Crain after earning a spot at FLN
Over the last several years, Annalyssa Crain has slowly put her name on Indiana's radar and even on the national radar. Crain's biggest moment was her 12th place finish at Foot Locker National this past year in San Diego. The week before she also took 17th at NXN, which was a shock to many as Crain wasn't even a name in the conversation to finish in the top half of that race. We caught up with Annalyssa to talk about that breakout race, and much more!
MileSplit Indiana: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Annalyssa! Let's start from the beginning, when did you first start running and when did it hit you that you could run at such a competitive level?
Annalyssa Crain: I first started running in fourth grade when we had to run the timed mile for gym class. At the time I had no training but I kept getting faster each year. I can remember that every time we went out to run the mile it was always my goal to beat all the boys! It didn't really hit me that I could run at such a competitive level until I was in eighth grade. At the time I was running and playing soccer I thought about doing both in high school. After my eighth grade year I realized that running was meant for me. When I decided to quit playing soccer and focus on cross-country, it was the best decision I've ever made. I continue to surprise myself each year, but I love seeing my hard work pay off.
MileSplit Indiana: Throughout your running career, what do you think has contributed to your success and what do you think separates yourself from the rest?
Annalyssa Crain: The biggest thing that has contributed to my success is not running too hard too early. Through all of middle school I just went out and ran what the rest of the team was doing. I wasn't worried about training at a higher level. You could say I probably didn't even know what real training was until I was a freshman. And each year I train a little harder and run a little further that way I can continue to improve. This way I have less injuries than your average runner and I am able to continue to improve every year. One thing that separates me from others as well is that of course I want to be out there train hard every day, But I know when to listen to my body, and I know when I should take easy days. I know that in the long run if I take those easy days and I take time off, it will help me.
MileSplit Indiana: Is there a certain running moment or race that sticks out the most to you?
Annalyssa Crain: There's several races that stick out to me for different reasons. I love the races where I come in as the underdog. Nobody expects me to do anything big and then I prove them all wrong. My name was not even in the conversation for the Nike national race. I just went out and I did what I could and what I knew I was capable of and I placed 17th in the nation. No one knew who I was but it was okay, the reward is even greater when you come in and prove everyone wrong.
MileSplit Indiana: Not many runners get to experience the national stage, so after competing at NXN and FL this past year what was the experience like and were there any key takeaways?
Annalyssa Crain: It was an amazing experience. No other race could prepare you for what it was going to be like. I'm lucky that I was able to go in knowing I just had to do what I've been doing all season and everybody would be happy with my performance. My biggest takeaway was to just enjoy the experience, and enjoy the activities while you were there, and of course have a good race. But don't get stressed out about how great the competition is in the race, just go out and have fun. That goes for any race all season for anyone.
MileSplit Indiana: With the current circumstances as far as meets and practices are concerned, what are you doing to keep yourself in shape and has your training altered any?
Annalyssa Crain: My training plan has altered some and I've had to be flexible but I'm still getting in great workouts. I'm still training as if it is track season because my goal for cross country is to go back to nationals. My cross country season is already extended longer than most athletes just by going to nationals. I don't need to add an additional month to an already long cross country season
MileSplit Indiana: Did you have any time marks that you were going after this year, and if so will you try to chase those in a time trial?
Annalyssa Crain: I had several times in mind going into the season. I know I was capable of breaking them even after only a few outdoor meets because of what I did in cross country. Unfortunately we never got to run an outdoor meet so I never got a chance to show how much work I put in for track season as well. One of my goals for the season was to break five in the 1600. In a time trial two weeks ago, I was able to run 4:56. Even though there are no official meets, I am still setting pr's, and I will continue to improve throughout the summer, and have an even stronger cross country season
MileSplit Indiana: As we all know, your junior year is one of the most important years in the college recruiting process. How has everything affected that process for you and what are you doing to stay on track?
Annalyssa Crain: I am really lucky that I'm a cross country AND track athlete. I had an amazing cross country season, so most coaches were not quite as worried about seeing what I could do during track. They knew I had the hard work and dedication it takes and they know those abilities carry over to the track. Coaches have been very supportive during this time they're doing what they can to help out their future athletes.
MileSplit Indiana: Cross Country or Track, and why?
Annalyssa Crain: Definitely cross country! I would much rather run up and down hills through the mud and freezing rain than ran eight laps around the track. I love the scenery as you run Through the woods. I'm sure it sounds crazy, but I love how hard the mud in the hills makes a cross country course. Just like every runner, I love setting PR's and running fast, but it's not always about the time; sometimes you just need a little fun in the middle of a race!
MileSplit Indiana: What are some foods or snacks you enjoy to help maintain a healthy diet?
Annalyssa Crain: I'm a fairly picky eater so sometimes it's hard to find a variety of fruits and vegetables that I will actually eat! One of my favorite ways to get a lot of fruits is to make a smoothie. I put banana, strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, yogurt, and milk in them, and it tastes pretty good. If you know me that's saying a lot! I wouldn't even eat half those fruits unless they are in a smoothie
MileSplit Indiana: Outside of running, what are some passions/hobbies that you have?
Annalyssa Crain: My hobbies outside of running is what I think sets me apart from a lot of other people. I'm very involved in a local 4-H community. I Show horses, pigs, and rabbits and I also enter several projects. This year I am currently sewing my own prom dress. Even though we will not have a prom, I'm planning on wearing it next year. In my free time, I love going out to the barn and spending time with my horses. Now that we don't have school every day, I've had a chance to go out and ride more often.I love to ride horses and at the same time it's still helping me with running! It definitely strengthens different muscles that you don't use when you're running. I can feel it sometimes when I haven't ridden in a long time, but the more often I ride the less sore I am after. And I know it's those muscles getting stronger.
MileSplit Indiana: Any final comments, shout outs?
Annalyssa Crain: I would like to take this as a chance to say thank you to everyone who helped me along the way. I know I couldn't have done it without my coaches, friends and family. And a special shout out to my younger sister! She's come to every single one of my cross country and track meets for the past five years. I know they're not the most enjoyable especially if you don't get to compete! She's finally old enough to be on the jr high team, and now I get to go watch her run! I'd also like to say thank you to my sister Clara who is a freshman this year. She's made it easy to go out and get a run in every day. We're able to go out and keep each other accountable even on the hard days. It's nice to have someone during Quarantine when many people have to run alone.