What could you and I have in common with a champion tower runner? What even IS tower running? Join me as I chat with Pirete, the female Tower Running champion for the country of Estonia for the answers.
You know how sometimes we see other people experiencing real success and we immediately discount our abilities to do the same? Right? Like sometimes, we are completely convinced that they have something going on that we could never have. We let those limiting beliefs keep us from just getting started.
Join me as I chat with Pirete, the female champion tower runner of Estonia. Listen as she takes us along her path from adventurer to elite athlete.
Then get moving.
We believe in you.
For more information on the Towerrunning World Association
-Being an athlete without a background in sport
-Being adaptable and falling in love with movement
-Everyone wants to run a marathon?
-Being resiliant through injury
-Define what you can still do. Breathe.
-I could have prevented, but would I have prevented? I’m not sure.
-Keep your eyes open for new opportunities
-Showering at the gym turns into workout
-Just give yourself a chance to try something new
-Some of these workouts are very hard!
-It all comes down to making it fun
-Curiosity opening doors
-Now becoming a tower runner
-Description of distances for a tower runner
-Dubai experience as a tower runner
-I don’t do well. I DO well.
-Just start somewhere
Until next time, Friends…carry on, women of valor.
Transcript of a chat with a tower runner, piret
You who are listening is that just change. All the time so that it’s fun because life is about fun. They’re living. I don’t care if I gain two kilos or lose two kilos. I wanna have this ice cream and I know that for having this one cube of ice cream tonight. I should move beforehand. That’s it there. But I will have even if I wouldn’t move, I have to have the ice cream. You cannot stop yourself, not doing what you want. If you want to know somehow balance, then that’s the balance. Have fun
Sally: Welcome to Finding Finish Lines, the hopeful podcast celebrating women fearlessly living their vision for a joyful life, healthy family and a better community. Join us. Be inspired. Take a deep breath, drop whatever doesn’t serve you and take your place in a sisterhood of active passionate women.
Hey friends. Welcome to finding finish lines. I’m Sally Bulavko. I’m your host and I have a question for you today. How often do you see another woman who is like SLAY-ing? She’s totally crushing it in her sphere of influence or her genius zone or whatever you call like, “Her thing.” You know, the thing that she does, How long does it take for you to see that and think, “Oh, well, the reason that she can excel and there’s no way that I can is because, you know she must have a totally different skill set. Or maybe she’s like, blessed differently than me or has some sort of specific talent,” right? Like how often do we just completely discount our ability to be who we are or who we want to be based on some assumption that we have about all the people who are already there? What if I told you that you’re right, but only sort of…
Whaaaaaaat? That’s not the direction I expect for an empowerment podcast, Sally. What are you talking about?
You’re supposed to tell us we can do anything.
Well, it’s the, “Sort of” thing that is doing a ton of work in that statement. It’s probably like an unfair amount of work to make a phrase like sort of handle, because today I’m gonna introduce you to my friend Piret.
She’s a naturally talented athlete. There’s no question about that. But so much more than her natural talent is her viral sense of adventure. She like, finds joy in work and honestly, in the long-suffering experience of improving. You can’t talk to Piret for one minute like no, literally, not even one minute, because conversations with her are like a full on commitment. Once you get one minute into your conversation, you know that you are about to get to work because talking to Piret is like that scene in When Harry met Sally, where the woman in the restaurant orders, “Whatever she’s having,” right?
I mean, come on. Not exactly.
But it’s that sort of idea that as soon as you get talking to her, you’re like, “Whatever it is that lights her up, I want a part of that. I’ll have what she’s having.”
So I’m going to give away what would traditionally be like the meat of the story. Right now, I’m just gonna tell you that she is the female tower runner, and because I didn’t know what that was, I’m gonna share it with you, it’s basically running up the stairs of a very tall building. She’s a tower running champion for the entire nation of Estonia. She’s now competing on the world circuit as a tower runner.
Didn’t know there was one of those? Yeah, I didn’t know either.
You’re probably going to feel a strong pull to like sprint up and down your staircase by the end of this. She’s also involved in long distance cross country skiing. She’s a distance runner. She’s a triathlete, basically, if you name it, she’s game. Adventure is in her blood. It’s within her and without her. Basically, if you listen to her, you somehow find yourself feeling claustrophobic in whatever space you’re in, just longing for something real and something challenging. Trust me, Piret is the reason I found myself running a 10 K at night in Berlin this summer, and it was one of my favorite race experiences.
