Senior Project Interview
Interviewee: Natalie Manning
Sport: Cross Country
Personal Record: 22:15
Interview Questions (Directly to Athlete)
Q1: What is your overall mentality about running?
A1: I don’t like practicing, but they make me better and I know they are the key to get better and improve. Usually a bad week of practice will bring a bad mentality and feeling about how I might expect to run. If I can get a good week of practice I feel on top of my game and ready to run, I know I have prepared myself.
Q2: What kind of mindset do you try to have?
A2: When I’m running it hurts, I know in my mind before I start that it will hurt during practice or once the race starts. You have to have that mentality where you can accept the pain and know what you are in for, but just get through it. You have to think that everyone else is hurting just as bad, so it comes down to who has the stronger mentality and willpower.
Q3: What are three words that can describe your mentality?
A3: Aggressive, Perseverance, and Determined.
Q4: On a rating 1-10 how important is mentality and why?
A4: I would say a 9. Running is definitely a mind game. You have to push your body to its limits and train the mind to force the body to keep going when it is telling you and begging you to stop.
Q5: How do you feel right before a race starts?
A5: I’m usually nervous, but I just try to calm down and visualize myself; I really try to think about racing fast and performing. Playing out the race mentally in your head is very helpful. So I would say you must be mentally strong and efficient before and during the race.
These photos are of Natalie in different meets. The first is at Nash Central. The next two were at the Greensboro XC Invitational. Followed by three from the Knights Invitational @ Red Oak.
This is the product approval that stated my product was to be an experiment.
This bar graph shows the correlation for the stats and times compared to the mentality rating scale.
Mentality Rating Components
This system was developed to assess the athlete’s mentality as they were observed and interviewed. The overall mentality was based on five different aspects on a rating 1-10, that were then divided by 5 to form an average, which made up the overall mentality rating. The 5 different categories were: Confidence, Aggressiveness, Focus, Mental Strength, and Preparation. Confidence=C, Aggressiveness=A, Focus=F, Mental Strength= MS, Preparation=P.
Details for Each Meet
Scrimmage @ Gillette Park: First ever meet. Had never ran at this course and confidence as far as knowing how to pace was the lowest it has ever been due to the inexperience of running Cross Country and distances of over 3 miles. Lowest ever mentality rating (3) as well as worse time. Shows a correlation to a negative mindset brings out negative and less successful performances. C=2, A=4, F=4, MS=3, P=2.
Meet @ Red Oak: Had one race under her belt and was ready to perform better. However, had still never ran at this course, which brought out problems such as when to kick on the final stretch, different hills that were present, etc. Athlete bettered her time by a few seconds but was noticeably still affected mentally and could do a lot better physical performance time if mentality was up to par. Mentality rating: 5. C=5, A=6, F=6, MS=5, P=6.
Meet @ Gillette Park: Had already previously ran here, so mentally she knew what she had to do as well as when and where on the course. Athlete beat her personal best time by over 30 seconds! Easily observed was a much better state of mind and mentality rating (6). More relaxed, ran faster, was more assure and certain. C=7, A=7, F=7, MS=6, P=7.
Knights Invitational: Bigger meet. Had already once ran at this course and definitely had more competition. Also, this meet was on a Saturday, instead of a school day. This allowed the athlete to completely focus on the race and not have any distractions or stressors that could corrupt her mentality in preparation of performing her best time. Mentality rating highest so far and that went perfect with the athletes new best time set at this meet of 24:02! The athlete shaved off more than 30 seconds from her personal best time for the second time in a row and improved by one mentality rating point to a 7 rating. C=7, A=8, F=8, MS=8, P=8.
Meet @ Hunt: After twice in a row shaving off times of more than 30 seconds the athlete began to gain more and more confidence and know how to properly pace the entire race, as well as how to attack hills. This was key to this meet, because this course had many hills throughout the entire layout. Many other athletes did not PR, but Natalie beat her previous held best time by 2 seconds on a course that many athletes and even coaches regard as one that athletes usually run slower on. Mentality rating once again increased by a single point to 8. C=9, A=9, F=9, MS=9, P=8.
Meet @ Nash Central: The key to this meet was that it was a home meet. Natalie had practiced all season long on this course and she knew precisely the course and knew when to kick, where the 1- and 2- mile markers were located at and also finished on the track, which helped the athlete out because she had previously ran Track the year before. The athlete cut down her time by a huge margin of around an entire minute and also reached her first ever nine on the mentality rating scale. C=10, A=10, F=9, MS=9, P=10.
Adidas XC Invitational: Once again a Saturday meet that allowed almost maximum focus was the Adidas XC Invitational. Natalie had completed a thorough walkthrough of the course and had tons of good competition to run against that day. She improved by 15 seconds to secure a new season best time. This race went almost as well as it could go, except for the 300-meter gradual incline finish that slowed Natalie’s time by a few seconds and might have gotten into her head and disrupted her mental focus and strength for a few moments, which is enough to make a drastic difference. C=9, A=9, F=10, MS=10, P=10.
Greensboro XC Invitational: This meet was Natalie’s 2013 season best time. Her time peaked at this meet with a time of 22:15. A major component of her being able to run this well was that there was no Wednesday meet this week leading up to this Saturday Invitational. This week was fully devoted and focused on doing her absolute best at Hagan Stone Park. The practices were tough on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and light on Thursday and Friday. This allowed for maximum potential of the body being practiced and then rested, as well as maximum potential of the mind to feel focused and prepared for the meet. The competition was the biggest she had seen all year, the course was a fast course, there was not many insane hills present, and Natalie had warmed up very well that day. Today was considered a 10 on the mentality rating, the only one she got all season. C=10, A=10, F=10, MS=10, P=10.
Meet @ Nash Central: Due to such an effort at the past Saturday meet and then having practices that were a mix between tough practices, while trying to rest, Natalie did not run as well as she did in her overall season PR. Her mentality rating suffered and was an 8 that day and she did not beat her best time. C=10, A=8, F=8, MS=9, P=7.
Conference Meet @ Red Oak: This was one of the most important meets of the season. Even though Natalie did not beat her best time that she had posted at Hagan Stone Park at the Greensboro Invitational, she ran one of her best races. She had already seen the course and knew what she had to do. Sometimes in Cross Country Races, the frontrunners pace slower than usual and this gives the race a slower time for everyone. Natalie ran a slower time but beat many opponents that usually beat her. So an overall mentality rating of 9 was given for this meet. Natalie mentally knew the most important thing for this race was not necessarily to PR, but to beat other runners for key spots that may help the team win Conference. C=10, A=9, F=9, MS=9, P=10.