Chirine Njeim: The Final Months to Rio
Share Button

“Being positive and enjoying the journey is what matters the most.” Chirine Njeim

We have been following Chirine Njeim’s get ready for the Summer Olympics in Rio in a series of posts. We initially talked to her about her life journey from the 3 year old girl skiing in Faraya, to representing Lebanon 3 consecutive times at the Winter Olympics as an Alpine Skier, to her transition to a marathoner who will be representing Lebanon at the Summer Olympics in Rio this summer, and her preparations for Rio.

This time, as time is ticking away rather quickly until Rio, we were curious to find out about the progress in her training.

Chirine2

Chirine a fun race with her coworkers. Team “Livongo Health”

Chirine is currently getting very excited about Rio, which is only a couple of months away. Naturally she is feeling quite nervous as well but she continues to push herself day to day, and every day she continues to learn something about herself and running. She told us that training for a marathon, and teaching your body to go faster, is not something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of patience, dedication, and focus. Part of training for Rio or any marathon is learning how to listen to your body and having fun. Chirine feels like she is still learning how to listen to her body and has been learning to be patient during training.

Here is a good example to what happens when you don’t listen to your body: Just last week, Chirinie decided to run a half marathon. This was not part of the plan that her coach had provided her with, but rather a spur of the moment decision she made on her own. Going into this race, she already was feeling tired from the workouts of the week but she let the excitement of the race take over.

Naturally Chirine had informed her coach that she was going to participate and he approved. Little did she know, he was trying to teach her a lesson. He wanted her to understand that it is always essential to plan ahead before a race day. He wanted her to understand that our bodies are not machines and that if we don’t give ourselves enough time to prepare, both mentally and physically, our bodies will fail us. She went into that race unprepared. Her legs were tired and mentally she wasn’t so sure to why she was racing, so overall it didn’t turn out to be a great racing day, but a very good lesson.

Trusting the process and the training plan is so key! Understanding why your coach is making you do some workouts on certain days and in a certain way, is so important. She used to think that she can switch things around, add more miles when possible, but that doesn’t work. Trust your coach, the plan he has set for you, and just run!

Her workout routine is still the same since the previous time we spoke to her. She runs to and from work every day and takes Sunday off to recover her body and mind. She actually looks forward for that day to relax with her husband Ronny and her dog.

Chirine relaxing with her dog

Chirine relaxing with her dog

Chirine adds that emotionally, running can definitely be tiring, especially after a bad workout or race, but she fortunately is surrounded by a strong support system, that includes her family, friends, and coach. They always help her understand the positive aspect of every bad day. They help her always take the good from the bad and move forward.

When training, Chirine does not like to waste her energy by focusing on whom will she be competing against. She focuses on herself, on her preparation, on things in her control, while also enjoy the run. Her goal is to be 100% healthy, strong, and confident when she will be standing behind the starting line on August 14th. On a final note, Chirine adds that making it to Rio, and being able to represent her country in the marathon means a lot to her.

We’re rooting for you Chirine! #Chirine2Rio

A relaxing day with her husband Ronny and their dog.

A relaxing day with her husband Ronny and their dog.

Chirine Njeim: Training for Rio
Share Button

The last time we spoke to Chirine Njeim, we learnt about her life journey from the 3 year old girl skiing in Faraya, to representing Lebanon 3 consecutive times at the Winter Olympics as an Alpine Skier, to her transition to a marathoner who will be representing Lebanon at the Summer Olympics in Rio this summer.

This time, we were curious to find out how she is currently preparing for the Summer Olympics in Rio this summer.

12783734_10153938316413996_1638254117459237204_o

Chirine is currently working on getting stronger, building mileage and getting back in the routine of training. She does two hard workouts during the week and one long mileage run on Saturday.  The remaining days, she allows her body to recover from the workout from the previous day.

11960034_10156029260350434_8945765969881165788_n

For most people, simply adding a 20 minute workout at the gym to our schedule is challenging so we were curious by how Chirine, who has a full-time job and is married, can train so rigorously for the Olympics without affecting her life and  sustain a social life. According to her, it’s simply about finding a good balance and making it work.  For instance, Chirine runs an hour to work every morning. She takes a backpack with her work clothes and showers at the gym located in her office building. On the way back, she runs the shorter route which is around 30 minutes away.  She usually arrives home around the same time as her husband does and enjoys the evening with him and their dog. If she has a dinner or an event to attend after work, she simply makes some adjustments to her morning run by running longer or getting her workout done then. According to Chirine, the success to running is to be flexible and not to allow the workout or run to become a burden.

