Q&A with The Runner’s Academy and Kate van Buskirk: 1500m Runner
Q: What were the weeks like for you leading up to the Commonwealth games?
The weeks leading into Commonwealth comprised my final preparation for the Games. Training-wise, my overall mileage dropped, and I focused most of my track workouts on speed and race specific intervals. I raced the mile at the Harry Jerome Track Classic in Vancouver before travelling to Europe to race a 1500m at the KBC Night of Athletics in Heusden, Belgium. I ran personal bests in both events (4:28.08 and 4:05.38, respectively). I also used the weeks leading up to the Games as a chance to work on mentally preparing to compete; I visualized myself being strong, relaxed, and successful, and tried not to waste any emotional energy on nerves.
Q: What was the atmosphere like in Glasgow?
The atmosphere in Glasgow was tremendous. Everyone affiliated with the Games was incredibly friendly and accommodating, and the spectators in the stands were amazing! My heat was in the morning session of the second day of athletics, meaning that there were no finals or “key events” taking place, and yet the 45,000 seat stadium was practically sold out! The fans were so energetic and excited… It really got me pumped up! Europe has such a great appreciation for and understanding of track and field so the crowds were really engaging and supportive.
Q: Did you have any expectations heading into the heat or the final?
My primary goal was to make the final, and run the smartest and strongest race I could. The field in the women’s 1500m was small but deep, and I thought that just getting through the heats would be a challenge. I ended up running very strongly in my heat and qualifying automatically for the final, and this gave me a little confidence boost going into the next day. Anything can happen in the final of a major championship so although I didn’t expect a medal, I never counted myself out of contention.
Q: What did you eat before your race?
There were great food options in the CWG village dining hall so I was able to stick closely to my normal pre-race diet. Before the heats, which were in the morning, I ate gluten-free hot cereal with fresh fruit, honey and chopped nuts, plus a banana and coffee. Before the final, which was in the late evening, I ate a small meal of rice and chicken, along with a banana. I are both of these meals 5hrs before my races. The 2 days leading into a big race I limit fibre, fats and dairy, eating more bland carbs and drinking lots of water and electrolytes.
Q: What kind of self-talk/self reassurance happened before this incredible race?
As I said, my strong performance in the heats gave me a nice bout of confidence going into the final. I had great trust in my preparation and fitness, and really focused on enjoying the whole experience rather than letting myself get too worked up. Nerves serve a purpose, but only to a certain degree, at which point they can really hinder a performance. I have learned to focus my thoughts and energy on controlling what I can, and not worrying about what I can’t. I knew I was in the best shape of my life, and that I had an amazing support system behind me, both in Glasgow and at home. This gave me huge jolt of positive energy going into the final.
Q: Your composure seemed so strong throughout the race, what did you feel the moment you realized you won bronze?
Crossing the finish line knowing that I had won my first international medal for Canada was one of the greatest moments of my life, and the feeling is really hard to adequately describe. I was elated, surprised, proud, overwhelmed…it was really incredible. The medal meant so much, but I was also so pleased with how I had raced (my tactics, my effort, my composure) and that is a truly satisfying feeling. In my experience, you know immediately when crossing the finish line whether or not you gave 100% and I knew in that moment that I had done all I could. It was also so amazing knowing that my Canadian teammate and good friend Nicole Sifuentes had placed 4th right behind me. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate together!
Q: How did you celebrate afterwards? Off camera!
I celebrated right afterwards by spending 2+ hours with a doping control officer 🙂 Medalists at major games are invariably selected for drug testing, and since my race was at 10pm, I was in a small room chugging water and trying to provide a urine sample until the early hours of the morning. The next few days I celebrated by spending time with my parents who were in Glasgow with me, and by cheering on my teammates in each of their events. I also ate my fair share of pizza and chocolate!
Q: What’s next on the race schedule for you?
I’m now enjoying some end-of-season down time before beginning my build-up towards 2015! I plan to race a bit over the next 6 months, but my main focus will be on next summer’s Pan Am Games here in Toronto in July, and the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August!
I’m so fortunate to have an unbelievably dedicated, knowledgeable and caring support system behind me, without which I wouldn’t be able to train and compete at the international level. The Runner’s Academy has been instrumental in keeping me healthy, recovered, strong, and race-ready. Dr. Kris Sheppard is my primary chiropractor, acupuncturist, and strength&conditioning coach, and working with him has helped immensely in elevating me to the next level this year. The work that I’ve done with Dr. Sheppard was augmented by utilizing the training and recovery tools at The Runner’s Academy, such as the Alter-G Treadmill, the Recovery Boots, and all of the strength and conditioning equipment. The staff and resources at the Runner’s Academy played a tremendous role in my Commonwealth Games medal, and all of my success this year. Thank you so much!
And here are links to Kate’s final race, her interview, and her medal ceremony….enjoy!
Kate’s Medal Ceremony: https://www.cbc.ca/sports-content/commonwealthgames/video/#id=2479655070