Vick Rudowski

Vick Rudowski

Here at Pinks and Greens we’re experts on all things fit, fashion, and function when it comes to athletic gear for our customers. But we know from your phone calls, posts, and comments you want more than just advice about your outfit — you want answers to all things sports — What are the best tennis balls? How do I tip a caddy? Should I stretch before or after I run?

That’s why we created our PG Pros Panel. Our PG Pros are all experts in their own fields, including fitness training, running, yoga, nutrition, golf, tennis, and wellness. We’ve partnered with them to bring you the guidance, advice, and tips you need and want. As our “go-to experts” you’ll see them pop up in our blogs, on our discussion boards, and any other place we need expert advice.

OUR PG RUN PRO

Today we’re turning the spotlight on our PG Pro Vicki Huber Rudawsky.

Vicki Huber Rudawsky figured out pretty early that she was fast. “When I was little, whenever we played kick the can, or tag, I could beat the boys. I knew I was fast but didn’t know where it would go,” she says.

By junior high school she was the field day champ. But as she began to compete against other schools, there was a rival for the top honors. “There was one girl who totally kicked my butt. My gym teacher found out she trained with a private coach — Joe McNichol — at the Delaware Sports Club. So I joined and started training with him and her when I was 14 years old,” Vicki tells us. “And I’m still running with her today — she’s my running partner!”

Even though she was focused on running, that didn’t stop Vicki from trying all kinds of sports from volleyball to gymnastics to field hockey. “I played field hockey all four years in high school and we were first team all-state. I actually got a couple of offers to play field hockey in college,” she recalls. “It was great cross training. I really encourage young runners to play different sports and not to become three season runners until they are older and more mature.”

A PASSION FOR RUNNING

But running was always her main focus. “At the end of every hockey season I was super excited for track. I always loved running more,” she explains. She was offered full scholarships from several schools and chose to attend Villanova. “My coach, Joe McNichol said to me: ‘what’s your goal?’ And I said, ‘to make the Olympic team.” And he responded, “well what school is going to get you there?’ And I knew it would be Villanova.”

Despite her passion for running her first year was a rough one. “I narrowly missed making it to the NCAA meet. I did a lot of whining and crying,” she recalls. The summer after freshman year she had a self-described “a-ha” moment. “I finally just told myself — you know what? Just shut up and run. No more excuses.”

She went on to win the NCAA title in both her indoor and outdoor seasons the following year. And she was just getting started. “My junior year was unbelievable. I set personal records in every event. I was the first woman to win the mile 3000 double in indoor track,” she tells us. “Of course, the pinnacle was making the US Olympic trials in July.”

PG Run Pro Vicki Rudawsky

THE OLYMPIC GAMES

She represented the United States in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, coming in 6th in the 3000 meter event. “I had so much fun but I was so young and naive. I stayed up late playing pictionary and I went to Disneyland Tokyo with my friends the day before my time trials,” she tell us. “Some of the older women actually went to my coach and told him to calm me down. They were afraid that I was not going to do my best.”

By the time of the closing ceremonies, Vicki knew she wanted to come back to the Olympics. “Watching them hand off the torch and introduce the mascot for the next games makes you so excited,” she recalls. “I remember thinking — I’ll be only 25 next time and I’ll be even better than I am right now.”

After the games Vicki went back to Villanova for her senior year. “There were a lot of expectations,” she recalls. “I remember my first 3000 meter race when I came back. One of the officials actually commented that my time was 30 seconds slower than my Olympic time. I remember thinking — you jerk! I can’t run an 8:37 every time!”

She credits her coach and her supportive family for keeping her grounded during this time. “My coach used to say to me, ‘You can become the best runner you can be and there’s always going to be somebody out there who is better than you. Occasionally you’re going to have a bad race and the other person is going to have a great race — never rest on your laurels — just when you think you are unbeatable you are going to get beat.’”

SECOND TIME AROUND

After college Vicki signed a three year contract with Nike. Two months later she was sidelined with a hamstring injury. “I really didn’t compete for nearly a year. Then Nike sent me to a doctor in Boston who was able to treat me,” she recalls. “I went from barely being able to run three miles to finishing fourth in World Cross Country in 1992, to breaking the American record at the Carlsbad 5K on the roads.”

But she went back too hard and too fast. “I developed a really bad sciatica problem and ended up missing the 1992 Olympic trials,” she says. “And then my Nike contract was up.”

Vicki took some time off, got married, got pregnant, got divorced, and had a daughter. But her mind was never far from the Olympics. “After missing the ‘92 games, I knew I wanted to train for the 1996 Olympics. It was one last itch that needed to be scratched,” she recalls.

But things were not so easy this time around. She was older, and a single mom to an eight-month-old. “A dear friend of mine suggested that I come work with an old trainer of mine in Eugene, Oregon. She offered to let me move in with her family for a year and also stepped up to be my nanny so I could train,” she explained. “It was a complete leap of faith leaving my family behind and moving across country with my baby daughter.”

“It was an unbelievable opportunity. I’ve had so many great people in my life and without them I not only would not have an Olympic team, I wouldn’t have made it back on my own two feet as a woman, as a mom, as a potential wife for somebody else,” she added.

She went on to participate in the 1996 Olympics but it was a very different experience this time around. “I skipped the opening ceremonies because it would have been too much time away from my daughter,” she explains. “But it was a miracle to come back. I didn’t run as great, I was a little beat up, but I had so many people rooting for me. It was really inspirational for people to see a single mom whose life didn’t quite work out as wonderfully as you might think come back and make an Olympic team.”

PICTURE5LIFE IS GOOD

By May of 1998, she moved back to Delaware and had started dating Andrew “Rudy” Rudawsky, the physical therapist who helped her get back on her feet before she moved across the country. They went on to marry in 1999. “He was interested in me before I moved to Oregon, but he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to stop me from going after my dreams,” she reveals.

Today, Vicki happily spends her time juggling many different roles and responsibilities. She is a licensed massage therapist, coaches track at her son’s high school, and is a brand ambassador for the women’s running clothing company Oiselle. And for the last 14 years she wrote a bi-monthly column about running for her local newspaper. “I am very fortunate to be where I am now,” she acknowledged. “My daughter is running for NC State and I love coaching and watching my son run for his high school. And I’m very lucky to have a husband who supports me no matter what I do!”

PG ACTIVE SERIES FOR RUNNERS

We’re so excited that Vicki Rudawsky has joined our PG Pro panel of experts. Are you a runner? Would you like to start? In the coming weeks, Vicki will share her wisdom, knowledge and expertise as our “PG Run Pro.” She’ll share her tips on training and diet, her thoughts on the best pre- and post-run routines, her recommendations on the best gear and running apparel, and much, much, more!

Check back often to our PG Active Blog to follow Vicki, or subscribe to our emails to be notified as each new column goes live!

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