Interview with Monte Vista junior distance runner, Brooke Starn

1) How old were you when you first started running? What other sports have you participated in aside from Cross Country and Track and Field?

I started running CYO in 5th grade and club at the end of 6th grade. I played competitive soccer through 6th grade and competitive basketball through 8th grade.

2) What were your track PRs heading into HS?
In 8th grade I ran:

1500- 4:45
4k XC- 14:29
5k road race- 18:19

3) What do you remember about your freshman year on both XC and TF teams? Highlights? Who were the runners on the Monte Vista team that helped you transition to HS?
My freshman cross country team was amazing and definitely a big part of my transition into high school. At the time, the team had 6 seniors, 1 junior, and myself in our rotating top 7. Most of these girls happened to be my older sister's best friends and I had known them for a long time. They made the transition perfect, treating me like a little sister with all the support and good natured teasing and sarcasm that comes with that. Katharine Smiley in particular, who currently runs for Tulane, was a big help that season.

A highlight of my freshman cross country season has to be Mt. Sac and the trip to Disneyland after with the team!

A highlight for track season was definitely Sacramento MOC. I was able to break the school records in both the 1600 and 3200 in the same evening.

4) What about your sophomore season? What do you feel was your best XC race? How about on the track?
During my sophomore cross country season I was really happy with my 17:55 at state and my 15th place finish at Footlocker West. I could not have asked for a better sophomore track season. I went in feeling strong and was glad to be able to hold that throughout the season. Some highlights have to be winning the seeded 3200 race at Arcadia, NCS MOC 1600, and placing 6th at the state meet in 4:53.

5) Your team won the NCS Division I team championship this past XC season. Can you talk a little about your team and the great additions over the past few seasons? How has your role on the team changed?
My role on the team changed pretty drastically from my freshman to sophomore season as we graduated 6 seniors. I went from being the little sister to taking on some leadership roles. We have been lucky enough to have two solid incoming classes the past two seasons which have contributed to our winning NCS the last two years. My sophomore year we added Meredith Corda and Cat Kiser, and this last season we had four amazing freshman in Maddie and Audrey Coney, Karalyn Sawchuk, and Alex Wilson. It was also fun to have our school record holder in the 800, Heidi Furhiman, somewhat reluctantly :) join us for this past cross country season. Everyone on the team contributes positively and we all push each other to the next level. All 14 of us in our varsity training group have forged a friendship over the last couple years that exists on and off the track.

6) You had a couple of challenging races at the end of the season. What was the cause and what did you have to do to get back to your current fitness?
I'm kind of laughing at the question, "challenging" is a nice way to put it (I've used "disastrous" before). My season started out okay and I was happy to run 17:44 at Clovis. It fell off pretty drastically after that and we did not find out until after the season that I had low ferritin and hemoglobin. We knew it was pretty common but did not suspect it due to my iron rich diet (lots of red meat!) and I was struggling to but able to hit most splits in workouts. I have really increased my iron intake since then and just tried to stay positive. I have also had some great trail runs with Brighie Leach from Campolindo in the off season, where we physically challenged ourselves and got excited about this track season as we had relatable cross country seasons. I have also started the college recruiting process and it was comforting to hear coaches say they weren't concerned and it was extremely common for girls to have low ferritin levels at some point.

7) Who are the coaches/adults that have had a big influence on your development as a runner and what have you learned from them?
My parents both love running. For as long as I can remember, my mom has always been running and competing, it seemed like a natural thing everyone did. I love having her as part of the MVHS coaching staff. My dad competed in high school and ran 4:55 as a freshman, which he points out I did not do :). My parents have always supported my running even though my sisters constantly try to change conversations away from running :). When I was in 4th grade my PE teacher, Austin Glimme, who later became my first high school track coach, really encouraged me to run. He wanted me to break the elementary school mile record and would come out before school to time my miles. When I started running club, I ran for Coach Dave Bayliss who has had a huge impact on my running. He taught me about the sport, the science behind the sport, how to race, how to tune in to how I am physically and mentally feeling, and to not just focus on performance but also the process, all while keeping it fun! He continues to be a friend and mentor. When I got to high school, Coach Mike Davis took over. From the beginning, he has always been willing to spend time explaining workouts and plans to me and has taught me that there is more than one way to get to the same result. He's taught me to be more patient and confident. I always know that he has my best interests and success in mind.

