Bronwen Welcomes New Ambassador Krissy Moehl
Running is a Constant
Bronwen Jewelry ambassador Krissy Moehl (pronounced "mail") didn’t seek out the sport of ultra running (any run over marathon length, 26.2 miles), it was something she fell into by instinct and by accident. While studying abroad in Ecuador during college, Krissy found her stride running for hours on end, exploring the Ecuadorian landscape and relishing the freedom from a collegiate training program that capped workouts at 90 minutes.
When Krissy returned from Ecuador, she landed in a budding community of ultra runners and has, ever since, been running distances that make most of us 5-mile runners shudder. “I like to say I was raised by wolves,” Krissy says, “because running 30 miles at a stretch and then doing a 20-mile run the next day is not normal in your 20s. But I was just 22 when I found this community and got into the long runs, so it seemed normal to me.”
The sport has changed over the years, Krissy acknowledges, and many more young people are doing ultra races, but at the time it was a sport for those in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. “When I first started, doctors and my mother were telling me how it wasn’t healthy for me to run so far,” says Krissy, now 39. “It’s interesting as I get older. I realize how much easier it was for me to recover in my 20s. It takes more effort in my 30s. But I’m much more durable these days.”
It’s fair to say that Krissy’s life is built around running; it’s the central theme in all of her pursuits. Professionally, Krissy races (she has completed more than 100 ultramarathons, with more than 50 female first place finishes and two outright wins); she coaches (providing other athletes with training schedules, bi-weekly check-ins, and other resources); she writes (a book: “Running Your First Ultra”, plus numerous magazine and blog articles); and she directs (she has been race directing the Chuckanut 50k since 2004).
“Running is my constant,” Krissy says. But she compartmentalizes her various tasks into “buckets,” as she calls them. She’s got her racing bucket, her coaching bucket, her sponsorship bucket….you get the idea. Running helps Krissy clear her mind and prioritize. “A run sets the mood for the day for me,” she says. “It sets me up energetically.”
Yoga and mindfulness are also part of Krissy’s training. “I always have to keep learning,” she says. “Ultra running requires a lot of patience, it’s a constant mind-body connection. I’m always learning that life skill.”
Krissy refers to ultra running as “creative,” because “sometimes you have to work things out.” She refers to Albert Einstein, who wrote “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” For Krissy, running is a chance to breathe deep, to focus, and to mentally tackle questions and problems with new approaches. “I need quiet balance time,” she says, “and running provides that.”
When you see pictures of Krissy running, coaching, or speaking in public (listen to her TEDx talk here), you’ll probably notice that she’s wearing jewelry. “I love jewelry,” she says. “I’ve navigated in a pretty masculine world, so wearing jewelry is a very feminine thing.”
For a long time, Krissy says, women’s athletic clothing was created by taking men’s apparel and making it “smaller and pink.” That has changed, Krissy notes (just check out some of the women's active wear at Patagonia, for example, for whom Krissy is an ambassador), but during those early years she learned to cultivate her feminine sense of style through whimsical touches like wearing a skirt in the Tour du Mont-Blanc. “I’ve blogged about this topic--femininity--on Trail Sisters,” she says, adding “Jewelry is an expression of the self. It helps us define ourselves, not just as females, but as individuals.”
For Krissy, jewelry can also be a reminder of a friend or loved one. “Sometimes I’ve run races with a certain necklace on,” she says, “and as it bounces against my neck every step it reminds me of the person who gave it to me. It helps me through the race.”
Krissy is notorious for her toenail polish as well; in some ways it’s a rubric for her racing process. “Before a race I always paint my toes with polish and glitter,” she says. “No one sees it but me, but I know it’s there. After a race I can’t touch my toes, but I can see the sparkle down there and I’m reminded to celebrate what I just did. Then as it chips off I realize I’m starting to recover. When it’s gone, it’s time to start training for the next race.”
Although—or perhaps because—she spends hours out on the trail alone, Krissy surrounds herself with people whenever she can. “I’m an extrovert,” she says. “I love bringing people together. I’m always organizing clothing swaps or having people over for dinner. I love good food and how it brings people together.”
Krissy also loves sharing her passion for the trail with others. “To run to the top of a beautiful peak and take a look around, and then to share that with somebody….” she trails off, before continuing. “Well, that’s just really special.”
Learn more about Krissy at her website.