Interview with Model and Track Star Monica Hargrove
Monica Hargrove, began her track career as a high schooler in New Haven, Conn. From there, she moved on to Georgetown University and became a three-time All-American, competing in the 200, 400, 500, 4×400, 4×100 sprint medley relay and distance medley relay. She burst onto the professional track scene in 2006 with a silver medal in the 4×400-meter relay at the world indoor championships. Since then, she’s been among the nation’s best in the 400 and valiantly earned her first international gold medal in the women’s 4×400 relay at the world indoor championships in Sopot, Poland. She’s unstoppable, proactively working towards securing a coveted position on the 2016 Olympic team. And if that’s not enough, she was the first track athlete sponsored by Under Armour and also works as one of their most prominent commercial and fitness models.
Monica is an epic beauty, representing inward and outward strength at its finest. Find out how Monica stays fit, fabulous and fierce while continuing to clearly forge her imprint as a leading and celebrated female athlete.
FG: How did you get your start with running?
MH: Each year in Connecticut, the junior high schools have a field day event, which consists of a 60yd dash, shot put throw, broad jump and a few other events. I’m not sure if the junior high schools still hold this annual event since it was so long ago (laughs), but I remember being approached by the high school track coach of the school encouraging me to come out for the team when I got to high school. My high school coach actually thought I already ran track. I guessing I already had what they call a “track body” at age 13. I was playing softball at the time, and thought it may be cool to try something new. I accepted the invitation and with confidence told him I would be the best runner on the team.
FG: At what point did you realize you had a passion for it?
MH: Even though I competed in track and field in high school and college, I would say I discovered my passion for running a little over a year after graduating from Georgetown University. I’ve always been extremely passionate about being fit and active, but something became very exhilarating about completing a track workout or sprinting up a hill. I truly enjoy most forms of exercise and sport, but they never quite satisfy me like running does. Running reveals how much I’m really capable of. I find these strengths in those moments when one more step seems impossible, but I manage to cross the finish line.
FG: What do you do to prepare for a competition (exercise routine)?
MH: I run 6 days a week. I mix up track speed sessions, hills, long distance runs, and tempo sessions on the track. I don’t do loads of miles. I am a 400m runner so it’s all about mixing the speed and endurance. At most I will hit 25 miles a week, but a lot of that work is at sub 60 second 400m pace. Core stability and strength is essential to improving speed and preventing injuries, so I work the core area vigorously. I complete at least 1000 reps 3-4 a week of various exercises that include: Pillar Strength, Physio and Medicine Ball Routines, Weight Assisted Abs, Crunches, and Twist. My strength training consist mainly of dynamic and explosive exercises, such as power cleans, snatches and jump squats. Plyometrics are also added in my strength routine to improve muscular power.
FG: Do you have a special diet when you’re competing or does it stay pretty much the same year around? What does your diet include?
MH: My diet stays pretty much the same, year round minus approximately 1 week of each year. Let me explain. (laughs). When the off-season begins, I immediately indulge in all the treats or bad foods I crave thought out the season. That donut I stared down during fall base training may become breakfast. French fries, pizza and ice cream are some of my guilty pleasures that get added to the menu, just to name a few. By the end of the week I’m actually not feeling too great and looking forward to healthy eating. My regular diet includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. For muscle recovery, I stick to lean protein sources such as fish, chicken, turkey and egg whites. Chobani Greek yogurt, nuts, simple truth organic popcorn, and dark chocolate are my favorite snacks in between meals. I stay hydrated with lots of water with a squeeze of lemon.
FG: How do you keep yourself motivated?
MH: My love and passion for running and fitness keep me motivated. When training gets tough, I remember the feeling of missing out on the 2012 Olympic Team. That feeling of disappointment motivates me to keep pushing through the pain and focused on the goal. Rio 2016. I’m confident that I have the talent and work ethic to be one of the best! There are so many areas I can make improvements in and putting together the smaller pieces daily keep me extremely motivated. I also feel a new sense of motivation when I read inspirational stories of other athletes and the challenges they overcome to get to the top. Under Armour’s new campaign I Will What I Want, which features the amazing story of Misty Copeland, has inspired me to push myself more than ever. I’m honored to be a part of such an empowering movement. It’s a reminder that I have to believe in me each and every single day. I will!
FG: That’s wonderful. You are truly an inspiration to women of all ages!
FG: Do you have any tips for our readers who would like to pursue a career in track and field, but they aren’t sure they have what it takes to be successful in this sport?
MH: A professional running career takes a lot of dedication and hard work, so first and foremost you need to make sure you have the time to devote to a very demanding training regime before going forward. Finding a local training group or coach would be the next step, unless you plan on training alone, which I would advise against. The intensity of track workouts at the professional level are very difficult to get through. It’s good to have someone pushing you or holding a stop watch at the very least. When you feel fit and ready to give it a shot, simply register for an open meet. The great thing about track being an objective sport is that you will easily know within a few races whether or not a career in track and field is for you.
FG: Great advice!
FG: Do you have a favorite recipe, fitness, health or exercise tip that you wouldn’t mind sharing with our readers?
MH: One of my favorite recipes is baked salmon with lemon and dill. It’s a wonderfully simple and healthy meal that anyone can make. Ingredients include salmon filets, fresh dill, fresh squeezed lemon, 1 garlic glove minced, 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil, salt and pepper. I spread the butter, lemon and garlic evenly over the top of the fish. Then I sprinkle fresh dill, salt and pepper on top and place in the preheated oven at 350. 20-25 mins later you have a mouthful of deliciousness. My fitness tip…. Add something new to your routine every 4-6 weeks to keep you from getting bored. An unfamiliar exercise can pose a new challenge and add some fun to your workout. I follow a lot of fitness trainers on Instagram and I’m always picking up new exercises. