Today we chat with former College Park HS and Stanford University runner, Lindsay Allen (picture to the left courtesy of Running Times and dad). She was the lead runner for College Park as they won their first state cross country championship in 2003 (6th runner tie breaker over Sultana in an epic battle). During her track career, she qualified for the 1600m./3200m. as a sophomore. She won both races at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions as a junior and just missed recording the same double as a senior, finishing 2nd in the 3200m. You can see her Stanford accomplishments on her bio page on the McMillan Elite website at the following link as well as her blog:
1) How did you get started with the sports of cross country and track and field?
I began running in 5th grade for my local youth organization. I went out for track and field because all of my friends were on the team. At the time I was convinced I was a sprinter, so I just had fun with it until I took it more seriously towards high school.
We didn’t have a cross country program before high school, so I didn’t do cross until I started at College Park.
2) What was your first success you remember in either or both sports?
I didn’t know how to define success when I first began running, then sibling rivalry kicked in. My sister first broke 6 minutes in the mile in 8th grade, so naturally I wanted to break the ‘6-minute barrier’ in 7th grade. I was 2 grades behind her and sure enough I broke 6 minutes in 7th grade and I’m sure I didn’t let her live it down.
3) Looking back to your time at College Park, what are some of your highlights in cross country? Track and Field?
There are so many highlights, I had a blast in high school. Our team had some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. One that stands out was winning the state meet my senior year. That was something I’d looked towards since my freshman year. We dyed our hair purple and got super psyched up for the race. It was nice to see the perfect culmination of all of our hard work.
As for track, I loved all of our dual meets where I got to double or triple on the track and high jump. I loved hanging out at the high jump pit and taking a break from the stress of racing. I also remember qualifying for the state meet my sophomore year. Before then, the state meet seemed untouchable, but that enabled me to feel like I could race with the best and mentally put me on a higher level.
4) What do you feel like really worked for you in terms of training during your high school years?
Pretty much all of Chuck’s training! I tend to respond well to mileage, so at the time I was doing what I considered high mileage for a high schooler. I really loved hills and speed work; 400s, 200s, pretty much anything on the track.
5) Tell us a little about your coach at CP, Chuck Woolridge, and his role with your development as a runner.
He did a great job of progressing my mileage and intensity over my 4 years there. I think staying healthy and consistency in training is the key to improving. Honestly I don’t even remember us discussing it- it just happened. Without even realizing it, each year every aspect of my training ramped up. I would do 1-2 more intervals than the year before, I would run 10-20 minutes longer on my long run, and a few seconds faster on each rep. It was perfect. He knew me better than I knew myself. This might be a sore subject for him, but before a race, he’d tell me what he expected, and sometimes I would just laugh or brush him off. But sure enough, I’d run that time in the race and he’d just give me the ‘I told you so’ look.
6) What were some of your highlights for you while at Stanford University?
My senior year I made our NCAA cross team and I was fortunate enough to be a part of a National Championship. That’s a once in a lifetime experience and I’ll never forget running down the homestretch with my teammates when we found out.
As for track, I loved all of our home meets. The excitement surrounding the meet and all if the great spectators made my races at home special and usually lent itself to good performances.
7) Who were your coaches at Stanford and how did they help you develop as a runner?
My freshman year Dena Evans was my coach. She recruited me to Stanford and just kind of ‘got me.’ She made training fun and enabled me to adjust to college training. I remember in track we needed a rabbit for the 1500s at the Cardinal Invite. I was supposed to be the rabbit for 2nd fastest heat, but when the rabbit for the top heat didn’t show, she volunteered me. She walked over to me and told me to run 600m as fast as I could. I didn’t even have time to freak out before the gun had gone off and I was out. I ran for my life, got some sweet TV coverage, and it got me so pumped up to race with the best.
Peter Tegen was my coach my last 3 years. He has a lot of experience with elite athletes and helped me to work on my speed as well as introduce me to the longer races.
8) What was the biggest change for you in terms of training from high school to college?
My biggest change was not having those EASY days I was used to in high school. Some weeks I don’t feel like I was able to recover between workouts, which was my own fault but probably took its toll on me. It took me time to realize some days I would have to run alone in order to recover.
9) When did you first start thinking about running past college?
I hadn’t thought about running post-collegiately at all until my teammates from Stanford began graduating and seeking running opportunities. My Stanford teammate had joined McMillan Elite the year before I graduated so I was able to visit and get a feel for the team. It only took a trip or two before I was hooked on the life up here.
10) How did you end up choosing Greg McMillan as your coach?
Once I visited Flagstaff and got to know the McMillan Elite team, I realized it was really the whole package. I bought into Greg’s coaching philosophy and never needed to look into other options.
11) What has been the biggest change for you now that you are running for yourself as opposed to a school?
I remember one distinct moment last year when I was toeing the line for a race and thought, ‘Wow, I’m a professional now. Adidas expects things from me. I owe it to them to perform.”
And it mattered in a different way than college, not necessarily more. There was more pressure in the sense that I had committed myself, essentially full-time, to this pursuit, so it had better go well. I guess it was a pressure I put on myself.
12) What is your main event of focus right now and what is the next big race for you?
My main focus right now is the steeplechase. I’m doing some 1500s and 800s to work on speed, but my first big race will be a steeple at Cardinal Invite.
13) What advice would you give to high school runners who have dreams of running in college and beyond?
I’ve always believed that if you can have fun with running, really love it, and just get out and run consistently, you’ll improve. I definitely took it very seriously in high school but it never overwhelmed my enjoyment of it. I think that can turn a lot of people off of running, because it’s not an inherently enjoyable sport.
Set challenging goals for yourself and always keep them in your sights. Figure our ways to help you achieve them, anything is possible.
Thank you very much for your time Lindsay! AJC