Q&A: Olympian Alice Schmidt Focuses on London Games

Alice Schmidt at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June.

Alice Schmidt made her second U.S. Olympic team last month when she competed at the U.S. Track and Field Trials in Eugene, OR. She finished sixth in her heat in the 800m in Beijing four years ago. 

The 30-year-old volunteer coach for Coronado High School agreed to take questions by email from Patch in the days leading up to the Olympics about her plans for the Games, her expectations for the experience and the fun she had at Coronado’s July 4 parade seeing the community’s support for her on the road to London. The Olympics begin Friday. Heats for the 800m are set for Aug. 8.

Patch: What are you most looking forward to about your Olympic experience?

Alice Schmidt: I’m most looking forward to the athletic experience. I’ve been spending almost every day for the past four years working toward this goal, and so it’s obviously what I am most looking forward to. I went to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but I had been injured before that event, so it wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be. I’m still training hard to ensure that this Olympic experience is positive. Win or lose, I want to be able to walk off the track and be proud of my race.  

Aside from racing, I’m looking forward to milling around the village. It sounds mundane, but just walking around and looking at all the athletes from different countries is exciting for me. Different sports, different bodies, different countries, different languages, different customs … it’s thrilling. I always have to remind myself to be extra polite because this might be the only experience that a foreign athlete has with an American, and I want be a good representation.

Patch: Could you describe your training schedule in the past several months?

Schmidt: I have been training like this for years!  I train six days a week usually, with long runs, weights, track intervals, plyometrics, hill sprints, bicycle cross training, drills and everything in-between (plus a LOT of sleep). It’s a full-time job, even though there is usually no commute, and I choose the hours. But, my weekend doesn’t start until after my Saturday track workout, which is usually the hardest of the week, and I still have to work on most holidays.

Patch: Your first race isn’t until Aug. 8. How do you avoid distractions while you’re trying to prepare?

Schmidt: In terms of my training, I am doing less volume right now as I get ready to peak for the Olympics, so I have a little more time to spare during the day. I’m spending the days relaxing, going to movies and walking around Birmingham where our training camp is located. When we get to London, it’s going to be more difficult to reign in my curiosity. But I’ll be focusing on the athletic goal.  

Patch: How has the community responded to your making the Olympic team? 

Schmidt: The city of Coronado has been great!  I went to the 4th of July Parade right before heading over to Europe, and I got lots of congratulatory hugs and remarks. I usually fly (or run!) under the radar in town, but when a person finds out I am Olympic-bound, I usually get enthusiastically cheered along.

Patch: How about the younger runners you coach? They must be stoked to be associated with an Olympian!

Schmidt: This year, I was a pretty minimal part of the Coronado High School’s cross-country and track teams’ success unfortunately. I was doing a bunch of my own training and racing, which conflicted with the teams’ practices. But when I was there, I tried to offer big-picture encouragement e.g., “I know this workout hurts, but this is the type of training that will make you stronger at the end of a race” or “When you pass someone in a race, do it quickly and decisively, if possible, because it will make it harder for them to latch onto you and regain the lead later.”

Patch: What is your goal for your race? Do you have a particular time in mind, a personal best?

Schmidt: I don’t have a particular time goal for the Olympics, although I would always like a new personal best. Each 800 race is different, and championship races are often strategic and not necessarily fast. I’m looking forward to walking off the track knowing that I did my best.

Patch: Do you plan to be part of the Opening Ceremonies? If so, do you have any thoughts on how it will feel to march with the U.S. delegation?

Schmidt: At this time, I’m not sure whether I will take part in the Opening Ceremonies. I did not take part in Beijing. Although I missed out on a spectacular show, I also missed out on spending eight-plus hours on my feet. I will probably decide when I see how my workouts have been going, whether I can spare a day of training.

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