Friday, March 30, 2018

Guinness WR Holder and Lumberjill Champion - Erin LaVoie

Today we take a break from our weekly Track and Field post and meet with Guiness World Record Holder, Crossfit Affiliate Owner, and World Champion Lumberjill Athlete, Erin LaVoie.  The sport of Lumberjill/Jack takes strength, speed, skill, endless practice, and determination like no other and Erin has proven over and over again that she possesses all of those traits.

For our athletes:  Now that we are in competition season pay close attention to Erin’s take on Questions 2.  Obstacles will always pop up, something will always get in your way.  Fix it and move on!

Thanks a lot Erin, good luck this season!

1. How did you get started in your sport?

- I was going to school for Forestry at a local Community Collage (Spokane, WA.) The school had a Lumberjack team that practiced down the hallway from my classes.  I have always been in sports, any kind of sport as long as I can remember.  Whatever it was, I wanted to do it.  So naturally, I stumbled into the practice room one day to check it out.  That day was the first day I had picked up an axe.  All of a sudden I was standing on top of a log and swinging that axe in between my feet.  I was intrigued for sure.  I placed in a couple events in my first collegiate competition, then started signing up for some competitions on the Professional Circuit.

2. How do you overcome obstacles in your training/career?

- Some might say that I am pretty unemotional and very driven.  After my sights get set on something - that is all that matters.  If a problem shows up that interrupts my end goal I simply fix it.  It really is just that easy.  I also take set-backs as opportunities to grow - So they don't bother me, they are challenges (I love challenges), that I get to work through and come out stronger/better on the other end.

3. What is your favorite and/or most important exercise for your sport?

- I do CrossFit to stay in the best shape I can for life as well as my sport.  It really helps me keep fit in the off season, when wood is less available to train with.  CrossFit is an amazing "Core to Extremity" ideology, which transfers over to every sport - including swinging an axe, or moving a crosscut saw.  I can mimic a lot of the chopping/sawing movements inside the gym through certain movements, but I like to do everything to keep myself well-rounded.  I think the best type of workout for the sport is definitely interval training.  My favorite is the "Tabata" Clock.  Its a number of rounds of :20 of work, followed by :10 of rest.  I usually chose 2-4 movements, and repeat this interval for 8 rounds of each movement.  It most mimics the 0 to 100 to 0 output that is our sport.

4. What advice would you give to a young athlete?

- Win - Or keep trying!  Have Fun.  And shake everybody's hand along the way no matter what.

5. How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?

- Huge!!!  You can not out train your diet!  Basically if you don't fuel the machine properly, it will not run properly, and definitely not at its best.  Like untying your shoes and going for a sprint.  Its do-able but it doesn't let you do your best, and it opens doors for potential set-backs - falling.  Or with food, the set back would be getting sick from not having all the nutrients you need.

Keep up with Erin’s training at: the_lumberjill on Instagram

Monday, March 19, 2018

Team New Balance athlete Emily Durgin

Coming off a 5th place win at the 2018 USA CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS, Emily Durgin of Team New Balance took the time to talk with us as we begin our 2018 Spring Track Season.  Emily has an impressive College and Pro background including multiple 1st place wins at both the Indoor and Outdoor American Athletic Conference Competitions and is already taking 2018 by storm.

You all read in this interview how she overcame obstacles by speaking with successful athletes who accomplished what she dreamed of.  If anything, that is the main purpose of this blog.  Remember that all athletes are faced with challenges but it’s the ones who work passed them and never quit that find/earn success.

Good luck this season Emily, thanks for speaking with us!

1: How did you get started in your Sport?

