Nadia Ruiz Gonzales is an extreme high achiever. She earned three degrees – a Bachelor’s, Master’s and teaching certification – by the time she was 20. She completed her first marathon at the age of 14 and recently, at the age of 28, she became the youngest Latina to complete 100 marathons.
Hailing from an immigrant family from Ecuador, Nadia was brought up as one of three siblings in a very close-knit family. Her family struggled their first few years in their new country, but her parents instilled an importance in the value of education in Nadia and her two siblings. She was surprisingly not the athlete of her family. In fact, getting into athletics was a sort off accident – her mother signed her up for boxing to build confidence when she began getting bullied in middle school. Her confidence grew and better yet, she found a new joy: part of the practices was running. She found she had a natural talent and passion for it. With encouragement from her sister, she joined the cross country team her freshman year of high school. She was the school’s top runner and found undefeated success for her entire high school career.
Though she took a break from running to focus on academics while in college (where she maintained a 4.0 grade scale at UCLA), she never lost the passion for it. With so much under her belt, it’s hard to imagine Nadia would have any regrets. Getting over not running for her college’s team was a challenge for her to accept and come to terms with. At a much better place with it now, she is constantly trying to better herself as a person and as an athlete each race and to encourage more people (especially Latinas) to find their dreams and chase them.
Favorite course: Nadia’s favorite trail course was the Inca Trail Marathon. It is a completely strenuous and grueling course – though she finished 13th overall, her finish time was 10 ½ hours. Her favorite road course is Rome, Italy. This marathon takes you throughout the city and past 50 different incredible landsites.
Nadia’s playlist: lots of dance, techno, house and electronic music. Nadia’s brother is the one who is constantly finding new music and creating playlists for her.
Mental training techniques and key tips for pushing past plateaus: Hitting a plateau can crush motivation and momentum. Nadia suggests changing up the workouts: add speed work, incorporate new exercises, and most importantly, have patience with yourself and your body. She utilizes her mind while training as well and is a huge advocate in the power of visualization, empowering the mind and staying positive.
Passions outside of running: education, family and encouraging others to follow their dreams and meet their goals.
What keeps her grounded? Nadia credits her husband with keeping her grounded and balanced and her parents as the people who inspire her the most.
How can Latinas lead healthier lifestyles? Nadia thinks education is key for Latinas to lead healthier lives. She feels that many see the chronic illness, like diabetes, that plague our community and resign themselves to that fate instead of recognizing that it’s not pre-determined. She feels it’s important to find an activity that’s enjoyable, whether it’s running or fitness classes, or anything else that gets a person up and moving. Furthermore, she stresses the importance of learning healthier cooking methods. She did this with her own family and completely revamped the way her mother and sister cooked, which in turn spread to her brother and father.
Connect with Nadia online!