Kim Conley has been a huge part of UC Davis cross country her entire career, leading the team in every race she’s run since sophomore year.
Now a senior, she has been a force on the track as well, setting school records in the indoor 3,000m (9:30.77) and indoor and outdoor 5,000m (16:59.44 and 16:23.58, respectively). Most recently, the Montgomery High School product took third at the Stanford Invitational – one of the more prestigious meets on the West Coast.
Conley recently sat down with Aggie Sports Writer Alex Wolf-Root to discuss everything from what goes into a standard week – and offseason – of training to how she got into running in the first place.
Let’s start with a question I’m sure you’re asked every time someone finds out you’re a runner: What’s your mile time?
Wow. But this is cross country season, not track. Would you tell us a little bit about your expectations for the year?
Definitely get the team to nationals, and then to be All-American myself at nationals.
Before that comes the West Regionals, where you took 28th place a season ago. The top 25 get All-Region honors – how did it feel to place so well but just miss out?
I ran a good race. Whenever you do the best you can, you have to walk away happy with that. But it left a little bitter taste in my mouth. Made me change my approach.
What exactly did you change?
I increased my mileage and did more cross-training – basically, I’m a lot stronger aerobically. And watching nutrition too always helps. Icing on the cake kind of things.
Last year in the Big West Championship, the team took fifth following your 15th-place individual finish. How do you expect that experience to influence you this year?
It’s going to help us a lot. We were definitely disappointed with the outcome last year. Enough that at the end of track we sat down as a team and we were like, “We don’t want a repeat of what happened last year.” It’s been a huge source of fuel for our training in the summer and for how we are competing now during the season.
What’s the outlook for the Big West this year? While the team graduated Lorin Scott, it seems to have added a very talented group of freshmen.
From the meets we’ve had, it’s already showing that the freshmen are playing a huge role. They’re basically rounding out the next three spots after (senior) Kaitlin (Gregg) and I, who have both stepped it up big time.
How about your individual expectations? The top two girls from last year’s championship both graduated. Does that affect things?
There’s four of us that are all going be competitive for those top spots. Obviously, a Big West girl (Laura Olvera, UC Irvine) won Stanford. One of the UC Riverside girls (Brenda Martinez) ran in the (Olympic) Trials in the 800m. We’ll see how she does over 6k. I’m just going to go and run my race, do the best I can on that day and hope for the best.
You led the Aggies to a second-place finish at the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 27, losing only to three-time defending national champion Stanford. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I was really happy with the team outcome. We didn’t even have the ideal race. So for us to still get second even with a little bit of a hole out there, it was a nice feeling. It puts us on the radar, and we can walk away knowing we have way more to offer than that.
Back to some basics. Can you give some insight into what a standard week of training is for you?
A standard week for me right now is 70-80 miles with one long run of 15-17 miles and two workouts – either tempo or interval work. Aside from the training, it’s the whole lifestyle about getting enough rest, eating well, and doing all those little things apart from the actual running to prepare your body for running well when you need to.
That sounds intense. And I know you do roughly the same thing during track season in the spring. You must be sure to relax during your summer and winter breaks, right?
No. Actually, summer and winter are our big base training phases. So it may not be the same intensity for workouts that we do during the season, but this summer I was consistently at 85 miles [per week]. And I was doing some cross-training workouts in addition to the mileage to build up a strong base for the season.
What got you into running in the first place?
When I was in elementary school, I basically did a different sport every season. After a few years of softball I got so bored and felt like I just stood out in front of the bases. Someone suggested I should go out for track, so I went out for the track team. I basically fell in love with it right then and loved competing. Then I went out for cross country in junior high and I never really looked back.
In a nutshell, who is Kim Conley?
I don’t know. Someone who loves to compete. She works hard to become the best she can be. She wants to win. Do you want one good word to describe me?
Well, that’s a tough one.… Fire! Put fire!
ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.