The Believe Journal…we believe it! Q & A with co-founder Róisín McGettigan-Dumas

Sharing your story and asking others about their’s is something we believe is a great way to get inspired. If you’re like us, there’s few things we love more then chatting with ladies who have created a life they love. We are honored to speak with Róisín McGettigan-Dumas, runner (Olympian!), mother, and co-founder of the Believe Journal. is excited to partner with this inspiring training tool for 2016. We look forward to sharing this journal with you and how it can be used as a resource in your training. Besides a place to hold you accountable to your goals and training, this journal shares tips for beginners, workouts, inspiring quotes, and many essays that leave you excited to leap out the door for your run.

Recently we spoke with Róisín to learn more about her journey and how and what led her create such an incredible tool for all levels of athletes. Who is Róisín McGettigan-Dumas?

Róisín: Basically I’m a runner + psychology geek 🙂 I’m an irish Olympian (steeplechase finalist in Beijing 2008) and European bronze medallist, and have lived in Providence RI since I attended college at PC. I have a masters in counseling and I’m a certified sports psychology consultant. I’ve two little girls (4 + 1.5 yrs)
SIB: What inspired you to start running?
R: I was an active kid and loved all sports. I guess I was one of the fastest in my neighborhood, so I joined a little running club as a kid. I fell in love with running in the beautiful places we would go to run in Wicklow Ireland. We had beaches, sand dunes, trails and fields. Then as a pre-teen I was inspired by watching Irish female athletes winning races on tv. Ireland is a small nation, so when someone wins a European or World Championship, the whole country tunes in and supports them. Those irish athletes ignited something inside of me and I know then I wanted ready to run in the Olympics… Only about 15 years later, I achieved that dream. I don’t race competitively any more but I’m still inspired by great athletes and still love to run.

 SIB: How has being a runner shaped you as a person?

R: As a kid I was labelled “the runner” which I made me uncomfortable because I wanted people to see me beyond my running ability. Thankfully I had great friends who did that. Nowadays I don’t mind the label, as I’m more than happy to profess my love of running and it’s benefits to anyone who’ll listen 🙂 Running is a lens through which I experience the world and I always seem to circle everything back to “thats just like with running.”. Running although it’s has a rap as a solitary activity- I find the opposite it true, running connects me to my body and my physical energy. It connects me with my friends, my local community and the global running community. It connects me with my natural environment no matter where I am, hail, rain or shine, every day. One of the most exciting boons I experience from running is it allows me to tap into wellsprings of creativity and inspiration. I honestly don’t think I’d be the same person without running.
I love discovering the research that backs up all the benefits I’ve experienced personally from running running- it boost people’s biological, psychological, emotional, social, neurologic health and well beging.. And competing really develops character as it forces people to dig deep, ward off negativity, develop resilience and reach new levels of ability and fitness. As they say, if you could put the benefits of vigorous exercise (ie. running) into a pill form, it would be the world’s best selling wonder drug.

 SIB: What is your proudest accomplishments (one in running, and one in life)?

R: In running, my proudest accomplishment was learning to overcome the doubts and self-sabotage that had of affected my performances in important races. The feeling of self-mastering is so gratifying and empowering. I’ve learned that true success is not about extrinsic and external rewards and honors, but that sweet delicious life affirming satisfaction you gain from progress and reaching new levels of ability and skill (no matter what level you are at). Once I learned to fixate on the process and incremental progress and flip the fear of the big stage, I ended up having my best performances ie. make world and Olympic finals and win a medal at European championships.
In life, there’s no doubt that becoming a mother has been the most profound and beautiful experiences of my life and I’m grateful for my two daughters every single day.. They help me keep things in perspective, all the while their presence motivates me more than ever to not squander my time, talent, and creativity to fear and self-doubt.

 SIB: If you could go for a run with anyone on the planet dead or alive, who would it be?
R: I love running with my good friend Mary Cullen (Irish record holder + european medallist), I’m not sure if it’s the banter, Mary’s stride, or her ceaseless energy and irrepressible passion for running, but when she’s around and we meet for a run I just want to run and run and never stop.
I’ve retired from competitive running, but I still get to live vicariously through and enjoy runs (easy for them, not easy for me) with the elite group of my sistersinsport that live in Providence- Olympians Molly Huddle and Kim Smith to name just a few.

