Waccamaw's Anna Loftus: Competing to Her Best Potential

How are you reflecting on the first part of the season as the season winds down?

The first part of the season has definitely been one to remember! It wasn't everything that I had imagined, but it was everything that was supposed to happen. For example, some races I wish I had a better performance at, but cross country races are very unpredictable and I can't control all circumstances. I'm just happy that I am finally truly competing again and have the chance to race with S.C.'s best runners.

What do you hope to achieve the last few weeks of the season?

In the last few weeks of the season, I am hoping to have the best performance possible. I am aiming to contribute to my team's potential success at states by placing the best I can possibly place. Also, I would love to lower my PR as much as possible to give myself a little boost of confidence going into track season.

Do you have any post-season race plans?

I do have post-season plans! I am planning to run at the Eastbay South Regional (formerly Foot Locker South Regional) as long as I am still healthy and at an adequate level of fitness. At that race, I am hoping to give myself a chance to purely compete and see what I can do against the south's best runners. Then once my XC season is officially over, I am going to give my body and mind some rest before winter conditioning begins for track.

What goals do you have for track and field?

In track season, I hope to lower my times significantly as junior year is arguably the most important year in a high school runner's career. Also, I hope to step into a good leadership role on the team and help everyone become the best version of themselves. I also hope to help my team win the team title this year, as we felt short last year.

How will you prepare prior to track and field season?

Preparing for track season is one of my favorite things to do because of how intense it is. I will spend most of my time in the weight room working on becoming stronger and more explosive and will do many intense reps that can help me gain more of the speed track requires. Recovery is equally important, so lots of sleep, proper nutrition, and adequate rest will also help me reach the level that I want to get to.

What's the best type race scenario for you? How do you adapt?

The best race type scenario is one in which I set myself up in the best position possible from the start of the gun and when I am able to control my thoughts, form and breathing to help me relax and perform my best. However, races are usually never how I planned, so I always adapt to any circumstances by keeping my mind calm and telling myself I can still place well. For example, in the Low Country Invitational race, I had a horrible fall after the first 200m and got stepped on by many runners. However, I got right up and told myself that I could catch up to the top group little by little.

How do you look at competition?

I look at competition as an opportunity to run to my potential. I can't control what the runners around me are going to do or what moves they are going to make, but I can control how I react in response to what pace they set or surges they make. At the end of the day, all of the runners are normal individuals like me, and I try not to stress about what race they are going to have. I just want to be the best version of myself.

Tell us about your role on your team. How do you interact with teammates in this role?

This year I was so thrilled to be one of the new leaders on my team as our seniors from last year, who were such big impacts on our program, graduated. I think of myself as more of a leader by example through showing my teammates how to warm up, practice, and stretch properly. I also try to talk with my teammates, especially the younger ones, as much as possible so that they know that I care about them and their running careers. Building up the people around me is so important because it secretly builds me up as well.

What has been your motivation this season?

My biggest motivation this season most definitely has to be the result of my track season. My state meet did not go the way I hoped, and it made me realize how much time was running out for me to be the person I dreamed of as a middle school runner.

How do you look at your ranking in the state?

To be honest, I really don't try to obsess over my ranking in the state (S.C. no. 6). I agree that rankings are important to some degree, but they don't show what you do at practice everyday nor your true identity. At the end of the day, I just want to be the best version of myself that God created me to be.

What made you decide to run and why?

I decided to run because of my older sister that was on the team years prior to me. Also, doing Girls on the Run in elementary school sparked my interest in running as it became a positive way to spend my energy.

How have you seen the sport grow and yourself in the sport?

Running has grown so much since I have been in it as more people are paving the way to run faster paces. There are also so many more recovery and strengthening techniques that have arisen to optimize performance. As for myself, it has been so cool for me to see my body run paces and distances easier than before. When I started running cross country, running two miles seemed so far. Yet, now I can run an eight mile route as a long run. I'm so blessed to have developed a strong body and mind to compete at my best potential.

How has the pandemic impacted your perspective on life and the sport?

The pandemic made me realize that nothing is guaranteed. For example, any practice or meet could be my last. So as a result, I try to give my best performance at both practice and competition. The pandemic has also taught me to be adaptable, as many dates and races have been moved around. I can't control what happens around me, but I can control how I react to what is given.