Rolanda Bell

Ali on the Run Show Episode 275: Rolanda Bell, Elite Runner

“You know when you’re not done yet. There were goals I wanted to accomplish, and I knew they were still in me. I just needed to keep going and see what I could do.”

In 2015, Rolanda Bell was living the dream. She had graduated from the University of Tennessee, where she was a member of the historic 2009 Women’s 4x1500m relay team alongside Chanelle Price, Phoebe Wright, and Sarah Bowman. Together, they broke the existing Penn Relays, National Collegiate, American, and world records — several of which still stand, 11 years later. She went on to run professionally representing Panama — a lifelong dream. But at the 2015 World Athletics Championship in Beijing, Rolanda was competing in the 3000m steeplechase when she went over the water barrier, and landed face-first on the way down. On this episode, Rolanda, who works in marketing for Hoka One One, talks about falling in love with running, going pro, and getting back up and finishing that race in Beijing. She talks about bouncing back, training with the NorCal Distance Project, and why, even after a career as a professional middle-distance athlete, she felt pressure to run a marathon. (Rolanda runs a 4:38 indoor mile, a 1:16 half marathon, and ran a 2:49 in her marathon debut.) She also talks about her experiences with racism living in New York City.

Thank you to AfterShokz for sponsoring this episode of the Ali on the Run Show! Go to ontherun.aftershokz.com for 15% off wireless headphones!

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What you’ll get on this episode:

  • Why Rolanda felt “pressure” to run a marathon (5:45)
  • How Rolanda got started on the run (9:15)
  • Why Rolanda decided to keep running after college (22:15)
  • Rolanda reflects on that “traumatizing” race at the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing (26:00)
  • What life as a pro athlete with NorCal Distance looked like, and why Rolanda decided to move back to New York (41:00)
  • On finding “balance” when you work in the running industry (49:00)
  • On attending the “All Crews One Run” in NYC earlier this summer, and Roland shares her own experiences with racism (56:00)

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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