Thursday, January 13, 2011

Runner Profile: Jordan White

Who is Jordan White? Well, to me, she's my 2nd cousin, or rather, the grandaughter to my Great Aunt & Uncle (whom I could write an entire post on because they're so cool). She's also a Junior at Vanderbilt University where she's an integral member of the Cross Country and Track teams. During the 2010 X-Country season she placed either 1st or 2nd in each race for her team.

A few other highlights from the 2010 season:
  • She led the Commodores to a 13th place finish at Pre-Nationals with a 6K time of 21:21.6
  • Earned second team All-SEC honors after placing 10th overall at the conference meet with a time of 21:18.46.
  • Finished 11th overall at the NCAA South Regional (20:25.15) and earned a spot at the NCAA National Championship meet
  • Placed 112th out of 255 participants at the NCAA National Championship meet with a time of 21:24.
Just before the holidays Jordan graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me about training, racing, the mental game, and what keeps her running. So, here's a look into the life of a college runner...

Getting Started
When and why did you start running? I first started running when I was 7. There was a race near my house called the Old Chatham Hunt Country 5k and as part of it they had a mile run for kids. I decided that I wanted to run the kids mile so I began “training” for it. I ran a Turkey Trot for the first time that same fall and in the spring I joined Chatham Gold which was a track and field program for kids my age.

What was your pre-college running experience like? I had a very good pre-college running experience. I was very lucky to be part of a talented team and I had an excellent coach that really helped me to consistently improve my running. When I started running track in high school I was competing in the 200 meters. Before long I moved up in distance to the 400 meters and 400 meter hurdles. By senior year I was running the 800 and 1500 meters and cross country. The only negative associated with my pre-college running experience would be fracturing my navicular bone in June of my senior year. I feared that it would prevent me from having a college running experience but thankfully I had a very good surgeon and am now competing injury and pain-free.

How/why did you choose Vanderbilt? I chose Vanderbilt because of the combination of academics and athletics. It was and still is an up and coming program and I knew that I would be able to make an impact upon it while at the same time receiving a top-notch education. After I made my official visit to campus the choice was quite easy.

Who has been most influential to you when it comes to running? My high school coach, Carlo Cherubino, has by far and away been the most influential person on my running career. He has always believed in me and has greatly shaped the runner that I am today. We still correspond while I am at school and when I return home for breaks I always stop in at his practices to visit with him and run with his team.

Have you always been a cross country runner? By no means have I always been a cross country runner. I did not pick up cross country until my senior year of high school and this past season was only my third cross country season ever. I played soccer (instead of running cross country) every fall season through my junior year.

The Mental Game
What were your goals going into this last season? Going into this last season my goal was really just to be in our team’s top five. I had different goals for each race but they tended to change as the season went on.

What are your goals for your running career? After this upcoming track season I will still have two years of eligibility. First and foremost I want to finish out my collegiate career healthy and injury free. In cross country I would like to improve upon my finishes at the more prestigious meets and help my team earn a bid to NCAA’s. In track I want to lower my times in the 800 meters and the 1500/mile and compete in the regional meet at the end of the outdoor season.

Do you prefer running alone or with others? I enjoy both and it usually depends on the day. Some days I need a good solo run to clear my head or just do some thinking. On days where I want to chat or don’t really feel like running it definitely helps to run with others.

How do you stay motivated? Tiredness and winter weather definitely affect my motivation but I know that I always feel better once I am running and that usually gets me out the door. It is definitely easier to stay motivated at school when I have teammates to run with and they are equally as motivated.

Do you have any pre-race rituals? The night before and the morning of a race always involve some rituals. I eat the same dinner and breakfast before every race and I always wait to shave my legs until the night before the race. When we leave the hotel the morning of the race I have my iPod playing and I am listening to my “XC Warm-Up” playlist.

Any superstitions? I have a pair of socks and a sports bra that I wear for every race.

Do you stretch before each run? What is your warm-up routine? I don’t have any formal stretching or warm-up routine before my runs. If anything feels particularly tight I will try and stretch it out a bit before I start running.

What are you favorite distances? In cross country my favorite distance is the 6k. I think of it as three 2ks and that helps me to keep my focus during it. In track I have always enjoyed the 800 but I’m becoming more and more of a fan of the 1500/mile.

