Kristi Castlin is a professional track and field athlete, 100 meter hurdler, and a 2016 Olympic medalist. I spoke with Kristi shortly after she returned from Rio, Brazil where she finished 3rd in the 100 meter hurdles finals.
Kristi was always involved in athletics and physical activities in some way. As a child she says she enjoyed PE, field day, and even cheered. It wasn’t until she was 14yo that she started running track though. She was a freshman in high school. When running track for the first time, she had a lot of success from the start. Once she was able to dedicate herself to track, she was almost unstoppable. She won 4 state championships breaking a state record at her High School.
When choosing the events she wanted to take part in, Kristi dared to be different. ” I gravitated towards hurdle because I wanted to be different. It was something a lot of other girls weren’t doing,” Kristi says.
Transition from College to Pro
Kristi went to college at Virginia Tech. When choosing a college, she had over 10 different scholarship offers. She was the first child of her mother’s children to go to college. She envisioned herself creating a legacy of her own. She chose her univeristy with this in mind rather than following in the footsteps of legends at programs that had a long established legacy of champions. She felt Virginia tech would be the perfect place to do just that. Indeed she picked a great school to do so. She broke records and won championships. She later went on to become the first medalist in track and field for Virginia Tech.
Transitioning from college to the pros wasn’t easy. Kristi says she struggled from a sponsorship stand point. She first received a small sponsorship from Adidas right after college. Track, like tennis for example, is a bit different than team sports where you sign with a team and agree to terms of payment. With individual sports, you rely on sponsorships to support your training and travel so you can give your training the attention you need and travel to events to earn purses (monetary winnings). She couldn’t find another significant sponsor to support her training. She went on to have an amazing year in track and field in 2012 while training at Clemson. This sparked interest from other companies to pursue sponsorships with her.
Unfortunately, she suffered a minor injury just before the 2012 Olympics. This injury halted her progress for that moment. Going through the injury only made Kristi stronger in the end.
“I had to learn patience and independence as well.”
After the injury Kristi moved from Clemson, SC to Los Angeles to be with her coach. Later she decided to make another change and left to train in Atlanta at Georgia Tech. “My coach (when I was at Georgia Tech training) helped me to learn a lot about myself.” He helped her to mature, she says. She then returned back to her previous coach back in Los Angeles.
“Track and field is primarily an individual sport. You have to have a strong mindset. It can be difficult to make mistakes because you have no one else to blame.”
“There is little room for error,” Kristi explains.
“You have to capitalize on every opportunity. There is a lot of pressure. Track and field also takes a great amount of accountability.” You train and manage your body, paying attention to every little detail for weeks and months on end. All of this training and management boils down to a 12 second race that will set you off in one direction or the other. “You need to have a strong mental capacity to deal with the results of a race.” It takes a lot of stress management.
Kristi deals with the pressure through prayer and faith. She also works to keep a disciplined schedule. It’s important to make time for things that make you happy, but you must also stay focused and organized.
“Be flexible but always have a plan.”
A typical day for Kristi is a long one. “From the time I wake up until I finish is about a 12 hr day.” In the morning, Kristi wakes up and goes to training. She trains about 6 hours a day. Her training includes everything from running, jumping, hurdles, drills and plyometrics, and more. She take about a 15 min break for lunch then heads to weight training for about 2 hours. After a long day of training, she will frequently see her massage therapist. She also makes time to stretch and have an ice bath to soothe her body and prepare for the next day.”