Tamara Jewett opened her fourth track and cross-country season at U of T by winning the 2011 Western Invitational on Saturday, September 24. The Blues athlete finished the 5 km cross-country race in 17:35, 27 seconds ahead of her closest competitor.

Everyone loves winning, but not many people like the idea of putting in the substantial effort required to win.

“One of the keys to cross-country is just having the dedication to do your consistent training day after day after day, even when it doesn’t feel good.”

Jewett, a 21-year-old from Toronto, started running as a sixth grader and became a Junior Blue at U of T in the eighth grade.

alt text

Her three years on the team have brought her a number of awards, including the 2008 CIS Rookie of the Year.

This summer, she earned a silver medal at the Canadian track and field championships in Calgary, AB, clocking 16:59.16 in the 5 km race.

Even elite runners like Jewett feel nervous before a race. “The pressure is always there, but I’m gradually learning how not to let it affect me negatively as it has in the past,” she said. “Both times I just really tried to stay relaxed and enjoy what I was doing.”

It hasn’t always been easy for Jewett to get on the track. Plagued by injuries over the past two years, she was unable to participate in last year’s track and cross-country season due to plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot.

“I’ve learned a lot of techniques throughout the whole process [of the injury] about how to take care of myself properly, as well as the recovery aspect [of] training,” she said. “The few bouts of injuries where I haven’t been able to run have shown me that it’s definitely better to be running terribly than not to be running at all.”

Despite of the differences in track and cross-country terrain Jewett has shone in both 5 km fields. Still, a runner knows the difference.

Track is set on a flat even surface, while cross-country is a course mapped out over a given geographical area, usually including hills and uneven ground. For distance athletes, the two types of training complement each other very well.

Where does her incredible range and surging speed come from? Unswerving focus? Spartan training?

For those of us that have been slacking in our fitness regimen, try distance runner Tamara Jewett’s weekly routine: two interval work-outs (shorter distance runs at a faster pace with rests in between), one tempo-run (runs that are done at a comfortable effort level, usually 5–6 km longer than a mileage run) and three mileage runs lasting 70 minutes.
Her dedication to keeping up her fitness aside, Jewett’s leadership qualities have come to the fore this year in her role as cross-country captain.

“I’m putting a lot of energy into the team this year, and it’s been a lot of fun so far taking the initiative to get the cross-country team and track team to interact more,” Jewett said. “The Varsity team is a stable support group and keeps good balance in my life.

“It’s nice to have a smaller community within a large university, and it helps me to stay focused and deal with some of the stresses of university.”

The goal is to perform strongly at CIS, individually as well as with the women’s team.
“I really like to succeed at the things that I start doing,” Jewett said. “Wanting to be the best that I can be at whatever it is I decide to do is a huge motivation for me.”