Sarah Oliver

[Sarah Oliver never lost her focus at the Northeast Conference championship, and she won the race. What makes it work for Sarah? (1) A good training program geared to getting her ready to compete in the big races. (2) Mental strength and desire, in Sarah's words: "nothing hurts more than the pain of regret." She's only a Junior (at Marblehead HS), and she has more big races ahead of her.]


GTD: Sarah, you came into this summer with some injury issues. How did Coach Braz customize your workouts in the summer program?
Sarah: He was very emphatic about "communication." He always wanted me to tell him right away if anything hurt so he could adjust my training. He kept my mileage pretty low at first, and I started out with slower, easier runs. I noticed running the workouts barefoot on the grass didn't hurt, yet long pavement-filled runs did. Also, I made sure to stretch and ice every day.


GTD: Did you modify your workouts once the xc season started?
Sarah: I modified my workouts a lot! I was feeling pretty good at the end of summer training, but I think I came back too fast and made things worse. I ran in very few dual meets, and often biked or pool ran instead of running. Towards the second half of the season, I coupled pool running with land workouts and races.

I was worried all season that I was losing my fitness, but my first race back (the Twilight Invitation) I got a PR! From there, the season only got better. It was pure luck that I won the NEC meet, but hard work and alternative training would have secured me at least second place.


GTD: What was the most important thing about running you learned this summer and fall?
Sarah: I'm not happy to be injured (obviously), but I can't deny how much it has taught me. In years past, the hardest part of racing was having mental strength. I would shut down, then get upset at myself after for not pushing through the mental blocks. This injury, though hurtful physically, has really allowed me become stronger mentally.

Pool running is boring, there's no doubt about it. But I had goals for the season, so I wasn't going to let the lack of supervision during my workouts, boredom, or negative thoughts prevent me from training hard. I could feel this reflected in my races.


GTD: You were able hold your focus very well in big races this season. Do you have a trick for this?
Sarah: If by focus you mean focusing on not thinking, then yes. Usually for me, the first mile of the race feels pretty good. I don't look at my watch, I just follow the pack, that way I don't have to think about whether or not I'm at a good pace. I focus on breathing and staying at the back of the front group. After two miles though, I often start to feel tired.

I am a huge supporter of positive self talk. That's what gets me through the rest of the race. I tell myself, "you may be tired, but the girl in front of you is even more tired." I say "almost there, almost done, you're doing great, you can do it, come on..." and other encouragement like that. If I stay positive, and I don't let myself mentally shut down, I can finish strong. One time during a race, the coach for an opposing team yelled to one of his girls running behind me something I've never forgotten: nothing hurts more than the pain of regret. The race hurts, but I know it will hurt more after I finish if I don't give it my all. I focus on having no regrets.


XC Edge Athletes

Interview Home

Anthony Pizzo, AIC, Dec. 2016
Matt Loehle, UConn, Dec. 2016
Emily DeMarco, Ipswich HS, Apr. 2016
Sarah Oliver, Marblehead HS, Jan. 2016
AJ Ernst, Marblehead HS, Dec. 2015
Abby Walsh, Beverly HS, Dec. 2015
Sydney Packard, Bishop Fenwick HS, Dec. 2015
Griffin Barriss, Melrose HS, Dec. 2015
Tia Patterson, Boston College, Dec. 2015
Thomas Mackin, Lynn Classical HS, Dec. 2015
Riley Dowd, Stonehill College, Nov. 2015
Emily Weigand, American University, Nov. 2015
Connor Wolff, Stonehill College, Nov. 2015
Lexi Buonfiglio, Stonehill College, Nov. 2015
Victoria Holleran, St John, Peabody, Mar. 2015
Abby Walsh, Beverly HS, Dec. 2014
Riley Dowd, Peabody HS, Dec. 2014
Sarah Oliver, Marblehead HS, Dec. 2014
Tia Patterson, Lynnfield HS, Nov. 2014
Emily Horgan, Univ. of Vermont, Nov. 2014
Arianna Maida, Bishop Fenwick HS, Sep. 2014