Track and Field has been a part of my life since I was 10-years-old.  In the summer I was part of the Windham Summer Track and Field team in Maine.  I was persuaded to join the team by one of my childhood friends.  She had done summer track for the past few years and was extremely happy when I committed to trying it out.  I started out like any other young Track & Field athlete by trying every event available in the sport.  This included high jump, discuss, and the 200 meter dash.  In USATF Track & Field they run the 1500 meter one week and the 3000 the next.  My dad had mentioned that I enter the 1500 to try the shorter of the two distance events.  As soon as the words came out of his mouth I started bawling, and I said that the race was way too far.  After this moment my coach who was on the high school track team at the time came up to me and stated that she thought I would do great in the 1500.  I instantly had a change of heart when the statement came from an athlete I admired.  I ended up entering the race and winning by over 10 seconds.  The following week I did the 3000 meter and took first place again.  This was the beginning of my career and how the sport of Track & Field came into my life.  Every race I compete in I fall more in love with my sport.

2: How do you overcome obstacles in your training/career?

Over the past 13 years I have had to overcome multiple obstacles including injuries, learning how to race at the next level, and trusting the process.  I have overcome all the injuries that I have had in the past few years by learning from them.  Injuries have taught me a lot about my training and how important it is to listen to my body.  I have been able to overcome obstacles such as bad races and questioning my training by communicating more with my coach and athletes that have accomplished what I evasion myself doing.  I think it is important to surround yourself with positive influences and understand that in life and in our sport there is always going to be highs and lows, and learn to own both equally.

3: What is your favorite and/or most important exercise for your sport?

My favorite and what I believe is the most important exercise is flexibility and core strength.  I think it is extremely important to do strengthening exercises that incorporate ankle and hip flexibility.  Being a distance runner I still like to do a few explosive type exercises but mainly do core and glute work in my lifting routine.

4:  What advice would you give a young athlete?

The #1 advice I would give to young athletes is to always look at the big picture.  If you plan to continue the sport in college and even post collegiately you cannot get so wrapped up in being perfect all the time.  Running has always been one of my biggest joys in life and this is because I never let the sport become a task.  I encourage young athletes to set their goals high and work hard because I know that to be successful you have to do these two things, but always remember to stop and ask yourself what you envision long term.

5:  How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?

Nutrition is a huge part of running and for me one of the parts of training that I am constantly trying to work on.  It is so important to fuel your body with the right nutrients, and I continue to learn how to better my nutrition which will benefit my training.  Nutrition will forever be an ongoing topic for runners and non-runners.  It is constantly changing and everyone has different views on it.  For me I think it is most important to learn what works best for you as an athlete and make sure you are recovering properly with carbohydrates and protein after hard sessions.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

2 times OLYMPIAN Kim Conley

Today we speak with New Balance Pro Athlete and 2x OLYMPIAN, Kim Conley.  As a 5000m runner with the success record as Kim you’ll read in her answers how important Training, nutrition, and an athletes mindset is in Track and Field.  Question 2 features some great advice that our athletes should review.  Things will always pop up, bad weather, injury, sickness, ect… just keep moving forward and don’t let anything hold you back.

Good luck this season Kim, thanks for speaking with us!

1: How did you get started in your sport?

I joined the Santa Rosa Express track team, in my hometown of Santa Rosa, CA, when I was in 6th grade. Growing up, I played soccer, basketball, softball and volleyball but once I was in high school I narrowed my focus down to cross country and track.

2: How do you overcome obstacles in your training/career?

I keep my big goals in mind but ultimately try to focus on what I can control and do well on a given day to keep me moving forward. There are always going to be setbacks, and sometimes progress isn’t going to come as quickly as we hope. Maintaining a growth mindset at all times helps keep me focused on finding ways to keep taking steps forward.

3: What is your favorite and/or most important exercise for your sport?

Track workouts! I love doing repeats on the track at race pace. The feeling of physically and mentally rehearsing for a race offers challenging and necessary preparation for competition.

4:  What advice would you give a young athlete?

Do what you love. To be great at any sport it takes years of dedication to the training and the process of mastery. If the foundation of what you do is rooted in love then you enjoy the entire process and you don’t feel as though you’re forcing yourself to work hard.

5:  How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?

I try to eat a healthy, well balanced diet. I don’t deny myself any foods I want, but I moderate foods that aren’t going to help effectively fuel my training. When I’m at home or at a training camp I cook rather than eat out, and when I’m traveling for competition I try to make healthy choices when it comes to where and what I eat.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

TEAM ADIDAS athlete Sofia Bonicalza

Coming to us today is TEAM ADIDAS, Sofia Bonicalza.  You’ll see in her answers just how important the tactical side of training is.  It doesn’t matter how hard you work if you are moving incorrectly.  Perfecting your form is a guaranteed way to increase your success in this sport.

