    • You are so strong and you are going to have a great Phx Half Marathon!! I will be your biggest cheerleader out there! Thanks Michelle!!

  2. And these are the reasons I am blessed to have you as my coach and friend. As you know I’m facing my own challenges but your example is a GREAT reminder that we MUST face setbacks BUT never give up. I get similar comments but I know in my heart I CAN and WILL overcome ANYTHING! The hardest thing is patience. It’s easier when I see an elite athlete dealing with setbacks. This journey will NEVER end for me. I look for inspiration anywhere I can. Books, movies, friends, etc. I will embrace the journey. I think of a quote during these times: ” you never know when the teacher will show up, but when he/she does, listen and learn” (something like that) I continue to learn and accept the challenges! Thank you for being you!!

    • Kelly, my FIRST BTB runners and now one of my best friends!!! Thank you for sharing your journey with me!!!! Your best running is a head of you!!!! I can’t wait to watch you!!!

  3. Perfect timing…I just finished my own pity party…and now I’m ready to get back up again! Can’t wait to line up next to you at the Trials!!!

    • WE GOT THIS GIRL!!!!!

  4. I’m so sorry to read this news but even more impressed with you than I was before! Talk about a complete athlete. Acknowledge it, shake it off, make a plan, move forward on your dream. YES. Thanks for the inspiration and sharing your journey, physical, mental and emotional. You’re helping others in many ways. I’m a fan and will be rooting for you every step of the way through the Trials.

    • THANK you for the kind words. Just hearing that I’m helping others brings a BIG smile to my heart!! Keep on Believing!!

  5. A friend sent me the link to this post. Thank you. It was just what I needed. I am sorry about your struggles but so inspired and encouraged by your story. I wrote about it on my blog today. Hope that is ok. 🙂

    • Erin, THANK YOU for the email. I just read your blog and I’m inspired!! We are both sponsored by UCAN! I love Oiselle. They teamed up with the team I coach BTB and Sole Sports! We have great Oiselle Team Singlet’s. I wish you nothing but the BEST with your training and I will be following your success!! KEEP ON BELIEVING!!!!

  6. I see that you had prolotherapy done by Dr. Tallman in Scottsdale. I am strongly considering going there as well. I realize you went there for you ankle and I would be going for my spine, but is there anyway you could you please email me? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

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