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This is what the running elite has to say about "All in a Day's Run":

"Gary's experiences and thoughts are very entertaining, all levels of runners can relate to them."
Brian Sell — 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathoner

"Each of Gary's essays is a short read with great information on training, racing and nutrition."
Dave McGillivray — Boston Marathon Race Director

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Uta Pippig — November, 2009
Uta Pippig's biggest achievement is that she won the Boston Marathon three consecutive times (1994-1996). She also won the Berlin Marathon three times (1990, 1992 and 1995), the New York City Marathon once (1993), and she represented Germany in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Her best times include 15:03 for 5,000 meters, 31:21 for 10,000 meters, 1:07:58 for the half marathon and 2:21:45 for the marathon. The daughter of two physicians, Pippig began running at the age of 13 while a citizen of the former East Germany. She was a medical student at the Free University Berlin where, after passing her final exams, she chose to re-focus her attention exclusively on running professionally. Uta obtained American citizenship in 2004, and now holds dual citizenship. She founded Take The Magic Step, LLC, an international health and fitness philanthropic organization, and divides her time between its operations in Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New Zealand, and Germany.
GCR:You had three Boston Marathon finishes in the top three before your first victory in 1994. How much sweeter did that make the first win at Boston?
UPEach time I tried to do my best, prepare well and hoped for the best possible outcome. In 1994 I had a huge support group – the wonderful fans, my physical therapist, my coach and my family so I was ‘over the moon’ with this win. It was easier to compete as I had run the course a few times before. I didn’t train differently than for the earlier ones, but since I had trained very hard for many years, it was just my time. During the four years from 1991 to 1994 I had few injuries and was ready. The fans were so good and cheering for me for four years and finally I could give something back – it was like, ‘Thanks for your energy!’ It was a technical race because Elana Meyer and the Olympic champion, Valentina Egorova and I were trading the lead and it was fast because there was a tailwind. I was very aggressive through the hills and took the lead after Heartbreak Hill. That was my fastest victory as I ran 2:21.
GCR:How exciting was it coming back to Boston in 1995 to defend your title?
UPIt was my fifth year there and the crowds were so supportive. I remember the interaction with the fans on the course. It was so loud and wonderful going past Wellesley College with the screaming girls. The people on the road gave me so much energy – it was fun to share that and it made the race very enjoyable.
GCR:How tough mentally and physically was your come-from behind win in 1996 when you battled physical ailments?
UPIt was special to win the Boston Marathon a third straight time. The physical ailments I had to deal with were tough, but I kept going in that race. After seven or eight miles I wanted to give up and I didn’t know that I had colitis. But I wanted to celebrate a win and have fun afterwards, so I kept going even though I stopped and walked for a moment to try to regroup myself. The fans were spectacular, urging me on I never expected that I could win, but I never gave up. About a mile before the finish I moved into the lead. After the race I kept hearing, ‘You don’t look well, Uta,’ but I wanted to have fun and enjoy the day, and I still did not know that I was seriously ill. As I look back many years later this race became a symbol in my work and with charity groups of never giving up. I use this race to hopefully inspire other people and to be more effective in my support of them.
GCR:In 1990, three days before the German reunification, 25,000 runners ran through Brandenburg Gate and you won your first of three Berlin Marathons. Describe the significance of that day for Germans and of your win.
UPI was a girl from East Germany who went to the west four months earlier so I had made the symbolic journey. In the marathon I ran with 25,000 runners who were so happy - it was such a joyful, sensitive atmosphere with emotions overflowing. We had tears in our eyes as we ran from the west, through the Brandenburg Gate to the east, and then back again through Potsdamer Platz to the west. . The race was called the German Reunification Marathon. It was such a special day. We were running free without the many restrictions we had in the east, such as restrictions on free speech. There was a lot of hope that the tough times of the past could be put behind us and we could be one nation – no country should be divided. No culture on our planet should be divided. I left East Germany in January of 1990 and was considered a deserter because I had been competing as an athlete for the East German army. It was a difficult time for everyone, including me, but later in March, the Christian Democratic Party won the elections and there was an amnesty. That started the political path for a peaceful reunification. It was a turbulent time where the destinies of many families were at stake, and people had many emotions flowing and hard choices to make for their families or businesses. I am happy to say that as a girl from the east I was able to win the German Reunification Marathon as a symbol of ‘the East meets the West.’ It was an exciting and humbling day. We were running for freedom and for our future together.