8) Favorite XC Invitational? Favorite XC course? Favorite XC workout? Favorite long run? Favorite Track Invitational? Favorite Track event? Favorite Track workout? Favorite opponent? Enjoy doing with free time?

XC Invitational- State Meet
XC Course- Woodward Park
XC Workout- 4x1 mile at Osage Park, this is a fun one because it is the only workout we do here so we know Osage means business :)
Long Run- Tall Trees at HSU Distance Running Camp and trails runs in Redwood Regional Park
Track Invitational- Arcadia and State Meet
Track Event- goes back and forth between 1600 and 3200 depending on how I am feeling
Track Workout- anything on the track that makes me feel fast! I like pretty much all track workouts as long as the distances are mixed up week to week
Favorite Opponent- I can't pick just one, we are so lucky to live in an area with such great competition. It is always fun to race the girls I used to race in middle school (Megan McCandless, Chloe Hansel, Kendall and Kaitlin Derry, Fiona O'keeffe, Lauren Jacob, Rylee Bowen, Kyra Hunsberger, Christine Bayliss) and the great competition in NCS I didn't start racing until high school such as Brighie Leach and Morgin Coonfield
Free time- sleep! I enjoy hanging out with friends and playing with my 100 pound German Shepherd puppy.

9) What does a typical training week look like for you? About how many miles a week? Pace per mile of most runs? Weights? Core work?
A typical week during the season has one medium day with the primary focus being speed and turnover with lots of recovery to keep it pretty easy, one hard quality workout day, one race, one long run, and either two easier days and an off day or three easier days. I keep track of volume in hours/minutes but it usually turns out to be 40-50 miles per week. Pace is very dependent on the run, but I would say7:20 is an estimate of the average. I usually do strength/ injury prevention work in the off season one to two times a week, but this off season the team tried yoga instead. We have a core routine that includes some upper body strengthening we do three times a week.

10) What races are you most looking forward to the rest of the season? Any goals you would like to share?
I am really looking forward to Arcadia and hopefully being able to qualify for the state meet again. We are trying to put together a good DMR this season and am excited to see how that goes. This season I am hoping to run PRs in my primary events (1600 and 3200) as well as try to post a decent 800 and 400.

11) You had success as a young runner and have continued that success in high school. What is your advice for a young runner heading to high school?
This is a great question! I am glad you asked. There are lots of things to keep in mind when transitioning from middle school to high school running. I have come up with a few main points I think could be helpful:
1. Participate in multiple sports and activities (in middle school especially)- there is plenty of time to make running a focus in high school and doing other things helps with preventing injury, reducing burnout, and keeping things fun!

2. Be patient- some of the college coaches have told me that they consider it a successful season if a college freshman comes close to running the same times they did as a high school senior and I think the same thing can be said about an 8th grade standout moving into high school. Academically and socially there are more demands and that requires time to adjust, it took me until the end of my sophomore cross country season to beat my 8th grade 5k PR. Coach Davis told me before my freshman season that freshman cross country was not his goal, it was a four year and beyond career. 14 year old me hated this and didn't understand why I wasn't running what I did in 8th grade, but in retrospect he was so right. I think this attitude helped keep me healthy and has helped me to progress each year.

3. Keep it fun and new! When you start running earlier than high school it is sometimes easy to get burned out, so challenge yourself to learn something knew about the sport every season and try new things!

4. Love it!- In middle school it is easy to go to practice and do the workout you are told to do and not have to think about it much after that, but in high school, athletes need to assume more responsibility for their own running. It becomes more important to make sure you are eating and sleeping right, managing your time effectively, and get the workout you are supposed to do in, even if there is not a scheduled practice. This is hard to do if you are not internally motivated and love what you are doing.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
Thank you for the interview and all you do for the sport!

Thank you very much for your time Brooke! AJC