For our athletes:  by now you should notice a consistency with the answer to #5.  EAT LIKE AN ATHLETE!

Good luck this season Sofia!  We look forward to seeing your races online.

1: How did you get started in your Sport?
I got started athletics when I was 11, after many years of classical dancing. I won the sprint competition of the school and I was so fascinate about this sport. At the beginning it was more a game then a sport, but all started to change when I was qualified for my first Italian championship.

2: How do you overcome obstacles in your training/career?
The best way to overcome obstacles in trainings and career is to have precise goals to reach. This help you to work hard and to never give up when something get wrong. The injures and others problems are part of the game, so the only thing we can do is to accept them an look forward. I think that in this my sport help even to overcome the obstacles of the entire life.

3: What is your favorite and/or most important exercise for your sport?
 My favorite exercise is the technical training : it's all about how to improve the movements of the body. And it's not so weary as others!

4:  What advice would you give a young athlete?
 To a young athlete I would say : believe in your dreams and never think you cannot do it. And of course enjoy your sport cause it will teach you a lot.

5:  How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?
 Nutrition is part of training. We are made of what we eat, so if we want to perform we need to eat healthy. The figure of the nutritionist is important almost as the coach.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Six time All American Russ Winger

 Coming to us today is a SIX TIME ALL AMERICAN Shot Put and Discus Thrower, Russ Winger.  With an impressive 21.29m Shot Put and 66.04m Discus it is no wonder he is a University of Idaho Hall-of-Famer.  He made it to the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Qualifers and was also a 2015 IAAF World Championship Team Member with the best American showing in Beijing.  From watching Russ train online I’ve found his view on fitness for throwing very impressive.  In question 4 you’ll see the importance of training like an athlete.  To many throwers neglect speed training, balance drills, and anything that isn’t heavy only to find themselves lacking in the circle.  Don’t leave room for weak points, train everything.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to speak with us Russ!

1. How did you get started in your sport?
I had played other sports growing up, but never had a chance to try track and field, so the spring of my junior year of high school, I switched over from baseball for something new. As a bigger kid, I naturally gravitated towards the throws, and I enjoyed seeing quick improvement.
2. How do you overcome obstacles in your training/career?
I tried to keep everything in perspective and understand why I was doing certain things in training to make the best plan for me. I always just tried to do the best I could with what I had. There were also times in my career when I had to ask for help. Developing a good support system is critical to overcoming bigger obstacles.
3. What is your favorite and/or most important exercise for your sport?
I don’t think you can separate one exercise from the rest of training as being more beneficial than the others. A good training plan is a combination of exercises you’re good at and you like, and exercises that you’re not good at and can make major improvements in. Both are important. I truly do not have a favorite.
4. What is one aspect of training you feel everyone needs to do?
Anything and everything that promotes general athleticism; being an athlete first and a thrower second.
5. How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?
I’d split nutrition into two categories: General/overall nutrition and training-specific nutrition. Overall nutrition encompasses hydration, timing of meals, and general quality of food. For me, that category was most important, especially early on in my career. Consistency is probably the most important thing.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Australian Hurdler Ashleigh Horrobin

Coming all the way from Australia to speak with us is 400m Hurdler, Ash Horrobin.  Discovering a love for the event at such a young age led Ashleigh to work hard and doing whatever it takes to reach her goals.  For our younger athletes trying to manage school and their sport pay attention to how Ashleigh had a similar issue with Track and a Job, you need to manage your time and find a way to make it work.  It’s not easy but it’s the only way it can happen.

Good luck this season Ashleigh, thanks for speaking with us!

1: How did you get started in your Sport?
Both my parents were 400m hurdlers so naturally they took me down to Little Athletics when i was 4. I was instantly obsessed with the sport trying every event with a love for hurdles and jumps.