It’s time to change some expectations
Since I already told you that she has an accomplished racing career. I’m sure you’re already guessing that we’re going to start her story as an accomplished child athlete.
Actually, I started quite an the incidents it accidentally because I was never really a sports person when I was young. I was never going to any of the training’s or my parents never forced me to do anything, but I was always this outside person, so I always like to be out of the house, playing around with the kids, you know, running playing games. And that was the only activity. So is really when I grew up. And then people obviously talk about fitness everywhere. So I thought that, “whatever that means” things is not not not for me or it doesn’t resonate. I think back off by this school days on the this exercise is, then I have nightmares to date there. So I was thinking, “When does it come? When doesn’t hit me?”
Okay, so now you’re saying, “Alright, Sally. So she wasn’t a child athlete, but obviously, to reach the highest levels, she must have hired a glamorous coach. She must have, you know, focused specifically on one sport and controlled all the variables as soon as possible.”
When I was 25 years from my school, pretty much than I thought that I’d like to go back to ski, which I really liked the cross country skiing. And then I picked up the training group in the forest to go that two times a week and started practicing. And it happened so that there was no snow for two years, so ah, most of the training started with jogging and doing exercises. And then I thought, “Okay. If that’s life than let me enjoy it.”
Then I found two people who actually dragged me to a running event. They told me that “Let’s go run 24 kilometer race in May.” I said that. “Look, you’re joking. I’ve never run 10 kilometers in a row.”
Well, then, fine. She must have some sort of, like, crazy self esteem and just know that she could do anything she wants.
Okay, I told that home that I’ll go running a check if I can run 10 kilometers in a row. So I went out and of course I did it. I did a few kilometers extra, and I enrolled in the race and I had, uh, quite the good result. And then I got addicted!
And when she says addicted, she absolutely means it. Like many of us, that first race lit the flame to increase the distance and speed. She just had to get to that further finish line as fast as possible. So, of course, as an elite athlete, she hired a fancy coach and did everything right to get the distance that we all keep our eye on, the legendary marathon.
Ah, I said, OK, then, as I’m doing this, let me do the marathon also. The same year. And I thought that maybe I will do this once in my lifetime. So let’s let this once-in-a-lifetime be now because I might, you know, drop out. It’s not my sport. Okay, I’m excited. But it was still not my topic. So one of the friends did the plan for me, you know, very discreet, on a paper. Pretty much nothing fancy. Andi The same September, I run the marathon and 3 :56 of a good time. And it was difficult. Preparing was more difficult than the run itself. But I was happy. I ran over and I thought that I’m done. That’s exactly what I wanted. I ran a marathon. And, you know, I’m I’m okay.
Yeah, you definitely just heard her say that she went from, “I don’t know if I can run a 10 k” to running a sub four hour marathon in the same year. So clearly we’re dealing with natural talent.
But also, I need you just to listen to how resilient she is. Her hard and fast entry into the world of distance running didn’t end after going 10 k to Marathon. Remember how she said she was addicted? Yeah. That year she ran two more full marathons for a total of three in her first year, and then six full marathons the following year. Enter injuries.
I thought that my life is over when I had the first injury. But no, I’m dying because you feel about everything. Nothing works. TV is not the same. The house doesn’t look those. Oh, good. You don’t have the right clothes. You have nothing to do.
That level of despair didn’t last for long.
What I do now is that immediately I saw, “Ok. Define what you can still do.” I think so. That really… What kind of… BREATHE. First things breathe. That’s already not. I will not cut my foot off there. I definitely need the foot very soon. And you know that most most of the injuries actually last 2-3 months.
Anyway, open your eyes exactly like you asking about this. How did I come to different sports? It was through the body’s signals here. I would say I could have prevented. But if I hadn’t would say would I prevented? I’m not sure. I’m happy with what I’ve done that. Then the experience.
Keep your eyes open for, you know, other other other fitness kinds. Sometimes I even dragged myself out saying that, “Okay, I should go take a shower.” And then I thought that I have zero work. What? No motivation? And I’m thinking that. Okay, I’ll go take a shower in that gym. So I knew that I’ll bring my things. And, I know that I’m going to choose one of the options.
Even then, one last Thursday, I went out and I said, “Okay, I put my…” I haven’t been bicycling for months, so I thought that I would bring the… just not to ignore that I haven’t done… I brought the this this cycling costume, this suit. And then, of course, if I have it in my back, I’ll put it on.
