SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) spoke with Melissa Conlin (MC) about her years at Santa Clara and her experiences as a runner on the cross country and distance track teams. Conlin, a senior graduating this spring in engineering is from Renton, Washington. Recently, she raced a season best time in the 5000m at the Chico State Invitational in early April.
SCU: As a senior, how has this season been different than other years? Have you created goals you would like to see yourself or your team to achieve this season?
MC: Being a senior has been different because while you are leading the team, you are also stepping aside to allow for younger girls to step up and begin taking the team into their own hands. I've had a great time watching the team evolve and move forward. Personally, my goals for this season have been to set some personal records and feel satisfied with the effort I've given after races.
SCU: What do you consider to be a "good" or "successful" race?
MC: A good race for me can be one in which I've run a personal record, but it can also be one in which I know I did all I could and competed well. I'm always looking to better my times, but I can get as much satisfaction out of knowing I took a risk or raced a group of people to the best of my ability.
SCU: What is your favorite race to participate in?
MC: It's hard to choose a favorite race, but I love the Bronco Invite and West Coast Conference meets during cross country. Both meets bring together a ton of Santa Clara fans and alumni; they are always great times for everyone to run fast and catch up with old teammates and family.
SCU: Do you have any pre-race superstitions or strategies?
MC: As a team we always put on temporary tattoos before we race, which is a lot of fun!
SCU: When did you start racing? Have you raced in any races outside of college? Do you see yourself running in such races post-college?
MC: I participated in track in middle school, but played soccer in the fall instead of doing cross country when I was a freshman in high school. That year I tore my ACL, so I had to take some time away from athletics. My first real track season was my sophomore year before I participated in cross country and track for the next two years. I ran a few half marathons during high school and would love to do some more after college. I also want to run a full marathon at some point; hopefully sometime soon after graduation!
SCU: Is there anything you would have liked to participate in or accomplish at Santa Clara that cross-country and track may not have allowed you to do?
MC: I would have liked more time to participate in clubs around campus and more free weekends to explore the areas around Santa Clara, but I managed to have many great experiences traveling with the team.
SCU: How do you prepare for the track season? What do you do in the off-season?
MC: After cross country we take a two week break before starting to train for track over winter break. Since the team does both cross country and track we train throughout the year and don't have a true off-season. We hold practices throughout the winter and build up our mileage during that time before adding in hill repeats, tempos, and speed workouts as we grow closer to the season.
SCU: Do you have any advice for younger athletes looking to play a collegiate sport?
MC: Contact coaches or students that are athletes in the sport you'd like to play. We're always willing to offer help or advice!
SCU: Because running can be very stressful on the legs, how have you been able to stay healthy?
MC: There are a lot of things that can factor into getting injured when it comes to running. The best thing to do is to do as much preventative work as you can even if you're not injured. We spend a lot of time stretching, icing, doing core and strengthening exercises to lower the chances of getting injured. It is also important to eat properly and get enough sleep in order to deal with the demands of running competitively.
SCU: What would be something you benefited from or could take away from your experience as a student-athlete here at Santa Clara University?
MC: My most important take away from my experience as a student athlete at Santa Clara is the friendships that I've made. We spend a couple hours a day together as a team and share long conversations while running, creating many invaluable friendships.