Long distance runner Katie Rainsberger has already achieved so much in her D1 collegiate career. The risking track star is a 13x All-American, setting records at University of Oregon and University of Washington, where she most recently competed in the 3,000M Steeplechase, finishing in 9:32.12 and breaking the school record. Despite her multiple accolades, Katie has bigger aspirations. Someday soon, she hopes to have the opportunity to compete on the world stage and represent Team USA in the Olympics.
This is Katie’s story of her amazing college career, her training, and what continues to drive her forward.
Born To Run
Growing up in Colorado, Katie found herself immersed “in just about every sport imaginable.”
“I was really into soccer; I mean my email was firstname.lastname@example.org until college. But my middle school didn’t offer soccer and my parents encouraged all of us to play school sports, so I decided to run cross country and play club soccer. I ended up being a natural and really fell in love with being able to push myself out of my comfort zone,” Katie said.
Her role models growing up were the soccer icons Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, and gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin. But Katie said her mother Lisa, the former Boston Marathon Winner, was another source of inspiration.
‘Growing up with my mom was both inspiring and honestly, sometimes frustrating,” Katie told us. “Having had a successful career, my mom understood what it was like to sacrifice for athletics and the dedication that excellence requires. She provided such great advice, but at times, the line between mother and coach blurred and that was hard. I wouldn’t change any of the difficult times we’ve endured for anything, because now our relationship is authentic, true and part of the reason I am where I am today.”
But getting to where she is today hasn’t been a particularly easy journey. Katie notes that it took a lot of persistence and resilience to make her dreams work.
“My journey has been far from linear, and I think part of what makes each athlete special is the different obstacles and hurdles they have to overcome on their journey to success,” Katie said. “I tore my Achilles my sophomore year, after a really successful freshman year, and was faced with my first ever real injury and setback. The years after were filled with success and setback alike, but I learned to keep showing up. I have endured and faced such adversity with resiliency and patience.”
It’s overcoming the challenges that, in the end, make it all worth it for Katie. Running brings her a chance at introspection, a chance to learn more about herself and what she is capable of.
“I fell in love with the freedom of trail running early on in the mountains near my home in Colorado. The peace and solitude gave me a place to be authentically myself and explore my comfort zones,” Katie said. “Truthfully, my relationship with racing has had ups and downs as early successes led to unhealthy expectations. However, now I understand the pressure is a privilege, it is earned and not to be feared. Now I see racing as an opportunity to explore what I can do; training is the hard part; racing is what I live for.”
Race Day Preparations
To train for an upcoming race, Katie is no stranger to the work it takes. Her typical week consist of *10-12 *sessions, sometimes with around 2-3 *activities per day. Usually, Mondays and Wednesdays are spent running with strides, drills, and mobility. Tuesday is a hard track session with weights and an afternoon double run. Thursday, she aims for an easy run or swimming session and unwinds with yoga, before hopping back into Friday with another hard session, running anywhere from 9-13 miles, and then more weight room exercises. On the weekends, she makes sure to get an easy run in on Saturdays before her long run Sunday – sometimes going out for 13 miles (90 min) or more.
To unwind, Katie, when *in school, would spend her afternoons post-workout catching up on homework or attending lectures.
“However, when I am not doing school, I really enjoy reading in my hammock outside or sitting by the docks baking in the sun. I also really enjoy hiking and backpacking in the summer –basically you can find me outside most of the day.”
To get into the mindset before a big race, Katie shared her three secrets: “Consistent persistence. Keep showing up. Smile,” she said.
“These are a few mantras I repeat to myself before a race. ‘Consistence persistence’ is useful when I am dealing with setback because it reminds me of my long-term goals and reminds me that the journey getting there will often not go as planned. The same idea goes for ‘keep showing up.’ ‘Smile’ is a reminder that at the end of the day, this should be fun, and the moment I stop having fun I should be done. A happy Katie is a healthy Katie, and a happy and healthy Katie is a dangerous combo.”
How Nutrition Plays a Role in Katie’s Health Journey
Katie’s performance on the track is a direct result of her health and how she cares for her body. It was her discovery of her anemia that helped fine-tune a nutrition plan that works best for her.
“I was anemic late in high school and again early in college. I was able to discover that I am sensitive to gluten and by avoiding gluten my gut health flourished and my iron returned to normal,” she said. “I also got injured my sophomore year of college and was forced to re-evaluate my nutrition. By eating more *healthy fats and incorporating more frequent snacks, I was able to better meet the demands of a heavy training load.”
With the amount of time spent training, Katie knows that proper nutrition is a key to helping her continually improve upon her performance.
“My health journey is one that is well-balanced, authentic to me, and constantly evolving based on my current training and individual needs,” she said.
We asked Katie if she had any specific tips to share about proper fueling for long distance running.
Q: How would you describe your nutrition plan?
A: I would say I focus on having quality meals, frequent snacks through-out the day and everything in moderation. I don’t have any specific diets because I try to get most of the nutrients I need from whole foods.
Q: Any specific meal plans for breakfast / lunch / dinner?
A: I eat pretty simple carbs before I run, usually it’s oatmeal or peanut butter toast and coffee. After I work out, I try and get good quality protein in, something like eggs or sausage, with potatoes or pancakes and fruit.
Q: Favorite pre-race / post-race meal?
A: Pre-race it’s got to be spaghetti Bolognese and post-race I’ll take a burger and fries.
Q: How has your health routine changed as you progress in your career?
A: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve prioritized getting healthy fats to maintain my cycle even during heavy training loads. I also have gotten better at the timing of my fueling and maximizing recovery.
Q: Do you have any favorite Thorne supplements?
A: My go to Thorne supplements are the Amino Complex + Catalyte immediately after hard workouts and lifts. The amino complex has been an amazing addition to my training and recovery because it allows me to quickly replenish after breaking down muscles. Especially after a hard workout, when it is harder to stomach food, the liquid supplements have been game-changing.
I also love how the iron supplement maintains my iron without destroying my stomach. I take the Magnesium Bisglycinate before bed every night. I take the Meriva + FloraSport probiotic to help with my gut in the morning.
The Next Step in Katie’s Journey
In 2020, Katie’s collegiate running career came to an abrupt halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The early cancellation, she says, was heartbreaking.
“I was at the NCAA Indoor Championships, hours away from competing, when they cancelled the meet and sent us home. It was heart breaking, especially because I had been injured and was finally in peak form again,” Katie said.
Rather than dwell on the cancellation. She made the most of her time off, using it to reevaluate her goals.
“The time away from racing and competing forced me to sit down and ask myself why I was running and racing. In a way, the cancellation was a blessing in disguise as it gave me the time and space to rediscover my love for running and mature into the athlete I am today.”
“I am working hard every day to ask myself what I can do, on that day, to be the best version of myself. Some days that means my focus is recovery oriented, some days that means ripping a hard session on the track or trying a new exercise in the gym. Through-out it all, I know that the journey will be far from linear, and I am just trying to embrace every day as an opportunity to be better than yesterday,” she said as to what she hopes the future holds. July 19, 2021 • Jacob Terranova (THORNE)