And I do! So I said, “Okay, since I’m not going to do it one hour. Then I put on a machine.” Never have put one hour 30 minutes and I thought that probably got off 40 minutes and do the rowing or something.
But I managed!
So it wouldn’t… six years of extras. You know, my extra difficult, different exercises. I did the 1/2 hour. It sounds…It sounds comical. If somebody would have told me three days ago they expect that I will do that, I would have laughed and said, “Ha ha ha. No, I’m waiting for March or April and then I’ll do it outside there.” But it’s just the feeling that this “I’ll do it. I just try it. Let me try this. “
And once I took this challenge. The three months I thought that I tried all the things in the gym that they offer. This funny, you know, everybody who made these old ladies something, then the yoga for 45 minutes, then some super ass moving something than some…. But then, all this funny names you normally just laugh upon, but they are very hard! They are very difficult! Very hard!
And actually, I would say that I had the sub – how do you say? – Presumptions about these things or the stereotype thinking about this sorts of workouts. But I don’t talk anything like this anymore because I did this thing. I tried them out. They’re very hard. And I admire the people who do it. I would recommend them well, as I recommend you are listening. Is that just change. All the time. Change so that it’s fun because life is about fun. They’re living. I don’t care if I gained two kilos or lose two kilos. I wanna have this ice cream. And I know that for having this one kilo of ice cream tonight, I should move beforehand. That’s it. That but I will have even if I wouldn’t move, I have. I have to have the ice cream. You cannot stop yourself for not doing what you want. And if you want to, you know, somehow, balance. Then that’s the balance. There have fun.
And one thing I really love about Paret is that when she says for her, it’s all about having fun. She absolutely means it. That’s not just something she’s posting on Instagram and hoping that you’ll consume. She doesn’t care what you think. She’s doing it because she wants to have a great time and she wants to move her body and she wants to learn more about herself in this world that she lives in. And it’s that kind of curiosity that brought her from, “Maybe I’ll get back into long distance skiing” through a group in the woods to, “I think I’ll try some running road races.”
It eventually brought her into cycling and triathlon, and then it made her a tower runner.
It was so that the same people actually will drag me to the to the running at all. One of them went, Uh, run in a hotel said that, “There’s a run tomorrow or day after in a hotel”. I said, “A run in a hotel? Sounds very intriguing.”
Yeah yeah. There is such a thing. They were there. They’re running up the stairs and there’s actually a whole series that you have six or 10 runs season on. Then they have this, like, sort of, you know, you can get the awards every time, and then you have this, whatever the total.
So I thought that sounds interesting. I’ll come this year to one or two just to see. Yeah. Because he said,” I don’t worry, it’s not really running. It’s actually you get. Everybody gets tired so you end up walking.” So I said, “Ah! I might even go! Maybe I’m not the only one who’s walking.”
So I took the hardest one that there was like we have this TV tower here is 500 something meters and 65 floors are small floors. I did well because, you know, then it actually all come was six or seven minutes. That there Now I’m more. In the six months it was, it was a good result compared to the others who had been doing it for years. I was actually absolutely excited. Of course, as always, when you crawl across the finish line. When you’re crossing the finish, you feel like, you know, you won world. Everybody should bow down before you and the doors to Sesame should open and all that stuff.
But then my figure it out, and then I really After that I got addicted totally because then I started doing the short options. Also, which is nine floors shortest is a sprint. Then you have 26, which also is, let’s say, 2/2 minutes for me, which is still running. So if it’s it’s really activity. Everything from 30 floors upwards, I will say, it’s already like moving.
Dubai race experience
And Piret brings that energy for movement wherever she goes. In fact, last fall she was traveling for work in Dubai for a business meeting when she learned that there was going to be a race from the [how very tower runner of her] world circuit happening right there in Dubai. And it was in just a couple of days. Without thinking too much, and being ready for anything all the time, Piret found her way into that race
I traveled for work, October last, to Dubai. Then in the evening, an Estonian tower running chap writes me that. “Hey, Piret, there is this Ah, cool run, coming up Friday, this same week. And if you’re still there, definitely going and participate. It’s normal. I would look up for marathons or runs. Is somebody running in there in that area? I didn’t do it. So the organizer said, this Estonian chap, said that to write to the organizers that you are in Estonian and this champion of this the tower running, which I am there.
