pc: Jeff Cohen
I was able to catch up with Oiselle’s, Kate Grace, as her season heats up and she heads into the Olympic Trials. We touched on the journey from injury to becoming one of the top 800 / 1500 runners, workouts, advice, drum lessons and soup nights.
You’ve had an incredible comeback from injury in the past few months. What are some of the factors that led to you overcoming your injury and lighting the track on fire?
I was injured January – May 2015. So it was a long road back. I moved to Sacramento in July to train with NorCal Distance (NCD). I finally started feeling myself in workouts in late October/early November. As for factors that lead me to turn my situation around and comeback strong this year?
1. A great support team of coach, teammates, mentors. People who can give me straight advice, improve my strengths, and complement (not compliment) my weaknesses (so, limit the impact of the areas of my personality that always seem to impede on training). I’d also include the support of Oiselle in there. My sponsor that stuck with me through a hard time, when I wasn’t giving great results, or being a great representative.
2. Strong personal conviction and accountability. This was a big area of growth last year. At one point, I can whine all I want about people not believing in me, not giving me a chance, not pushing me hard enough, etc etc. Last year it finally clicked that no one will ever believe in me as much as I do, and it’s up to me to show them exactly what I see. That I have to hold myself accountable to the highest standards, because there is no one to blame but myself if I am falling short.
Currently dealing with low after an injury myself, what are some things that helped get you past the low points of dealing with injuries?
Oof. Anything that makes you feel happy! For me, that means getting a bit of distance from the runner culture. Seek out other friends, or activities that aren’t run-centric. Focus on a different hobby (I took drum lessons), and a different means of exercise (I think you’re in to Yoga. I took up Bikram because those poses didn’t aggravate my foot). Keep social to keep from getting depressed! We started a weekly soup night tradition at the house in Bend. It was a great way to always have something on the calendar. They’ve continued it this year!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the past year?
Hehe, see first question. Also, I guess realizing that it doesn’t get easier. Training, I mean. Normal runs do feel good if you’re in shape. But a hard workout or a fast run, that will always hurt. I used to think that at one point a switch would flip, and I’d feel smooth and great on everything. Feel how Dibaba looks… effortless. I learned that if I was feeling that way in workouts, it probably meant I wasn’t trying hard enough. Improvement comes when it hurts. I’ve learned to chase after that feeling. Even if it can be a bit scary in the moment.
What is your go-to tune-up workout before a big race?
Changes every time depending on the race. And it’s changed a lot over the years with different coaches. The pattern now is a workout 3 days out. Nothing super hard, it’s reps that simulate different places in the race. Then an easy 5-6 miles the next day, and travel and pre-race routine the day before the race. Kim (Conley) has a nice overview of a standard week lead-up on her blog (http://kimfconley.com/pre-race-routines/).
What has been your most memorable race this season so far?
I enjoy all my races! I guess the Hoka Distance Classic 1500. I got to see my high school coach and girls who are current athletes on his team. It was a PR for me, and fun to do it with old friends watching. Also, I was traveling alone for a lot of earlier races, so at that meet we had a lot of the NCD team together, and Drew, our coach.
If you had a day off from your everyday responsibilities, describe how you would spend it.
Wanna know a secret? I hate days off. Not that I hate off days, I actually really enjoy a break from running. We get one about every two weeks now. But, I tend to fill that time with errands and emails and to do list items. But I’m not great at unstructured hang time. It makes me anxious. I know, that being able to rest is necessary. I’m really good at naps. But I’d rather take a nap and then go do something. I guess if I was required to not do any projects or responsibilities, I’d want an adventure of some kind, or learning experience. Discover a new place, maybe learn about it’s history, take a tour, go to a museum, go to a play, eat good things, drink yummy cappuccinos, have some bit of nature in there. Either a city park, or something further afield. And all of this with my closest friends (not a ton of people, I would just want to be around people I love).
Dinner with three people?
Oof. I’ll just do living bc at least that narrows it down. And it’s always changing. Right now… Leana Wen, Podcast people… Stephen Dubner or Rad Abumrad, Questlove.
But lets be real I would have to do so much research before having a conversation with any of them!
Others that popped to mind: Michelle Obama, the Pope, Cara Delevegine, Paul Farmer, Jeff Bezos, Chelsea Clinton
If you could give one piece of advice to any runner, what would it be?
Have at least one run a week where you really enjoy it. Go slow, do not look at pace, stop as many times as you want, listen to music (or not). This could be a short double or something, I just think having that reset is necessary, for mind and body.
If you’re training for something, get a plan that you can stick to, either from a coach or a trusted source, and execute the workouts. And also be flexible as life happens. If you blow up more than a few times, don’t get discouraged, most likely something should be tweaked in the plan.
What is your current favorite mantra?
Fortune favors the bold
Current favorite song?
It’s hard to pick one, I’m always updating. Four favotires from my May playlist… Strive by A$AP Ferg, 24/7 by Kehlani, Living by VERITE, I Need a Forest Fire by James Blake. For albums to cook or clean to… Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats