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Kristin Armstrong: Shifting Gears to Olympic Gold

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She wanted to be the world's best triathlete, but when painful arthritis made it impossible to run, Kristin Armstrong, 36, found a new route to Olympic gold.
Opportunity Knocks

"I was training for the Olympic triathlon team in 2000 when I started having hip pain. At age 27, I'd developed osteoarthritis. I was crushed -- I couldn't run anymore. It was tempting to think, This is a sign to quit racing and grow up. But when one door closes, another opens. I could still bike, so I decided to change my focus. Four years later, I made the Olympic cycling team."

Coach Kristin!

"In my hometown of Boise, Idaho, I'm a volunteer Spinning and swimming instructor at the YMCA. I also work with girls to encourage them to get involved and stay in athletics. In middle school, they get to that age where they make a choice about whether or not they're going to play sports. Too many choose not to. I want to be that role model who shows girls how great an active lifestyle can be."

Quantify It

"I'm very goal-oriented. It helps to set daily, weekly, and monthly benchmarks. Whatever you are trying to achieve, it's easier if you break it down so you have checkpoints to measure your progress."

No Great Loss

"I learn more from losing a race than from winning. Coming in second at the 2007 World Championships was the best thing that could have happened a year before the Olympics. It sent me a message that I had to go back to the basics in my training and think about what I could do better."

The Cold, Hard Truth

"On frosty mornings, I lie in bed and wonder, If I don't get up to ride today, who would know? The answer: I would. Remembering that I've made a commitment to myself and my goals is usually enough to get me going."

Tunnel Vision

"The minute you start worrying about the woman running faster on the treadmill next to you or the person speeding past you in a race, you stop focusing on your own goals. You can't control other people. If I lose a race, I go back, train harder, and focus on the next one."

Fitness Is...

"...finding the right balance for your body. I ride my best when I'm also eating right and sleeping well."

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, October 2009.


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