Erdmann Spotlighted in Arizona Interview
Cross Country star Tara Erdmann talks about developing into the runner she is today.
Oct. 5, 2010
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Erdmann talks with Mile Split Arizona about the success she has had as a runner and the transition from High School to Collegiate running.
Alumni Spotlight - Arizona's Tara Erdmann
Tara started her running career as a sophomore at Flowing Wells HS in Tucson. Her early success in both cross country and track elevated her quickly to one of Arizona's top runners but her final prep track season moved her into the national spotlight. The Chandler Rotary proved to be one of the fastest 1600 meter races with Tara winning in 4:54.79, pulling 4 other runners under the 5 minute mark including 2nd place freshman Jessica Tonn. Last weekend Tara ran at the prestigious Stanford Invitational finishing 4th. Tara shares with us........ life after high school as a collegiate runner.
AZTraxckXC: Tara, it has been very exciting to watch your career develop since you graduated from Flowing Wells. As you are preparing to begin your 4th year of post-high school XC/3rd year of LMU XC, can you bring your fans up to date on why you spent last season as a redshirt, unattached competitor?
Tara Erdmann: Last cross season my coach and I decided that I should redshirt for a number of different reasons. The first few weeks of my freshman year I tried redshirting, so that I could adjust that first semester and come back ready for track. To say the least, I did not want to run around just cheering on my teammates- I wanted to be in the uniform and on the line competing with them. We pulled the redshirt, not knowing when I was going to officially use a season. LMU is focused on the development and betterment of the team, but also the individual. With a really strong group of incoming freshman we knew even without me that the team as a whole was going to be better than the previous year, which is what our team is focused on. For me personally it made sense to redshirt cross season because I could then come back my senior year and still have a 5th year of cross when I am older, more mature and have more miles under me. It was still very hard to watch my team compete, but I often traveled my own way to the same meets they ran that way I could still race with them. My Coach and I are both happy that we decided to use my red shirt last season and this year we are coming back even stronger than we were last year with new freshman and six of our top seven returners.
AZTraxckXC: Take us back to high school. Like so many other girls, you also played soccer for many years. What made you try out for the cross country team (sophomore year?), and was it just your soccer training that helped you make an immediate impact on the Flowing Wells team or had you done competitive running previously? Did having a XC state champion, Ellen Mork (2003), at Flowing Wells have any influence on your decision to try cross country?
Tara Erdmann: My sophomore year I decided to run cross country solely to get my athletic trainer to stop asking me everyday at lunch if I wanted to join the team (his wife was the coach). I had not really ever run competitively, except for in the seventh grade when I decided to run track because a few of my friends joined the team. However, in eighth grade I decided not to run because my commitments to club soccer and ASA softball were much greater. It was in seventh grade that the head coach noticed I could run, even though I was completely oblivious. My goal for the race was to see how many boys I could beat. I had no idea about track times, splits, pacing etc...I just ran to try and win. The junior high coach told the high school coach and then from then on, the question persisted day after day until I finally joined the team.
Like I said I played highly competitive soccer and I believe that all of the running I did in training sessions and games impacted my cross country season. Sometimes I would go out for runs, just for fun or with my Dad, but mentally I thought of it as staying in shape for soccer- not training for cross country. Ellen did help my decision to run and the first day out at cross country practice I just figured I should run with her because she knows where to go and I don't want to get lost. Let's just say Ellen normally ran by herself, so Coach was surprised when I finished with her and said, "is that all we do for practice?" She just laughed and then from there on out I just ran with Ellen everyday.
AZTraxckXC: A 5AII State Champion your junior year in cross country, how did your training evolve from your first season to a level that would put you as the second fastest girl in the state your second season? Was this a surprise?
Tara Erdmann:Training was consistent from one year to the next, but I think my mentality changed going into my second season. I was always a low mileage runner because I often went straight from cross country practice to a 2.5 hour soccer practice four days a week where I would run even more. I didn't see soccer practice as running more miles because I had a soccer ball at my feet, with lots of water breaks, and stop-and-go play, but I can say that it did make me more fit. For some reason I also thought that I needed to go to the gym before school started to do circuit weights and lap swimming, so I incorporated that into my routine as well. Going into races my second season I sort of knew what I was doing running wise, but I also did not like getting beat and I wanted to improve every race that I ran in.
AZTraxckXC: As you entered your senior year in high school, had you already made the decision to run in college, and what was the recruiting process like? Not everyone enters the process with a state championship, and interestingly, you ended your senior year with some big PR's on the track and a 7th place finish in the mile at NON. Do you feel colleges were looking at you as more of a middle distance runner, or did they see your potential at the 5K and 10k distances?
Tara Erdmann: Going into senior year I had made my decision to run in college but I had no idea of where I wanted to go. The running world was foreign to me- since I was young I always wanted to play soccer in college, never once did I think about running. The recruiting process was really exciting, but it also came to be very stressful at times. The phone was constantly ringing, mail and letters arrived almost everyday and I was always having to research schools to see what they could offer me academically and athletically. I just felt like I had to play catch up the whole time, while trying to focus on my last cross country season.
While being recruited, colleges were more looking at me as a middle distance runner because my mile time was the stronger of the two events and I personally preferred the mile to any other distance. When I got to LMU Coach respected my decision to be a 'miler' but he wanted me to just give the 5k a try, one time and see how it went. I eventually qualified for the regional meet my freshman year and since then I have now considered myself a 5k/10k runner. I love the longer distances!
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