Spikes23 Oct 2014

Mum knows best


Kate and Kathy Grace Yoga

Kate Grace is the 2013 US Road Mile champion and a World Relays 4x1500m silver medallist, but she's still only the second most famous person in her family. Her mum, Kathy Smith, is a fitness icon, and has sold more than 16 million fitness videos. Kate tells us how her mother helped shape her career.

“For as long as I can remember, my mother always encouraged me to be active. She would take us on long hikes, so maybe from a young age the thought of going on a long run, to me, wasn’t such a scary thought.

“I played soccer and basketball when I was younger before later getting into cross country. My mum also had a background in running. She ran the Hawaii Marathon back in the 1970s in a decent time of 3:40, so it was cool to hear stories of how she trained for the race.

“My mum certainly never pushed me into running and she left it to the coaches as to the way I trained, but she was a big help to me in the way I mentally prepared for big races.”

Kate Grace Katie Mackey World Relays

Nerves of steel at this year's World Relays

“I used to get very nervous, but she would show me how to do different exercises involving vocal and physical cues of how to handle nerves and how to perform while nervous. It had a major benefit in helping calm me down and focus before a race. During college I feel these exercises allowed me to perform to a standard in races above my training levels.

“I still do these exercises today and you’ll see pictures of me before I race where I do this lip trill thing where I open up my vocal chords, relax my breathing and I stick my tongue out in this yoga pose.”

“Growing up in LA – with my mum as a fitness personality – I was exposed to lots of people from the entertainment industry. My mother was also involved with the Women’s Sport Foundation, which offered me a taste of being able to look up to female role models through sport and see that women in sport could achieve incredible feats.

“My mother also taught me the value of the full-body workout of strength, flexibility and mobility. This full-body endeavour is very important to me: as a high-level athlete as it allows me to withstand the pounding on the body. This is something I learned growing up and now it seems very natural to me.

“Today my mum might occasionally run a 5km or do treadmill intervals, but she hikes – she’s the most insane hiker. She will kill me on a hike. She lives in Park City in Utah and will just walk straight up a ski mountain. She leans forward in this pose, gets the glutes moving and just powers up which leaves me gasping to keep up.

“People have asked me if I ever do my mother’s workout videos; I didn’t do them regularly, except for a bit of fun. For example, friends would get together and have a salsa dancing party, put on my mum’s salsa video and follow along.

From womb to zoom

“In her pregnancy workout video, I am the one in her belly. At the end there is a clip of me at a few weeks old.”

“I might cringe slightly when I look at the coloured spandex or lycra that my mum used to wear. But the fashion was hilarious and it always provided great inspiration for those themed college parties.

“I guess there is always the issue as a teenage girl of having a mum look so good in short shorts and spandex. But it is awesome that she is in such good shape and my experiences growing up have definitely given me a high tolerance for anything able to embarrass or shake me!

“Above all, I am so proud of her. She is one of the strongest women I know and she has been the ultimate role model for my track career.”

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