This interview is a must read. Anna Rohrer ran an amazing 10,000 meters debut at the Stanford Invitational. I remember watching her battle Eilish McColgan, Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce (just back four days from Uganda and the World Cross Country) and Kellyn Taylor (fourth Olympic Trials 10,000m, and sixth Olympic Trials marathon). Anna Rohrer showed the poise, and focus of an athlete who had run several 10,000 meters. Unfortunately, Anna Rohrer was dealing with a painful back injury by the time of the NCAAs this season. We wish her a healthy recovery and know that there are many fine races ahead of her. This interview was done by Cait Chock, one of our most prolific and popular writers.—Larry Eder
By Cait Chock —July 16, 2017
Anna Rohrer took to the track at the Stanford Invitational 10k alongside the pro's. Just a sophomore at Notre Dame, she wound up beating all of them. Rohrer crossed the finish line in first with a jaw-dropping 31:58 in her debut for the event.
The time earned her the school record, previously held by Molly Huddle, was the seventh fastest time in the NCAA all-time list, and at the time (April 4th) was the world leading time.
I caught up with Anna a few days after her victory to see how the race felt, some keys to her smooth colligate transition, and what's on tap for her...spoiler alert, obviously Tokyo is.
1. So again, big CONGRATS on your insane 10k debut! You've had a little more time to let that sink in now, so can you talk a little about how that felt?
My first 10K was a blast! I went into it with a very open mind and no set expectations. I knew I would be good at it, but I had no idea what I was capable of. It was monumental to be able to race with the pros, not just because they pulled me through fast splits, but I also got to watch how they worked together. I can't wait to see what I can do now that I have a little experience.
2. You spoke about how it is liberating sometimes going into a new race having no expectations or anything to compare it to...to just race. You were in there with professionals, can you talk us through what you were thinking at different points during the race? And how did it feel compared to what you may have thought it would?
I tried not to think about how the race would feel beforehand because I kind of figured it would just hurt for a long time. Before the race, I was hoping to hold on to the lead pack at least through the 5K. Once we passed the 5K, I tried not to look at the clock because I was still feeling really good and didn't want the fast time to freak me out. With one mile left, I still wasn't feeling the intense pain of a race, so I swallowed my feelings of uncertainty, passed Stephanie, and just focused on how much I could keep dropping the pace. It was definitely a bit freaky taking the lead, but I thought, "Heck, I'm going for it."
3. So new school record, you're the fastest 10k runner in the world right now, and the school record that you broke was none other than Molly Huddle's...pretty stinking cool. What are your goals for outdoor season and the rest of the summer?
Number one goal is to make it through this long season healthy! I've had a few minor set-backs, but I am incredibly thankful to be toeing the line week after week. I want to set PRs in the 5K and 10K, and I know if that happens I'll be in a good place. I do plan on racing USA Outdoors in June.
4. You're still only a sophomore but have been at the top all through high school. Can you talk a little about your transition from high school to the training style at Notre Dame? What are some things you did to help facilitate a smooth, successful transition?
Transitioning into college training was probably the easiest of the transitions I made because I finally had female training partners, not to mention the best female training partner in the NCAA. My high school coach, Chris Kowalewski, and my new coach, Matt Sparks, did a lot of communicating to make sure my training would be a good match to what it had been during high school. Workouts were definitely longer and harder, but they were so gratifying because I was able to run a lot faster having Molly [Seidel] to pull me along, and I know I was able to help her too. I learned a lot from the upper classmen in regards to listening to my body and communicating with coach to help stay healthy throughout the year.
5. You're also running healthy for maybe one of the longest stretches...having dealt with the heartbreak of injuries in the past, what are some things you do to avoid getting injured? (ie: pre-hab, listening to body, core, etc.)
Honestly, I haven't changed much from my high school days in regards in strength training and injury prevention exercises. In fact, I'm running a lot more than I did in high school and feeling great! I think my body has gotten stronger and matured enough for me to handle the stress that running puts on your body. However, I am definitely a lot better than I used to be at listening to my body and not pushing it when I shouldn't!
6. Can you give us a day in the life of Anna? What does a typical week of training look like for you?
A day in the life of Anna consists of constant busy-ness and rushing from one place to the next! I am always on the go between morning and/or afternoon practice, classes, homework, and making time for God and friendship. I love what I do, but I could definitely use a little more down time! A typical week of training includes a Sunday long run, on a nice hilly dirt road during cross country season, hard workouts Tuesday and Friday, and recovery days in between. Wednesdays are usually primarily cross train only days, but the occasional short run finds its way in.
7. What are some of your favorite workouts?
I am a big fan of progression runs, but my favorite workout that we do as a team is 2 mile, 1 mile, 800, 400. My teammates and I always push each other really well through this tough one, and it always ends with a lot of high fives and smiles after we stop gasping for air...
8. What are some things you do outside of the actual running to help you? (ie: drills/core/nutrition habits/etc.)
My team and I do A LOT of core together for #fitness. I also like to do some plyometrics and use stretch bands for hip strengthening because they are things my high school coach had us do a lot. I'm also a big fan of cross training because I accredit it to my high school success. It's great to take the stress off your bones and work different muscles.
9. Finally, long term...what are some goals you have for the rest of your collegiate career and post-collegiately?
I want to keep loving running, keep getting faster, and lead my team to higher and higher finishes at NCAAs! We'll see how the next few years go, but I think Tokyo 2020 is a definite possibility.
set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004 and went on to run professionally for Nike. A freelance writer, artist, and comedian in Los Angeles, you can see more of her work on her website, Instagram @caitchock, and Twitter @caitlinchock.