This week 406running caught up with Big Fork, MT running phenom Makena Morley. In only her freshman year of high school Makena had an extraordinary XC season capped off with a 9th place finish at Footlocker Nationals. We visited with Makena to see what it takes to run at such a high level at such a young age.
406running: How old are you?
Makena Morley: 15 years old.
406running: And how long have you been running?
MM: 4 years.
406running: How many miles a week do you typically run?
MM: 25-30 miles.
406running: What got you interested in the sport?
MM: My mom was doing fun runs in the summer and it looked really fun!
406running: For those who may not know, you completed your season with a ninth place finish at Foot Locker Nationals in December, and you were the only freshman in the top 30. First of all, congratulations! And secondly, how does that feel?
MM: It feels amazing. It was a great accomplishment to get into the top 10 regardless of my age!
406running: Considering this was your first time competing at Foot Locker Nationals, did you have a specific goal, or race strategy, going into the race?
MM: I set my goal to win the race. That way I would push myself to run the fastest I could run. My race strategy was to run fast, and happy, and in the moment.
406running: Your success has garnered a lot of attention locally and nationally. You were recently named the ESPN Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year for the state of Montana. Does all of this attention change your approach to running?
MM: Sometimes it is overwhelming, but no matter how overwhelming all the attention gets I just go out and have a great run with my dad and it puts it all into perspective.
406running: Back to Montana, I understand you and your family are all quite active and do a lot of traveling and running along the way. Do you have a favorite place to run in Montana?
MM: Well we have a fun 4 mile loop right around my house and it is a good mix of everything, roads, trails, hills, its great training and fun!
406running: With that said, do you have a favorite Montana Race?
MM: Over the years we have run a lot of different fun runs and I love them all, big or small, but if I had to choose one, it would be the Montana Cup (in Great Falls in 2011).
406running: Living in Bigfork you get a lot of snow in the winter. Do you do any sort of cross training in the off season?
MM: Oh yes, snowboarding is my other passion and we do a lot of hikes up the mountain and into the back country. It is great cross training and fulfills my powder meter!!
406running: What has been the most challenging aspect of training and running for you so far?
MM: Training in the dark. I always think a mountain lion is going to eat me. Luckily I have my dad to run with, but it is still scary!
406running: What has been the most rewarding part of running for you?
MM: It gives me a great sense of accomplishment and self confidence. If I can run what I run it makes me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to!
406running: Finally. Do you have a favorite meal you eat before a big race?
MM: Spaghetti the night before, and eggs with spinach in them in the morning!
Thanks again for spending time with us Makena. It sounds like one of the keys to your current success is that you are having a lot of fun right now. Im sure a lot of us could learn something from that. We are as excited to share your story with other 406 runners as we are to see your future racing and running highlights. Good Luck!