2: What was a major struggle for your training and/or success
Injury and trying to balance a full time job and full time training has been the hardest part of the sport for me. I am yet to get through a full season without multiple injuries which makes it extremely tough to reach your goals but i do believe each setback has made me hungrier to work even harder while also identifies weaknesses i still need to make stronger. The other challenge i have had is balancing running and a full time job, while at first i was always tired and constantly running from one thing to the next over time i identified a daily routine that made everything more manageable.  

3: What is your current goal
After this year i learnt a valuable lesson “don’t tell people your dreams. Show them.” Putting my goals out to the world meant i felt a lot of extra pressure on myself this season. I think goal setting is so important for growing as an athlete but for this year it will be something i keep to myself and my team!  

4:  What advice would you give a young athlete
Try everything and continue with what makes you most happy. I grew up trying every sport under the sun and every event that athletics had to offer. I didn’t solely focus on track and the 400m hurdles until i was 23 and knew that was exactly what I wanted to go after! Once i did put all my efforts into the one event it was amazing how quickly i could see improvements but at the same time i have learnt you have to be patient as success definitely isn’t instant!

5:   How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?
So important! I have always been someone with a fast metabolism and never had to worry about what i eat, however little did i realize how much of a difference nutrition actual made to how i would feel day to day at training. Changing my diet to be full of nutritious and healthy foods have meant i can train much hard, feel less tired and recover faster.

3x Olympic Javelin Thrower Kara Winger

Today we speak with Kara Winger, 3x American Olympian in Javelin who set the American Record in 2010 with a 66.67 (218.8 ¾).  I was excited to hear from Kara because during my first year coaching Javelin I actually came across some of her videos on youtube which I used to refresh myself on Jav and also give to my athletes.
Something that impressed my with this interview was her take on Nutrition.  Athletes need to focus on fueling their body for their sport and not worry about staying lean.  I don’t know any athlete who never went through a time where they worried more about their looks than performance.  As a Strength Coach and gym owner I’ve had a lot of “athletes” tell me how they want a six pack so they’re going to lose weight while gaining strength, it just doesn’t work that way.

Good Luck this season Kara, thanks for taking the time to speak with our Athletes!
1. How did you get started in your Sport?
I grew up in Washington state, which is one of about 20 states in the U.S. that sanctions javelin throwing at the high school level. I played tons of different sports growing up, and had focused on softball (I was a first base(wo)man) each spring until 8th grade, when I tried track for the first time (high jump, middle distance, and a little bit of discus). I still had never heard of javelin until my freshman year, when my geometry teacher, Mr. Heidenreich, mentioned that I should try it. I resisted for a bit, but then ended up second in state that year and won the next three, and kept improving from there!
2. What was a major struggle for your training and/or success.
Injury has been my major struggle, but I don’t believe I would still be here without any of the injuries I’ve suffered. The first really major one was a back injury that sidelined me for an entire season, but also offered an opportunity to focus on weaknesses I had ignored for a while and mature in a lot of different ways. In the season I finally came back from that injury for, I made my first Olympic team and set the Purdue school record (a goal I had set four years prior). The other major struggle (that I’m enjoying right now) in my career that always brings success is purposeful change. You have to be brave enough to make changes if things aren’t working for you, and to give difficult things honest, really hard effort. In order to grow, you have to be vulnerable in new situations at certain points, and then you’ll be stronger in all aspects on the other side of those challenges.
3. What is your current goal?
Long-term: Making a fourth Olympic team in 2020. My shorter-term and more specific goals are things I like to keep fairly private between my coaches, family and myself. Life goals that I’m happy to share are to play the piano more and write more (this includes blogs specific to my career and training, so stay tuned!). Another one is to make an Olympic peninsula trip happen for my husband and I in March.
4. What advice would you give a young athlete?
Try everything. I’m a huge supporter of variety in young athletes’ sports experiences. Keep playing in as many different ways as you can for as long as you can. I swam, played basketball, and did track and field in high school, and played basketball all summer. Growing up, I played softball, soccer, and volleyball on top of basketball, and tried rowing one summer. I also simply LOVED playing games outside with my neighbors and brother. I think involvement in lots of things is so important for not only athletic development, but for relationships with teammates and simply FUN.
5. How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?
I pay attention to my nutrition, and I actually did my undergrad in Nutrition, Fitness and Health. As a thrower, it’s definitely important for me to recover from taxing workouts with specific foods and the timing of my consumption of them, but I took it too far from a lean muscle standpoint in the time period of 2011-2012. I didn’t throw well because I was too light and lean during those two seasons. I didn’t feel strong, I had a hard time recovering, I wasn’t powerful on the runway, and I ultimately tore my ACL. I firmly believe that inadequate nutrition and a focus on leanness contributed to that injury, and I always encourage people to eat healthily, but listen to their body rather than their vanity. I paid too much attention to the pressures of being a female athlete and not enough to what my body should feel like to perform at its best.

