Learning about life and running through my relationship with this TS2 athlete is a daily gift. Collette has added to my definition of what it truly means to be elite. She is humble, caring, and fiercely competitive. I’ll add one quick story. Collette and I were finishing a training run on the trails of Eagle Creek. I challenged her to finish with a bit of a race up the last hill. She didn’t seem too fond of the idea at first. I turned my head, and out of the corner of my eye I saw her rise up on her toes and put the pedal to the metal. In that moment I thought to myself that I may have bitten off more than I could chew. Enjoy getting to know Collette Huffman!
Favorite snack/food you eat while training
Because most of my workouts are 60 min or less, I don’t eat during training. I do, however, always enjoy drinking a cup (or more) of black coffee before I workout. I also like to eat something within 30 minutes of working out. I don’t eat the same thing everyday, I just try to make sure my mini-meal has a desirable ratio of protein and complex carb. For example, I like old-fashion oats with an egg mixed in, topped off with a bit of milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar.
Piece of training gear or clothing item you couldn’t live without
I could not live without mittens in sub 50 degree weather. (I have been made fun of in many running circles for needing to wear mittens in weather where some people are still wearing shorts!) I’ve never been officially diagnosed, but I’m pretty certain that I have some degree of Raynaud’s disease, which makes my extremities very sensitive to cold weather; it’s painful when my fingers become numb!
Strange routine, quirk, or mental game you do when racing or getting ready for one
My strangest routine before a race is that I lay out all of my gear the night before a race, otherwise I cannot sleep. Other than that, I am pretty laid back in my approach to racing these days.
What was your entry into endurance training?
I officially committed to distance running when I joined the cross country team during my sophomore year of high school. I enjoyed the camaraderie of my teammates at that time, but soon found that running (cross country/track) were sports that I could really excel in. The family I grew up in was very competitive in sports, and up until this point in my life I had not found a sport that I could be one of the very best at.
Talk about your transition from competitive racing to where you are with running now.
I feel fortunate that I was able to dedicate the time I needed (a span of approximately 20 years) to test my limits as a runner. I first realized that I had
a good deal of potential when I set and achieved the goal of winning a state championship in high school. My main focus my senior year was to try to break 5:00 min in the 1600m while attempting to win the state meet. In doing so, my level of fitness surpassed even my own expectations! I ran 4:53 in the 1600m and won both the 1600m and 3200m at the state meet. Toward the end of my senior year, I was invited to two premiere national high school meets, where I won the 3200m at the Keebler Invitational and took 4th place in the 1600m at the Golden West Invitational.
At this time, I knew I was just scratching the surface on how fast I could run, and I was lucky that after facing some setbacks and challenges in my first attempt at being a college athlete, that I was able to accept a full ride track/cross country scholarship to Valparaiso University. Although I was able to set every Valparaiso distance running record from 800 to 10,000 meters, become a five-time NCAA national meet qualifier, and earn All-America honors in the indoor 3,000 meter run (1998) and the indoor mile (1999), I graduated feeling disappointed that I did not reach my goal of becoming an NCAA Champion. This unsettled feeling led me to pursue running post-collegiately.
I moved to and eventually began to train in Indianapolis as a Nike-sponsored athlete from 2000-07. I was able to represent the United States eleven times on the international stage and was a member of six IAAF World Championship teams for the U. S., three in cross country and three in track. I also competed in the 1,500 meter run at the Olympic Trials in 2000 and 2004, and I won USA titles at the 1999 USA Fall Cross Country Championships (6,000 meters), the 2001 USA Indoor National Championships (mile) and the 2001 USA National Road Championships (5,000 meters). I concluded running at a competitive level with personal bests of 2:04.08 (800 meters), 4:09.10 (1,500 meters), 4:32.02 (mile), 15:28.32 (5,000 meters) and 33:04 (10K road).
All of these stats to say that although I was able to run and compete at a very high level, it really all pales in comparison to the beauty of the process of running that I so love today. I will never run on a level that I once have, but nowadays when my shoes hit the pavement, I feel so appreciative and alive in all that running has given and continues to give me. I have many friendships that were built through running, and I am a better wife and mom when I opt to make exercise an important part of my day! I run races now for the opportunity to experience the joy of every mile up to the finish line; not just the end result. I’ve been lucky to become a part of TS2, because quite frankly, training while working, parenting, and being a wife can be difficult when trying to go it alone. I am thankful to have the accountability that I need from Coach Nick, and I am really excited to see where running takes me in my hmm…hmm..more mature years. 🙂
Why do you keep doing it?
I simply love to run! When I run, I feel a physical and spiritual synchronization that is different and special in comparison to anything else that I do. I like both running alone and running with people. When running alone, I use my time to reflect on happenings in my life. When I have a chance to run with friends, I really enjoy the time to socialize.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
This question was interesting for me to reflect on. It would seem logical that my proudest accomplishment could be qualifying for the Olympic trials, or earning a spot on a few IAAF World Teams, or maybe even being a Two-time All American in college; but the truth is that my proudest accomplishment was winning the 1600m and 3200m races my senior year of high school at the Indiana State track meet. Winning two state championship races during my senior year of high school is special to me because it was the first time that I proved to myself that I could set a challenging goal for myself and achieve it. The confidence I gained from this process eventually led me to achieving bigger things.
What have you learned about yourself from endurance training and racing?
Endurance training and racing has taught me that a person can push their body way beyond their pain threshold. Once I learned to welcome pain as part of the process, I was able to race at a level that was beyond what I previously thought was possible for me.
My overriding goal for my running is to stay healthy and be able to run as long as I’d like to. As for upcoming races, I am going to run the Carmel Half Marathon on April 16. If all goes well on that day, I hope to run near or under 1:30.
Outside of running, what is most important to you?
Hands down, my family is the most important thing in my life; I love them! I am also very grateful for the community I teach in at The Oaks Academy. I’ve befriended many beautiful, Godly women at TOA over the past four years and their friendships have been such a blessing to me.
It is a great privilege to be a part of our athlete’s stories. It is a complete joy to support them, guide them, know them, and love them each step of the way. Be on the lookout on www.ts2coaching.com for more stories that will most certainly encourage, challenge, and inspire you to tell your own magnificent story in 2016 and beyond! Onward and upward!