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TF360: Westward Bound with Kate Grace

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   Apr 9th 2014, 4:20pm

Oiselle Star Looks to Take Another Big Step Forward

By Scott Bush

The definition of a breakout season just so happened to be Kate Grace's 2013 track season. The Oiselle-sponsored middle distance runner set PRs in the 800m, 1500m, mile and won the USA 1 Mile Road Championship title. Clearly established as one of America's brighest stars in the 800m/1500m distances, Grace is poised for another big season, as she looks to stay healthy and adapt to a new training situation in Bend, Oregon.

We caught up with Grace recently, discussing her current fitness, her move from the east coast to the west coast, what it's like to be on Team Oiselle and much more. Take a few minutes today and learn about a rising star in our sport.

Follow Kate: Twitter | Oiselle Bio

Scott Bush (SB): You've been fairly quiet in 2014. How's training going? 

Kate Grace (KG): Uh oh. That's not a good report on my social media-ing. I have been quiet on the race front. Last season ended early, due to a plantar injury. And then I discovered that a) plantar stuff really sucks, or b) I'm horrible at rehab. Probably a bit of both.

Anyway, it took forever to get back to normal training, hence the decision to cut out indoor track. It's allowing me to get a great base, and string together weeks uninterrupted by races. I finally feel like I am building a good block of work. I plan on racing a long outdoor season as a result. But yeah, how is it going right now? I'm tired! 

SB: When will you be opening up your outdoor season and what event will you open up with?

KG: I'll be running a 1500 at Payton Jordan on May 4th. Then on to Occidental High-Performance meet on the 15th, for another 1500, and an 800 at the races the night before Prefontaine. 

SB: You recently decided to make a big jump, moving from the NY*NJ Track Club to the west coast. Why?

KG: The beer. No, I wish. Though, the stuff in Bend is darn good. There has been so much personal growth in the past year, and, classic twenty-something, I am grappling with same core values: discovering what I need to be working toward in order to feel fulfilled and happy. I'm from California, my parents live in the west, Oiselle is in Seattle. I could see a future here.  And, there are always outside factors, yes, but it was the taking control of my next steps that was the core motivation.

SB: While leaving Coach Gags back east, you've created a combined advisor coaching situation. Can you describe that a bit?

KG: I liken it to an executive committee format. If we are going to continue the analogy from Phoebe Wright's recent article on conducting a running career like leading a small business, this is the board that I report to, as opposed to the president. Everyone has the same goal, but different people play different roles (in-person coach, health/body advisor, long term vision and motivation, physical therapist and strength oversight).

I am in a place in my running where I am comfortable with a lot of behind-the-scenes involvement. I am seeking out knowledge, and I want to try out different ideas. I am grateful that the current set-up allows me to do that. We started on this path with the understanding that after this season, it may make sense to explore other coaches and training partners who are more 800/1500 focused. Right now, I am happy with the current situation. There is room to transition, but there is also room to grow.

SB: You had a "breakthrough" year in 2013. Are you doing anything differently to continue that progress in 2014?

KG: The biggest lesson from last year was pretty simple: you can't train if you can't run. Going by that advice, a lot of the changes we put in place have to do with the auxiliary work. Things to help me stay healthy, so I can get in the consistent training. I see a physical therapist and massage therapist weekly (Jay Dicharry and Justine Lucia), and keep refining my list of PT strengthening and stretching exercises, to improve sticking points in my posture and gait.

The running itself hasn't changed too much. I'm between 65 and 70 miles a week, with 2 or 3 workouts and a long run. There is some experimenting: new workouts, longer reps, shorter rest, using heart rate. But I figure this is the year to get that out of the way. We will see how my body adapts, and go from there.

SB: Will your focus this season remain on the 800/1500 or might to change it up a bit?

KG: I will be focusing mostly on the 1500, trying to get as much experience in that race as possible. I've run it a handful of times (maybe 6 in the last two years?? almost none before that). I need to get a crash course in tactics and the feeling of the race, if I hope to keep upping my competitiveness on the international scale. And that is the goal.

SB: Your sponsor Oiselle has made some inspiring moves over the past many months. What's it like to be part of such an energetic and supportive company?

KG: Energetic and supportive! Since joining the company in 2012, and especially over the past few months, the momentum has been contagious. It feels like we are part of a movement. And the community of runners, both online and in-person, is one of those essential items I didn't even know I was missing before joining. The feeling of support, of a team, is so integral to sport, and it is the lifeblood of this company. And that is remarkable motivation. 

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