Maria Polyzou – Interview with a legend…

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Hi friends 🙂

Today I am beyond excited to share with you something that I have dreamt of for quite some time now. An interview with Maria Polyzou, who is to my opinion, one of the greatest athletes of our time. You can read her story here, in my introductory post about her.

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Olympic Games, ATLANTA 1996

Q: When did you start running and how did you know that this would be a life career for you?

A: I started running when I was 12 years old. I loved it from the very first time. I felt free and my mind would keep dreaming during a run. I learnt about the marathon when I was about 15 years old, and since then I knew that this was “my” distance, this was exactly what I wanted to run for. I believe I was born to run… Through running I can improve myself and I can be creative. Running makes me feel alive.

Q: Who is Maria Polyzou? Tell us 3 of your strengths and 3 of your weaknesses.

A: I don’t know who is Maria Polyzou yet, but there is one thing that I know for sure. I loveScreen Shot 2016-02-26 at 23.15.39.png running and the marathon (both running for it and what it stands for), and I also love life. Can’t point out what my strengths are, the only thing I am certain about is that nothing is impossible… I am the kind of person that will fight with everything I have in order to achieve my goal. I almost never feel physically tired, but I can sometimes feel emotionally drained through all my efforts.

Q: What keeps you motivated through a training cycle? How do you deal with “bad” running days?

A: Even though exercising can always make you feel healthy and clear your mind, there are always days when you don’t feel like training or running at all. Despite that there is always a way to change your perception and the way you feel and be ready for your run/training. Sometimes that could be simply a few moments of peace and quiet, your favorite song, a movie that motivates you or your own dream of what you want to achieve. And finally what always motivates me is MY GOAL! And this is what can be one of the biggest sources for motivation. SET YOUR GOAL AND SEE IT EVERY DAY… THIS IS WHEN YOU’LL NEVER FEEL TIRED.

Running the NYC Marathon – with Katerina Katopi

Q: The legendary 524km from Athens to Sparta back to Athens and then Marathon. How did you make the decision to do it and why? What kept you going?

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 21.59.03A: The decision to run from Athens to Sparta and back to Marathon, 524km (325 miles) was one of the biggest and most important decisions of my life. I knew it would not be easy… I knew i would have to risk everything, even perhaps my own life, to accomplish this unimaginable goal. There is always this one idea, that is worth more than you and your ego, that is bigger than everything you know. I run that distance to pay my respects and honor all those who fought at the battle of Marathon 2.500 years ago. To spread the word of how important it is to respect and remember our country’s history and to pass along the message that no goal is impossible if it is something sacred and so much bigger than just you.

(You can find Maria’s book here)

Q: What was the most challenging part of this endeavor and what difficulties did you face?

A: This endeavor was filled with obstacles from the very beginning. When I started this journey (July 26th) there was a heat wave raging throughout Greece, with temperatures between 38C (100F) to 42C (107F), and that made the looming distance even more challenging. I had never run longer than the 42km (26.1 miles) of a marathon, and with no adequate training I had to run 524km (325 miles). To me that looked like I had a week to get to them and no idea whatsoever how I will achieve this goal. Completing this incredible distance was all about my mind’s strength and my positive thinking. Through this journey I discovered that if you believe in your goal with all you have then your inner strength will give you what you need to achieve the impossible.

Q: What were your thoughts and feelings after you crossed the finishing line?

A: The feelings that rushed through me were indescribable… I had made it to the Tomb

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Maria Polyzou & daughter Agapi in training 

of Marathon alive, and I ended this “pilgrimage” by kneeling and paying my respects to those 192 Marathon soldiers. YES… there are times in life when you go beyond your limits as a human being and this was one of those times for me. One of the things that kept me going is my daughter Agapi (Love), the thought of being with her and being there for her. To be able to see her growing up and chasing her own dreams. She is the one achievement that I am more proud than anything else. She is my brightest accomplishment and she is the reason why I am still trying for every one of my goals.

Q: When was the idea for Marathon team Greece born and how did it start?

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 22.10.58A: The team “MARATHON TEAM GREECE by Maria Polyzou” was created during late 2011. It was something I longed to do for a very long time. For me it is my life’s work. It is very challenging to coach people but not just their bodies, to also coach their minds, “soul and body” (ΨΥΧΗ ΤΕ ΚΑΙ ΣΩΜΑΤΙ). All the members of the team are also striving to achieve their own goals and accomplish new PRs. Also we are trying to be an active member of our community and help as many people as we can during these tough times. Through one of our team’s community programs called “Marathon 42.195” we managed to provide more than 20.000 portions of food for the NPO “WE CAN”, with the slogan “no food portion goes to waste”. Our goal is to reach 42.195 portions of food, the same number as the meters in a Marathon. This year we started to support “VISION OF HOPE”, dedicated to help children with cancer, while we are also trying to raise awareness for people to donate bone marrow. Our goal is to make our running meaningful in as many ways as possible.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: I believe that the more you can offer to others, the better person you become. My plan is along with my team to provide as much as we can to people in need. I don’t run for me anymore but for everyone in need…

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Running with Marilena (the story of this amazing little girl is coming to the blog soon!)

Q: What else do you enjoy apart from running?

A: I enjoy everything in life. I am trying to be creative every single moment and I am always grateful and full of LOVE.

Q: What would be your advice for beginner runners?

A: Beginner runners should always consult with a coach, in order to avoid mistakes that could lead to injuries. With proper guidance they can safely enjoy running, improve their health and achieve PRs.

Q: Thank you so very much for taking the time to answer my questions. I greatly appreciate it.

A: It was my pleasure, I wish you all the best.

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A few words from Maria’s book…

I decided to close the interview with this picture. To me this is everything that Maria Polyzou stands for. This is the flame from the Tomb of Marathon (Greece) which has been transferred all the way to Germany, to Dusseldorf’s marathon, to illuminate the values that a marathon stands for and spread the light…

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I really hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did! More to come soon! Next interview on the blog will be from one of my very favourite bloggers! Stay tuned…

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4 thoughts on “Maria Polyzou – Interview with a legend…

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