PROFILE--Anne Audain has been running for 48 years

Anne Audain, left, and Lorraine Moller
at the 1982 Commonwealth Games

Anne Audain’s life is a story of struggles and triumphs. A native of New Zealand she was given up for adoption by her teenage birth mother. After setting numerous records in NZ she came to the USA to race in 1981 and became a USA citizen in 1995. Audain has been inducted in the Running USA Hall of Champions (2008) and the NZ Sports Hall of fame (2009). Her autobiography, Uncommon Heart, was published in 2000.

What month/year were you born and where do you live now? I was born in Auckland, New Zealand, November 1955 so that makes me 62. I now live in Evansville, Indiana, where I taught school.

When did you start running and why? I joined an athletic club at age 14 after having reconstructive surgery for bone deformities from birth on both feet at age 13. I wanted to be like all the other
kids at my school and in my neighborhood. In New Zealand, individual community sports clubs are an important part of kids’ lives. Ironically, after the reconstruction of my feet it was easier and more comfortable for me to run than walk.

Please tell us briefly about your career/profession. My running career took off after a junior girls’ cross-country race.  I was new to running and I hated wearing shoes because of my feet, so I ran this race barefoot. In New Zealand cross-country is really true cross-country, running across farmland and jumping farm fences. The rules stated you had to go over or under the fence, as the gates were never open. I didn’t want to climb and then jump, so I crawled under the gates in the mud. I won and beat some really talented girls in Auckland City, which is New Zealand’s largest city.  That’s the first time people started to pay attention to me. I joined a running club and was coached by two great people who believed in me. During the early 80s I won more races than any other male or female.

Audain wins 1983 Mini Marathon in NYC.
How much did you run in your peak years, miles/week, etc?  Between 60 and 90 miles depending on training/ racing seasons.

What were some of your top race performances, or running achievements you are most proud of?
In 1982 set a world record at 5000m in 15:13
Six-time Olympic Qualifier
PR of 2:31:40 in the marathon
Commonwealth Games Gold and Silver Medalist (1982, 1986)
Set a course record at the Bloomsday 12K in 1982, 40:02

How much are you running and cross-training now? I run seven days a week for a total of 35 miles, and work twice a week with a personal trainer focusing on core strength and balance.

If you still race, please provide a recent race result or two. No racing anymore although four years ago I ran the 5K at the event I founded in Idaho in 22:20.

What training routine currently works best for you? A one-hour run on hilly trails on Sundays. One day of hill repeats. Two days doing speed repeats. ( 100m, 200m, 400m) . Moving faster is much better for my fitness, gait and foot/back health.
Anne Audain

What was your average training pace in your prime on an “easy day.” What is it now on an easy day?  6:00 miles then, 8:30 miles now.

Does it bother you that you are slower now? How do you deal with this? Not a bit!  Just happy to still be running and it makes me appreciate what I used to be able to do!

How much did you weigh in your prime? Now?  120 lbs then, now 145 lbs. I need to get down to 135 but two falls on trails requiring surgery on my knee and hand last 18 months has set me back.

What kind of diet have you followed through the years? Has it changed as you got older? I always had a balanced diet but obviously had to eat more when training so hard. I only eat twice a day. Training first in the morning and then putting breakfast and lunch together.

Do you attempt to maintain the weight of your younger years? How?
No, at 120 I was thin for my height of 5ft 6inches. It works as an elite athlete but not healthy for real life.

Do you currently take any vitamins, minerals, or supplements that you believe contribute to your running and fitness? If so, please name them. No, and I didn’t when competing either. I am also not on any other medications.

What injuries or other health issues have you faced through the years? How have you dealt with these? I had a very healthy and consistent 22-year career. I retired at age 36 with no issues. Two years ago I had two falIs (running on trails with my husband on an easy Sunday morning run. He is slower than me so sometimes I run behind him to encourage him). The first resulted in a torn meniscus and arthroscopic surgery two years ago. I came back running well but the second fall last year crushed my right hand requiring surgery. I laughingly say that my worst running injury was to my hand!! 

Do you stretch? Why or why not? I did not stretch during my competitive years. Now I only do stretches for my hips. I believe in a good warm up, and active exercises versus passive stretches.

Why do you keep running? It is still what I love the most!

Do you consider yourself a social runner or a mostly solitary runner? What are your thoughts on each? I prefer solitude and my husband is the social runner. He has met the same lady at 6am for over 30 years for a morning run. (I call her his REAL running wife). I am disciplined to get myself out the door. I do run socially on Sundays.

What is your philosophy of life, running, and aging? Now, it is all about maintaining good health so that if a medical challenge comes along I have the mental and physical strength to put up a good fight. Maintaining a good quality of life for as long as possible is also very important.

What are the biggest lessons (life lessons and running lessons) you have learned from running? As a competitive athlete you learn the up and down emotions of winning and losing and how to bounce back from both quickly to be able to get up the next day and get back into training. Also, the serious nerves that come with competition and being able to calm them. I’ve always said the more nervous I was the better I ran. The reason I retired at age 36, even though I was still winning, was that I had stopped getting nervous. I had lost my focus. Now, I don’t sweat the small stuff.

How does running & fitness help you on a daily/weekly basis? I always say that I don’t feel “clean” until I have got out and done my morning run. Exercise is for the internal as much as the external!

It has been said, “aging is not for the faint of heart.” How do you maintain your motivation and optimism? Turning 60 certainly wakes you up to the fact that you are in the winter of your life. Quality of life during these years is so important. I only need to witness the self-inflicted bad health of folks, some much younger, to be inspired to keep at it. And as I stated, to stay strong mentally and physically to be able to put up a good fight if a challenge comes.

Who or what inspires you to continue running and maintaining your fitness? Anytime I meet a healthy 80 or 90-year-old still active and living independently. My birth father just turned 90 and still manages a daily walk. My birth parents are still living in their own home, a good goal for anyone.

Please provide a favorite inspirational quote or two.  My first coach:  “It takes more guts to take a rest day than to do a hard workout.”  My father: “Don’t get too big for your boots as there is always someone training harder.”

Running-training philosophy: More is NOT better!  I believe the reason I had a long healthy, successful career is that I never paid attention to what others were doing.  I followed my coach’s plan that made me very consistent and we never deviated from it no matter how much appearance money I was offered to race more.

For more on Anne’s life and running career, visit