Courtney Frerichs answers Nine questions from Runblogrun's Jeff Benjamin

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This interview was done by Jeff Benjamin, senior writer for Runblogrun, with Courtney Frerichs, 2017 London silver medalist, and AR holder in the steeplechase. We thank Courtney Frerichs for taking the time to answer the questions and wish her good luck in her first Diamond League final in less than 24 hours.

IMG_6548.jpgJeff Benjamin, with Courtney Frerichs, photo by Jeff Benjamin

Runblogrun, 1), How did you get into the Sport?

Courtney Frerichs: I remember first discovering my distance running ability in elementary school during the mile run in PE class, but never really took running seriously until several years later. I ran track and field in Junior High and some of High School, mostly focusing on the triple jump, 800, and the 4x400/800, but wasn't super committed to the sport as I was spending most of my time in the gym as a competitive gymnast as well as playing soccer year-round. It wasn't until my senior of high school that I decided to go out for the cross country team because I was backing off my training in the gym and wanted to stay in shape for soccer. I had always been interested in trying out longer distances as well. I quickly fell in love with the 5k distance, running on terrain that was always changing as opposed to the track, and the team aspect of cross country. Finding the steeplechase in college was the perfect fit as it related to cross country and brought many elements of gymnastics to running for me as well.

Runblogrun, 2) Did you consider yourself a slow or fast developer?

Courtney Frerichs: I think I'm a little bit of both. I came to the sport late, but was able to become competitive on the national level fairly quickly in college and then internationally once I became a professional. My timeline definitely looks different than most as I don't have the high school times or accomplishments that a lot of my competitors have to their names, but that is because I was doing other things I loved at the time. I think within each season is where I may be a little bit of slow developer as I am not always knocking workouts out of the park or running super fast times right away, but I feel I'm really good at honing in and being ready when it counts.

Runblogrun, 3) Most memorable HS Race?

Courtney Frerichs: My home cross country meet my senior year of high school. I ended up winning the race and running almost a two-minute PR, and my team won the meet as well. I remember a lot of my friends and family were there and they were lining the homestretch and it was so much fun kicking it in to win in front of them. It was also the moment I remember thinking, "I think I could be really good at this", and I decided to start exploring running in college. It was really exciting for my team as well because we started to realize we might be able to qualify for state for the first time ever in the large class.

Runblogrun, 4) Most memorable College Race?

Courtney Frerichs: Definitely the 2015 NCAA XC Championships. Winning a national championship with a team is something I will never forget. Being able to be a part of something bigger than yourself is the best part of collegiate athletics. I still get emotional thinking about that season and race. That race was very representative of that year I spent at the University of New Mexico. Each person on the team served an important role and we would not have been able to win without each other. I learned so much from those girls that year that I've been able to use during my professional career.

Runblogrun, 5) How's it different being a pro athlete from HS Collegiate?

Courtney Frerichs: Being a professional athlete has been different from high school and college because now running is my job. I loved being a student-athlete and I think having school to focus on took a lot of the pressure off if running wasn't going well and provided time for me to sort of "check out" during the day. I'm definitely a bit of an obsessive type of person and I'm always thinking of how I can be better and when running is your job it can definitely be harder to find balance. The other thing is that no one is going to hold your hand through things anymore. It's your responsibility to take ownership of your career and do all the little things. There's no training room anymore and you have to be responsible for things like making massage appointments and there are going to be times you are at meets with no coach and things like that. One thing for me that hasn't changed is being surrounded by like-minded people that encourage me to be the best version of myself each day. That was a big part of why I chose to join the Bowerman Track Club. I knew having teammates that were also making decisions around being the best athletes they could be was the best thing possible for my career, and it's always way more fun getting to be a part of a team!

Runblogrun, 6) When you made your move to go for it in Monaco what were you thinking?

Courtney Frerichs: I started to move up in the race earlier than I anticipated I would, but I felt that pace slowing and my instincts were to start pushing the pace once we hit the mile mark. I was definitely nervous, but I feel I have good racing instincts and told myself to trust that and reminded myself of all the work I'd put in and that I was ready. When I got to the start line at Monaco I had some of my best workouts under my belt and felt more ready than ever. With 600 meters to go I felt like I still had more left and knew if I could make a big move there I would be hard to beat for second place. My last 400-600 meters is usually my strongest. With 400 meters to go I just kept telling myself over and over again "let yourself run". That's been my mantra going into the end of workouts and races this year. It helps me to shift from overthinking pace or how much it hurts to letting my mind let my body do what it is capable of doing.

Frerichs_Courtney1b-Monaco18.jpg

Courtney Frerichs, en route to her American record, photo by Photorun.net

Runblogrun, 7) What Training philosophy are you following, who are your coaches & training partners, & what are the plans for the rest of the season- will you be at the 5th Ave Mile once again?

Courtney Frerichs: This year I've really tried to take on the training philosophy of showing up each day, working hard, and focusing on being the best version of myself. Somedays that means having the best workouts of my life and somedays it's just putting my head down and getting the work done. This approach has been something I've had to work really hard on as I'm very much a perfectionist and want each day to better than the previous. This is something my coaches, Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert, have worked really hard to help me develop. They have been fantastic in helping me to focus on positivity and stop limiting myself. I'm also really fortunate to be a part of fantastic team of men and women on the Bowerman Track Club. We now have 11 women on the team: Amy Cragg, Shalane Flanagan, Kate Grace, Marielle Hall, Shelby Houlihan, Emily Infeld, Gwen Jorgenson, Colleen Quigley, and our two newest members, Vanessa Fraser and Karissa Schweizer. It's such an honor to be a part of such an empowering group of people! I'm currently getting ready for the Diamond League Final and the Continental Cup where I will be running the steeple. Unfortunately, the Continental Cup and the 5th Ave mile are on the same weekend so I won't be able to race 5th Ave this year.

Frerichs_CourtneyAR1-Monaco18.jpg

Courtney Frerichs, AR 9:00.85, Monaco DL, photo by Photorun.net

Runblogrun, 8) Do you incorporate any cross training and/or Weight training?

Courtney Frerichs: I don't do a lot of cross training right now. If I am struggling to increase my mileage, I'll start by adding in time in the pool, but once I get my mileage up to where I want it to be I usually take the cross training out. Running mileage works really well for me, but each person is different and it's definitely something you have to try out for yourself. We do a lot of work in the gym throughout the week to supplement our running. We usually have three core sessions a week where we do a range of activation, core, and weight circuits. Pascal, our weights coach, is fantastic at working with what each athlete needs. I'm not super comfortable with lifting a lot of weight and he's really helped me to work on technique with lighter weight or body weight exercises.

Frerichs_CourtneyR1a-WorCH17.jpgCourtney Frerichs, 2017 London, photo by Photorun.net

Runblogrun, 9)What advice can you give to young Runners?

Courtney Frerichs: Always make sure you are having fun with the sport and don't feel like your timeline has to look like anyone else's. It's really easy to get caught up in the comparison game of what others are doing for training and what times other people are running, but we are all on our own unique path in the sport. Focus on your own goals, appreciate every step you make, and don't take for granted the team aspect of the sport. Being a part of something bigger than yourself helps bring out the best version of you!

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