GCR:You were forced to drop out of the 1996 Olympic Marathon due to injuries incurred by your shoes and wet pavement and in 1992 you finished seventh in the 10,000 meters in 31:36.45. Despite not contending for Gold in Atlanta or medaling in Barcelona, what did you take away from your Olympic experiences as a runner and a person?
UPIt is a dream for many people to be in the Olympics. In Atlanta, after I was forced to stop running due to a stress fracture, I watched other events like the ‘Dream Team’ competing in basketball and the diving competition. I have so much respect for other athletes’ performances. How can they do what they do? For example, the rowers must train so much to be able to do what they do. There was a great mutual respect between the athletes as we knew that each of us had to put in hard work and preparation for our chosen event. As for my own experience, I thought I had prepared well, had done everything right and had the right shoes. But still a runner can makes mistakes as we are not invincible. Of course I learned from my mistakes and never wore new shoes again in a marathon. I was also a little bit predisposed to injury due to the high amount of my training. I didn’t attend the opening ceremony in Barcelona, unfortunately, due to the racing schedule. But I did attend the closing ceremony in Atlanta and it was so special – it was fun! There were thousands and thousands of people from all over the world gathered together to celebrate the Olympic spirit. The camaraderie and feeling of joy and peaceful coexistence were omnipresent.
GCR:Use your unique perspective that only a very few top athletes have to compare and contrast ‘the wall’ that marathon runners deal with late in their races to the constraints you faced for so many years as you lived in East Germany behind the Berlin Wall.
UPI like this question because it makes me very thoughtful. In a marathon you can suddenly hit ‘the wall’ and you must decide how to deal with it—what strategy to follow. Normally, in training, you can just slow down or walk a bit. But in a marathon, you need to overcome the difficulty quickly because there really is not much time. You deal with it as best you can; you adjust your pace and move on as well as possible. In a similar way to the ‘wall’ in a marathon we were trying to overcome our suppression and find our own pace and our own way through it. In East Germany there was no freedom of speech and many artistic people could not express their true ideas and feelings—they were walled off, so to speak, from the expression of their true passion. I lived behind the wall and wasn’t able to compete in the west or to go to the west. When I grew up and became a teenager I realized of the true nature of my surroundings and the dynamic of the oppressor and suppresser in Germany. I realized I was behind a wall politically and emotionally. We were young and trying to understand the situation and hoping to break through that wall and change things. We had sleepless nights, we worried and we didn’t know what the future would bring. Together as a country and a people we achieved a great moment in history when the Wall went down.
GCR:You raced well from track racing at 3,000 and 5,000 meters all the way up to half marathons and full marathons on the road. What is your favorite distance and why?
UPI have to admit as much as I love racing marathons, and I had the most success at that distance, I love the 5,000 meters. It’s shorter and, since I come from a track background, I love interval training. I like training with different groups on the track. The 5,000 meters is a technical race, it goes by fast and very often there are different and unique strategies used by the competitors as they each try to run their best.
GCR:Since the age of 21 your coach has been Dieter Hogen. He also was your companion for more than a decade. How has he contributed to your success and what are the plusses and minuses of having the same person as both coach and companion?
UPI was the hard worker and he was the creative person, but as time went on we blended and synchronized our ideas. I can’t remember any negative things – maybe my memory is going! There were really no minuses. It was a beautiful ride… a beautiful time. What was so fundamental was we had the ability to discuss the training intellectually and exchange our ideas—even if they conflicted. Sometimes after the long training runs, when I was really tired, he got his points across and I couldn’t argue because I was just too tired! (Big laughter on the phone by Uta here) Sometimes he may have been a little upset because you aren’t supposed to run faster than your coach. (More laughter) But we had a real good time.
GCR:You started running at age thirteen. How did your first coach set the stage for you future success?
UPI had a wonderful and wise coach named Heinz Lüdemann. We still stay in touch and I see him sometimes. What he instilled in me was the importance of relaxation while running. He helped me to run internally free, and then later on Dieter picked up on this and was able to expand it further.
GCR:When in peak marathon training what base weekly mileage did you sustain for several months and what were some of your favorite intense sessions such as track work, tempo running or hill repeats?
