A Converstation with Liz Sasseman | GET INSPIRED SERIES
Posted on January 18 2017
In our get inspired journal series, we are getting personal with some seriously inspiring people. Get advice and insider stories from some of the most amazing people we know. Ready to get inspired to live your best life? We thought so.
You’re an ultra-runner (among other things!). Can you tell us a little about your sport and the physical/mental aspects you face?
Trail running in general has become a huge part of who I am. It’s certainly not everything, but it currently is a huge part of how I express myself creatively. I began trail running in college and ran my first 100-mile ultra-distance race in 2013. I quickly realized there is nothing in life I can’t accomplish if I can run 100 miles. Running in the mountains has really made me a better and more intelligent person. It’s inspired me to change careers to graphic design, to contemplate life and people in an open and understanding way, and to find happiness in the current moment. I wonder about a lot while running, so in a way it has also inspired me to read and learn more. My character flaws are forced out of me when I’m in agony at mile 80 of a 100-mile race. I can’t be stubborn anymore. I can’t be rigid or complain. I have to relax, accept the fact that nothing is going my way at the moment, and try harder until I finish what I started. I’ve become a stronger athlete thru ultra running but I’ve also become a stronger person in general. It’s definitely not always easy. A couple years ago I found out I was anemic. That caused a huge amount of distress that running couldn’t fix. But I knew how to deal with this low in life because I knew how to deal with the lows during an ultra. Patience.
Can you tell us about a time that you were really challenged and how you overcame?
This was an incredibly difficult question to answer. It’s tempting to use answering this question as my answer… But I won’t. Ha. I think what I just realized is that I’ve never been in a situation that was too difficult to overcome. At least in the mountains. And before you roll your eyes, I’m not saying that’s because I’m awesome and can accomplish anything. It’s because I’ve luckily never found myself in a very dangerous or scary situation. I’m going to take this moment to be thankful and remember that the mountains are in control, not me. People die in the mountains. They make mistakes, or unpredictable weather situations arise. It’s terrifying and it’s something I’m always aware of in order to be careful, reason wisely and avoid a deadly situation. With that being said, I was really challenged during a 50 mile fun run across Zion National Park with a few friends. I was unknowingly anemic and had a chronic bout of walking pneumonia. I was coughing up a lung the whole way. I couldn’t keep up with my friends. It was over 100 degrees out. I couldn’t hold my tears back. No one really understood how terrible I felt. I was miserable and I wanted it to be over. But I kept going until we finished. A month later I failed the 100-mile race up in Wyoming I attempted. Sometimes failing is better. I was sick. My immune system was shot. I was depressed, anemic, exhausted and really unhealthy. It was time to stop for a moment and rest. This challenge was overcome by changing something in my life and adapting to something new. I took a step back, rested, and got my blood tested. I think I overcome most challenges by stopping for a moment to reassess. That’s what they tell you to do if you’re lost in the woods- don’t keep wandering aimlessly, stop. Emotional challenges are just as hard, probably harder. You know, breakups and the like. The unfairness of missing people, letting people go, being alone. I think we can all relate. But taking a step back and figuring out what needs to be changed in life usually helps the mind adapt.
What is your favorite thing to eat?
I don’t think I can choose between avocados, mangos or craft beer (the hoppier the better)! I absolutely love food. Exotic food, crappy American food, all of it. Except ginger. I absolutely hate ginger. I may be sort of allergic?
Is there a quote, song, or piece of advice that inspires you when you need it?
Music is an incredibly huge inspiration. I’m always finding new songs and listening to the old classics I grew up with. Music has a way of bringing out the realness in life and my emotions. I don’t always like to feel emotions. But I’ve realized over time I’m much healthier when I relax and let the emotions come and go. Music helps me let it all go. I feel so alive when certain songs come on and inspired to run and be creative. Music is something I love to share with people too. So many of my memories with people have songs attached to them. One of my favorite quotes is something I actually came up with: “Comfort creates a laziness that takes us nowhere interesting or incredible in life.” I can relate this to so much more in life than just running. It’s something I’ve internalized to be a huge reason I continue to work hard and finish what I start. Whether that be running a race or teaching myself how to be a graphic designer and then landing a job. Change scares people and sometimes change hurts for a long time. But it brings us places that allow us to find happiness again; places you can’t get to when you’re comfortable.
What do you do when you’re not running?
I’ve been a rock climber since I was in middle school and it’s something I still love to do indoors and outdoors. I love to read like a crazy person. Both fiction and non-fiction. I love learning about all sorts of things, so the non-fiction is usually a book about whatever I’m in the mood for when I’m at the library. It’s heartbreaking realizing I won’t get to read every book that exists before I die. I also love to cook, paint, ski, camp, laugh in that ‘I’m dying’ kind of way, see live music, connect deeply with people, drink tea, drive to nowhere with the windows rolled down while singing terribly, cuddle with my dog, Wam (when he’s not on a running adventure with me), weirdly I like to clean, and watch movies. I really love it all.