Before the American Athletic Conference Championship on Oct. 29, one of the biggest races of the year, sophomore Katie Leisher and freshman Grace Moore will prepare in their own ways.
The night before the race, Moore will do what she always does: Make sure all of her clothes are laid out so she is ready to go.
“I always set everything out to make sure I’m ready,” Moore said, “It’s something I’ve been doing since high school.”
The next day she will put on her lucky headband, the one she always wears, and she will listen to her music, which consists of mostly Eminem, to get into racing mode.
“Listening to music and wearing the same headband has always been a superstition of mine,” Moore said.
She also makes sure she eats a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana right before the race.
Leisher doesn’t worry as much about her clothing and music. She just makes sure she eats the same thing for breakfast after her morning run.
“Yogurt, granola and a waffle,” Leisher said make up her pre-race meal.
Moore and Leisher’s pre-race preparation seems to be working. Moore finished first at Saturday’s Leopard Invitational, hosted by Lafayette College, and Leisher crossed the finish line eight seconds later to place second.
The runners have the same way of getting ready physically, but they have their differences when it comes to the mental aspect.
Physically, they both participate in a two-mile “shakeout” run before the race to help get them warmed up. Then, they stretch and continue to warm up with the team.
Once she is physically prepared, Moore uses techniques she was taught to get ready mentally.
“I warm up to physically prepare myself, but I have been told to visualize to mentally prepare for a race,” said Moore. “So I do that just to see how everything is going to turn out, and to set a plan for myself before the race.”
Visualizing the race before it happens also helps Moore stay strong mentally throughout her run.
“During a race, what is going to get you through it is being mentally tough,” Moore said.
After Leisher prepares physically, she reminds herself to maintain her form.
“I always tell myself to focus on form,” she said. “If my form crumbles, then my race is going to also crumble.”
During the race she does her best not to think about anything other than the runners in front of her and trying to catch up with them.
Though they have different routines, both seem to be working for Moore and Leisher, who have been Temple’s top two female runners this season.
Moore and Leisher started the season with a strong start at the Duquesne Duals, finishing first and second for Temple and second and fourth overall, respectively.
They both also had solid performances in the Big 5 Invitational. Moore finished first for Temple and fifth overall. Leisher was close behind and captured a second place finish for Temple and finished sixth overall.
Moore then sat out their next race, the Rider Invitational, because of an ankle injury. But Leisher stepped up and finished first for Temple and fourth overall.
Both were back a couple weeks later to race in the Paul Short Invitational. Leisher and Moore both finished in the top 150 out of 403 runners, coming in 54th and 134th place, respectively.
Moore, Leisher and three other Owl runners will compete against the best runners in the conference at The American’s championship meet.
Though the stakes and pressure may be higher for the runners, their pre-race rituals will stay the same.
Tessa Sayers can be reached at email@example.com.