Laura Roxberg runs down training tips

Courtesy Jeff Curry

Missouri's Laura Roxberg will be competing in her second national championships. This time she's ready.

At last year's NCAA track and field championships, Missouri's Laura Roxberg stepped to the line for the 1,500 meters knowing she was at a great disadvantage.

"I had some inflammation in the joints of my foot," said Roxberg, now a fifth-year senior. "I didn't run at all for at least a week before the race and actually warmed up on a bike. It didn't end up going awesome."

Roxberg, who broke her own school record in the 1,500 earlier this year with a 4-minute, 3.53-second finish at the Drake Relays, has higher hopes for this year's event, which begins Wednesday in Eugene, Ore. Roxberg's first run is Thursday, when she hopes to qualify for Saturday's final. She has been spending a ton of time in the training room, receiving massages and doing foam rolling and contrasting (rotating between the cold and warm tanks) so she can meet her No. 1 goal: getting to the starting line healthy and ready to run.

Here are a few of Roxberg's training secrets:

Favorite workout: 400-meter repeats

I really like running fast, and these give me the chance to do that. Depending on my training schedule, I'll run anywhere from eight to more than 16 repeats with about one to two minutes of rest in between. I like to catch my breath between them but not sit around too long and think too much.

Least favorite workout: Tempo runs

These are the total opposite of 400s -- running at a consistent pace over a longer distance, like four to five miles. They're important runs because they build cardiovascular fitness, but they're really draining mentally.

Race strategy: Five steps

1. Get off the line fast.
2. Stay off the inside railing; I don't want to be boxed in.
3. Stay relaxed no matter where I am in the race.
4. When somebody else makes a move, react quickly.
5. When I make a move, follow it all the way through to the finish line.

Power food: Peanut butter

I don't know any runner who doesn't eat a crazy amount of peanut butter. I have it on my banana, on my pancakes, on toast -- pretty much any way I can eat it, I will. (Note: She likes Smucker's Natural.)

Cross-training: Hitting the pool

I do strength training and plyometrics at least twice a week. Always lots and lots of core: planks, side planks, twisting sit-ups. When I need to give my body a little recovery, I'll ride the bike, which I really don't like, or I'll tread water for a while, then swim a few laps, then repeat. I've gone as long as 75 minutes in the pool to simulate a long run.

Sound off: No tunes, please

I can run about three miles with music before I start going crazy. I'm a big daydreamer, and running is my thinking-and-relaxing time. On the days when I need somebody other than myself to talk to, I'd rather have a friend with me.

Off the clock: No time either

I don't have any good-luck charms, but one ritual I have is that I always take my watch off before I race. Not sure why I do that, but I've done it ever since I can remember. I never wear jewelry either. I guess I just like to be as streamlined as possible.

Last hurrah: Game plan

This is my final collegiate race, and my only goal is to cross the finish line knowing I gave it my all. My time or place doesn't matter as long as I leave it all out there.

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