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Q&A with Kate Grace

May 17, 2013

Kristin Metcalf
Team

This week we had the pleasure of having Kate Grace in town. We were talking together in the office about the fact that it has felt like so many great things have happened since we last saw Kate! We were all eager to hear in person about the Grand Blue Mile, the Drake Relays, and the great training that she has been doing... If you listen to any of her latest interviews or podcasts, you will be begin to understand why we love her so: her low key and at ease personality is a pleasure to be around, she is talented, driven, extremely well spoken, intelligent, funny and an all around strong woman!  I decided with Kate here in Seattle, I would have great opportunity to ask her some questions, but what better way to do that..than to have our own team of women from across the country ask the questions. Things that they have been curious to know about Kate and what it is like to be a professional runner. So, enjoy getting to know Kate a little bit more through our Oiselle runners.

Questions from Oiselle Team Members for Kate:
What are three places you hope to compete around the world? Lauren Fleshman, Oregon
An Asian country - because I’ve never been. Somewhere with a crazy excited/big crowd (addendum - London or Monaco, because I imagine great crowds. And general glamour). Rio - or, Rio in the Olympics. Because, that’s the goal.

How many miles do you average a week and what is the hardest workout you are doing right now? Sarah Kjorstad, Montana
Averaging 65, with a lower mileage week every 4-6. A few weeks ago we did a four mile tempo I was proud of it - 5:45 around the neighborhood, straight to 5:30 on the track, off for another 5:45, then finishing with a 5:20 on the track. I didn’t do tempos in college, couldn’t have fathomed that one. Another thing that’s new to me is mile speed work. We had a recent track workout with three 800s, followed by some twos. Eights in 2:12, 2:12, 2:10. I was happy with that one also!

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What would a typical day of nutrition look like for you? Stephanie Cosina, Washington 
Oof - I’m a bit all over the map! I don’t know if you should take my advice on this one yet. A few things I have learned:

  • Carbs are necessary - I cut them way down last year, and I think my performance suffered because of it. I tend toward gluten free, not because of any test, but rather I find that I don’t get the same food coma feeling of fullness/sleepiness after eating other grains. Staples: oatmeal, rice, quinoa.
  • The post-workout meal is no joke. Hydration and a powder mix immediately (or as soon as possible). I use Metabolol. Vega has the yummiest one I’ve tried.
  • Veggies for nibbles. I’m a big nibbler. To combat mindless binges, I try to keep a constant supply of carrots, snap peas, and celery (really any raw veggie, those are simplest prep).

For specifics, I’ll give you an idea of breakfast. Currently on a routine of oatmeal and veggie omelet. Yes, this is a varied breakfast, and a bit more time consuming in the morning (though not very. make the oatmeal as the omelet is brewing). I’ve switched to this as I enter competition season. I find the variety keeps me satisfied. And the egg whites/veggies leave me with a fresh feeling to start the day.

Prep:
Oatmeal - ⅓ cup oats, made with water, topped with a Breakstone 100 cal cottage cheese double (with pineapple), and dash of Vanilla, unsweetened almond milk. Omelet - ½  pack of pre-chopped stir-fry vegetables and ¾ cup liquid egg whites, plus some good spices.

For a quicker go-to (and what approximate at other points in the year) - ½ cup oats, ½ cup egg whites, mixed and microwaved together with water. This sounds strange, but the taste is appealing (as is the protein count!). Topped with a few walnuts, and ⅔ cup 2% greek yogurt, or ½ cup 2% cottage cheese.

Are there certain things you eat/take everyday no matter what? Do you have a favorite supplement line if any at all?
Oatmeal is a constant start to the day. Though first, I do a big mug of ginger/lemon tea.

Spices always on hand (for putting on anything - from raw salads to omelets to dinner meals): garlic powder, minced onions, cayenne pepper, tumeric

I eat a lot of vegetables. A lot a lot. When grocery shopping, I’d say 70% of the cart is produce. Maybe more. No favorite supplement line. Though I’d be open to suggestions!

What is your favorite pre-race meal? Stephanie Viloria, New York
Night before - I look for salmon, cleanly cooked veggies, and some kind of rice/quinoa side. Fish is a bit of a treat for me, so it feels special. And salmon is a great source of protein and good fats.

Track races are usually at night, so the day of, I’ll eat 5-6 hours before. I always look for a Chipotle. People find this weird. Maybe I’ll be convinced out of it one day. Grew up in LA, so healthy, Mexican-inspired food is normal. Beans and rice are great carbs to sustain energy. I order a salad with chicken, black beans+brown rice, and salsas. No corn, salad dressing, cheese, sour cream, or guac. Those would all be too iffy on the stomach.

