XC’s competitive season comes to a close at this weekend’s national meet in Terre Haute, Ind.
Two cross-country runners, Laura Hollander and Chris Frias, will compete at the NCAA Cross-Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind on Saturday.
Both athletes have previously competed in nationals — Hollander last year and Frias, in 2011. For Frias, it is his first year competing as an individual, the men’s team qualified as a whole in 2011.
Hollander and Frias credit their success this year to their workouts during summer.
“Every little thing counts,” Hollander, a kinesiology sophomore, said. “It’s all the small things that can easily be forgotten about or pushed aside that add up to make a big difference.”
Frias, a kinesiology senior, attributes his improvement to core exercises. He stuck with the front of the pack throughout his qualifying race.
“I ran like it was my last race and left it all out there on the course,” Frias said. “I knew I had nothing to lose, yet everything to gain, and I think that kind of mentality helped me just go for it.”
Hollander finished seventh in the NCAA West Regional meet this past weekend and said it wasn’t her best performance.
“The training base that I built up over the summer and the past few years enabled me to qualify,” Hollander said. “Continuing to work hard every day and staying on top of all aspects of my training, regardless of the circumstances, helped me too.”
For her upcoming race, Hollander said it’s important for her to run the way she is comfortable.
“I need to run a race that is my style and the way I like to run, but I also need to run smart,” she said. “I need to make sure that I don’t take it out too hard, and that I am able to constantly build throughout the race.”
Hollander said she focuses on finishing hard when she’s running.
“I really need to focus on running a solid last mile,” she said. “I believe one of the most important things during a race is to be mentally tough and to not let the negative thoughts override everything else. You have to believe you can do something in order to actually have a chance to do it.”
Frias’ approach to nationals will be the same as his regional race. His goal is to place in the top 40.
“I know I can always improve as a runner and I strive to get better each and every day, but at this point, the work has been done,” he said. “What I did at regionals is exactly what I want to do at nationals. I want to stick with the main front pack and just hold on for as long as I can.”
Hollander said she tries to stay positive before a race.
“The night before races, I like to visualize myself during the race and try to picture myself in the race feeling strong, confident and with a positive mindset,” she said. “It’s important to make sure my body is rested and to feel strong on race day.”
Frias also uses visualization methods before he races, and has routines to ensure he is physically prepared as well.
“I try to picture how I want to start, where I want to position myself during the midpoint of the race and when I want to make a move toward the finish,” Frias said. “Physically, I try my best to be as relaxed as possible in the days leading up to the race. The night before, I make sure to roll out my legs and wear my compression socks to make sure my legs feel fresh for the next day.”
When it comes down to it, both athletes know what they want and need to do. They focus on making it happen.
“Racing is the time to make all of our hard work pay off and the reason why we push ourselves every day, so it’s important to just enjoy every experience and to have fun,” Hollander said. “All I focus on during a race is doing my best, because besides that there is nothing else I can do. As long as I give 100 percent of my effort, I just have to let everything else fall into place.”