Episode 16 | Kate Grace | Releasing The Champion Within

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Why you should listen –

When you’re young, you might dream of being an Olympian. But you can’t just wake up one day, snap your fingers, and then pick up your gold medal. It takes years, and even decades of practice in the pool, on the court or on the track. In Malcom Galdwell’s book, Outliers, he mentions that to be a master at anything, you need to dedicate at least 10,000 hours to it. And along with those hours of practice, there’s also a lot of sacrifices to achieve the title that few people on earth can call themselves…an OLYMPIAN. And yet today’s podcast guest is that.

Her name is Kate Grace.

She’s a professional track and field athlete, specializing in the 800 meter. For most of her career, she’s been the underdog…the dark horse. But all of that changed this year at the Olympic Trials. Not only did she win first place in the 800 m to qualify her for a spot on the Olympic Team, but once in Rio, she made it through the prelims and semi-finals, and represented the United States in the Olympic FINALS!! And most importantly, she’s my oldest daughter, and she made her workout debut in some of my early videos.

By the way, thank you to everybody on Facebook who sent in questions for Kate. In this 30-minute interview, I asked many of your questions.

In this episode, we delve into the method behind the magic of the Olympic journey, including the following questions:

  • How do you focus your mind in the midst of chaos, on the track and in life?
  • What’s  BEST time of day to eat carbs?
  • Do you ever have bad workout days?
  • How do you stay motivated to workout when you feel out of gas?

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Follow Kate on Twitter (@fastk8), Instagram, and Facebook.

What did it feel like to cross that finish line at the U.S. Olympic Trials and then realize that you were headed to the Olympics?

Honestly, I was in shock. It wasn’t until I say my friends and family in the stands that it started to dawn on me. Then, I saw the Oiselle crew and all of their athletes and that’s when I started screaming and the tears came. For the first few moments, I had no actions to describe the feeling of the dream coming true.

My college coach were there, some family friends from my childhood, teammates – they were all there. And it was a good reminder that I didn’t accomplish this all by myself. It required people to me all of these years! It felt great to celebrate these sacrifices with everybody I loved meant so much to me.

When did you actually decide to set the the Olympics as your goal and how did you stay focused along the way?

I actually verbalized my desire to make the Olympics back at the 2012 Track and Field Championships. I had had a bad race – I was very nervous and didn’t realize how to train at a high level – and didn’t make it out of the first round. I was discouraged that i was so far from where I wanted to be, but I also had this vision that if I dedicated myself to this goal, that I could do very well.

I set very big goals, but I’m a big believer in taking small daily steps towards excellence – you have to split things up into small, manageable chunks. Every day, I was hitting a workout, meeting a coach, or running a smaller race. Those small milestones were very important in helping me to reach my goal.

Starting a race can be very stressful! How do you get focused before each race so that you can execute at your highest level?

Meditation helps a lot. Even when I was a high school runner, you and I would take walks to the beach and I would work on calming myself. Over the last few years, I’ve focused even more on that. At one point, I had gotten to the point where I had relaxed too much – I wasn’t even present for the race! So, I had to learn to be calm, but use that nervous energy to help propel me forward in the race. I don’t need to zone out before the race, I need to zone in.

I’ve had two guests on the show that have done amazing work on helping people relax and focus their energy. I’d recommend that all of my listeners check out both Marc Schoen’s episode and Patrick Porter’s episode.

Let’s switch gears a bit. Talk a little bit about training. Are you always in training mode?

No. Over the course of a year, there are lots of peaks and valleys and that approach is essential because you need to stay healthy and uninjured. If you want to get better at an athletic endeavor, you have to be up and on your feet. That means that you have to honor your body and give it time to rest. Currently, after the Olympics, I’m on a two-week rest. Once I start moving again, I’m not going right back into high mileage, intense runs. It’s a slow build towards the races that I’ve chosen as being most important.

People on the Facebook page were wondering if you ever have bad workout days?

Definitely! If you start to have multiple bad days in a row, then it’s probably a sign that something is wrong. Maybe you’re getting a virus or you’re not giving yourself enough time to recover.

I have something called “an ugly, but effective day” – a concept that I got from The Champion’s Mind. If I don’t feel well, but I know my body is fine, then I use conquering that workout as my motivation for the day. Not only am I going to get the physical boost of doing the workout, but I’ll also get the mental strength from knowing that I did it when I didn’t feel great. That’s very valuable.

We both know how important sleep is for our recovery. What are you averaging every night?

When I’m training, it’s between eight and nine hours. If I’m in a hard cycle, I’ll do a cat nap during the day.

As an elite athlete, what is the biggest thing you’ve learned about in relation to your nutrition?

I’ve learn just how important timing is. I was always focused on the quality of the food, but when you’re eating is just as important as what you’re eating. You need to give your body the fuel it needs when it needs it. If I’m doing some cardio work, I get food into my system within 10-15 minutes; this helps you avoid the sugar crash that could come later. It’s so important to me that I would eat anything between 150-200 calories. Also, a good breakfast before a run needs to have some carbs and the meal after your workout should probably have an extra serving of carbs (rice, for example). Lastly, I work really hard to avoid having my blood sugar crash. I try to have small snacks every 2-3 hours so that I’m able to sustain an even supply of nutrients.

I know that Oiselle has been a big supporter for you for years, tell us what you love about them.

Yeah, I’ve been with them for four years now. They’re a women’s apparel company based out of Seattle. They’re all about supporting women who like to be athletic. As a company, they love to support female athletes who are striving to do their best and I love how much energy and spirit they bring to supporting others.

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