UPBetween 1990 and 1996 I would have a three month period building up before a marathon where I ran 120 miles per week. Most of the running was on dirt roads, but as it got closer to a marathon, more and more of the running was on asphalt. I also enjoy cross country running so quite a bit of my running was on trails. It was a nice harmony as first I tried to be safe with my joints and then I did more on the roads as we got closer to marathon day. My favorite track workouts were 800 meter repeats or 400 meter repeats when I was preparing for 5,000 meter races. For the marathon I would do 10 times 1,000 meters with a 400 meter jog in between and later on seven times one mile with a 600 meter recovery jog. These runs were usually on hilly roads, which was great for the Boston Marathon preparation as it simulated the course I would be running on.
GCR:An out-of-competition drug test in 1998 found you to have had an elevated ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone. Ultimately, it was found that an abnormally low level of epitestosterone was the reason due to your battle with bowel disease and the case was cleared. How important was it to you to have your ‘good name’ restored and is the condition under control?
UPIt was a shock when these results came about. The important thing was how we had to deal with the situation. Since I had been tested over 70 times before – right after marathons, before marathons and in training, I had tremendous support from my sponsors, Nike, the Boston Marathon, physicians and scientists who examined me, my family and even the media. Sometimes I look back and am a little sad but you can’t change things. Unfortunately there are people who are falsely accused and we have to deal with it. As to the condition, I still have some discomfort, but since I am not training as much, it is more under control.
GCR:What did this situation teach you or reinforce about the relationship between hard training and its effect on your body and do you have any suggestions for other runners?
UPIf there is a weak spot in your body it can be a problem when you are under stress. I suggest to runners that if they are training hard for many months before a marathon they should hydrate very well to decrease the likelihood of health problems. Also it is important to aid recovery by eating in the first 30 – 40 minutes after a hard workout. I think one of the hardest things for a runner to do is to balance hard training with recovery, and to adhere to a good recovery regimen. During hard training it is best to rest your body to allow your muscles to fully recover, and it is best to provide nutrients to your cells to allow the glycogen to replenish itself.
GCR:You became a US citizen on July 3, 2004 at a special ceremony on Boston's Esplanade prior to the Boston Pops rehearsal for the annual 4th of July concert and celebrated your US citizenship on July 4th by running Concord's ‘Minuteman Classic’ 5-mile Road Race which includes traversing the North Bridge and running past other sites important to the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775. Why did you decide to become a U.S. citizen and what was the significance of combining it with such high-profile events?
UPAfter so many years of wanting to be a citizen of such a free country, it all came together on that weekend. After being behind a wall, behind an ‘Iron Curtain,’ people want to be free. I wanted to feel all of the freedoms of this country and I wanted them to be part of my everyday life. My friends and family came from Germany and we had a good time celebrating my citizenship ceremony. The next morning, I enjoyed the wonderful race but was still so tired from the celebration the night before! The race was symbolic for me - for the first time I was running as a free person and a United States citizen. Everyday, I want to thank my new country and am so happy to be part of it.
GCR:You founded ‘Take The Magic Step’ in 2004, an organization that helps you to share your health and fitness knowledge and love for running with athletes, corporations and individuals in order to help others achieve healthier, happier lives. What was the genesis of your organization, how rewarding is it and is it keeping you both busy and excited each day?
UPWhen I was successful in running I always wanted to share – when you share with others it is double the joy. I was always exuberant and people, especially in Boston and Berlin, love their runners and give them such support. So I wanted to give some of that energy back and to give joy and happiness to others. Take The Magic Step was born over many years. When I used to appear at seminars in the 1990s I would tell runners, ‘If you are tired, just take the first step out the door in the morning. Because if you take a first step you can take a second step and keep going.’ Then after years it became the ‘Magic Step.’ Then we formulated, 'Take The Magic Step.' The ‘Magic Step’ for me, of course, was leaving the East for the West many years ago when I had no money, no apartment or anything and had to start from scratch. For another person it could be to train to run for the first time. For someone else it might be spending more time with a son or daughter. But to ‘Take The Magic Step’ you need to be inspired, be encouraged and understand what it is you would like to change. How successful you are depends greatly on how much you desire to change. Hopefully I am inspiring people towards a life of better well being through our organization, Take The Magic Step.
GCR:I understand you do coach a limited number of individual coaching clients. Are there any you present or past coaching clients whose stories are of particular interest?
