Nation Ford's Katie Pou Confident Going into Rest of Season

Name: Katie Pou
School: Nation Ford High School
Hobbies: Other than running, I enjoy baking, painting, and photography
Event PRs: 1600-5:14.82, 800-2:25.00, and 5K:19.01.30
Academic Interests: Mathematics and science
Interesting Fact: An interesting fact about me is that I have a talking pet parrot named George who could live up to 50 years old.

How did you get involved in the sport and why?
I started running two years ago, the fall of 2015, my seventh grade year. Before, I never really had an interest in the sport and played soccer for a while. After running with my dad a few times in the summer, he encouraged me to try cross country at Nation Ford. I was behind on training, but as the season progressed I started to improve and develop a love for the sport. From that point on, I knew that running was the sport that I wanted to continue pursuing and go on to do later in my life.

Did you perform as you expected at Eye Opener and Furman?
I was very happy with my early season performance at Eye Opener and Furman starting with a new PR. I had good summer training and felt confident that I could perform well at these invitationals also having previous experience last year.

How do you look at rankings and having the top five individual ranking (at time of interview) in the state?
I don't focus on the rankings specifically because each course can vary in difficulty. I prefer to look at my year over year progression on each course, but I am very happy to be ranked where I am now in the state.

What confidence does this give you for the rest of the season?
My early season times allow me to check where I am currently and what kind of training I need to do if I want to improve later on in the season. I am confident that as the season progresses and get rest that I can improve further.

Do you have any family members involved in the sport? Please explain.
My parents like running and do a few road races throughout the year.

What roles do you have on the team this year?
On the Nation ford cross country team, we don't have assigned team captains. Instead, each person takes leadership of the group when needed, such as leading warm ups and cool downs, stretching, workouts, etc. We all learn to build off each other instead of having a main leader that we all follow in the group besides our coaches.

Do you have any post cross country meets planned?
I hope to compete at the Foot Locker (South) regional meet in Charlotte.

Do you have any specific race strategies that work best for you?
I like to have a good perspective of the course before a race and study the terrain. I also like to focus on having a good warm up and making sure that I am prepared to go fast at the start.

What do you enjoy about the team and being on the course with them daily?
I enjoy being around everyone on the Nation Ford Cross Country Team. What I love the most about my team is their kindness, the friendships we've created, and our bond to push each other in practice, have fun, and a shared love of the sport. There is also usually always someone playing music for the group to keep people entertained at practice. 

What plans do you have for the future?
In the future, I hope to continue improving my times and help my team qualify for the state championship.

Are you looking to run in college?
Yes, I am hoping to run in college in the future.

Do you remember your first race?
Yes, my first race was at the Skyhawk Invitational the fall of 2015. I remember that I was very nervous and slightly scared of how the race was going to pan out because it was not only my first time racing with a larger group of girls, but it was also a course that I was unfamiliar with. In the end, I was happy to finish, learned a lot, and couldn't wait for my next race.

What do you feel you get out of the sport? 
I think that cross country has not only made me stronger physically but also mentally. I also enjoy the many friendships that I have gained from doing cross country and traveling to different meets, as well as with participating in summer camps.

How did your summer training?
After track season, I took a few weeks off and also participated in a six-week summer swim team league. I think swimming has helped to keep me in shape, has allowed me to rest my legs a bit, and control my breathing. I got back to my running in June and had a good 10 weeks of base training before school started.  

Do you have a specific reason to achieve a goal or goal this season?
My goal is to show good improvement over last year. I am also focused on watching my training so that I don't get injured.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Nation Ford team?
Not only do I love the passion and heart of everyone on my team, but also their will to get better throughout the season and to work hard during practice. I love everyone's encouragement and motivation to push through and strive for the best in a race. I also love spending time with my teammates, everyone is very inclusive and bonds well together. I have also been so grateful for all the wonderful coaches that I have had over the years who have helped me to strive to do my best, trained me to improve, and have believed in me.

What helps you stay focus during practices and races?
During practice I stay focus by mentally preparing myself ahead of time for hard workouts, thinking about my goals, areas where I need to improve, and the purpose of the workout. In races, I have learned to focus on my pace and my strategy for that race.

What responsibility do you feel you have to your teammates? Please explain.
I feel that I always need to be positive and encouraging of my teammates and support all of them when we race.  

Do you have a pre-race tradition? Please explain.
I am a little superstitious. Before a race, I always like to have the same dinner the night before and breakfast the day of. I also must have a Honey Stinger Waffle before all my races.

How do you balance academics, athletics, and other responsibilities?
I usually have practice right after school each day and then I go home, have dinner, and do my homework. I usually try to get ahead on the weekends for the upcoming week of school so I can go to bed and have enough sleep to perform well. In addition to cross country, I am also a part of student council and FBLA this year which keeps me very busy.

What challenges or injuries have you encountered in the sport? How did you stay motivated during this time?
My first year of cross country I experienced shin splints, but that was due to training in improper shoes. My second year of cross country, I experienced hip pains that we think was growing pains but I have worked through it and no longer have that. During track earlier this year I experienced some slight shin pain, but I worked on keeping my calves loose and stretching which helped. So far this season I feel very good and am very focused on keeping my body healthy by monitoring my mileage. During these injuries, I was able to stay motivated because I knew I loved the sport so I focused on recovering, managing the injuries and learning from them so that I would hopefully not experience them again. 

If there is one thing in the world you could do, what would it be and why?
One thing I would want to do in the future is to travel across the world and do a run/ race on each continent. I think that this would be a fun and adventurous experience that I would never forget.

Favorite runner(s):
Jenny Simpson and Emma Coburn
Favorite foods: blackberries, mangos, and salad
Favorite quote: "Opportunities are seldom, perfect. But I've learned that if you're not ready for them, they may not come again." -Tiki Barber
Favorite training shoe and racing shoe: Brooks Launch 4 for training and Saucony spikes
Hobbies: Other than running, I enjoy baking, painting, and photography.
Inspirational person in your life:  My mom, my dad, and my grandparents