Meet Lauren Fleshman, a professional runner, blogger, and entrepreneur. Lauren is a professional track and field athlete and partner of the women’s running apparel company Oiselle. She specializes in 5000 meter runs and was a 15-time All-American and five time NCAA champion at Stanford University. Lauren went on to become a two time U.S. Champion of the 5000m run and has been a member of 5 world championship teams.
And if that isn’t enough to make her an inspiring female role model, Lauren has her own blog, where she gives advice and chronicles her experiences as a professional athlete. When she’s not repping the USA jersey on the track, Lauren can be seen working on the company she helped to co-found, Picky Bars, or doing book signings for her book, the Believe Training Journal. She lives with her husband, professional triathlete Jesse Thomas, and young son Jude in Bend, Oregon.
Her Campus American: What sparked the idea to create your website asklaurenfleshman.com?
Lauren Fleshman: I wanted to start a website for years but it wasn’t until I was super injured that I found the motivation to get it done. I searched everywhere online for pro athlete insights into dealing with adversity, and it was like crickets.
Since college I always felt that running pro wasn’t a worthwhile pursuit on it’s own. That breaking records or winning medals is basically crap unless you use that platform for good. There are lots of ways to do that, but for me, leaving my sport better than I found it was turning out to mean telling my story honestly, talking about tough issues people don’t want to talk about, and giving women permission to feel good about themselves because they freaking deserve to. College age especially, when many women strive hard, they see the space between where they are and where they want to be in a negative light. That who they are now, the real them, is crap. And they don’t deserve to feel good until they get to the top of the mountain. But the thing is, you don’t make it to the top of the mountain unharmed unless you learn to feel positive about now. That space has to inspire you, not make you angry.
HCAU: What advice would you give to young college women preparing to enter the real world for the first time?
LF: Expect your early/mid 20’s to be really hard. You aren’t a loser if everything doesn’t click right away. The point isn’t to avoid the tough stuff; the tough stuff is the true work of your 20’s. When I turned 30, I remember thinking “this is sooo much better than my 20’s. I never want to go back there again.” But already at 33, I recognize that being a bit lost is beautiful in it’s own way. Discomfort makes you pay attention to life in a way you probably never will again.
Fleshman and fellow Oiselle athlete Kara Goucher
HCAU: What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
LF: Making the final of the Olympic Trials in the 5k after running an average of 10 miles a week for the previous four months. I had to get myself to truly believe for myself the things I always tell other athletes, that the journey is the most important part, and that seeing how things unfold is worthwhile, even if your big dream isn’t going to come true. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it is probably a big reason why Oiselle decided I was their girl in the end.
HCAU: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
LF: With a 6 year old and a 1 year old, watching Picky Bars grow to 10 million in sales, running local trail races and getting good on a mountain bike, writing young adult books, and making trips up to Seattle to hang out with my birds for important meetings (and parties). I’ll be on year 2 of my summer running camps in Bend, and able to discern with 100% accuracy, the type and brand of all the Bend microbrews with a blindfold on.
HCAU: Favorite season?
LF: Fall. Great weather and my birthday!
HCAU: Favorite item of clothing?
LF: My burgen go joggings running tights.
HCAU: Salty or sweet?
LF: Sweet! No contest.
HCAU: One thing you regret not doing in college?
LF: Spending more time with people who weren’t on my team.