Interview with “The Walking Diva” Yolanda Holder

Yolanda Holder after completing 3100 miles in 52 days


In this episode we bring you an interview with Yolanda Holder, the Walking Diva. She has walked over 550 marathons and ultras and has a Guinness World Record for most marathons completed in a calendar year. And in the quick tip segment Coach Angie will answer a question sent in by a listener about pursuing big goals.

Interview with Yolanda Holder


Yolanda Holder, AKA The Walking Diva, is an accomplished ultra distance race walker who has set many records and shatters the myth that you can’t accomplish awesome things as you get older.

She set the Guinness World Record (twice) for most marathons in a year.

At the Six Days in the Dome in 2019 she was the 2nd place woman and set the American & World Six Day Race Age Group Record (age 60-64) with 413 Miles.

She completed the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race -which goes around a city block in Jamaica, Queens, NYC. Runners have 52 days to complete it which averages out to 59.62 miles (95.95 km) every day.

Interesting fact! Yolanda does a headstand every day. Just another reason why she’s an inspiration! To find out more visit her website: https://www.yolandaholder.com/ and follow her on social media.

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Listener Question: Was Your Big Goal Worth It?

Hi MTA! I have been a huge fan of yours for years and love your podcast. I loved following Angie’s journey to run 50 states- what an amazing accomplishment! When I first started running marathons 10 years ago I was also inspired to run one in every state to mix my two favorite things, running and travel. Well two kids and a pandemic later, I have only checked off 10 states (22 marathons total- I need to stop running repeats!). I have two questions for you as I think of 2021 goals and beyond: 1) Are you happy you did this challenge? Do you feel fulfilled after accomplishing the 50 states challenge or did it set off a hunger to accomplish more (even though it was incredible- but now you know there are no limits!), and 2) If you think it was worth it, how do you recommend navigating this goal in a post-pandemic world when travel is tougher/more restrictive and races themselves are being cancelled? Thank you so much for your time! -Jane

From Coach Angie

Hey Jane, It’s fantastic to hear that you’ve been able to complete 22 marathons and 10 states toward your 50 state goal.  2020 was certainly a struggle when it came to checking off new states and I greatly sympathize with people who are feeling frustrated that their goals aren’t moving forward as quickly as they’d like.  Like you, my 50 State goal had a few detours as I also repeated a few states, had two pregnancies (one ending in a miscarriage), and some health struggles.

But when I look back I’m very happy that I completed the challenge.  Obviously there were times when it seemed more stressful than fun.  But that was often when I was focusing too much on the destination and not on the journey.  There would be times when it felt like I still had so far to go, kind of like during a marathon when you focus on the miles remaining.

The thing with big goals like this is that you may end up discouraged if you focus on how much you still have left rather than on what you’ve accomplished.  Yes, there are people who finish their 50 states in crazy fast time frames but most people aren’t like that.  Sometimes we have to modify our expectations and that can make the journey seem more enjoyable. It’s your challenge and you can take as much times as you need to complete it.

With that said it’s definitely tougher now to find in person races and travel can be way more complicated.  Although we’re seeing signs that more races will be opening up in the fall I’d recommend looking for smaller marathons (that have a better chance of happening) in the states that you still have left.  I’d say that every single state still has marathons going on but they’re often more unique (such as smaller numbers of runners, those with staggered starts, or those held on trails).  Good places to look for races include: Marathon Guide, Running in the USA, Ultra Sign Up, Find My Marathon, Active.com, and Run Sign Up.

This is what I’d tell anyone who is pursuing a big goal. Maybe it’s your first marathon, a Boston Qualifying time, an ultra, or a 50 State goal.

  1. Expect obstacles and challenges. There will always be bumps in the road. This is all part of the uncertainty of life.
  2. Remember that it’s your journey. Make decisions based on what’s best for you and don’t fall into the trap of thinking your path should look exactly like someone else.
  3. Enjoy the process. If you can’t find joy and fulfillment in the journey it won’t be waiting for you at the destination.
  4. Think outside the box. Work the problem. It might take more creativity and patience but being able to see (and run) in every US State is an awesome running and travel goal.
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