You represented the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics. How was your experience at your first ever Olympic games? What were the three learning you got from them?
Becoming an Olympian was such an incredible experience! I was so lucky that I could experience the whole thing with 8 of my other teammates from the Bowerman Track Club. It was also so great to have my family there- my boyfriend, parents, both my brother and sister, and one aunt and uncle all made it down to Rio to cheer me on. I tried to soak up as much of the experience as I could while also focusing on my event and trying to treat it as any other race. It is all so exciting and there is so much going on, so much stimulation, but my teammates and I were trying to block most of that out and just focus on doing the job we went there to do and trying to finish as high as possible against the best athletes in the world. What surprised me the most about the experience was that instead of feeling like I had checked the box by becoming an Olympian, instead the experience just made me hungry for more! As soon as the Games were over I started thinking about Tokyo in 2020 and how much more I could accomplish there!
You have spoken greatly about the importance of taking care of your health and recovery from injuries, as it is a must for everyone, most importantly for athletes. How have your own injuries helped you realize the importance of recovery?
As athletes, we are always riding that fine line between greatness and injury. Sometimes, try as we might, we go over that line and end up hurting ourselves. I have definitely dealt with my fair share of injuries over the past few years as a pro athlete. It is one of the most frustrating things for an athlete when their body does not cooperate with them and it feels like no matter what you do you end up on the sidelines. It can be a very dark and challenging time, but I have found that I was able to learn something about myself and my body each time I got injured. For one, swimming has now become a regular part of my regimen even when I am healthy. I have found that for me if I replace a second run in the afternoon a couple times a week with a swim instead, that will help me stay more fit (such good cardio) without any extra pounding on my muscles and bones. It also serves as a sort of flush for the legs, a great form of active recovery. I’ve also learned that its so important to really know and listen to your own body and that truly every athlete is different. Right now I can’t run as many miles per week as Shalane can, I’ll end up injured. And that is okay! I’ve been able to slowly increase my mileage from 30-35 miles per week in high school to 55-60 miles per week in college to 75-80 miles per week so far as a pro. As I keep getting stronger and able to handle more, I will continue to challenge myself, but its important to not compare myself to anyone else but myself and focus on my own journey and my own needs.
Message for Women Fitness on our 19th Anniversary?
I love that there is a huge push for active women right now in our society. It’s incredible to see what female athletics is doing right now to push the boundaries and push each other. Women compete against each other for plenty of things that we shouldn’t (i.e. men, beauty pageants), but it’s inspiring to see women competing for titles like “Fastest Woman in the World.” Especially in my event, the steeplechase, which is still so new (steeplechase first appeared for women in the Olympic Games in 2008), the momentum for women has been growing. While the steeplechase used to be an event that both women and men would enter if they couldn’t be successful in other events like the 1500 m or the 5000 m, now the steeplechase is recognized as a legitimate and competitive event in it’s own right. And that kind of competition, where women line up and after months and years of training as hard as they can they try to test themselves against other women in a competition to see who is the fastest, that kind of competition is so awesome.
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