IMG_6520

Even when traveling, Chirine does not stop.  She continues to run while on vacation and uses it as an opportunity to explore new places and take some great photos. For example, on a recent vacation to Nicaragua, she went for a run on the beach, which as most of you may know, is a tougher run.  During that early morning run, she got the opportunity to see the early fishermen come to shore providing her with the chance to capture some great photos like the one below.

image1 (1)

She later came to Lebanon where she stayed with her family at a chalet in Ouyoun El Simane and Chirine being Chirine, took the opportunity to run at a higher altitude whilst breathing the amazing fresh crisp air.

 

Well now that we’ve gotten an idea of Chirine’s approach to training, we wanted to understand what she eats while training for the Olympics.  We discovered that she is a very healthy eater and that breakfast is her favorite meal of the day.

IMG_6725

Chirine usually has yogurt with granola and fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and has a handful of almonds or an apple for her afternoon snack.  For dinner, she always has chicken or fish with some veggies and carbs such as rice, quinoa, or potato. She also ensures that she drinks a lot of water during the day, and rehydrates after a long run with an electrolyte drink called “Nuun.”

image1

For those of you wondering if she has any of those yummy food we all tend to crave such as cookies and fries… yes she does! Chirine makes it a point not to restrict herself from eating anything, but she just makes sure she doesn’t eat them every day.

image3

Chirine was recently in Lebanon as an ambassador for BMA, as a youth idol. She got to spend time with teenagers who participated in the youth race inspiring them and encouraging them to follow their dreams and push their limits. The children got to spend a few hours with her during which there was a Q&A session, some stretching and running, followed with lunch.

Every place has it is beauty. Lebanon in general was more than training to me, because I finally had the chance to see and feel the support and love I have from everyone there. My experience there was everything I needed to keep pushing towards my goal.

image2

Stay tuned for more updates on Chirine’s road to Rio, Support her by using the #chirine2RIO

Follow her event as she participates in the marathon at the olympics this year

 

 

Chirine Njeim: The Journey to Rio
Share Button

“From a very young age, my parents taught me that nothing is impossible,”

This is how Chirine Njeim simplifies her journey from a toddler skiing in Faraya to three-time Olympic Alpine Skier to Olympic Marathoner.

Chirine has represented Lebanon in 3 consecutive Winter Olympics Games as an Alpine Skier and is currently training for the Summer Olympic Games as a marathoner. In addition to being the first Lebanese woman to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games in the marathon distance, Chirine is one of the few athletes to participate in both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

A young Chirine.

A young Chirine.

 

How it all started:
Chirine, whose parents were hikers and skiers, was born into that life. At the mere age of 3, when most children stumble while walking, she was skiing the slopes of Faraya in Lebanon. Even at that young age, she loved the exhilarating sensations of going down a ski slope. She would watch professional skiers compete on television and tell her mother that she wants to compete in similar competitions.

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 6.59.08 PM

Champ from a young age!

At the age of 10, Chirine joined the Ski Club in Faraya and participated in women’s competitions, which she won at the age of 11. Her coach saw her potential and recommended that she travels abroad to get more professional training. She moved to Annecy in France where she intensively trained for 2 years. She hated being away from home and spent one too many nights feeling homesick but she was determined to continue with her training.

Representing Lebanon.

Representing Lebanon.

A couple of years later, Chirine moved to Salt Lake City in Utah to attend Rowmark Ski Academy. At 18, she participated in her first Winter Olympics in 2002. that was later followed by the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 7.05.09 PM

Love found on a plane:
After one of her visits to Lebanon, Chirine met a man called Ronny Kamal on a 13-hour flight between Dubai and Utah. They spent the flight chatting, drinking, and dining – the perfect first date at the cruising altitude of 39,000ft. Following their perfect first date, the duo started a long-distance relationship since Ronny lived in Chicago. He would come out to support her and encourage her at competitions and the Olympics. The couple married a few years ago and Chirine moved to Chicago to be with her husband.

2010 Winter Olympics. Vancouver, Canada.

From Alpine Skier to Marathoner:

During her first year in Chicago, Chirine had to wait for a lot of paperwork and her work visa, which resulted in a lot of free time for the first time in her life. This is when Chirine started to casually run. With Rony they both ran their first 8km together and found it fun so they decided to run the Chicago Marathon. Chirine finished her first Marathon in 3 hours and 7 minutes. She got hooked on running and was determined to train for more competitions.

Chirine joined a running club and met other people who have helped her along the way. According to her, joining a running club has several benefits including the fact that even when she would feel like skipping a training session, knowing that there is a team waiting for her would force her to go. Additionally, with a running club she managed to learn more about the sport and her body, as well as learn from others’ experiences.

2015 Beirut Marathon.

2015 Beirut Marathon.

The Journey to Rio
Chirine qualified to run the Summer Olympics in Rio taking place this year. She is currently training for it and we will be following her news throughout. Stay tuned to our blog for updates.

The official hashtag for Chirine’s news leading up to the Olympics: #chirine2rio

We’re rooting for you Chirine!