Olympic Runner Mohammed Ahmed

Coming to us today is Canadian Record Holder and 2016 Olympic 4th Place finisher in the 5000m, Mohammed Ahmed.  Ahmed is currently preparing for the 2018 Commonwealth  Games scheduled for April, which will include many of the other athletes we have recently spoken with.  In Question 2 you will see how the training never stops, once one competition is over it is time to get your mind and body ready for the next.

Good luck in April Mohammed, and thanks for speaking with us!

1: How did you get started in your Sport?
I was introduced to the sport mostly through television; watching the Golden League circuit, world championships and Olympics. I also got some exposure to it on track and field days in middle school, however I didn’t develop a passion or even consider it something I could be good at until my sophomore year of high school.

2. What is your current goal?
Currently my focus is geared towards the Commonwealth Games scheduled for the start of April with the goal of racing to my fitness and giving the best performance my body is capable of. After that I’ll hit the racing circuit—primarily in the Diamond League to work on my racing skills for the 2019 world championships and 2020 Olympic Games

3. What advice would you give a young athlete?
Have faith in yourself and focus on incremental improvements. Enjoy the process and pursuit of the goal.

4. How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?
Nutrition is a really important component of my daily training and a big part of my success so far. As the Somalis say: “caloolbaa cagaa sidaa” the legs are carried by the stomach” meaning it’s important to properly fuel your body. To not only consume something but to consume something that gives proper nutrients to your body to provide energy and maintain good health. I don’t fixate on my nutrition, but I try to aim for a consistent and moderate diet; one without too much restraints and too little discipline.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

IFBB Pro Heather Dees speaks with us from THE ARNOLD

With the Arnold Sports Festival kicking off TODAY I want to thank returning competitor, Heather Dees, for taking the time to speak with us.  After following Heather on YouTube and Instagram I can say her workouts are intense and impressive.  Plus you can never go wrong with an athlete obsessed with LEG DAY!

Good luck this weekend Heather, thanks for speaking with us.

How did you get into the sport?

This is a pretty long story but basically I feel like I fell into it. Originally i wanted to have Abs, I started my fitness journey back when I was 22 years old. I was heavier and didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I had no idea about weight training so I decided to run. After a year of running 5 half marathons I didn’t see the physique I was striving for. I still had no abs! So I met some friends at my local gym who told me they thought I should compete. I had no idea what that meant but I decided to train like I was going to compete. I met my first trainer ever (Justin Dees) through a mutual friend. I told him I wanted to compete. He said it would take some time but he believed I could get there. After 7 months of training with Justin, with him teaching me proper weight training, cardio for my goals and nutrition, my body transformed and I Won the Overall at my first show. Ever since I was hooked!

How do you overcome obstacles in your training/career?

This can vary depending on the obstacle. I had been in a car accident back in 2014 and it was in the middle of my pro career. It took a lot of time to understand what my body was going through, meeting with specialists and adjustments to my training to work my way back to the top where I originally was headed!! Other obstacles come and go and you just have to have the right state of mind and desire to guide your path forward and reach your goals.

What is your favorite and/or most important exercise for your sport?

