Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where you’re from, what you’re doing now…etc)
A: I’m from Rapid City, South Dakota, and I’ve lived in Rapid my whole life. I’m a recent graduate from Stevens High School, where I ran cross country and track there for all four years. Right now, I’m enjoying some time off from school by taking vacations, volunteering at Camp Friendship, then heading to Augustana University to run cross country and track while pursuing a degree in finance.
Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?
A: I started running in fifth grade thanks to my mom. My mom has always been a runner, so as I started growing up she would take me along for her runs. At first I absolutely hated it, but once I got into informal racing, the competitive side of me took over and never stopped.
Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone?
A: HUGELY in favor of running in a group. If it’s an easy endurance day, I’m making jokes with the guys I train with. On workout days, running alongside someone pushes me to not only work on myself, but it helps the guys I’m next to.
Q: Do you prefer roads or trails?
A: I prefer trails for the gentler terrain. A big thing I’ve learned to incorporate into my training is running on different types of surface, and since the majority of my training is spent on Rapid City’s bike paths, it’s nice to get some cushion on trails.
Q: What is your favorite distance or race?
A: This past season I’ve really started to enjoy the 800. It’s a short enough race that makes you train for speed, but just long enough to implement some strategy in how you’ll run it. Oddly enough a close second for me is the 400, even though this year was the first time I ran it. But I could just like it because that was my leg in our national championship relay 🙂
Q: How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
A: I think back to all the goals I’ve set and accomplished over the years, and what those accomplishments meant for my teammates and I. I owe it to my teammates and myself to maintain my training, and the work I put in now will pay off in the future.
Q: If I didn’t run I’d ………..
A: I would be trying my hand at basketball. And I’m not very good at basketball. I also used to play a lot of baseball before moving to running full-time. I’d also be doing more weightlifting and playing video games, two things I do already.
Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?
A: Hitting major milestones, either by yourself or with friends, and looking back on the journey to that point, is so rewarding. Reflecting on all the miles it took to get to that point really puts it into perspective how much work you put into reaching your goals.
Q: What is your favorite running memory?
A: Winning the cross country team title as a senior in 2021. Back when I was a freshman, I set a goal for myself to help Stevens win a team title by any means necessary. After three top-3 finishes in a row, finally getting over that bump as a senior was a greater payoff than I could’ve imagined.
Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned from running?
A: Sometimes things just go wrong. Easy days can feel like workouts, workouts can completely wipe you out, and races can just blow up in your face before it even starts. It just happens. What’s important is how you respond to those situations, that’s what separates the good from great runners.
Q: What are your running goals for the future?
A: I want to help lead Augustana to more national placements in cross country. I also want to be an All-American in the 800.
Q: Who inspires you most?
A: My teammates inspire me the most. When I don’t want to get out of bed for a run in the morning, I know they’ll be there to hold me accountable. When things go right, they’re there to celebrate with me, and when things go wrong, they help me get back on my feet. I owe all my progress to my teammates, past and present.
Q: What advice do you have for new runners?
A: Enjoy the process. No matter what your level of fitness is at, it is so important to have fun while doing it. It makes progression much easier, and you learn to appreciate the milestones you hit.
Thank you for the chance to share some of my thoughts on running! I’ve taken a look at some of the previous interviewees, and I’m honored to be included in this group now! -Alex Otten