Courtney Frerichs crosses the line in the 3000m steeplechase in London (© Getty Images / AFP)
Courtney Frerichs in 2017 proved she knows how to deliver when it counts. The US steeplechaser shares her best bits of advice.
You have earned your spot on the team, so don’t be afraid to give yourself a chance because you have exactly the same right to be on that start line as anybody else.
Having a positive mindset is huge.
When I made the US Olympic team [in 2016] I recall with 800m to go a gap had developed between myself and the lead three. I had got into a really negative place. I was having a pity party. Yet with 600m to go I said to myself, I’m still running fast, let’s try and break the race down into small segments. That made it easier for me to create positive feelings. I ended up finishing second that day and made the team.
No steeplechase is ever going to be perfect. You have to keep going and be prepared for things to happen. You might be clipped by somebody or encounter an incident at the barrier.
I believe I’ve been able to cope pretty well with the technique of the hurdles because of my gymnastics background [Frerichs was a gymnast for 15 years up until the age of 18]. In gymnastics, if you wobble and fall off the beam, you have to get back up.
Trust in your coach and the programme. You could be in the best programme in the world but it is not going to count for little unless you have trust and faith in the programme.
I was lucky in that at college I had a close relationship with my coach, James Butler, and when I left we both agreed I would go to Jerry Schumacher. He was in total support. His last words to me before I left were; re-set your mind, know your limits and know he is going to get you ready.
Top tip for surviving the athletics circuit
To travel with a team is important and I have been lucky in that I have travelled with Emily Infield, Shelby Houlihan, Colleen Quigley and Evan Jager. It makes it much easier to travel because we have each other to rely on.
I would also say bring any food with you that you might miss. A little tradition of mine since I was a freshman at college has been to eat Fruit Loops for breakfast on a race day, so I always make sure I take the cereal with me when I’m travelling the circuit.
I have picked up a lot of tips from Shalane Flanagan’s cookbook Run Fast, Eat Slow.
She cooks with whole foods that are really tasty. I really like her butternut squash recipe and this summer once a week we’ve been cooking the fish tacos with mango avocado salsa. It is fantastic.
On race days, I always go with the model: look good, feel good. I like to go with an outfit that makes me feel fast.
If you are looking for somewhere to run in Caribbean I would recommend the Turks and Caicos Islands. It has a long, flat sidewalk to run on and access to a track that is open to the public. When I was on my honeymoon there, I went for 70 miles of training that week!
I’m a slow driver, like a grandma. I guess it annoys me when people don’t use their blinkers. I would say to any driver just be aware of your surroundings.
Social media tip
Be genuine. Don’t over-think it and try to be yourself on social media. I really like sharing nice places I have been running in – like Colorado Springs.
Don’t force it. If it is meant to be, it will happen. My husband and I avoided dating each other because we were team-mates and six years later, here we are married. It is fun to be friends at first. Because my husband and I spend so much time apart because of my training commitments, it is nice to do the simple things like go to the grocery store together or grab an ice cream.