SIB: What inspired you to create this Believe journal and how did the concept evolve?

R: 5 years ago, Lauren Fleshman and her husband Jesse spent some time in my hometown of Wicklow Ireland around my wedding. We had a great time hanging out. Afterwards Lauren contacted my husband Myles (graphic designer) and I about an idea she had for some tshirts. We joined forces and between the two of us we wanted to teach people about sports psychology so created these intricate floral designs with hidden mantras. I was just back from the most awe-inspiring trip to tropical Costa Rica and was going through a “flower period” 🙂 Both lauren and I illustrated about 12 designs in total and I thought, wow, it would be cool to make our own training journal as a training journal was something I had began using as a teenager and continued to use as professional runner. It was the one running item beside my running shoes that I could not live without. So we got to work and self-published The Believe I Am Training Journal. We sold out of the first 1000 copy in a couple of weeks. And next 2,000 in a couple of months. That’s when I decided to pitch the training journal to our now current publisher Velopress. Luckily, they loved what we had created, and wanted us to be fully involved in the the next rendition – they wanted it to be more sporty and include some essays, i.e. less flowers. With our education background and experiences, it wasn’t hard for us to find the content to include in the monthly essays-. what was hard was how to distill all the essential information down into a couple of pages per topic.

SIB: Why did you choose the name “Believe”?
R: Lauren and I both felt that when we performed our best, we weren’t just physically prepared, but most importantly we were mentally prepared too. Everyone knows about the physical training piece, but we felt there was a dearth of information sharing about how to mentally and emotionally prepare for performances. It was as if only the world best athletes were privy to this information, and we wanted to share the “secrets” that even top athletes have doubts, negative thinking and fears. That’s why we chose Believe, because we know how powerful our beliefs can be. Belief isn’t necessarily something you are born with (although some people certainly seem to be), but it is practiced and earned. And most importantly what you believe affects your behavior, and ultimately your destiny. We encourage people to be more mindful of their thoughts and beliefs, so they don’t defeat themselves before they even start the journey towards their goals.
SIB: What is your favorite part of the Believe journal?
R: I put as much thought and energy as I could into every inch of that journal. I’m really proud of how it turned out and I really enjoy using it (am I allowed to say that about something I co-created ?) I feel it’s really 1/2 journal, 1/2 workbook. I like all the goal setting and prompt questions that force you to think through things and reflect and put an answer in the box/ spaces. Developing self-awareness can really empower you to change things that aren’t working and set yourself up to thrive.

SIB: Why do you feel this journal is such a great tool for all levels of runners from beginners to competitive runners?
R: There are so many benefits of journaling- writing down what you did in a day actually gives you a little boost of feel good hormones which spurs motivation to do the activity again. Which of course is the hard part for beginners, how to keep going when the novelly wears off .By writing down the training and starting to see improvements, it will really encourage newbies to keep going and hopefully catch the running bug for life!
For competitive runners if they keep a journal for a chunk of time they’ll soon begin to see patterns- times and conditions that lead to improvements, fluctuations in energy levels due to life events and body cycles, and they’ll learn what’s too much training (and what’s too little). By reflecting on good and bad performances an athlete can learn what factors help them succeed and which ones don’t. This gives the competitive athlete a blueprint so they can replicate successes and avoid mistakes, and it empowers them to make helpful decisions in the future.

SIB: What is your greatest running advice for recreational runners?
R: Find a running group that you can meet up with at least once per week. Try to use the group to help you push a little harder by doing some intervals or speedwork and finish up with core work and stretching, the stuff you want to skip when you’re alone. Having those couple of days set into your weekly routine makes it so much easier to fill in the rest of the week with runs that you use to check in with your body and fit in when you can. If you can’t find a group, start your own (I did,

 R: What is your greatest life advice for women?
Quit the negative self talk and the guilt. Every woman I know seems to feel guilty about something- guilty for working, guilty for not working, guilty for exercising, guilty for not exercising, guilty for not spending time with family, guilty for not enough time for your passions, and on and on. We all do it, but it’s time we stop and let ourselves off the hook, and embrace our shortcomings and realize we are enough as we are, and know that our best effort is good enough.

Thanks Ro, for the inspiration and for all you do for gals on the run! The Believe Journal will be available through registration starting Oct. 29th!

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