UPWe worked with a corporation and about 30 of their employees. One person ran his personal best 5k at age 50. Others changed their nutritional habits and became healthier and more energized. One individual I coached had health issues that made it impossible to train properly, and they desperately wanted to run a marathon. But thanks to some changes in nutrition and a sensible training schedule, now they are running stronger and injury free. The marathon dream is realized. That makes me so happy. One of my strengths is that I like to listen, and I hope that allows me to feel or sense others desires. People are the highest definition of art and I try to listen to their message. Each person is beautiful and if I can understand their desires I can help them. There are several testimonials within ‘Success Stories’ at
GCR:Now I'd like to ask several questions where you can use your knowledge and experience to provide some brief advice to runners. First, do you have some quick tips for beginning runners?
UPPlease get a medical checkup before you start running! Then have fun, run relaxed and keep the joy in your running. If you find it difficult, and can’t relax while you run, then go slower or walk/run. You will improve. After a short while set goals that are challenging, but achievable.
GCR:What advice can you provide for those who struggle daily with getting motivated for training sessions?
UPRun with a friend from time to time because you will feel that you have to run or you will disappoint your friend. If you have the notion that you aren’t motivated, ask yourself, ‘Why am I not motivated? What is the underlying source? Am I over trained? Is my goal too big and I feel I can’t reach it?’ Maybe you are a little bit sick or overstressed or you just need a day in bed and everything will be fine again! There is a June article ‘Getting out the Door’ in the inspiration section of
GCR:What brief, basic tips can help those training for a marathon?
UPBuild up steady and use periodization. Build up for a few weeks and then take a rest week. Always move up with hard training followed by easier training. It is the same with your long runs – build up and then have a week with no long runs. As I mentioned before it is crucial to recover after training. You should honor your body by training hard and then letting it recover. The higher your mileage and intensity, the more recovery you need. Recovery is the most important tool to help you have a successful race.
GCR:What is most important for runners who are recovering afer a marathon?
UPLet your body rest thoroughly before you train again. Take your time, but then set new goals. I would suggest that you read the article: ‘After the Marathon – a Guide to Quick Recovery’ at Most Mondays after marathons there are so many runners reading that article.
GCR:You have had the opportunity to coach runners on behalf of ‘Team Hoyt’ for the Boston Marathon. How rewarding was this experience and how inspirational have Dick and Rick Hoyt been to you?
UPIt was beyond words. The spirit of Dick and Rick and the whole team was so magnificent. It was a very rewarding experience. It helped me discover that coaching is something I really enjoy. In some ways it is more exciting than doing it for oneself. To see what people are capable of when there is a bond of love and caring is overwhelming to me. When Dick and Rick finished the 2009 Boston Marathon, their 1,000th race, the joy and love surrounding the group was hard to describe.
GCR:What do you see the future holding for you as a runner and racer, with ‘Take the Magic Step’ and in any new exciting ventures? Is your current running regimen focused more on health and fitness? Since you’re in your mid-forties and your favorite event is the 5,000 meters, would you consider training to race in the World Veterans Championships in six years when you are 50 years old?
UPCurrently I run for fitness, not so much training, as so much is going on with the company, with the charity work, with coaching, and with my clients. I especially love working with my team as they are such beautiful and understanding people. I hope to support a charity for underprivileged children in Germany and to expand our work here in the United States with the SOS Outreach for underprivileged children. These children come from 28 states and are brought out into nature to learn about fitness, responsibility and leadership. But I do keep the door open for competition in the future. Sometimes I do train hard for a time span. It’s always nice to be out there and to see other runners that I ran with like Joanie Samuelson and Elana Meyer or Deena Kastor. During the winter I run a bit more while in the summer I spend more time biking. I do some serious bike training and sometimes it is with my clients, some of whom are much better bikers than me. This past summer we had charity biking events – a two-day race, the PMC in Boston and one in Colorado for SOS Outreach. For sure I am running now for fitness, but I’ll keep a little window open – who knows?
 Inside Stuff
Hobbies/InterestsI love being on the phone with my ‘Take The Magic Step’ team and with my family and friends. I’m a ‘phone girl’ – I’m always on the phone. Also, I love black and white photography. I was inspired by my father’s love of photography. I especially like the work of Andre Kertesz, who was born in Hungary, and Jan Beran. Beran did beautiful photography of people. Ansel Adams is another favorite for his landscapes and scenery. And finally I like photographs of New York City as the black and white brings out the shape of the buildings.
