Heather MacLean On Handling Post-Olympic Comedown, Getting Her Love For The Sport Back

More Than Running

January 20, 2022

“My immediate feeling afterward was a little bit of disappointment in myself. Now I think back on it and realize I created this goal at the trials. I was an underdog making it to the Olympics in the first place and I created this goal for myself after I qualified for the Olympic team. To think about how far I’ve come, it’s hard to think about that right after the here and now. You think about it later down the road. I’m trying to remind myself now about all the things I overcame in order to make it to that point…It’s good to reflect on all the things people have overcome in their lives because it puts your life into perspective. For me, it helps me get through the day-to-day and helps me be so grateful for all the opportunities I have now and what I want to achieve in the future.”

New Balance Boston star and 2021 Olympian Heather MacLean rejoins the show to discuss how she’s handled the post-Olympics comedown and the attention that came with it. She ran her personal best of 4:02.09 when she took third in the U.S. Olympic Trials, competed at the Monaco Diamond League and then reached the semifinals of the women’s 1,500m at the Tokyo Olympics. Now, she’s in Flagstaff preparing for another indoor season with her sights set on the women’s Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games.

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Photo by Justin Britton/@justinbritton


– “When people who don’t know much about the sport or sports general or the Olympics look at you from the outside, it’s weird because everyone wants to get on the bandwagon when you qualify for the Olympics…The support that I saw going into the Olympics was the most support I’ve ever seen in my whole life. It was really amazing and beautiful to see. I love to be social and interact with a bunch of people but my circles throughout my life have been small. It was amazing to see all these people who I’ve interacted with once or twice a really long time ago and reconnected with them. I thought that was totally beautiful and amazing but at the same time everybody is: ‘Go for gold!’ It just puts this immense pressure on you. You’re trying to be realistic for yourself and also you’re at a competition so you want to do the best you can. Everybody wants to have their best day at the Olympics. The truth of the matter is not everyone is going to have their best day there and not everyone is going to get a medal. There are only three medals for each event. One of the goals I made for myself after qualifying for the team was of course to make the final. When I didn’t make the final, how it resonated to me was that I had fallen short of one of my goals, which never feels good. I set this goal in my head. I wanted to strive for it. I did the best I could. When it didn’t work out, I felt that I had let a lot of people down. When you talk to people, they’re like, ‘It’s OK, honey. You’ll get them next time!’ That could be true, honestly. But at the same time, I was most let down myself for setting this goal of making the final. That’s when the self-comparison game starts to begin.”

– “Running was something that came into my life at a time when I felt like I didn’t really have structure and community support. Running has always meant community to me. It’s always meant health and wellness to me. I feel like it really cured a lot of things around me. As soon as I started running, a lot of things that were happening around me got a lot better. My mental health got better. I had a lot of anxiety when I was younger and I feel like running really helps with that.”

– “I get all my best ideas when I’m running.”


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