During the month of May, to support our partnership with the USATF Foundation, we are highlighting several USATF Foundation athletes in a series of Athlete Spotlights.
Heather Kampf is a middle-distance runner and USA 1-Mile Champion. At the University of Minnesota, she was the highest decorated women’s track athlete, a nine-time All American holding nine school records, and the only to compete in every NCAA Championship in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track during her time there.
What is your event and why do you love it? I run the 800m and the 1500m. I love both events because they are intense and fast, but also require some strategic planning. In middle distance events, there is always an element of trust/commitment. You have to trust that you can maintain the pace that you start your race out in, and commit to continue pushing even when it hurts the most, knowing that you will get your best race result if you stay committed.
What motivates you to keep going? My goals and the people that support me in this sport are what keep me motivated. I have things I want to accomplish in my career before I retire, and I look forward to sharing in the excitement of achieving these goals with my family, coaches, teammates, and friends.
What is one part of your training/nutrition routine you can’t live without? The one aspect of my training/nutrition routine that I can’t live without is balance. It sounds silly, I know, but I think that all good things in moderation are the best way to keep on track (no pun intended) with good training and nutrition. In training, this means making sure I have enough recovery time between intense workouts, and planning my season’s race schedule in a way that will allow me to train well enough to be where I want to be at the end of the season while giving me the chance to sharpen up at races and enjoy the competitive side of the sport. Nutritionally, I know I need a caloric balance that will both fuel my workouts and training and keep me at a healthy weight. I also try my best to enjoy a colorful diet of real food, stay hydrated (I love Nuun Hydration tablets!), and take supplements that keep me operating on full (multivitamin, iron, calcium/vitamin D, etc.)
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome? Probably the biggest obstacle I’ve faced in my running career is an oddly high frequency of falling in races. Some have turned out well (the 2006 Big Ten Indoor 600m where I fell with a lap to go and then won my heat to help our team win a Big 10 Championship), and others have been devastating. I know that I have a long stride which leaves me open to more trouble with getting tangled up with other runners, but every time it happens it feels like such a major lost opportunity. Most recently at the World Indoor Championships 1500m final, it was so tough to remind myself that even though I was tripped during the biggest race of my career thus far, I am still a great runner, a good person, and worthy of more opportunities like that.
How did the USATF Foundation help you get to where you are? The USATF Foundation is helping me by providing much-appreciated financial support to help cover the additional cost of training. This includes simple things like gas money to and from my training facilities and payment for massage therapists to keep me running healthy. Their support also helps me to work fewer hours at my other jobs (coaching and a manager at a running specialty shop called Mill City Running), so that I can focus more time on training without worrying about heating my home and buying groceries!
To donate to the USATF Foundation and learn more about their mission, visit www.usatffoundation.org.