Sarah Fuller is known to step up to challenges. On November 28, 2020—just six days after winning the Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship with the Vanderbilt University women’s soccer team—she became the first woman to play in a Power Five conference football game for the Commodores. Two weeks after that historic kickoff, she became the first woman to score in a Power Five football game, kicking an extra point.
Her next challenge? The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) added Fuller to its team of eight trailblazing women to participate in the 126th Boston Marathon on April 18 in honor of the 50th anniversary of women’s inclusion. It’s Fuller’s first marathon, which she trained for while also practicing with the University of North Texas soccer team, where she’s getting her masters in hospital administration.
Runner’s World caught up with Fuller, who will play goalkeeper this summer for the pre-professional Minnesota Aurora FC soccer team, to learn about her marathon training, race-day nutrition, feeding off the crowd, and more.
Runner’s World: Why did you decide to run the Boston Marathon?
Sarah Fuller: The Boston Marathon people reached out to me to represent one of the original women that ran in honor of the 50th anniversary. I thought it was a really cool opportunity, and it felt like I could accomplish it if I put in the hard work. It’s been a really amazing journey training for this, and I’m really excited to go to Boston. I’ve never been before.
It’s such an honor. I think it shows how far we’ve come in 50 years, when women were being shoved off the track and told that we couldn’t run. Now, there’s me, who has played football and is also getting to run the Boston Marathon. So it’s kind of crazy, it’ll be cool to see how far women will be in another 50 years’ time.
How has training been going?
It’s been good. I actually hit 20 miles on Saturday. And I was like, okay, if I can reach that, I feel like I can complete the marathon. So I’ve been very, very proud of myself.
I’ve never once run a marathon. I haven’t run much more than five miles at one time. I’m kind of adapting, because I’m also playing soccer while training for a marathon. So, having to be diligent about my training and being smart about nutrition, it’s definitely taught me how to be a better athlete.
Have you planned out your nutrition and hydration for the race?
Oh yeah. When I first started running, I was trying out different things—trying stuff with caffeine and sugar—and it did not go well. The first time I ran 13 miles, it was awful because I had a sugar crash around mile seven and was so tired. Then, I came across UCAN [Fuller is sponsored by UCAN], and I’ve been using their gels during runs and their protein drinks.
I got a little fanny pack that I’m gonna wear and use, because one thing I’ve learned while doing all my research is, don’t try anything new on race day.
Did you find that there was any crossover, mentally or physically, between training for soccer or football and the marathon?
Everybody talks about “the wall” with running, and how you have to be mentally tough to get through that. I’d say it’s similar. With football, you have to be mentally locked in and block everything out when you’re scoring PATs, kickoffs, whatever. And same thing with being a goalkeeper. I always say during a soccer game, if I’m not mentally exhausted by the end of the game, I wasn’t doing my job. Because I think of it as a chess game. And so I compare that to running a marathon as well. You have to keep talking to yourself and motivating yourself to move forward and, in a sense, make the right decisions.
Whether kicking a field goal in a football stadium or saving a goal on the soccer field, you’re used to those loud, high-pressure situations. Do you think you’ll feed off the energy of the crowd in Boston?
Oh, yes, for sure. I’ve been running by myself on very lonely trails for training. And honestly, what’s been exciting is just hearing how amazing the crowd is in Boston. I feel like that’s going to be a huge motivating factor to keep pushing. People who’ve experienced Boston and run it before have just said it’s incredible, so that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.
Do you have a specific race goal in mind?
Given this is my first one, I just want to be able to cross the finish line, and I’ll be very proud of that.
Do you think you’ll run another marathon?
I’ll see how this one goes. I know this is gonna be great, so we’ll just have to see.