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This July, Katelyn Tuohy will be a guest speaker at the 2022 Wingfoot Running Camp.
Tuohy, the recent NCAA champion at 5,000 meters, is one of the most successful high school cross country and track athletes in U.S. history and she has transitioned into one of the country's top collegiate runners.
Now a sophomore at North Carolina State University, Tuohy has helped the Wolfpack to an NCAA Cross Country team title.
The transition from a high school athlete to a collegiate athlete is never an easy one, but you've been very successful. Can you talk a little bit about how that success has come?
Katelyn: Honestly, I wouldn't necessarily say my transition was too smooth freshman year. I came into college injured, I got surgery the summer going into college, so I really wasn't running the first semester. So it was really hard, and then with COVID on top of that, it was definitely a tough first semester. But I think, what I kinda would like to preach, I would say to look up to your upperclassmen for advice and learn from them, and also just try to do what's gonna make you the happiest. I feel like when you're in a happy state, all aspects in your life will come around. And I think that was what happened to me. I'm not gonna lie I was going through it kind of first semester, being injured. I would say it's so easy when you're in that good headspace.
Looking at your Instagram account before we talked and you talk about your teammates all the time. What is the culture like on the team?
Katelyn: We have a really good team culture and I think that's what contributes to our success a lot. We have a supportive and uplifting aspect at practice where if someone is falling off, instead of trying to drop them, we're trying to get them back to the pack and we're pushing each other and cheering each other on just being a good teammate rather than competing with each other. I mean at the end of the day, we are competitive just because it's in our nature being athletes, but we're definitely very supportive. I think that it started even before I got here how supportive everyone was with each other, and that's something that we're kind of passing on from generation to generation at NC State and I think having a very healthy team culture is super important for having team and individual success when it comes to track.
One of the big things we talk about in our cross country camp is that we encourage that camaraderie. Did you go to cross country camp when you were in high school, and if so, what are some of your memories of doing that?
Katelyn: I did one year, I think it was between eighth- and ninth-grade so going into freshman year, and I had a lot of fun there with my team. We were kind of just messing around, getting into a little bit of trouble not gonna lie, but it was super fun. I think going to camp with your cross country team can really help. We definitely left that camp much closer than before we went just because we're living with each other and just spending so much time with each other and helping each other up was a really cool experience.
Once that national and international competition is over, what does your summer training look like?
Katelyn: So after my last race, I'll take a little bit of time off to recover, as this would be the longest that I would go racing into the summer. Then after that, slowly start the build for cross country, increasing mileage. Our summer workouts aren't too intense. Like the first month or so is usually more just effort-based stuff rather than trying to hit a time for a certain length or a rep, kind of like fartleks and hill strides and kind of just getting in the rhythm, building the base for the cross season.
What is the hardest cross country workout that will pop up on your cross country cycle? Or the one that makes you go, "Oooof." You see it coming from a couple days out and you get that nervous feeling about it. What is that workout for you?
Katelyn: I don't know, I genuinely just love workout days, like even more than race days. I just love crushing workouts with my team. We would joke around, like I'm the "Workout Warrior," or something just because like, I love killing workouts. But I think I get super nervous, but also excited for the- we call it the Brazier, other teams call it the Michigan where you're doing like some like Vo2 rep and then short jog to our grass field where we do a tempo rep and then back. That one I definitely get a little bit nervous for just because it could go bad pretty early, because that first rep's pretty hard. And then the other one I would say is hills just because it can be pretty grueling. Especially in the summer in Raleigh where it's so hot and humid.
What's the best piece of coaching advice you've ever received?
Katelyn: I think when I was injured I had my one on one meeting with coach Henes, it was in between first and second semester, so I just started to run again, and she really emphasized taking control of what you can take control of. That kind of just really sunk in with me, because I was like "I can't just focus on running, I have to take control of my sleep. I have to take control of what I'm eating." I just really focused in for a couple weeks there, when I was building back, and I was taking control of literally every aspect that I could just to get back as fast as I could and that really helped me build fitness pretty quickly just because I was focusing on those little things and trying to perfect as much as I could in such a short amount of time just because I only had a few weeks until the next semester started. And then I think another piece of advice that we really really preach here is being grateful for the opportunity to line up and race for your teammates and looking at every race with a lot of gratitude just to be there because a lot of people don't have this opportunity to make the most of it.
Cross country or track?
Katelyn: I'll probably pick cross country, just because of the team aspect. It's definitely what I love about the sport. Track is really fun, just ripping some fast times, because you can compare like this person ran the mile in this time, but in cross country, there's no comparison and you're just like who is gonna be the top on this day and I love it.