Runners: Rebecca Johansson

The Runners profile is posted at the new Running Shorts on Friday mornings. Today, meet Greensboro's Rebecca Johansson.

Runners: Rebecca Johansson

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The Warmup




Greensboro; lived in South Africa for four years before moving to the Gate City in 2019 for a second time


Husband, Sean; dog, Calley, an Australian Shepherd; cat, Socks

Day job

Full-time coach for running and triathlon, The Performance Project

Why I run

"For me, it's community. Pretty much my whole world is people involved with sport, and just seeing how it brings so many different types of people together and gives people a purpose outside of work and family. So for me, it's really a way to connect, and it is my community.”

My runner's high

“It would definitely be race days. It's like nothing else. I live for showing up to races and experiencing that.”

On growing up in Greensboro

"Greensboro has grown a lot since we first came (with her family in 1990). When we moved to Adams Farm, it was like a brand-new neighborhood. We rode bikes to our friends' houses. And I spent the whole day at the pool. That's how I got into swimming. Summer league swim team was so much fun. So that was kind of like my intro to sport when I was 7 years old.

“I didn't run growing up because I thought it was so hot in the summer. Coaches were like, 'Do track and field, do cross country,' and I was like, 'No way, it is way too hot.' So I didn't actually start running until after I graduated college. And that's when I got into triathlon and running."

A swimming career at the University of Wisconsin

"Being an NCAA athlete, and I was on a scholarship, too, you have a commitment to the university on a different level. But you're given so many opportunities at the same time. I'll never have that support system again as an athlete. You have access to physical therapists, athletic trainers, sports medicine doctors – any service that you needed was there. You had several different coaches. You had the best facilities. So I don't think I appreciated it as much as I should have because I was so young. But now, having been an athlete, I look back now and realize it was such an opportunity."


What I'm doing when I'm not running, swimming or cycling

“I’m coaching. I like to garden; I'm growing a lot of veggies. A little side hobby is expanding my knowledge with growing different types of vegetables. I'm most excited this summer about the cucumbers. I have never done it before. So that's been really cool watching those things grow.”

My running tribe

"I mainly run with my husband. And I love Strava, so I've been following a lot of local runners. So it's been nice with the pandemic calming down just being able to run into people on the trails and on the roads that I've been following on Strava. And now we're putting two and two together.”

About my gear

"I do road and trail. So my road shoe is the Hoka Rincon, and then my trail shoe is the Hoka Speedgoat. I have two of each, so I have four pairs I'm rotating."

When I run


Workout I hate

“I would say speed work. I'm not a huge fan, but I know I need to do it. There's a 5-mile tempo run that I do once every four to six weeks, and it hurts a lot.”

Workout I love

“I love doing the weekend long runs. My long runs, when I'm training for races, would range between 15 and 20 miles.”

Hype music

Pre-race meal

“Pasta with some ground turkey. And then any type of fresh vegetable."

Post-race indulgence

“A burger and a beer. I like avocado. And some bacon.”

Brush with greatness

"In college in 2004, one of my teammates, Carly Piper, qualified to go to the Olympics in swimming. And she was on the 800 free relay that broke the world record that year. So that was really exciting to get to watch her on TV. And we didn't know if she was going to be in the finals, and then they broke the world record. So that was super exciting."

Worst athletic mistake

"My first triathlon, I came out of the water first because my background was swimming, and then I didn't know how to get my wetsuit off. So it was super embarrassing. ... It was a total novice mistake not having practiced how to take it off beforehand. I was able to get the zipper down and get it down to my waist. But then I didn't know how to step out of it. So I actually had to sit down and pull it off each leg, which by then a bunch of women had already passed me into transition. So, yeah, it was pretty bad."

Last race

“Northern Trails Marathon in March 2020.”

Next race

"I am signed up for some races now, but I still haven't lined up for an actual race, because I'm just coming back from an injury. I fell running on the trails in Greensboro, and my leg hit a log so hard that I had a small muscle tear and I had a really bad hematoma. It's taken about six weeks for that to heal.

“My big goal for 2022 is to do a hundred-mile race. I’ve signed up; it’s the Zion 100 (Apple Valley, Utah).”

The cooldown

What will have my attention at the Olympics

"Watching Katie Ledecky dominate the distance swimming events. Having been a female distance summer, I just appreciate how much work that takes to be so dominant for that long in those events. So I'm really hoping that she defends her gold medals in Tokyo."

What the pandemic took away, what the pandemic gave me

"I was initially only going to start with coaching part-time and have another job as my main job. But there were several opportunities that fell through because I finished my Ph.D. (University of Cape Town, South Africa) right when the pandemic started. So it actually forced me to go all-in with starting my business and learning how to be an entrepreneur because that was my only option. I don't think I would have been brave enough to just jump in head-first like that, and the pandemic forced me to have to learn how to make it work."

What I've learned about myself from running

"It's taught me how to fail and to just keep getting back up when you fail and when things don't go right. That doesn't mean that you quit or that you're not supposed to show up to practice the next day. So it's taught me just how to overcome adversity and just keep going."

Words to the wise

"It's better to be slightly undertrained than overtrained. An extra rest day here and there can actually avoid injury. And I think endurance athletes are so prone to pushing themselves because they're very driven, they're very goal-oriented. Most of coaching is actually helping people make the right decisions in terms of resting or adjusting training based on when life stressors increase or when little aches and pains pop up."