Staying on the track

Five questions with Anita Campbell, the former Husky running star who came back to UW to coach.

Anita Campbell is one of the best runners in Husky history. The two-time All-American (who hails from Canada) ranks in the top 10 in school history in five events, and she was a fleet-footed member of UW’s 2008 NCAA champion cross country team, which earned her a spot in the Husky Hall of Fame.

Campbell went on to marry another Husky standout, two-time NCAA champion Ryan Brown. She now mentors distance runners as an assistant cross country and track coach at UW.

1. When was your first long-distance run?

In third grade, we had probably a one-and-a-half-mile cross country race, and we had ribbons if you were in the top eight. I don’t even think I had running shoes at that point. The first time I ran it, I got like 80th. The next time, 20th. And the third time, I finished eighth and got this brown ribbon.

2.What was your pre-race routine?

The food is bland on race day; that’s one thing I don’t miss. When you’re out there for 30 minutes on a track, you don’t want to be dealing with any stomach issues. If you’re racing in the morning, it’s just starchy white bread. A banana, a bagel, maybe some oatmeal.

In the 2008 Pac-10 Championships, we swept No. 2 Oregon. That was almost more fun than NCAA nationals.

Anita Campbell

anita campbell, uw track, quinn russell brown

3. Do you listen to music when you run?

I don’t. Sometimes it gets a little boring and lonely. But being alone with your own thoughts is OK, too. When it gets a little tough, learning how to cope with a clear mind is a good skill.

4. What’s a misconception about running?

A lot of distance runners joke that they run because they couldn’t do any other sport. But to be great, you have to be strong, you need good form, and you have to sprint. In the last lap, you have to run fast and beat people to the line.

5. How can the rest of us become better runners?

It’s always easier to do it with a friend. Start easy, even if it’s just one day a week. Walking and running is a great way to start: You might jog for five minutes, walk for one minute. It will get better, but it will always be hard to begin with. If you get out there and you feel terrible for the first five minutes, it will always get better.