Sarah Leone: Inspiration in Motion

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Newton’s First Law reminds us that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Momentum is what keeps a sprinter’s legs churning but it is also a philosophy that extends beyond the physical world. Running is a big part of what keeps Sarah Leone moving, though her inertia extends far beyond her love of the trails.

Leone, 37, has a contagious energy that radiates through her easy smile and vibrant eyes. As the Programs and Operations Director at Paradox Sports in Boulder, Colorado, her professional life centers around helping those with disabilities find adaptive ways to thrive in the outdoors -- and we aren’t just talking about walks in the park. Sarah has participated in programs that have climbed big walls in Yosemite and scaled the Grand Teton. Her ability to inspire the world through positive change is downright contagious. When it comes time to recharge her own spirits, running plays a big part in keeping her life balanced.

“My favorite games as a kid involved running around,” says Sarah, explaining how she discovered her love of running. “I formally got into running as a freshman in high school at the advice of my big brother. He thought it would be fun if we ran track together. I loved everything about it and never stopped!”

At the Bolder Boulder.
At the Bolder Boulder. Courtesy of Sarah Leone

Through the years, running has evolved into a deeper experience for her.

“Running changed my life. It was a huge part of what shaped me in high school and college to be the person I am today. It builds confidence, teamwork and a healthy lifestyle. It makes you pay attention to your body, work through emotions, concentrate on how your form affects performance and injury prevention and builds a natural mental toughness in you. It created a positive social scene, life-long friendships and travel opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise,” says Sarah. “I also love the camaraderie ingrained in the running community, especially coming from a cross country runner background where it's such a team sport. Usually runners will give each other a wave, a hello, a smile or a head nod. We're no longer strangers passing each other on the trail... we're one big runner family. We get each other and know the ups and downs we all go through. It's meaningful in different ways to everyone and I respect that shared understanding.”

Though she spends a great deal of time traveling with Paradox Sports, it’s her hometown trails in Boulder that provide her with a place to fully indulge in a true mind/body experience while on the run. Whether on the flat, scenic vistas of Marshall Mesa or pushing up 1,800 vertical feet on Mount Sanitas, Sarah’s passion for life is embodied in her approach to running.

“Running is almost like meditation for me now,” she says. “I keep a very busy life so this is my outlet for some quiet, reflective time. Even though I'm in motion, my mind is still... listening to the crunch of the trail under my feet, concentrating on my breathing, taking the time to soak up the warmth of the sun, the beautiful scenery and the sounds of wildlife around me. I am so at peace when I run, even when I'm pushing it! It's always refreshing for my spirits.”

Sarah at work with Paradox Sports.
Sarah at work with Paradox Sports. Sarah Leone

Sarah also enjoys group runs and events. She’s a regular at the Flatirons Running Group and makes the time to partake in a few events every year, such as Boulder’s classic Bolder Boulder 10k. In the future, she has her eyes on the Dipsea Race (America’s oldest trail race) and a marathon along the Great Wall of China.

As a parting thought, Sarah offers up an insightful piece of advice on making the effort to be fully engaged in the entirety of the running experience. “If you usually wear a watch, heart monitor, mileage tracker… leave it all at home once in a while. Enjoy the fundamentals of running without any pressure or expectations. It's magical.”

The joy and positivity Sarah has cultivated from running is an inspiration both on and off the trail. It is the foundation that helps fuel her perpetual energy and wherever she goes, she leaves a wake of enthusiasm, laughter and hopeful spirits. Her grace and dedication are the embodiment of Newton’s law, with a little twist: a life in motion tends to stay in motion.

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