by George Banker
A coach can provide the direction and the training plans, but it will take the person to execute the plans. Gabriela Traña is an international athlete, born in Alajuela, Costa Rica. Growing up she never dreamed that she would be a flag bearer for the Costa Rica team during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Yet Traña is a two-time Olympian. She’s also a three-time finisher of the Army Ten-Miler (2009- 3rd 59:08, 2010 – 4th 58:31, and 2012 – 10th 58:25).
Below Traña shares her philosophy.
When did you first realize that you had a talent for the sport of running?
I started running in school. I did a Cooper test, and my physical education teacher invited me to be part of the Gregorio José Ramírez school athletics team and later for National Games representing the city of Alajuela, Costa Rica. [Note: A Cooper test, designed by Kenneth Cooper for US military use, asks the participant to run as far as possible in 12 minutes.]
Did you have any role models growing up who were in the sport?
I think I have always admired the people who, regardless of the circumstances of life, enjoy the road, the people who love what they do, the people who work honestly and who always have something good to say. As I grew up, I learned a lot from my parents, from my coach, from Costa Rican athletes like Zoila Rosa Stewart (400m Olympic athlete) and José Luis Molina (marathon Olympic athlete).
Did you have a coach or self-taught?
I have had the same coach since high school (1993).
How do you balance your life with training and racing?
I try to combine my activities every day. Putting the things that are important according to objectives and my focus. I always try to take advantage of the opportunities which are presented.
What do you see as things which you have given up by participating in the sport?
I feel that I have received more from the sport than I have given. Maybe some time I have given more time, energy, and money, but always received happiness, opportunities, and friends.
What have been challenges in your career?
I have had some injuries, little economic resource, little competitions of level and few sport installations of quality. I have had a lack of an education system according with the training level athlete.
How do you overcome when your results fall short of your expectations?
I train like the sport is my priority, but in the day to day I am conscious that the sport is my complement. It is my little piece of happiness. So, the success is a road of the small failures.
Have you had injuries which have kept you out of the sport?
Yes, I had pubalgia (groin injury), other times I had muscle tears, bursitis in knee, sacroiliac, hips, and arm. The injuries were not prolonged.
What changes have you seen in the sport since you started?
Now there is more support for the woman. We are more empowered. The technology applies to the sport and has grown in all aspects: nutrition, clothes, shoes, watches, sensors the glucose, temperature, and people in general know that elite athletes exist. That people not only run for weight loss.
If there was something you would like to see change in the sport, what would it be.
I have seen that not all in the sports have the same opportunities. I really would like that in all sports women and men enjoy the same opportunities of sponsors, scholarships, recognition.
What has been the performance to date which stands out?
My major performances: Winner Disney Marathon 2007, winner and record the Edinburgh half marathon 2012, winner and record the marathon Central American games San José 2013 (2:54:59) and silver medal in Central America (1st 10,000 meters 37:31.17) and Caribbean Games Mayaguéz 2010 (2nd 2:46:22).
What was the feeling when you attended the Olympic Games in 2008?
During the competition coming to my mind was the words of family, friends, and training mates, about their support, respect, and admiration. I really enjoyed every moment and Olympics 2008 (Marathon 2:53:45) it gave me the motivation to qualify for the Games in 2012 in London (Marathon 2:43:17).
What would you say to young girls who are thinking about entering the sport?
I would tell the girls to enjoy every moment of the process. Learn, try hard and give your best, meet new people, visit new places. Take the energy of every place where you go and give some to others that will help the world to be better. Life is a balance.
You compete in a variety of distances. Which is your best distance?
My best performance has been in the marathon.
What is it that makes Gaby an outstanding athlete?
My discipline, constance, determination, focus, personality, and respect for others. I always try to enjoy all that I do. I work to be a good athlete, but more to be a good person. One person that goes the “extra mile.”
Was there a time when you wanted to leave the sport?
Maybe when I was starting out. In the first year I did not understand the philosophy of the sport in my life. I needed more experience to learn that the sport is more than winning.
When you compete what is more important, the time or the amount of effort?
Of course, the amount the effort. “Our reward is in effort, not achievement. Total effort is a complete victory.” Mahatma Gandhi
How was your training affected in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic?
During Covid-19 pandemic I started good. I changed zones for training and enjoyed new places, but after some months I started feeling sad and discouraged. There were no competitions nor objectives and it was hard to get up to go train. However, with my team we did virtual competitions after training long distances and Sundays we shared breakfast. So, keeping with family and friends was important to feel good and positive.
What strategy do you use when racing?
I try to run according to my strategy. But every race is different, so I apply my experience depending on the circumstances. The philosophy always is to do my race, run strong according to my abilities, and to be brave and give the best.
What do you want the reader to know about Gaby?
I want the reader to know that I am a person that enjoys running, good food and smile for a nice anecdote. I love to compete, but never fight, love positive people that have dreams and work every day.
Categories: Athlete Profiles