I met Danielle in Auckland earlier this year when she asked me if I wanted to join her and her friends on a hike up Mt Eden. I was quickly drawn in by how warm and friendly she is, and was massively impressed by her love for running marathons, fitness, hiking and exploring – a personal journey that she shares as a columnist for Women’s Running Magazine and on her blog, trexrunner.com. I wanted to continue to feature inspiring women from all walks of life on Indigo Gaia so, without further ado, meet…
Alexandra Payne: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got to this point in your life’s journey.
Danielle Cemprola: I’m a 31-year old travel and running addict living in Greenville, South Carolina. I’m married to my very patient husband, AJ, and we have a rescued Rottweiler named Rocket who makes up for his lack of intelligence with crushing good looks. I wasn’t an athletic child at all and never ran before graduating from college – in fact, I quit my soccer team when I was 7 because the coach asked us to run one lap around the field. I got into running as a way to distract myself and work through some challenging emotions when my first marriage fell apart in my early 20s, and it just sort of escalated from there! I’m not the type of person who has ever done anything halfway, so I wasn’t content with just going for a run around the block – it had to be marathons. Then, it had to be a marathon in every state. I started traveling for races and have now run 50 marathons and a ton of half marathons in 40 states, 7 countries, and counting! I had always loved the idea of travel but never really believed it was possible for me until I started running. Running gave me a ton of confidence and boosted my self esteem in a way that I’m not sure would have happened otherwise. I left the U.S. for the first time as an adult at age 27 and haven’t looked back since. Since then, I’ve travelled to 20 more countries, both with other people and solo. Travel and running are my two passions!
AP: The running journey you share with your followers through your blog, trexrunner.com, is very impressive! What’s your mission?
DC: My blog started out simply as a way for me to record my memories as I tried to run a marathon in every state before turning 30. I didn’t want to forget all the fun stories and little details that I knew would eventually fade over time. Along the way, it turned into something much bigger – a way to share my life with a community of people. I shared my 12 year battle with anorexia and bulimia in my Life with E.D. series, have written about every race I’ve ever run, documented all of my travels, and talked about the many lessons I learned from getting married and divorced at a young age. What started out as a running blog is now a blog that exists as a way to inspire people to step outside of their comfort zones, all the while pushing me to still step out of my own.
AP: What lights you up inside?
DC: Do tacos count? I’d say travel, running, and encouraging other people to believe in themselves. My husband, of course – he’s hilarious.
AP: Who, or what, inspires you?
DC: People who continuously strive to push themselves out of their comfort zones and experience new things, whatever that may be for them. I suffered from severe anxiety for many years and often felt paralyzed by my own fears and insecurities. It has been a long process to gain confidence and move past my anxiety, but much of that has come from making small choices that scared me and realizing that everything was still ok. I have found tremendous inspiration from other blogs, other travelers, and the people in my life who have refused to accept the limits their minds have placed on them. They push me to do the same.
AP: How do you keep mentally, emotionally and physically balanced?
DC: I’m not sure that I do! Balance is not something that comes naturally to me. I am a person who doesn’t do moderation well, and I tend to overload myself, whether it is with work, travel, running, or something else. It’s a constant, daily battle to make healthy choices while still pushing myself and live fully. I’m a bit of a workaholic and have had to step back from some of my freelance work (I also work a full-time job) because it was running me down. I also have tried to be better (in 2017, at least!) about scheduling my travel more thoughtfully and doing a few longer trips rather than a bunch of short ones that left me with no weekends at home to regroup. I’m not typically the person anyone asks for advice about balance, though!
AP: What advice do you have for people new to the challenge of running and marathons?
DC: Running requires two things – consistency and patience. In order to see improvement, you have to be consistent with your training. It’s unreasonable to think you’re going to get dramatically better at it if you go once a week. At the same time, running requires patience. It’s a sport that can be really hard on our bodies, and it is easy to overdo it. Most new runners get injured simply by doing too much, too soon. Start slowly and build up gradually! Above all, don’t compare yourself to other people. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far anyone else is going – if you run, you are a runner. No one else is more or less of a runner than you just because they run marathons or run faster. Be kind to yourself, listen to your body, and remember – it gets better.
AP: By entering marathons around the world you get to travel to a lot of different places. What have you learnt from experiencing these different cultures?
DC: Mostly, I have learned that people – and especially runners – are more alike than they are different. Sure, the type of electrolyte drinks we drink on the course might be different, and the words we use to cheer each other on might not sound the same, but we have more in common than not. I love participating in international races and getting to see a new place on my own two feet! There’s nothing quite like it. So far, I’ve raced in the U.S., Ireland, Jamaica, England, Antigua, Nevis, and Japan and had an incredible time everywhere I’ve gone!
AP: Describe your perfect day.
DC: My perfect day would take place in a new country that I haven’t visited yet. I’d go for a long hike up a big mountain with my husband, and then go back to our hostel and eat tacos for dinner. That’s pretty much it. I’m easy to please!
AP: Finally, since we love inspirational quotes here on Indigo Gaia, what is your favourite quote?
DC: Fortune favours the bold. It’s true!
Thank you, Danielle! I am very inspired by your courage, commitment and enthusiasm for taking on these massive challenges (both running and emotional), and for so openly sharing your journey with those in need of inspiration and support. Your zest for life is very moving! It shows that it is never too late to start something new and accomplish big!
If you want to learn more about Danielle and her journey you can read about it on her blog, trexrunner.com, or you can connect with her on Instagram at @thetrexrunner, Twitter at @thetrexrunner, and Facebook at @TRexRunner.
Stay tuned for more features coming soon!