A day in the life: Runner Deena Kastor's balancing act

When it comes to modern American distance running, few names dominate more than that of Deena Kastor.

The 44-year-old runner from Mammoth Lakes, California, holds the American record in the marathon (2 hours, 19 minutes, 36 seconds), in addition to owning a bronze medal in the distance from the 2004 Athens Olympics. She also holds the American half-marathon record, and has held the American record in the 5,000 meters. She is a beast on cross country courses as well, winning two silver medals (in 2003 and 2004) at the World Cross Country Championships.

Not content to stop there, Kastor has crushed the competition at the masters level, too. In 2014, she set four world masters records in the span of one race, the Philadelphia Rock-in-Roll Half Marathon.

Today, Kastor's life no longer revolves around racing, but she will tell you it's certainly no less full. Mom to 6-year-old Piper and president of the Mammoth Track Club, she's also at work on a memoir designed to inspire positivity. Her days are varied and packed from sun up to sun down. "Before Piper, my day was eat, run, eat, massage, nap, eat, run, eat, sleep," she says. "It was simple, focused, and a bit mundane, but it allowed all my physical and mental energy to hammer 140-mile weeks while the remainder of the time was focused on recovery."

These days, not so much. "I am only running 50 miles a week and I'm exhausted, more so than when I was running over a hundred miles per week," she says. "I went from years of a rigid training schedule to learning to be uber-flexible."

But she also says she wouldn't have it any other way. Take a look at a typical day in the life of Deena Kastor:

Kastor's days in snowy Mammoth Lakes begin with getting Piper ready for school and taking care of the family dogs. "My morning is a rush of shoveling snow in the dark, feeding my family -- dogs and fish included -- making Piper's lunch, dressing her, warming the car and gathering her backpack," she says. "My shoelaces are untied as I shuffle across the driveway with my arms weighed down with school and running gear."

After dropping Piper off at school -- and sometimes volunteering there -- Kastor either heads out with the Mammoth Track Club team or on her own for some training. "Sometimes we run around town and sometimes we drive 30 minutes to do a workout at lower elevations," she says. "Whether training with my teammates or grabbing some alone time, running continues to offer a beautiful blend of social and solitude."

Next up, Kastor settles in for some writing, working on the memoir that she will publish in spring of 2018. She hopes the book will serve to help others shift to an optimistic mindset. "I've been on a huge personal mission over the past decade for my voice -- external and internal -- to be a positive one and to show others that shift can radically change their mentality and performance," she explains.

After picking Piper back up from school, Kastor often finds herself shuffling between ice skating lessons, cross-country skiing or sledding. In addition: "I might try to squeeze in laundry, visit with a girlfriend, return emails, work on grants for the club, or talk to my agent," she explains. A skilled cook, Kastor often receives produce shipments from a local farm. "Dinner revolves around whatever is fresh and available," she says. "I don't get in a second run and opt to prepare dinner with Piper. She loves to gather a platter of appetizers while I begin cooking."

After the meal with Piper and husband Andrew, it's time to wind down for the evening. Kastor often uses this time to read to Piper before she heads off to bed. "Flexibility and being in the moment have helped me so much," she says. "When I'm running, I'm all about the run. When I'm with Piper, I'm immersed in being a mom. I'm proud to always give 100 percent to what I am doing."