Heather Stephens

Legendary women who have shaped the history of the world rely on the support of a community to blaze their paths. This year, as we've expanded our Oiselle Team membership to hundreds of women across the country and various parts of the world, we’ve been introduced to an amazingly diverse and talented group, both in running and in their professional fields. With the support of a team, we as individuals are better able to achieve our athletic endeavors and reach our full potential by encouraging one another to dream big and tackle our most far-reaching goals.

My former Syracuse teammate (and now) Oiselle model + Flock member, Natalie Busby, is here to share her story about finding her wings with Oiselle and how she re-established the role of running in her life through the harsh transition to “the real world” after life in the NCAA. 


I’ve been running my whole life, well almost. When I was 5 years old, my Dad finally let me join him on a run though the trails behind our house. I didn’t always love it - I remember trailing behind my older sister and brother (and Dad on a bike), struggling to keep up with them in middle school. Occasionally I even had to resort to hopping on my dad’s bike just to finish the loop...


Running really came together for me in college, I had never before been able to share my passion for running with so many people who felt the same way I did. My four years at Syracuse were a rollercoaster of health, fitness and racing. There were certainly some highs: We placed 10th as a team at the NCAA Cross Country Nationals and I represented the USA at the junior Pan-American Games in Trinidad and Tobago. Unfortunately, there were also some lows: the worst coming towards the end of my college career when I started experiencing intense calf inflammation and pain. I put a lot of pressure on myself and the only solution that seemed reasonable to me was to keep pushing through it. It had a large impact on my performance and was physically and emotionally draining. After endless months of therapy and pushing myself through the pain during workouts, I had reached my limit. Ending track season senior year was a relief; I was just done.


After college I was eager to distance myself from running and the structured routine it had become. I took a job in New York City working as a clinical trials coordinator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  With running on the backburner, I worked and partied my way through my first year in NYC. It certainly had its moments but I always felt like something was missing. Getting back into running was a slow process that started with my decision to run the NYC Marathon in 2013 for a friend’s charity (Concern Worldwide). I did minimal training, which led to the marathon becoming officially the most painful hours of my life. I pushed my out of shape body to the max…and despite some ambitious pre-race goals, I was lucky to just finish. I remember trying to exit Central Park after the race and having to walk backwards, just to make it up a hill. Oddly enough this running nightmare inspired me to start running consistently again. In my mind, if I was able to finish that marathon I could do anything.

Running slowly creeped back into my life. I had to adjust to running on my own. But slowly I started appreciating a different side of running: running when I felt like it, taking off when I was tired, and running for an indeterminable length of time or just to brunch. A favorite long run of mine was to start at my apartment in the Upper East Side, run across Central Park to the Upper West side, down the West side highway, around Battery Park and back up to my appt via the East River.


My renewed passion for running has had a great benefit on my career by constantly reminding me of what it takes to be successful in my job and on the track. I link the ambition and success in my career as a lung cancer clinical trials coordinator to qualities that I have developed and maintained through my running; discipline, focus, efficiency, and most importantly my passion. As a member of the clinical trials team, I work to prepare new drug therapies to be approved by the FDA so they can be available to every possible patient. The work is incredibly fast paced and the stakes could not be higher. Patients need to be treated immediately and with the best and newest drugs available, as they are typically diagnosed with late stage cancer. As a result, the day-to-day work can be very stressful, yet inspiring. It’s hard not to become attached to your patients, especially because I have found that many cancer patients tend to develop an unwavering and admirable positivity and appreciation for life. While my dedication to running has helped my professional development, my work experience also inspires me to run and appreciate each chance to test my own limits. 


Running can be the constant in your life. When you’re in a bad mood, having anxiety over work or just feeling unnecessarily tired, it can bring you back and revive you. It also just happens to be the cheapest therapy available. This spring I ran the NYC half and the Boston marathon, and for the first time in a long time I felt strong. I attribute my revived fitness and happiness to finding the right balance of work, running, friends and healthy living. Connecting with other runners and joining the Oiselle Flock this fall allowed me to once again have a positive support team and all the benefits that come with it (inspiration, motivation, friendship). I was thrilled to be wearing a uniform again at Boston and inspired by the huge Oiselle crew running and cheering.

It has been so exciting to meet and run with other Oiselle Flock members in NYC. Racing is incredible and allows you to push your body to its fullest potential, but it's the grueling long runs with training partners, challenging tempos with old college teammates and easy 30 min jogs with friends that I truly love. Runners are a rare breed of people and you cant miss the opportunity to connect and share your running with others. It’s like eating the most amazing piece of chocolate cake, if there’s no one there to share a bite then the experience just isn’t quite the same.


As a way to share my enthusiasm, my former Syracuse teammate Rebekah Mackay and I have recently rejoined forces in NYC to promote how to live a healthy and active life style in a city filled with distractions. We’re eager to share our passions for running, fashion (Oiselle makes this easy) and how to be a health conscious foodie in New York! Please follow us on Instagram and spread the word! @CityBirdsNYC.  

jacquelyn scofield