So I said that. Okay, I did that there. Nobody answered. So in 24 hours, I wrote to the not the Dubai organizers, but to the the Worldwide with the organization, and they immediately reacted That said that, “Don’t worry, you can run. They’re just pay the tuition and walk Friday.”
So I registered. Happy. Excited.
And then I went security and said that, “Look, I know that you have this emergency stairs and I think the hotel was 17 or 16 floors. So I said that I I just want to tell you that I want to run in few times up and down on that so that if you look in the camera so that you wouldn’t think crazy.”
Not only very few people run, but females no. Not many females run. Foreign yes. Locals no. Andi, I don’t think many people are not on the stairs.
The race started at seven o’clock. I think the numbers were given out the six o’clock in the morning because it’s so so hot. They want to run earlier that it gets to hot. So this one I was up started six. And the night before there was a big party at the hotels. I couldn’t sleep. I even switched rooms. I think total sleep was two hours before, but then I already got excited. You know, you are excited also, you know, super alert.
So I go to the start at the beginning. And I see that guy said also that go with, like, the elites, the best ones, because otherwise so you get stumbled with the crowd that they let maybe a hundred. We cannot run. Go with 10 best.
So I go with a 12 women and I was seventh! I did very well.
In the beginning, there is running. There’s like 100 or 200 meters where you can, you have to run really fast to get some sort of location. Then you get to the stairs together and then you have to sort of, you know, climbing or run your way through here on.
I had the situation that okay, maybe I would have maybe one place I lost into the beginning that just maybe I should have been more fight-ful or competitive. You actually have to do this in the beginning because later on, everybody gets tired on on the step. Because it was 54…I think… something stairs. Quite a lot. But the number one, it was very hot! I just that I understood why they did the seven o’clock start. That we were the first starters then because then when the sun goes up, trend upwards. Floor’s already gets on sun on, then it’s ah, but I don’t know how the last one it lasted, there was 270 something competitors together quite a lot there on then.
The last ones must have been suffering. So we had a good race. It was actually easier than I thought, and I remember the only thing in my head was, “Okay. Upwards upwards. You don’t rest. It is great to suffer. Suffer this and then you just have to endure.” I said that one was total suffering, but the last 14 floors. But at least I was… I just managed to crawl over one Italian woman who looked super slim, so sporty, mega athlete. It looked like a world champion.
Comparison hits a champion
Did you hear that? Even the national champion was comparing herself to someone else. But she didn’t let it stop her! She went right by her! For a second, she thought, “Oh well there’s no way I could beat her, look at her, she’s super athletic.”
And then she did.
Are you also hearing how her inner monologue during a long race sounds a lot like ours. Just you and me. Just the average athlete. “Suffer suffers effort. Keep moving, Keep climbing.”
It sounds like we all go through the same thing.
So why is it that sometimes were just completely convinced that they’ve got something that we don’t? Maybe what they’ve got that we don’t have is the pure joy is the complete dedication to doing it for the fun of it. Not because we’re going to tell somebody else we did it. Not because we need the pride of doing it, but that actual joy of movement. Her open mind, open heart, ready for anything kind of take on life led her to this:
If I’m going to do good, in my, I have that first race Monday here in Tallinn. If I do well in Estonian competition, they might send me to the World championship also. And that’s in Taipei, Taiwan. Imagine this! Instead of my skiing challenge. Maybe I get to go there, but it depends on my little performances.
You just heard the woman who started out by telling us that she couldn’t stand sports in school, that she was never in any kind of organized practice, who started because she thought she wanted to get back into skiing. You just heard her say that she has potential to go to the world Championship for tower running, for running of the stairs of a tall building [as a tower runner].
Who would have guessed that?
Thank God she was always ready. Thank God she was just excited to move. Thank God she was ready for the next opportunity, whatever was gonna come her way and that she always said yes. And thank God she moved with purpose and with joy because it brought her here. And how cool is that?
Another thing that I absolutely admire about Piret is that she is completely open about, “None of it’s easy.” She doesn’t do it because it’s easy. She doesn’t do it because it’s hard. She doesn’t because she just find so much happiness in the movement. And something that’s so important to her is that the excitement of it is contagious. She really wants people to understand that you could do it too. You just have to start. You just have to start with an open heart.
What I’m trying to tell, you know, every time when I go? I’m thinking that, “Is it easier to go on to the first floor?” Sally No! It’s just as difficult as before!