How important is strategy when it comes to training and racing? How do you devise your strategies? Strategy is not particularly important to my training and racing. With training my main strategy is not to over-train. When it comes to racing, strategy is a bit more important. Most of our strategy involves running as a tight pack and trying to place that pack ahead of most teams’ third runners.

Do you run any races that aren’t associated with the NCAA? I usually run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning (although this year I did not). This past June I also ran in the Freihofer’s Run for Women in Albany, NY.

What is the off-season like for you? Running never really seems to have an off-season. We do take about two full weeks off after the outdoor season before we start summer training. During summer training we cycle through three phases. Each phase has three weeks of quality followed by a recovery week. The first phase is all easy build-up mileage and the next two phases consist of a mix of workouts ranging from fartleks to tempo runs to 1000 meter repeats.

The Goods of Running
What’s the best part of running in college? Teammates are definitely the best part of college running. It is great having 17 other girls that are equally as motivated and that can push me to be the best runner I can be. In addition they are 17 of my best friends that I get to spend at least two hours with everyday. We are all very close and I know that I could turn to anyone of them for advice, support, or even just a good laugh.

How do you like to celebrate a great race? Celebrating a great race usually involves a lot of relaxation. After returning from a meet I will take a long, hot shower and put on my most comfortable sweats. Some teammates and I might get some frozen yogurt and if it has been a really great race, I will take the night off from homework and watch a good movie.

What is your favorite running memory? My favorite running memory would be from this past cross country season at the regional meet. The official results were not posted for quite awhile and I had pretty much convinced myself that I had not qualified. A few of my teammates and I were watching the boys run when my Mom came to join us. She had her camera and I wanted to see the pictures she had taken during our race. The first one I saw when I turned the camera on was one of the official results. I zoomed in and realized that I had qualified. It was a great feeling knowing that all my training and hard work had paid off. As only one other person in Vanderbilt history had made NCAA’s (in 1997), qualifying was particularly special.

What is your favorite tip for runners? Leave your watch behind every once in awhile and just run how you feel. I absolutely love my Garmin but sometimes I get too caught up in paces and distances. And in doing so I sometimes lose sight of why I am running. When I run without my watch, I find that I listen to my body and that I run for the pure joy of running.

In Action

Were, or are, you a college runner? What's your favorite thing about it?

On a personal note, today is Woody's Birthday! I'm so lucky to have been able to celebrate so many of his birthday's with him and am excited for the many more ahead of us! There's a lot to look forward to in the future and we're blessed to be able to celebrate today. I am incredibly thankful to his mother and father for bringing him into this world!
today's workout -
4mile run
3x10 cable push down
3x10 cable pull twists
2x30sec planks on exercise ball


Barbara said...

Love this post. Jordan's amazing , as are her Mom , brother and Winderful Grandparents ! Of course , I'm slightly prejudiced.

Happy bday to Woody , too ! Hope you have time to celebrate tonight>

Rose said...

I don't think my college even HAD a track team. We were...not well known for our sports. Except swimming. We were national champs year after year for swimming. No other sports really did well, though. I know we had a football team, but that was about it.

I would take up jogging about every six months in college. I would go out every day for a week. But, I was too busy drinking, smoking cigarettes, and reading philosophy books to really stick with it, so nothing ever came of it.

I sometimes wonder where I'd be if I had started running earlier in life.

Grace said...

Go Jordan! I am always in awe of any one who is committed in the area of sports/health AND academics at the same time. It's amazing how discipline in one area carries over to the other.

Detroit Runner said...

Didn't start running until I was 40!

amrion nutraceuticals said...

A great post Lisa. Thanks for sharing. Its interesting that our family has had such an interest, and apparently some skills at running. You may, or may not, know that my Mom's little brother Uncle Irvy, ran track and did some filed events for Michigan Tech way back, and I ran track in high school ( 1/2 mile and mile as we referred to them back then with best times of 2:01 and 4:19) and more than a few nicks and bruises from soccer, including a runner up state championship ring for soccer in HS. It is cool that you and Jordan have continued the tradition, probably without even knowing it.

Yoru favorite Uncle John

Barbara said...

And your non-runner Mom was the student manager for the WTHS Boys' Cross Country team. My History teacher roped me in to it , but it was fun.

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