Colleen Quigley is gearing up for her second go at the Olympics, and she just announced what brand she'll be repping at the 2020 Games. The pro runner has partnered up with Lululemon to become the brand's latest ambassador.
If you've followed Quigley's career, then you know she took home eighth place in the 3000-meter steeplechase event at the Rio Olympics in 2016 — and that she was signed with Nike at the time. Quigley parted ways with Nike and her training group the Bowerman Track Club this year when it came time to renegotiate her contract, a decision that she's now opening up about. (Related: Lululemon's New Campaign Highlights the Need for Inclusivity In Running)
"There were a few different components, but in the end, it came down to values," she tells Shape. "I felt like I was being undervalued by my sponsor and wanted to feel completely supported by a brand who saw me as more than just a runner. Lululemon invested in me as a whole person and supports me in all my endeavors both on and off the track. My new coach Josh Seitz and Lululemon both have a more well-rounded approach to achieving success and happiness."
As to why Lululemon felt right, Quigley says that the brand fully embraces and celebrates every facet of who she is as a woman. "I made the choice to step away from my training group and my sponsor and my coach," she says in a campaign video for Lululemon, "and looking at another Olympic cycle, I wanted a sponsor who understood the whole me, so that anyone who followed my journey might be able to see themselves in some part of me, because they can relate to me in a myriad of different ways." (Related: 24 Motivational Quotes for Runners)
Those who have followed along with Quigley on her journey can attest that she likes to share more about her life than just running stats. The athlete started a #FastBraidFriday series in 2018 on Instagram to show how she achieves her signature braided hairstyles, and the hashtag now has more than 5,000 posts thanks to followers joining in. She's also been known to share book club posts, cooking tutorials, and dog appreciation posts on her Instagram.
The comment section of her latest IG post announcing her Lululemon partnership can basically be summed up with a simple "🙌." Numerous fellow athletes congratulated Quigley, including fellow Olympic runner Kara Goucher, who also parted ways with Nike and previously spoke out against the brand's treatment of its female athletes. "Seeing you boldly stand up for yourself makes me feel so happy, Goucher commented on Quigley's post. "All athletes deserve to be valued as whole humans. I'm sure it's been hard, but you are continuing to push for change and will ultimately make the sport safer and healthier for the next generation. My most sincere congratulations!!" (Related: Tips to Build Mental Strength from Pro Runner Kara Goucher)
As Quigley trains for her second appearance on the Olympic stage, her activewear of choice isn't the only thing that's changed. "The last time I was preparing for the Olympic Trials I was so green, so new to the pro athlete life, that I was just figuring everything out as I went," she tells Shape. "I was looking around at what other people were doing and constantly comparing myself or following along. That was an important phase of my life, and I learned a ton about what I liked and what I didn't like about being a pro and how to manage the lifestyle."
Now she says she's realized being a pro athlete doesn't have to mean being miserable, and that you can have fun along the way. "My new setup is all about doing things exactly how I want to do them, not the way anyone else thinks they 'should' be done," she says.