I love training legs. I think because it has been a body part that I have needed to improve the most to make my physique balanced. Leg days are hard but it is rewarding to see the progress year after year! So with that being said, I do Leg press, lunges, sissy squats, hamstring curls etc… All the leg exercises!

What advice would you give young athletes?

Take your time in the Sport. There are so many people that want instant results and gratification. This sport is a marathon and if you take the time to put on muscle, monitor your health and train right… you will get results! I do not believe that its worth sacrificing long term health to step on stage.

How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?

Nutrition has always been a key component to getting the results you want with training. You can’t just follow what everyone else does though. You need specific nutrition guidance for your goals and your body. Everyone of the clients, I or my Husband has trained gets a very personal meal plan customized to their metabolic type.

IFBB PRO and Olympia Champion Nicole Wilkins

With the Arnold starting this week and being the owner of 3 Fitness Studios I felt like this was the perfect time to start speaking with some of the Worlds Best Bodybuilders and Fitness athletes.  In our first interview with an athlete in the sport we were able speak with one of the top in the field, Nicole Wilkins.  Nicole is an IFBB Pro Athlete with an impressive resume, including 4x IFBB Figure Olympia Champion and 3x IFBB Figure International Champion.

As a Strength coach and track coach I really want to stress how important it is to never give up despite injuries.  As you will read, Nicole ran into some knee injuries early on but didn’t give up, she refocused and found success in Fitness Competitions.  I’ve seen many athletes retire their athletic career early due to a bump in the road while others saw their misfortune as a new road for success.   For our athletes, check out her answer to #2, “You either win or learn”.  Amazing view on competing.

Thanks Nicole, good luck with your training and competitions this year.

1: How did you get into this sport?
I was a gymnast from age 8 to 19 and during high school I had two knee surgeries.  The surgeries happened around the time most athletes are recruited for college teams, so I missed out on any scholarships and could have walked onto a team.  I decided that I had more fun just weight training and couldn’t imagine doing 4 more years of gymnastics.  My freshman year in college I entered my first fitness competition and the rest is history.

2: How do you overcome obstacles in your training/career?
Nothing you do will ever be smooth and obstacle free.  Obstacles force you to think differently about a situation and overcoming obstacles teaches you lessons that will become helpful in the future.  When I am faced with one I try to think of all possible alternatives and outcomes.  I love taking risks because you either win or learn.  Trust your gut and go for it!

3: What is your favorite and/or most important exercise for your sport?
I have a lot of favorite exercises, but one of the most important would be focusing more on mobility and stretching.  Most fitness professionals do not have an issue getting in weight training/cardio workouts.  The recovery portion of fitness is often neglected and can lead to injury and decreased range of motion which will limit your progress.  Take the extra time to foam roll, do yoga and get a massage.

4:  What advice would you give a young athlete?
Be strong, be fearless, set goals high and go for them.  Enjoy the journey because it goes by fast and soak up as much as you can in the process.  Never think that you know everything because there is always more to learn.

5:  How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?
Nutrition is HUGE.  80% of the way you look and feel will come from what you put into your body.  Take care of it because it is the only one you get!

American OLYMPIAN Shelby Houlihan

Today we drop a great interview with Shelby Houlihan, a distance runner who placed 11th at the 2016 OLYMPICS. During the interview you will see how Shelby goes through the timeline of her career proving just how much time and effort is needed to succeed in this sport.  In question 8 you will see how she stayed patient and stayed the course.  Improvement takes time, you need to trust the program and work for the results.

Thank you for your time and advice, Shelby.  Good luck this season!

1) How did you get into the Sport?
I grew up around running. My mom was a professional marathon runner for Asics and my sister ran the steeplechase professionally for Brooks. I grew up watching my mom run and when I was 5, I started running myself, doing 1 mile cross cross country races. My dream was to run professionally and win an Olympic gold medal when I grew up. I was also in soccer and gymnastics but I always felt that running was going to be the sport that I was going to be good at.