So if anybody of you was listening, every sports is ah… is ah… is an effort. So it’s not that I thought that Okay, yeah. If somebody would know. I’m laughing with my boss and friends. Okay? If they see stairs or they see a tall building, they’ll say that, “Hey Piret! Want to take the stairs or do you want to take an elevator with us?” I always take the elevator, of course. But we go wherever. But it’s just it’s just the attitude. But you know what? I always tell them in return. “It’s ok. Any of you would walk with me, anybody will join me. I’m ready to walk.” Because I always tell them that, “You don’t have to do it today, but it’s more more likely that they will do it with me than without me.”
So the bottom line message from the Estonian Tower runner champion, the gal who went from 10 K to sub four hour marathon in one year, is just get started.
Yeah, just get started. You don’t need anything again. I sometimes walk with my whichever clothes, like I just… these are exactly the kind of things… you don’t need to dress up. Because it’s a lot of things that are in the sports that are you know, people want to be fancy and the nice and all the stuff. I don’t care if I’m wearing a pink Ah, blue or, uh oh, our ah white shirt as long as they match my shoes.
If you have an option to do something in the morning before the family wakes up before work or or if you have an option to do something at noon for nowhere, just to do it different times of day and have it the more fun. So it’s much easier to handle than thinking and pre planning for two hour workout. And then you’re super tired after. But if you do an hour or45 minutes, you’re never tired after.
When I decided I wanted to put this podcast together, I knew that Piret was one of the people I wanted to speak with. Because after meeting her in real life, and as you can tell from listening to her, she just has this contagious energy.
And I just felt like if more people could get around somebody like Piret, who knows how you could change your life, How could you get moving? How can you heal places in your body that are hurting and need to be healed? How can you take that healing and move it out into the world? How can you change the world by being more active on your own?
And the answer is we have no idea. We don’t know what you’re gonna do.
All I do know is that it’s likely that movement is calling to you. Maybe you’re gonna take an extra trip up and down the stairs. Maybe you’re just gonna walk around the block today. Maybe you have a marathon on your training schedule? I don’t know. I don’t know. But I do know that as women we need to move. Our bodies often are healing. It starts with movement.
I find Piret’s story so inspiring because she’s just completely down to Earth. Not only is she so excited about what she’s doing, but she genuinely believes that you can do it, too. And you know what? So do I.
I really love the simple way that she describes how she became so successful in sports:
How do you do so well? I don’t do well. I DO well!
I just love the humility of it. I love the humility of it, Somebody who is on the world circuit for her sport. And she says, I’m just active. I’m just active.
I feel like now we’re able to start drawing parallels between different interviews. Do you remember in the very first conversation that we had with the realtor, Sarah, who started her own company back in Episode two, I’ll go ahead and link that episode in the show. Notes For anybody who didn’t hear it, her bottom line for finding success was simple. It might sound familiar. It was, “Just do it. Just get started.” And that’s what we’re hearing from Piret. I feel like this is the message that we’re getting over and over from successful people, right?
If you want to be successful, you learned from successful people. If you want to be brave, you learn from brave people. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
But what we’re hearing over and over and over is just get started.
I know I’m feeling incredibly grateful for that message over and over that people are just speaking that into my life because I’m in a place where I’m ready to just get started on multiple projects on this podcast, for example. It’s just a time to start. How are you ever gonna experience success if you’ve never started? Dream about movement? We can dream about running that 1st 5 K. We can dream about starting our new big business. We can dream about putting our phones down and spending more time with our families.
But y’all, until we’re willing to start, we’re not gonna make big changes in our lives. We’re not even gonna make little changes.
To wrap it up. I just want to repeat that last thing, Piret said. When people ask her how she’s so successful, she says, “I don’t do well. I do well”
Let’s be do-ers. Let’s move our feet when our mouths are likely to move. Let’s start. Let’s take action. Let’s see what we can do.
We have no idea the towers were gonna climb or the races were gonna run. Let’s find out out.
Friends. That’s it for today. Thank you so much for joining me. Please keep those e- mails coming. I love to hear your stories. I love to hear how you’re taking bits and pieces from these people that we’re speaking to and incorporating them into your lives.
If you are enjoying the show, please don’t hesitate to leave a review on iTunes. That helps people find it. And I appreciate it so much.
For more, you can check us out on social media, finding finish lines basically everywhere or on the blog finding finish lines dot com until next time my friends, carry on women of valor.