Nicknames‘Pippi Longrunning’ which sometimes was shortened to ‘Pippi’
Favorite songsThe theme song from Dr. Zhivago. It is almost like you are in a Russian forest and you can run forever and hear the song in the distance.
Favorite booksThich Nhat Hanh, ‘The True Love - Practice for Awaking the Heart’ which talks a lot about sharing and listening and love. And his,‘The Miracle of Mindfulness.’
First carA Trabant which I shared with someone. It’s a really small car from East Germany. It was a very simple two-cycle car.
Current carA Volkswagen- the ‘People’s Car’
Family, Children and SiblingsI love my whole family, but I would like to mention my baby brother Peter who is very creative and does documentaries in the film industry.
PetsNo. I am traveling all the time and it would not be fair to the pet.
Favorite mealA real good cheesecake. (And steak?) Forget the steak; forget everything – just the cheesecake! (big laughter)
Favorite breakfastBlueberries and raspberries – I could eat them all day long.
Favorite BeveragesVeggie juice that I make myself. From time to time I have a good glass of red wine.
First running memoriesWhen I was 13 or 14 years old and I trained with kids between eight and 14. We had a game where we had a race on the track and the younger runners ran part of the 400 meters while the older runners ran the entire lap and we tried to catch each other. It was fun and I really liked it – we did it several times and had a good workout. It was so much fun as the whole team did it together – even the youngest guys. And since it was a dirt track we sometimes had to pull weeds that were growing in the track. I still keep in touch with two of these childhood friends, one who lives in England and one in Germany.
Running heroes‘Billy Boy’ – Bill Rodgers is my big hero. Wherever he goes he is so centered on other people. He cares about the sport and is the strongest ambassador I know. I enjoyed watching Elana Meyer run and, of course, Joanie Samuelson, who did so much for the sport. Kip Keino was great to watch. Currently I like Ryan Hall, Deena Kastor and Irena Mikitenko. I like how the sport is evolving, but my big hero is Billy. Also, when I went to Boston it was great to learn about former champions Clarence Demar, my countryman Paul Debruyn and Johnny Kelley.
Greatest running momentIt’s half and half - the 1990 German Reunification Marathon and the 1996 Boston Marathon were both very special
Worst running momentI was reading your interview with Bill Rodgers and it’s the same answer as his – Olympic disappointment. The Olympic Games are the ultimate in any sport.
Childhood dreamsI had a girlfriend who had a very beautiful singing voice and I always wanted to try to sing with her but I never did because I’m not a very good singer, though I like to sing with my mom. (At this time I tried to get Uta to reveal her favorite song to sing in karaoke, but she just laughed and commented on how much fun I was having with this!)
Silly memoriesWhen I was a little girl and started running round and round a very big chestnut tree behind my house. My neighbor cleaned up a little circular path of about ninety yards and I used to run as fast as I could on that path.
Embarrassing momentI didn’t forget my shoes like Bill Rodgers did, but I forgot my bra for a race. For the Tokyo Marathon in 1988 I was so nervous as it was one of my first marathons. About halfway through the race I thought, ‘Why is my chest hurting so much? I can’t understand it.’ Then I checked my shoulder and noticed no bra strap. ‘Oh no!’ I thought. ‘I forgot my bra.’ I finished second in the race so maybe it was good luck. It was embarrassing, but I think no one else noticed. So I have a story now for Bill – ‘It’s not the shoes I forgot, but the bra!’ (more of Uta’s great laughter)
Strangest Running SuperstitionThe night before each race I eat Gummi Bears as they give me good luck.
Favorite places to travelNew Zealand and Berlin. Also, some remote places in Colorado where you can hike surrounded by the beautiful mountain peaks.
Final CommentsAt this point when I noted we had finished the interview, Uta asked how long we had been talking. I told her, ‘About an hour and 45 minutes.’ Then we tried to figure out her standing for the longest phone interviews I conducted and figured out she was in the top five – behind Bill Rodgers, Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray, Disney Marathon Race Director Jon Hughes, but ahead of Amby Burfoot. Uta was so kind and noted that we didn’t know each other and so we were conversing and learning about each other while I conducted the interview. I mentioned to Uta that I had done about twenty interviews and that, without exception, everyone was so kind and interested in sharing knowledge and helping others. Uta agreed that the running community is mostly so good. It’s hard to convey how a person is when they are interviewed, but I wish to emphasize the kind, gentle and giving spirit behind this great runner and marathon champion.