A few weeks ago we received a DM on Instagram from running coach, athlete, mom, and Zensah Ambassdor, Dana Dombrowski that said: "I would love to be a Zensah model!" however, little did she know she IS ALREADY a Zensah role model! Dombrowski's story is one of triumph over being told "no." In fact, Dana was told as a child "she likely won't run around like the other kids" and how joyous to find that their prediction was incredibly wrong. Dana not only runs "like the other kids," she runs better, farther and faster than mostly everyone! Her story and her determination is inspirational and limitless and we are thrilled to share a story about someone who is a woman we look up to so greatly.
Read on to discover what limitless looks like: incredibly passionate, relentlessly determined, committed to the practice of excellence... limitless looks like Dana Dombrowski!
ZS: What is one thing you want people to know about you?
DD:Even though I'm a runner and have competed and enjoyed incredible experiences within the sport, I wasn't "built to run." I was born with congenital dislocation of my left hip. My parents were given the option of a new surgery that offered an 85% success rate--however, they were also told that, "while she might walk normally, she likely won't run around like the other kids." I suppose in many ways, the doctors were right, because I definitely don't run like most people: I run super far and fast and for fun and to feel strong and to just be and most importantly--to feel limitless in my body.
ZS: How did you get into running? Why do you run?
DD:I got into running by mistake. As "the kid picked last in gym class", I had no intention of becoming an athlete. In 7th grade, I had to run a mile for the required "Presidential Fitness Test". I was beyond anxious and wanted the experience to be over as soon as possible. I ran as fast as I could, which happened to be faster than everyone else. I was immediately recruited to the Middle School Cross Country Team; it was the first time I'd been invited to be part of a 'TEAM' and it meant everything. I met the coach on a Wednesday; bought my first pair of running shoes on a Thursday; competed in my first race that Saturday. and 26 years later, I'm still running and chasing down goals. The road hasn't been linear and, like any lifelong relationship, running and I have overcome our share of challenges--however--we always find our way back to one another.
I enjoy testing my edges and discovering new versions of myself exposed through the practice of left-foot, right-foot. Running teaches us; challenges us; changes us; builds us; breaks us; connects us; and, if you commit to the work, it rewards. Keep showing up!!
ZS: Where is your favorite place you've run?
DD: This is like choosing a favorite child--you love them both and differently--but never more than the other. My top three are tied to incredible experiences that have an emotional connection: The Rocky Mountains, Colorado: the trail runner's paradise. This is where I attended a phenomenal running camp as a sophomore in high school and fell in love with discovering the strong in my stride. Fripp Island, South Carolina: the place where I watched my daughters' and niece's dance in their first touch of the ocean. There is a strip of beach that is exposed at low-tide (just before sunrise); the edges of the water seem endless; the splash of your feet and the sound of the waves syncopate; and the vibrant colors of dawn paint the sand. It is perfectly serene. Plus, your favorite running app will show you running on water (if you're into that sort of thing!)
My back yard: when my husband and I moved into our home, he literally mowed a 1/4 mile trail around the property! This might not seem special to everyone, but it meant everything to me. Now, it's the place where our girls and I run after school, talk about the day, tell goofy jokes and take time to connect. Core memories.
ZS: How did you get into being a coach, and what helps you stay motivated to motivate your athletes?
DD: I became a coach because I wanted to support others in achieving their personal best. I see running as the tool that wields the self-confidence, trust and belief to succeed in that which we put our minds and work ethics to. Motivation is the gift of reciprocity: nothing motivates me more than watching an athlete 'flip the switch' and realize that they are beyond their self-limiting beliefs!! I get especially emotional when athletes tell me that they are "proud of themselves." Over time--races, paces and even first places--become vague. But, how an athlete FEELS about themselves after a goal race or training cycle is everything. We spend a lot of time talking to ourselves as runners; if you can change up the record to include feelings of pride and joy for all that you are--you change everything.
ZS: What would you say to someone who wants to get into running?
DD:Don't overthink it. Running is an action and you just have to get out there and do the damn thing. Running is hard and uncomfortable for everyone! I often tell people, "the funny thing about running is--the better you get--the harder it gets." No one is 'too slow'; no one has 'the wrong body'. If you have a curiosity to run--explore it. Be patient; keep showing up; one day--you'll look back and realize just how far you've come. And, when you do, I hope you invite another along for the ride!!
ZS: What are your favorite Zensah products, and why/how do they help you through your adventures?
DD:I live, train and race by the Calf Compression Sleeves. I started using Zensah products in 2015 and noticed a major difference is my body's increased capacity to endure and recover. If I have a hard effort or long training run, I'm not leaving the house without them! Come race day--they are the statement accessory of every kit!!
ZS: What is one quote you live by? Or a personal mantra?
DD: Head up; Wings out; FLY!!! The phrase carries so many meanings, but simply stated: have confidence in your abilities to achieve that which sets your soul on fire--trust that you have the strength and tenacity to endure whatever it takes--choose FORWARD and take flight against the resistance of the challenges to pursue your dreams.
ZS: Zensah’s motto is #withoutlimitz meaning we want you to feel limitless in everything you do. We have a campaign called “Limitless Looks Like This” because limitlessness can look different for every person. Limitless might look like finding balance, reaching goals, acing the race you have coming up, or manifesting your future. What does limitless look like for you?
DD: My Limitless Looks Like never giving up on myself. I want to be the woman I would look up to; the one that makes my younger self proud, because she never gave up--even when it was hard and especially when it was hard.