Awaiting The Baton In The Relay Exchange Zone - Profiles Of Athletes, Coaches & Legends During The War Against Corona, Profile # 8, American Running Legend & 5-Time Olympian, Francie Larrieu-Smith

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image0-2.jpegTracy Sundlun gives Francie Larrieu Smith her NSAFR Hall of Fame award, 2020, photo by Jeff Benjamin

Francie Larrieu Smith is one of our most iconic athletes in modern American Track & Field. Francie made teams in 1976,

1980, 1988 and 1992. I knew of Francie when she ran for the San Jose Cindergals. This is an interview by Jeff Benjamin.

Awaiting The Baton In The Relay Exchange Zone - Profiles Of Athletes, Coaches & Legends During The War Against Corona

Profile # 8

American Running Legend & 5-Time Olympian Francie Larrieu-Smith

By Jeff Benjamin

How is your daily training regimen going and how challenging has it been for you in this environment?

"More than than ever it is important to establish/adhere to our training regimens within the guidelines of social distancing and restrictions within our communities. This has not been a problem for me to date. While I have changed up my personal training program from a combination of visits to our local YMCA for group workouts such a spin class (Les Mills RPM and Sprint) and lifting (Les Mills Body Pump) with some cycling outside on my own time/weather permitting; to jogging 3 times a week, cycling outside on opposite days and 5 days a week of a stretching/strengthening workout (Eccentrics with Miranda Esmonde-White) via PBS and video. I am very fortunate to live in an area where social distancing is not a problem in my neighborhood. I get out fairly early and saw just a handful of people on my run this am :) and plenty of space to social distance."

What advice can you give to runners, especially youth, HS, and collegiate athletes who are challenged during this time?

Stay focused on your long term goals!

Establish a training regimen.

Take care of your mental health

"Establishing a training routine may be unique to each individual depending on one's environment and available resources. There are many success stories of individuals who for a variety of reasons were forced to use alternative training methods. One that comes to mind is Joan Benoit Samuelson's prep for the US Olympic team marathon trials in 1984 where I believe the final three weeks were spent training solely on the arm bike. She won the trials and went on the win the first ever gold medal awarded to a women in the marathon. Following the trials she was able to return her normal training regiment for the 1984 Olympic Games. I had an athlete who's spent 6 weeks of his senior cross country season training on the arm bike due to an injury sustained in the gym while playing pick up basketball. He went on to run a personal best time in cross country that year. Another idea is water running in a backyard pool. One of my most successful male athletes spent one summer getting his miles in his backyard swimming pool. Stationary bikes, treadmills etc if available are viable training tools depending on availability. Some may have the option/opportunity to run/train outside. If you are able to do so safely this is a great opportunity to continue one's running/training program. In the latter stages of my athletic career I cherished the base training phase of my training program in which much of the training/ running was done by myself. I did have a coach who provided my training program. Again, I strongly suggest establishing a scheduled training regimen. I have maintained over the years that life is choice we are not necessarily choosing between right and wrong but rather different outcomes.

Taking care of mental health will likely be unique to the individual however a great way for teams to stay together is to communicate with each other on a regular basis. Team captains often are the conduit between the coach and the team during summer months when practicing as a team might not be allowed. A strong team leader is very important to the success of a team. If that is lacking on a team step up and be that person! Check in with your team mates on a scheduled or regular basic. Talk about goals, training, challenges, fears/insecurities and fun. Communication among teammates is a strong contributor to overall team success by inspiring accountability and inspiring each individual to be the best he/she can be. Also it may seam overwhelming to hear and read daily reports of Covid-19.

Keeping up with your training regimen is one of the best forms of stress relief I know. Back in the day some would ask what do you think about when you run? I would remark it depends on the workout. Sometimes the task at hand and sometimes I might be deciding what to prepare for dinner or 'solving the problems of the world'. One's teammates, friends and family are the best way I know to unplug from the constant bombardment of news that may be difficult to hear.

Finally why I fully understand the Covid-19 crisis of 2020 may seem like an insurmountable obstacle I see it as an opportunity to achieve success.

Also while it is important to have a goal to help one stay focused for the long term, by establishing that daily routine it allows the individual to focus on the day to to day process and develop the day to day routines necessary to achieve that goal. Focusing one day at time leads to a week leads to one month leads to a season leads to a year and continues!"

image1.jpegJeff Benjamin Francie Larreau Smith, Larry Rawson, Craig Virgin, NYAC President James Rafferty, photo by Jeff Benjamin

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