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Do you ever feel guilty for sleeping in, missing a run? How do you get over the motivation hurdle; when maybe you reeeeally want to just stay in bed or go have a drink at night? Kelli Stilley, Texas
Yes. In college, definitely. I pulled all kind of nonsense. Now, missing a run is more akin to skipping out on the office. Not a great idea. And even with that added motivation, I do occasionally skip workouts. The difference is not to consider it skipping and attach the guilt factor. It is a conscious decision (made with a coach, or with an honest understanding of your body). If there is a large enough desire not to do a workout, there is probably a reason for that (feeling run down, earliest gut signs of a body issue, an overly emotional or stressful week). Training is flexible. Weeks can be rearranged. Injuries that result from not listening to your body are not.

But even if something happens and a workout gets rearranged, I will go still for a run. (Again, no absolutes. Once in a blue moon, everything is off, and a run will not work. Take it, and move on. That way there are no negative feelings or guilt for the next day, just excitement at returning to the plan).

For motivation, I keep a full arsenal of tricks - leave no option for failure! Some examples (a lot are cliche. cliche because they work):

  • Buddy system - set up a time to meet. Hard to not go if someone is knocking at your door.
  • Music - both on the run, and before it. Start the ipod as you get dressed, or are still lying in bed. It instantly lifts my mood. also, the chance to rock out on a run is always a good motivator.
  • Podcasts - occasionally it’s the boredom of a longer run that scares me. music doesn’t help this. the chance to listen to a great podcast does. i’m a fan of “this american life” “stuff you missed in history class” “stuff you should know” “planet money” and “radiolab”
  • Warmth - I go overboard with layering for walking out the door. This is against conventional wisdom, of dressing for 10 degrees warmer. I find runs are much less scary when i enter the world in a marshmellow of warmth. I would rather carry an extra jacket around my waist after 15 minutes, than start off freezing.
  • Don’t be scared of the slow run. Start off at a glorified shuffle. Basically bouncing. Someone could feasibly walk alongside you. It’s movement, it’s something, and usually, within 5 minutes, it’s picked up in speed. (or not. also fine. again, sometimes there are just those days).
  • Caffeine - especially for the afternoon run. A nice cup of coffee or green tea (iced if summer!) is a great start.
  • Treat yourself - i will pop my debit card in a convenient zipper pocket (woop, oiselle shorts!), and plan on ending at the market, or maybe my favorite coffee shop.

And if I reeeally want a drink? I have a drink. I don’t make rules on drinking or not. My only semi-rule is that I keep it to red wine (which, also has exceptions when celebrating good races). Didn’t do a ton in college, and my teammates now have taught me the simple pleasure of a glass of red wine with dinner. My sleeping suffers if this happens too much, so I’ll go through times where I don’t have a drink for a few weeks, and others where it’s two or three glasses a week. I don’t impose no-drinking periods. Actually, have found that I’ve run great races the day after the slightest buzz at dinner. As long as I am hydrated, and don’t feel that I am at all in a routine or dependency, I only find positives. Running is fun, and great dinners with friends remind me to keep that outlook.

What, if anything, have you done different in your training since college? You have taken your racing to such a new level, do you attribute that to anything in particular? Vicki Rudawsky, Pennsylvania
What have I done differently, and what has contributed to recent success: Running, more, and more consistently. I was at 30 miles a week in college, and generally more scattered with my approach. I was deeply committed to my team, but not necessarily my own training. That has all changed since college. I am currently running 65 miles a week. And my workouts have increased in length. Long runs now range from 12-16 miles, track workouts can be over 5 miles of work. This was a slow progression though, last year was a stepping stone. Increases in mileage need to be done in moderation! The consistency is something to always strive for!

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What is your "ab" routine because man do you have some good ones! Meggie Smith, New York
I do 10 to 15 minutes four times a week. After a run is a perfect time - already sweaty. I switch up exercises - to prevent acclimation. Start the stopwatch and do a mix/match. Each one for 30 seconds or a minute. Some places I’ve looked for inspiration:

Shannon Rowbury's Ab Workout
Galen Rupp FloTrack WOW
Coach Jay Johnson Strength Progression
Therapeutic Associates Abs

Since you are a Yalie, what is your fave New Haven pizza place and does she know anyone in Skulls and Bones (a secret society at Yale)?
Bar pizza! Mashed potato bacon white pizza. Mmmm. Yeah, the society thing is much less weird/secretive than it sounds. About a third of each senior class is in one.

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How does it feel to be a sponsored athlete by Oiselle? Kari Brown Budde, Ohio
Like I couldn’t even imagine a situation this good.

What is your biggest dream for your running career?

  • To have *those* races. The ones where you reach another level - synergy of mind, body, toughness. Out of body performance and grit.
  • To inspire others, runners and not, with my work.
  • To use running as a starting point for conversation and action that increases happiness, health, and wellness.
  • To medal at the Olympics.

