Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Almond Butter, new PR's, and Weightlifting- Interview with Lauren McKenna

I'm back in blogging shape and I have two posts in the queue for this week! For starters, I have an interview with Lauren McKenna, who, just this past weekend broke the 2:30 800m barrier, and ran a heat-winning time of 2:29, which bests her old PR by about 9 seconds. I decided to catch up with her after this race for a quick chat.

To give you a little bit of context about Lauren, she is a serious PR machine. Her first cross-country season, she set a PR of 24:22. Apparently that wasn’t good enough for her because after lots of diligent summer training, she came out, guns blazing, to a new 3 minute PR, which she followed up the next week with another PR, running a time of 20:30, which she later again lowered to a 20:09. Not only that, over the course of her high school career thus far, she has lowered her 1600 time from a 6:38 to a 5:34. I wouldn’t say that all of her success is happenstance, because Lauren is also one of the most dedicated people I have ever met. She is always looking for ways to better herself and improve her running. She asks a lot of questions (a lot of questions) to make sure that she is on the right track and doing everything in her power to run well. This winter, she joined Ric Rojas Running and started lifting with Barbell Strategy.

What was your initial goal going into your last 800m race? Any reflections on the race itself?

Going into the race, I was aiming for a 2:34. I hadn’t raced the 800 yet this year, so I wasn’t really sure how to execute it. This time I decided that I wouldn’t worry about times and splits, and just run my hardest. It really worked for me and got me a 9 second PR! I think it really helped to just clear my mind and then push myself during the actual race.

You have shown immense improvement over the 5k, 1600, and 800m. What event is your favorite and why?

I love all of them! If I had to chose, I would say I like the 1600 the most because I have been doing it for the longest, but all of those events have different qualities that make them fun. I like 5ks because I can be on trails, but I also love the speed and competitiveness of the 1600 and 800.

What has been the best part about training with Barbell Strategy?

Seeing so much improvement. (And, to be honest, getting nicer muscles :) ) At first, I barely could lift, and now I’m doing so much more! I think it has really benefited my running because I feel more sturdy and efficient when I run.

Have you ever considered trying out a Jordan Hasay inspired hairdo for races?

How do you feel that Barbell Strategy has contributed to your performances/training? Could you pinpoint a specific race or workout where you could really notice the effects of strength training?

During one speed workout during indoor track, I think we were doing 200s. Usually, I would feel like my legs were really wobbly, but this time they felt sturdy and secure. I could tell that my form and strength had improved from lifting, because I definitely felt those muscles being more engaged while I ran.

I’m super interested in what foods people eat prior to racing and training. Being gluten-free, what kinds of things do you like to incorporate into your diet to recover from hard workouts? I have yet to find something better than a big bowl of pasta after a tough training day.

For recovery, I usually eat almond butter right afterwards (I think I have an addiction). I usually then have a big dinner and then a smoothie right before bed. I like to have more fat and protein than carbs, so I eat lots of nuts and other protein/fat.

We have the League Championships coming up in about 2 weeks. What goals do you have as the season winds down? Any summer racing/training plans?

I would really like to break 5:20 in the mile, and try to be under 2:25 for the 800. I’ll have to see how the 2 mile goes since it’s not my main event. After track, I’m going to try to get in more miles to train for the Bolder Boulder, which I might do once as a race and once for fun! I’m not yet sure about races over the summer, but I’m really excited for base training for cross country with the team!

Seen here, Lauren cruises to a new 800m PR, crushing her competition.