2) Did you consider yourself a slow or fast developer?
I would say fast but patient. I pick up things quickly and gain fitness quickly but I’ve stayed very patient with my training. In high school, I focused mostly on speed training and was only running around 20 miles a week. My parents never made me do anything and it never felt like a job. I found the love of running on my own which I think was big for me and the reason I still absolutely love it 11 years later. Each year since my freshman year of college, I’ve only increased my mileage each year by about 10 miles a week (I started out running 30 miles/week, then 40/week my sophomore year, then 50/week junior year, etc.). Nothing happens overnight and a slow, gradual progression is always better for long term performance and staying healthy.

3) Most memorable HS Race? - My most memorable HS race would be the 1500 at the Drake relays my senior year. I was trying to get the Iowa state record which was 4:27 and going into the last lap, everyone in the stands stood up and cheered me on. I didn’t end up getting the record, running 4:28, but it was still an awesome experience.

4) Most memorable College Race? - My most memorable College race would be winning an NCAA National title in the 1500m my Junior year at Arizona State.

5) How's it different being a pro athlete? - Being a professional athlete is a lot more intense and self disciplined than what I’ve experienced before as a high school and collegiate athlete. With the training group I’m in, the workouts are a lot longer and more intense. My first year, I was getting my butt kicked almost every workout. Eventually, I started getting aerobically stronger and was able to keep up and finish them but it took awhile for me to get to that point. The biggest thing was just staying positive and knowing that I was going to be better for it at some point. There’s also no one there holding your hand and telling you what to do every step of the way. You have to be disciplined and motivated in making sure you’re getting your mileage in, eating healthy, recovering, etc.

6) What Training philosophy are you following? - I just trust my coach and the training wholeheartedly. He believes the more you run, the better your aerobic system is, the stronger you’ll be. We work on speed as well but the main focus is getting aerobically strong so that you can utilize that speed at the end of the race.

7) Do you incorporate any cross training and/or Weight training? - I try to swim 1 mile 2 or 3 times a week during the fall and the training time between indoors and outdoors. We also do weight training 3 times a week on non workout days. We don’t do a lot of traditional lifting. It’s more running specific functional movements.

 8) What advice can you give to young Runners?? - The best advice I can give is to believe in yourself, trust your training, and stay patient. I've been running since I was 5 but it has taken me about 8 years of real training to get to the point where I am right now. Each year, I’ve been able to improve on something whether that’s increasing my mileage, to eating healthy, to doing more to help my body recover. I’ve been able to stay healthy the entire time (which is soooo important!!) and have been able to just keep chipping away and get better each year.

One good tip I'd give is to choose one thing to improve on each year. In college, I'd always have this huge list of things that I wanted to do better (besides increase in mileage) the next year such as eat healthier, drink more water, roll out more, stretch more, and it would be so overwhelming that I wouldn't do any of it. My coach eventually told me to just pick one thing each year and focus on improving that. I'm still working on improving the little things but I've gotten much better since college.

Polish OLYMPIAN Danuta Cieslak

As we prepare to begin our Spring Track season we have been fortunate enough to speak with many Olympic and Professional Athletes over the past week.  Today we bring you our interview with Polish Olympic Runner, Danuta Cieslak, who competes in the 800m and 1500m events.  Her answer to question 4 is perfect and should be something our young athletes take in.  And as you’ll notice with these postings, all of the athletes we speak with have a strong understanding of how important nutrition is.  If you wish to perform at the level of athletes such as Danuta this is not an area to neglect.

Thanks a lot Danuta, and good luck this season , especially at the European Championship this year!

1. How did you get started in your Sport?
In the second grade junior high school, my teacher encouraged me to train my middle classes. He saw talent in me and directed me to the trainer.

2. What was a major struggle for your training and/or success?
Definitely doing heavy training and regeneration

3.What is your current goal?
My mini goal for this year is the Finals of the European Championships in Berlin at 1500m

4. What advice would you give a young athlete?
That he never stops believing in himself, even if something goes wrong. If he does what he loves, he can work hard and believes in his ability, he will achieve what he wants.

5. How big of a role is nutrition when it comes to your training?
A very important role. Above all for energy reasons. My nutrition must be thought out to give me the right amount of energy to do my training and regeneration. Often we train on the border of endurance of the body,