I know that your performances have been amazing this winter and spring but I wanted to know where you came from so to speak. What kind of times did you run in college? Surely you were still really fast but now you have hit super-human status. Shannon Botten, Oregon
I’m paraphrasing a recent email to a running site, Runnerspace:

I was good, but not a national standout in either high school or college. There was always a lot of potential, but I made choices to follow other interests, and was not training at my highest abilities. I entered college with high school prs of 25/55/2:10/4:59/xc-18:20. I continued PR-ing each year. Made jumps to a 2:06 as a freshmen, 2:04 sophomore, 2:03 senior. This was based on January-June training, usually I did very little in the summer, and was either sick or abroad in the fall (so, no base training or cross country!)  I ran tons of relays, even 4x1s, and loved them. I honed my competitiveness and consistency - mostly within the Ivy League. In national appearances, I improved each year on my finish. I finally started branching out my senior year with mile work, got a bit of notice when I ran 4:39 indoors, then the fastest 1200 split in 20 year  at Penn Relays. Within the Ivy League, I was well known. But you are right, hidden nationally. A mix of never being in serious contention for the win, and in general East Coast runners getting less airtime. Especially for those of us who did not travel to many of the big invitationals. Sparknotes: finished college with PRs of 2:03 in the 800, 4:20 in the 1500, 4:39 in the mile, 6 national appearances, 4 time All-American, highest finish was 5th my senior year. This sounds good, but the great athletes have much better college resumes. My coach and mentors (and Oiselle!)  knew the story and the progression, and knew there was much more to come. Read more at RunnerSpace.

What's you "go-to" get pumped song? Rebecca Trachsel, Massachusetts
Currently: Pit Bull and Christina Aguilera’s Feel the Moment!!!

Last year Oly Trials: Nicki Minaj Starships and Robyn Dancing on My Own

I can chart my running history in the songs I listened to, both to pump up, and for relaxing, or relieving emotions. I owe you a blog to talk about it!

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What is your favorite cross training activity? Lisa Verwys, Montana
Swimming! It’s awesome. A full body decompressor in addition to good cardio work (I cross train for cardio. Workouts are all the intensity I need). Because I’m not efficient, I get cardiovascular benefit from not going very fast. Gags’ only instruction is to not breathe. It’s effective.

My interpretation:
20-30 minutes. Start out with laps, breathing every 3 strokes. Once warm, cycle through laps of breathing every 3, 5, 7, and 9 strokes. Usually by 9, I’m a sputtering mess. It helps that my roommate is a former swimmer. A new workout addition that I learned from her: Watch the clock, and start at the minute. Go underwater, hands straight out, just kicking, for as long as you can. If you have to, come up for a breath. When you get to the other side, rest until the next minute mark (I have now cut this to 50 seconds) and repeat. I do this 6 times on a 25 meter pool. Great for simulating lactic feeling.

What is the hardest part about being a professional runner? Jocelyn Bonneau, New York
Figuring out when to break. If your profession is your body, it’s a constant project. But (as I talk about in other parts of this entry) rest is important. How to fit that in, turn off the mind, and not feel guilty about it. Thinking about yourself as a business. Also, finding ways to talk about what it means to be a professional runner. (Awkward silence. ;)

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If you weren't a professional runner, what profession would you be in?
My life’s work will include a focus on human and public health and wellness. Though I am not sure under exactly what title that will manifest itself. A great runner, Alice Schmidt, is starting her post-bac, in preparation for med school, at the age of 31. I can’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind.

A purely indulgent profession (we were recently having an ‘if I won the powerball’ hypothetical convo) would be an event planner. It just seems like it would be a constantly fun, stimulating, creative, experience. Great for detailed oriented, possible for doing good/creating happiness, and always involving different, interesting people.

What are your tips for pushing through the tough parts of a race? Sun Torke, Michigan
Another thing I’m working on! My more distance-oriented clubmates (Julie Culley, Ashley Higginson, Renée Tomlin) have been great resources. One visualization technique that I find helpful is the “pulling the rope” idea. Imagine that there are two ropes attached to the back of the person in front of you. As you move your arms, it’s as if you are grabbing these ropes and pulling yourself on. Double benefit – helps take the focus away from tired legs, and gives you something to think about in the middle of a race effort. As for going to the grit and crazy out of body competitiveness at the end of the race, it’s something I had in college – and am just now returning to. I think the cocky confidence that comes from solid training is important. A recent interview with Jens Voigt pretty much distills this mindset (start at 1:20). Go into a race knowing (not just believing. Knowing.) that you are the shit. “I’m motherf***ing ____________.”

haute-volee
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