Interview with U of O Freshman, Katie Rainsberger

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This interview on Katie Rainsberger was written by Cait Chock after the Mt.SAC Relays. In this story, which I had, of course misplaced, it is evident that the young Duck wanted to contribute to the Duck outdoor bid for the NCAA champs. In cross country, Katie Rainsberger had lead her unheralded Duck team to a one point victory in the NCAA cross country championships. Her fourth place finish in the 1,500 meter outdoor NCAA's added points to the Duck total, which helped keep them in the hunt for the amazing 4x400m victory and the Duck three peat.

RunBlogRun was fortunate to meet Katie at the NIKE NXN, just after her rock star 4th place NCAA cross country finish. Katie was, as always, charming to the media and so supportive of the high school athletes who idolized here.

This has been an amazing freshman year for Katie Rainsberger, who, on her instagram " My first year here is coming to an end, but the journey has just begun."

As always, a special thanks to our writer, Cait Chock, who continues to come up with fine ideas and articles to give you a better view of our sport.

my first year here may be coming to an end but the journey has just begun 💚

A post shared by Katie Rainsberger (@katierains_17) on

Interview with U of O Freshman, Katie Rainsberger

By: Cait Chock

Still only a Freshman at the University of Oregon, but Katie Rainsberger has already put her name in the record books as the most decorated Freshman to date. Which speaks volumes given the alums that have come out of Hayward Field. After a fourth place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Rainsberger chased that with a third place finish in the NCAA Indoor Championships for the 3,000m event. Enter outdoor track season and she opened up the season dropping a 4:13.25 at the Mt. Sac Relays for 1500m, setting the bar as the NCAA's leading time.

I caught up with Rainsberger right after the Mt. Sac Relays to talk about her season, her adjustment to college, and of course her mom. Lisa Larsen (Weidenbach) Rainsberger was the last American woman to with the Boston Marathon in 1985. Read on to find out why balance is key, a support system is paramount, and how to survive "the dark place."

1) So first of all CONGRATS on a killer 1500! Can you talk a little about that race, how you felt, and what your expectations were going in?

The 1500m at Mt. Sac was my season opener and I definitely went into the race with an open perspective just wanting to compete. I just wanted to go into the race with an open mindset and compete to the best of my ability with all the hard training we are putting into the season right now. I knew I was in good shape going in, but the first race back is always a rust buster!

2) You're only a Freshman but have been making a splash right away, which isn't surprising. Can you talk a little what it's been like so far adjusting to college life, new coaches, and teammates around to help push you?

So far the transition to college has been great because I have had so much support from my family, my coaches, and my teammates along the way. The support system surrounding me has been key in my development as a runner and person because I have not had to transition alone. The training has not dramatically changed since high school but the consistency and quality has improved. Having my teammates to train and draw from combined from my parents ever present support has allowed me to really transition smoothly while being so far away from home.

3) What are some of the ways you feel you've been able to make such a smooth transition? Some athletes really struggle making the jump from high school to college, so what are some words of advice you would have to avoid any potential pitfalls of freshman year?

I think having a long-term approach has been a crucial part of my smooth transition to college because it allows me to put all my progress into perspective of where I have come from and where I am still headed. I would say just be patient, know that things will go wrong, but it is how you react and adapt to them that matters!

4) Can you talk a little about your training, what's a sample day in the life/week in the life of Katie?

A typical week consists of about 50 miles, two hard workouts on Tuesday and Friday, a day off typically on Thursday, and then a long run on Sunday. So far I have felt that this is the best, most effective set up and Coach Maurica really has a long term approach to the season, year, and beyond! I also substitute miles on our under water treadmill as needed and try to make a yoga class weekly. On top of that we lift twice a week to help build and stabilize individual weaknesses, mine is my hips, and have a series of exercises that accompany those issues.

5) Backing up, how does that compare to what you were doing in high school?

Honestly, this is fairly comparable to what I was doing in high school but now the consistency of my mileage and the intensity of my workouts have been much better. I really feel like I am able to handle the daily rigors of training better now with all Oregon has to offer for recovery and injury prevention. Also, my threshold workouts have been much better since coming to college as well as the addition of a far better strength program, which I definitely did not do in high school!

6) We've just had the Boston Marathon and your mom was the last American Woman to win it. Can you talk a little what it was like growing up, how early do you remember wanting to become a runner?

When I was growing up my mom would always take me to races when they invited her back and I just knew that I was going on a fun trip with mommy. As I grew up though, I began to comprehend just how amazing she was and how much respect she had within the community and that was really cool. I remember one trip back to Boston she ended up running the marathon for fun with my dad and sister and I wanted to do it too! Of course I think I was twelve so that was out of the question, but I got to run the 5k and I remember thinking, "How on earth did she run so fast for so long?!" It still baffles me.

7) How has your mom been able to help you, be it in training advice or mental perspectives over the years?

My mom has been a sounding board for all the questions, struggles, and successes I've had along the way. Her advice and ability to really understand what I'm going through has been a huge reason for where I am today and the success I've had as well. We both have always had a long-term approach because she competed professionally for twenty or so years, so she has taught me a thing or two about delayed gratification. We also have this zone before races or hard workouts called "the dark place" where I go in order to endure the pain involved with pushing myself to the extreme and she has taught me how to conquer that.

8) No way around, training and racing hurts. What are some of the tips and tricks you rely on to block out and push through the pain that comes with being a distance runner?

Hmm, this is the question no one really likes to talk about, or admit to, because I think most runners have all felt the pain that comes along with training and racing at the highest level, or any level honestly. I've learned over time to embrace the fact that running, sometimes, sucks and if you can embrace that suck, little by little, you can learn to overcome it as well. When things start to get difficult I try and calm my breathing, relax my posture and focus on things within my control-- attitude, effort, composure, form, and mental perspective. No matter the outcome if I can learn to push past the moments of pain then I have done all I can for the day. One of my mom's favorite, funny quotes is, "Pain is temporary, but results on the internet are forever."

9) Sounds like you're way more focused on speed and not so much harboring any marathon fantasies. What are some of your goals for the rest of this season and then looking long term, what are some things you would like to achieve as a runner?

I'm definitely speed oriented at the moment because it is something you can really develop when you're younger and the progress to distances as you get older. As with this season, I am really taking each race as a learning experience and embracing the process. It's not all easy and it's not all hard, so I'm learning to take each day as it comes and using it to build for my future. I'm not a very outward person in terms of sharing my goals, but I would love to help contribute to my team this outdoor season at NCAA's and then we shall see how my season is going from there.

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Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004 and went on to run professionally for Nike. A freelance writer, artist, and comedian in Los Angeles, you can see more of her work on her website, Instagram @caitchock, and Twitter @caitlinchock.

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