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Every Runner Needs More Of This

Pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan are aiming to inspire female athletes.

Pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan are aiming to inspire female athletes with their new company.

Written by: Sabrina Grotewold

High self-esteem stems from a true belief in oneself. Perhaps a simple concept to grasp theoretically, belief in oneself can be hard to realize. Any runner can attest that digging deep during a race or hard workout requires trusting that you can access those hidden reserves of inner strength—you just have to believe that they’re there. Enduring setbacks, pushing beyond conventionally understood limits, and finding the confidence to beat opponents requires belief in oneself.

Pro runners Lauren Fleshman, the 2010 USA 5K champion, and Roisin McGettigan, Irish national record-holder in the mile (indoors) and 3K steeplechase, celebrate confidence, strength and belief in the mind-body-soul connection in their new business venture, BelieveIAm, an online blog and store targeted at female athletes. Through a gender-specific print training journal adorned with motivational doodles and messages, and unique apparel emblazoned with inspirational words disguised as flowers, “Lo” Fleshman and “Ro” McGettigan aim to remind us that we are the masters of our own potential.

We caught up with co-founder Ro McGettigan to learn more about BelieveIAm. Does “Believe I Am” encapsulate your site’s mission, and the message you’d like to share with the world?

Ro: BeleiveIAm does encapsulate our site’s mission, which is to help women focus on positive truths about themselves, and to get them to believe in these thoughts. It’s all well and good, saying, “I’m strong,” but we want you to get to a place where you believe you are strong. We want people (and ourselves) to cross that all-important threshold of saying or thinking something to believing it.

Why did you decide to target female athletes with this message?

We feel that women self-sabotage with destructive beliefs far too much. We know this because we are women and we do this to ourselves! Through our journey as professional runners, we’ve had the opportunity to work with sports psychologists to overcome destructive thought patterns and limiting beliefs. We both feel that once we were able to do this, we became more successful in our sport. Through sport, we’ve met women from all over the world, and we describe meeting these women as a sisterhood—we’re women out there trying our best to reach our potential. We want to share the “secrets” and tool we’ve learned from sports psychologists and our own experiences with other who can’t access sports psychologists. We’re aware that guys can also have limiting beliefs, but we wanted to start with what we know best—our own female thoughts and behaviors.

Can you discuss how the idea for this business developed, and when you opened?

The idea developed when Lauren came to my hometown in Ireland last summer and we talked about our experiences as professional athletes over the past six years. I think we both had a strong urge to share some of the lessons we’d learned from others. Lauren approached my husband and me in the fall of 2010, and since then, the ideas and synergy just blossomed from making some shirts with positive statements into using sports psychology cues via encrypted floral designs, and creating our ultimate training journal. Our first T-shirts were printed in May, and our journals were finished in September. But, we just officially opened for business.

Have you two been long-time friends?

We’ve been friends since I paced Lauren in a 5K at the Boston Indoor Games, right after we graduated from college in 2003. We spent some summers in Europe, crossing paths and just really clicking when we did see each other. Lauren is such a cool, inspiring woman and if we weren’t friends, I’d still be a big fan of her athletic ability and her amazing blogs.

Can you talk about how your clothes and training journal are special?

BelieveIAm's shirts are made in the U.S. by companies that practice fair labor.

BelieveIAm’s shirts are made in the U.S. by companies that practice fair labor.

We created T-shirts with encrypted floral designs because we want the wearer of the shirt to see the image of the flower, remember what it says, and remind her to think about its message. It’s not a message for the world; it’s a message for the person wearing the shirt. We like the idea that there’s “power in clothing,” just like a kid feels and acts like a superhero when he is dressed up in costume. We want our shirts to give women super-positive power, too!

Lauren and I both love journals—we’ve gifted them to each other over the years. And one journal that is most precious to us are our training journals. Despite the abundance of high-tech electronicky-appy type journals out there, we still cherish the pretty stationary paper-and-pen-type journals, even for our training. We know the importance of tracking specific training variables such as workouts, mileage, gym sessions, race results, menstrual cycles, etc., so there’s space in our journals for all of that. In the backs of the journals, there’s space to write whatever you want. It also includes 12 reasons to keep using your journal—these aren’t just our reasons, but they’re reasons from 10 other successful women athletes about why they keep training logs. The diary also includes advice on goal setting, race reviewing and using cues to stay on course when doubts arise.

Your T-shirts are sustainably made—can you explain what this means and why it matters to you?

We have worked arduously to source shirts that are made in the USA by companies whose principles are based on upholding labor standards such as no forced or child labor, health and safety standards, fair wages and benefits, etc. We’re concerned about the issue of sweatshop labor and are doing our best to make sure our products are made in a fair way despite the fact that it costs us more to produce. We want to stand by our products and feel good about them. OUr motto since we began this project is that we want the energy going into this to be more important than any outcome.

Do you have plans to sell these products in stores, or to keep them online only?

We’d love to sell them in stores, definitely. For now, though, we’re only available online.

What other tools can users find on your website?

We’d love to build a community of women overcoming obstacles (in whatever form) and sharing stories, articles, blogs, tips and tools. We definitely have lots more ideas for the application of our designs.