Dawn Warren: Navigating life's marathon with grit & goal-setting
Meet Dawn Warren. A 46 year old working mom of “8 great kids,” she loves to run, make music, travel, and take care of her family.
Her partner Josh has 2 kids, too— that’s a happy family of 12. (Plus one more on the way— Dawn’s first grandbaby is due in January.)
It’s a great life. It hasn’t always been easy, she notes— ”I am prone to depression and anxiety,” — but she’s conquered the challenges she faced along the way, including a medal-winning marathon & half-marathon in October after months of calf pain.
Exercise has played a big role in supporting her mental health, Dawn says.
“Regular exercise helps keep both [anxiety and depression] under control and relieves the stress that comes with raising a big family and working full time.”
The avid fitness enthusiast can often be found hiking, mountain biking, and especially running.
It’s definitely her favorite way to say fit, she says.
“I have enjoyed running since I was in middle school; I love the feeling of freedom I have when I run, the way it challenges me physically and mentally, and the way it makes me feel strong and capable.”
She’s a proud member of Run Wichita, where she says she’s met “a lot of great people; people I enjoy being around, as well as people who challenge me as an athlete.”
“I push myself harder in a group than I will by myself!”
In July, though, running started having additional consequences for Dawn.
“I started having calf pain during my runs. When it started, the pain was barely noticeable, but got worse as the weeks went on.”
She tried ice, foam rolling, rest, and ibuprofen, but the pain persisted in every run.
“I had some big PR goals in the half marathon and marathon for the fall,” she said, “and I was very worried that the calf pain would sideline me if I continued to train through it.”
Dawn told us she had been through a couple rounds of physical therapy in past years for various injuries, and had to rest from running to fully recover.
“I wanted to run without pain and prevent a more serious injury, but I also wanted to reach my fall PR goals,” she said.
Dr. Allison believed Dawn could do it.
So she told Dawn to keep training WHILE doing physiotherapy to address the root cause.
This time, it stuck.
“Progress was slow at first, but as the weeks went by, the pain gradually got better,” Dawn said. “By the end of September, it was completely gone.”
All those sessions of dry needling, scraping, e-stim, and home exercises paid off.
In October, Dawn achieved both of her PR goals.
“I wanted to run the half marathon in 1:55 or better; I ran it in 1:54:01!”
(And won 3rd in her age group.)
“I wanted to run the marathon in 4:15 or better; I ran it in 4:08:53!”
(And won 2nd place overall female.)
Of course, being a champ of honesty & modesty, Dawn noted that the marathon course was “a little short, but I estimate that I would have finished in just under 4:15 if I had continued at the same pace for the distance that the course was short.”
That’s a hell of an accomplishment either way, and it comes from HARD work.
Dawn’s always had her sights set high. As a kid, she wanted to pilot the space shuttle— although her eyesight wasn’t good enough, she said.
And when the Covid-19 pandemic made Dawn’s job a lot harder— teaching music from a mobile cart instead of her usual classroom— she resolved to teach herself a small, portable instrument to accompany the students’ songs.
She made it happen, and now happily strums a ukulele and sings in her free time.
“I have a variety of popular songs I can play while my friends, family, and I sing along!”
So we’re not surprised that, when she set a PR goal for the marathon, she achieved it, despite the “huge time commitment” she said it was to train for.
“I got up before 5 AM 5 days a week to run or lift weights and do PT exercises, and spent nearly every Saturday morning for months on long runs.”
But she pushed herself.
“I set a big goal, and the last half of the race was really tough. I hit a wall around mile 18 and had to push hard mentally and physically through the rest of the race.”
“I'm proud of all the training I put in to prepare for the race, and the grit it took to run the race itself!”
We’re damn proud of you too, Dawn.
We know all these PT exercises and dry needling sessions aren’t fun. So when people, like our Athlete of the Month, make the choice to put health & fitness goals at the top of the priority list, it’s so exciting for us to watch you do the hard stuff to get there and CRUSH IT.
With her long-term goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon in mind, Dawn is currently working on progressing in her strength workouts.
“Getting stronger through strength training will help prevent injury and increase my speed,” she notes.
In our experience, the people who are most successful with their health goals are those who find their WHY.
Dawn found hers, and it’s paying off for her. (Just ASK to see her race bib collection!)
“I want to be physically healthy so I can take care of my family for as long as possible,
she told us. “I hope to enjoy an active lifestyle well into my senior years, so I try to take great care of my body so I can continue to do the things I love to do!”
That’s all it boils down to, really, she says. Just finding something you love to do, and doing it.
“Consistently, at the level you're able to,” she adds. “Start where you're at and make goals to improve from there.”
We’re so excited to watch you soar, Dawn.
And— who knows?— with your grit and determination, we may see you LITERALLY flying through your next goals, and making that childhood piloting dream come true.