UR Track and Field continued a successful season this past weekend at the Metro Fastrack National Invitational meet in Staten Island. Junior middle-distance runner Samantha Kitchen nearly overthrew a 27-year-old record, posting a mile time of 4:58.53, the second fastest in school history.

Out of all of your teammates and coaches, past and present, who have you learned the most from and why?

I’ve definitely learned the most from my present coach, Eddie Novara. He really knows how to capitalize on athletes’ talent and make them all around stronger runners. But beyond that, his commitment and enthusiasm for the sport is infectious, and I think makes every single one of his athletes want to perform better. He’s taught me that running well is more about being smart and about training than it is about pounding out every workout at full speed. 

 What are some things you do in your training/pre-meet routines that you feel are crucial for your success?

For a track runner, I’m actually one of the least superstitious about pre-meet routines. But in training, I am always careful to listen to what my body is telling me and adapt to that. For instance, if I’m really struggling to hit paces on a workout, I try and pull back for a little and then get on pace. I think that this method of training has really helped me avoid both injury and becoming mentally burned out. I kind of contradict that mentality on race days, as I try to completely ignore how I’m feeling on the warm up, be it good or bad, and focus on my goals for the race ahead. I’ve found this really helps me not get too stressed out about racing. 

 In what ways is track an individual sport and in what ways is it a team sport?

On the one hand, track is the ultimate individual sport, because no one can really help you during a competition but yourself. You have to be willing to put yourself out there knowing that once you’re racing, everything is completely up to you. People can tell you to run faster, but in the end, the only person that you have to fall back on is yourself. On the other hand, track is more a team sport than most people know. All of our championship meets are team-scored and it can get very strategic [as far as] putting certain people in certain events to maximize points. Teammates really support each other during races, and I would argue there is no louder and harder cheering at any sporting event than when two competitors are neck in neck at the end of a race. Additionally, relay teams are very team-oriented, and everyone on the team is running for each other. 

What do you love about competing?

I honestly think that there is no bigger rush than when you PR (set a personal record) in an event, or when you watch one of your teammates do the same. Although we run against other schools, track is one of those sports that is basically self vs. self. Being able to see progression in the form of faster times from the beginning of the season, or over a career, is incredible and really a testament to how hard you’ve trained. I think running is as much of a mental sport as it is a physical one, and when you see people overcoming all the physical and mental barriers surrounding the sport, it is really amazing. 

What motivates you?

This is a hard question because there are so many things that motivate me. My coaches, my teammates, my competitors and myself. I really think, though, that this season, my biggest motivation has come from myself.  I’ve had a lot of injuries in the past couple of years that have either prevented me from competing, or prevented me from competing to my fullest potential. Having only one more year after this to run track, the clock started ticking for me and I realized that it was now or never. That being said, however, my teammates are some of the most motivating people I have ever met. Even though many of them do not run the same events as me, they have been there every step of the way and push me to be a better athlete. I would not be where I am today without them. 

 Would you rather go to a Kardashian family reunion or go on a road trip with the cast of Parks and Recreation? (and why?)

I would definitely rather go to a Kardashian family reunion. Like, are they actually really like how they come off on TV? Also, the drama would be absolutely hilarious. 

Tagged: Track & Field

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