Young, Butler give looks into competition mindsets

Two Maroon track athletes provide insight into their thoughts during competition days.

By Russell Mendelson

In their last meet before UAAs this weekend, the Maroon men and women traveled to Wheaton, IL for the Outdoor Twilight Meet, and a few runners shared some insight after the fact.

By Thursday’s conclusion, both teams collected the second highest point totals of the day when the women scored a combined 137 and the men accumulated 118.50.

Chicago dominated the 3,000-meter, as second-year Catt Young and fourth-year Sam Butler took the top spots in the women’s and men’s races, respectively.

This was an especially important race for Young, who had just come back from a stress fracture that had sidelined her for most of the indoor season.

“My goal wasn’t to PR but to hit all of my splits and really just feel good and confident again while racing,” Young said.

The time away may have also helped her put running in a new perspective.

“I learned after this race how much I love running and that I should really try and race every race without too much pressure or stress,” she said.

Having had more time to compete this season, Butler took a different approach to the race on Thursday.

“t was a pretty low-key race, but it is a nice confidence boost right before the conference meet to run 8:55 , my second fastest ever, basically all alone,” he said

Although Butler may have been leading the pack most of the time, fourth-year Evan Jin was only a few strides away and finished right behind him in second place.

“Evan and I knew going in that, if we ran close to our PR’s, we would probably be out in front alone, and that’s what happened,” Butler said, “Really we just wanted to run the paces coach had given us and work together.”

Both top finishers had distinctive approaches to staying sharp mentally over the course of each of their races.

Butler tried to focus on the big picture—pushing the little things, such as temporary pain, to the backburner.

“I just like to stay positive and relax, to tell myself that I can have a good race if I just suffer for a little while,” he said.

Young, on the other hand, was a little more on edge, but thanks to some support from her teammates on the sidelines, she was able to settle down.

“I was definitely nervous about how mentally confident I would be during the race, but my teammates really helped me through it. I am not one to smile a lot during races, but some of the team had me laughing throughout the race from their cheers,” she said.

Young also keeps some personal motivational tools in her back pocket when she needs an extra boost during a particularly challenging race, not limited to a notorious rap artist.

“Whenever I am feeling beat during a race, I think about the tough workouts and practices we have completed and worked so hard in. I also like to keep Biggie Smalls songs in my head throughout it,” she said.

Next up are the UAA Championships, beginning this Saturday, here at the Ted Haydon Track.