Interview with Paratriathlete: Becky Piper

August 10, 2018

We are very fortunate to have such an inspirational athlete on the PepPod team! After experiencing a brutal home invasion in 2013 which paralyzed her right side, she has fought to become an incredible paratriathlete and coaches passionately. Here’s some of her thoughts on life, competition, training, and overcoming obstacles.

Before your injury, where you very active and did you compete in any races?

I was not until a couple eyears after college. Then I started running and it blew up from there.

How did your injury change your outlook on life?

I'm thankful to be alive now.  I appreciate every moment, the good and the bad.  I appreciate my ability to move. I really appreciate the ability to bike!  I am just so blessed.

Traumatic events change a person’s whole perspective on life, did this happen to you?  If so, what changed?

Yes and no.  My perspective has become more intense.  I have become more vocal about finding your passion. I am very proactive about people with disabilities now. But I remain adamant that the "bad guys" couldn't change me that much. :)

Have you always been a very athletic person?

I’ve always been an active person, but I didn’t get into competitive athletics until after college.  I started as an ultra-runner, which changed to triathlon in 2012, and eventually became a competitive cyclist earlier this year. Triathlon and cycling are truly my passion.

What competition are you most proud of competing in?

It’s a tie between the Boulder Half-Ironman and 2018 Para-cycling Nationals.

What is your training schedule like?

Right now, I have 5 days of cycling, 1 day of swim, and 1 rest day each week. I average about 10 - 11 hours of training with my full time job.

Do you have a core group that you train with?

I don’t train with anyone because I have weird training hours, but I do find support from my coaching group, Team MPI.

What motivates you to get going each morning?

I very vividly remember what it’s like to not be physically able to not get out of bed, even though I desperately wanted to.  Now every morning I have a choice, and I get up every morning because I don’t want that choice taken away from me ever again.

Swim, bike, or run?  Do you have a favorite that you’ve always enjoyed?

I like running because of the freedom it provides.  But I like biking because I like going fast. :)

Do you train more in a gym or outdoors?

I love training outdoors.  However, I do my functional strength training in the gym.

Who has inspired you in life and competition?

I have really found inspiration in two different places.  The first is my husband, Sam. He found his passion and is working at achieving it every day, and still manages to fully support me, be my “sherpa”, calm me when I’m freaking out, and be my engineer that figures out everything that could go awry during a race and fixes it.

The other is in my family and friends. They stood by me when life got rough, so I want to thank them by taking the baton and “running” with it.

What gear do you bring for a triathlon?  Any superstitions?

I don’t bring a whole lot more than the typical triathlete brings, except for my braces-both my wrist brace and my AFO.  

However, I do follow a pattern every race morning. I get up 1 ½ hours before we are going to leave (even though I’m packed already the night before).  I get coffee and a smallish bowl of oatmeal and watch the news. That’s it.

What’s the best part of coaching?  Do you find that you learn as you teach?

The best part of coaching is definitely getting to share in my athlete's joy as they accomplish their goals.  There is no better feeling than knowing that your knowledge helped someone achieve their goals.

I love that even on days where we are not physically in each other’s presence, the athlete and I still get that exclusive 1 on 1 relationship that develops into a strong and trusting bond, which can push the athlete to achieve new heights.

As for learning, I learn something new every time I work with an athlete!  I never am going to know everything about an endurance event. That’s why I am not only glad that I can build trusting relationships with my athletes, but I am so thankful for my team of coaches at Team MPI because I can go to them and ask anything that comes up.

Do you train with music?  What’s your jam?

I can’t listen to music anymore when I run because I need to be very conscious of picking up my feet with one paralyzed leg.  

However, I love listening to Katy Perry to get ready to go :)

What’s a valuable lesson from your life you would like to share to inspire our readers?

I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is “Don’t be afraid to fail.  Be afraid not to try.” I was terrified to complete that half-Ironman. I was afraid I was going to physically not have the strength to do that.  But I tried. And I did it!

What helped you push through after your traumatic injury?

My friends and family that treated me the absolute same as they did before the injury pushed me through all those tough times and are really the reason I don‘t see myself as disabled, I see myself as challenged...because challenges are made to be overcome.

When you aren’t training, what are some of your favorite things to do?

I love coaching :)  It’s really what I do for fun.  Other than that, I love going up to the mountains.  I love camping with my husband. And I really love food :)

Electronics and the “comforts of home” are making it more common for people to spend less time outdoors.  Do you have any ideas for how we can help more people get outside to live a happy, healthy, and truly fulfilling life?

The idea of being “uncomfortable” can be very off-putting to people, so they seek out those electronics and safe home spots for that reason.  I think that acknowledging that they feel that way, encouraging them every step of the way, and assuring them that we have been in the same uncomfortable boat (and I’ve got the pictures to prove it) is the best way to have them get started.  

There's a lot of new technology and electronics coming out these days, they may find their niche working with those!

 

Check Becky out here! https://www.facebook.com/becky.piper.16



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