Oct. 21, 2011
Junior Kathy Kroeger has been one of Stanford's top runners from the day she stepped onto The Farm. Twice she has been an All-American in the 5,000 meters on the track and was the Pac-10 runner up in cross country last season. The Franklin, Tenn., native has shown flashes of brilliance in cross country, including back-to-back Stanford Invitational titles. However, Kroeger has battled injuries in both cross-country seasons so far, including being forced to drop out of last year's NCAA meet. However, Kroeger is healthy and training smart this season and could be a huge factor as Stanford attempts to get back on the podium this season. Kroeger took a few minutes to answer some questions from gostanford.com.
GoStanford.com: Stanford is a long ways to come from Tennessee, what made you decide to come to Stanford? What was the recruiting process like?
Kroeger: I kind of knew I would go to college far from home. I didn't want it to be like high school; I really wanted a new, challenging experience. The fall of my senior year was busy and exciting as I traveled to visit schools in between cross-country races. I was very interested in Stanford and I got very impatient as it seemed like an eternity until I found out I was accepted. I liked the combination of great athletics and great academics, and on my visit I really liked the team and the coaches.
GoStanford.com: You have had some injuries here at Stanford, how is your health now? What are you now doing to prevent injuries?
Kroeger: I am really happy to be in good health now and I'm loving training and racing with my team. I guess I'm kind of a slow learner because it's taken me two years to learn that no matter how good of shape I'm in, it doesn't mean anything if I'm sitting on the sidelines injured. Now staying healthy is my priority and my team's priority. We spend a lot of time stretching, rolling, and icing in the training room, and we make sure to get adequate sleep and proper nutrition. I also keep my running mileage low and cross-train on a regular basis.
GoStanford.com: How has the transition from Coach Dunn to Coach Plumer been? Do you think PattiSue has been a great addition to the program?
Kroeger: PattiSue is a great addition to the program and the transition has been really smooth. She has gradually eased us into her style of coaching and it's been great to have Coach Dunn and Hakon here to provide continuity. Having run for Stanford, won national titles, competed in the Olympics, graduated from Stanford law school, and now being a mom of two teenage girls, PattiSue has so much experience and wisdom to draw upon. She relates well to us and we trust her because she has been through it all and knows what it takes to become a champion.
GoStanford.com: You ladies won a Pac-10 title last season? Can you win the first Pac-12 title? What are your goals for the national meet?
Kroeger: The Pac-10 was very competitive last year and it's even tougher this year with the addition of Utah and Colorado. But we came out on top last year, and this year we have an even stronger team. Our goal is to win the first Pac-12 title, and it's certainly within reach if each of us races well on that day. Beyond the conference, we intend to win the NCAA regional meet on our home course and place in the top 4 at the NCAA championship.
GoStanford.com: You have twice been an All-American on the track, what is the difference in cross country or just a matter of being healthy?
Kroeger: For me it has been a matter of being healthy. The past two cross-country seasons I was in great shape early in the season but ended up injured and not at my best for the NCAA championship. Both years, after recovering through the winter I was able to train smart for outdoor track, stay injury-free, and peak at the right time. This year my goal for cross-country NCAAs is to get to the starting line healthy and race well for my team. If I can make that happen then I think the place will take care of itself.
GoStanford.com: What is your favorite run here at Stanford and where is your favorite place to run back in Tennessee?
Kroeger: I really enjoy long runs at Huddart Park. It's hilly and wooded and it feels to me like we're running through the rainforest. The second half of the run is mostly downhill and I love hammering the last couple of miles.
In Tennessee I like to run at Percy Warner Park. I have many great memories of high school cross-country races there and the trails through the woods are beautiful, especially in the fall.
GoStanford.com: What is your favorite workout?
Kroeger: My favorite workout during cross-country is mile repeats on the golf course in the morning. Actually I like almost any morning workout on the golf course. It's dark and cold when we start, but then the sun rises and we all start running fast together and we realize how great it is to be alive and training. We finish with a couple of easy miles barefoot on the grass and enjoy being done with our workout for the day.
GoStanford.com: What are you studying and what do you hope to do after Stanford? Both with you degree and potentially as a professional runner?
Kroeger: I'm studying Mathematical and Computational Science with a Human Biology minor. I'm not sure exactly what I want to do with it yet but luckily I have a couple more years to figure that out. I would love to run professionally after I graduate, and I know that no matter what I do, running will be a part of my life. Right now I'm just taking it one day at a time!