Randi Zuckerberg’s Astonishing Marathon Motivation Is the Inspiration I Needed

Randi Zuckerberg is a good friend of mine in NYC, a fellow mom of three, and someone I’ve always admired for her passion for theater and the arts, success as an entrepreneur, interview skills as a radio show host, and dedication as an investor—all while being a wonderful human. In a word, this woman is BUSY. But recently she went through a transformation of sorts, becoming a serial marathon runner. Basically out of nowhere.

As she posted videos and photos on stories of her races (which seemed to get longer and longer), the occasional injuries, the early mornings, the crew of new running friends and the highlights of her latest racing ambitions, I found myself wondering: How on earth are you so busy, yet finding the time to be so healthy?

And so our new series for my newsletter was born. Welcome to So Busy, So Healthy, a new interview series with people who are so freaking busy and yet somehow are able to invest in their health in some inspiring and unique to them (but could be us, too) way. Periodically in between my favorite product recommendations, and deep dives into the medical research on topics like protein and cortisol, I’ll share my conversations with people like Randi who definitely have no extra minutes of the day but somehow find the inspiration and time to be healthy.

As someone who ran one marathon in 2004 (Philadelphia) and swore she would never run again (and as a busy mom for whom exercise has definitely become the first thing to fall off my list), I found Randi’s approach to health emotionally energizing.

We all want to do the things that we know will make us feel great, but we all also know that it’s harder than it should be. I hope this interview with Randi gives you a shot in the arm, as they say, like it did for me!  

Image courtesy of Randi Zuckerberg

RB: You’re clearly super busy. What drives you/motivates you to take on so much?

RZ: If you want something done, give it to a busy mom!

In all seriousness, I’ve had a philosophy for the past decade of giving myself permission to be well-lopsided, rather than well-balanced. I find that when I allow myself to really focus on giving my all in a few areas, I feel happier, more fulfilled, and am better able to show up in all areas of my life. Right now, my main focus areas are: supporting the arts (investing, producing, and building technology), women in sports (specifically around my passions of running and golf), and of course, my family.

How did you get into running and what inspired you to take on marathon training?

I’ve loved running my entire life, but I took a twenty year break from it while focusing on my career and having three children. Every time I tried to restart, I’d have knee pain or I was too out of shape and exhausted, and would immediately give up.

Post-covid, I think many of us craved community and a sense of belonging. I felt lonely in my soul in a way that was hard to describe, given that I had just spent the past two straight years stuck in my home with eight people! I started going to a local gym a few blocks from where I lived and there was a lovely group of women who would run races on the weekend and go out for brunch. They seemed so friendly and so happy and I thought, well, I don’t know if I’m that into running, but I LOVE brunch and would love to meet more nice women.

After a few months of building up my endurance and fitness to be able to run a few miles nonstop on the treadmill, I joined them for a 10k in Central Park. Little did I know how that one 10k would transform my entire life. I felt so powerful being out there running, so inspired by the thousands of other women showing up for themselves on a Saturday morning running alongside me (or mostly, in front of me). This thought flashed through my mind that for the past twenty years I had been someone’s sister, someone’s wife, someone’s mom. But this? This was ALL MINE. Nobody can attribute running six miles to anybody else. It’s just you, your body, and your hard work.

From that moment, I was hooked. Since June 2023, I have completed twelve half marathons, six marathons, and five ultra-marathons (ranging from 30 to 50 miles.) I’ve had eight podium finishes with two overall wins. But the biggest PR of all is the community I’ve formed. Those women at the gym—they have become my closest friends, my sisters truly.

Let’s get practical. How do you fit your training into your week?

Ah, I love this question because, in many ways, it’s still a work in progress.

I think the biggest thing is that I’ve become a pro at early mornings. I never used to be a morning person before—now I wake up at 5 a.m. every day. Waking up before the household gives me the uninterrupted time I need for training and still be finished in time to do school drop-off.

You can’t burn the candle on both ends though, so I’ve had to adjust my social life to be more morning-focused (coffee and lunch dates, morning walks or jogs in the park), saying no to evening hangouts. I try to be in bed by 9:30 or 10 p.m. most nights, which is not very glamorous.

On the weekends, I do at least one super long run day where I am away from home for several hours, putting in long mileage. Sometimes I’ll go solo, sometimes we’ll try and make it a family thing.

Taking on such a lofty health goal often means sacrifice—what have you gained by staying committed?

You learn more about yourself in 26.2 miles than most people learn in a lifetime.

It has changed how I walk into a room. I used to walk into rooms of mostly men/tech bros and be quiet, intimidated or feel invisible. Now I walk into a room with my head held so high, like, “yeah I just ran a 50 mile race this weekend, I have NOTHING to prove to any of you.” Many of those men have reached out in fact, to ask my advice on racing, long distances, or have since asked to run with me.

All my life, I’ve been surrounded by people chasing the wrong things—money and power—and it took me training for a marathon to realize that the biggest flex in life is health and community. I feel richer in my life right now than I have ever felt.

What’s your advice for people trying to start running/exercising regularly?

  • Start small. In January 2023, I could barely run a mile and now here I am entering multiple 100-mile races (eek!).
  • Consistency is everything. Make it a daily habit to show up for yourself and you will be shocked at the gains you achieve and the friendships you form along the way.
  • The journey is the fun part. That beginner journey is so sweet and so rewarding because you improve so quickly. The PRs just come flying! If I could go back, I’d remind myself to savor every moment and appreciate the bonds forged through exercise.

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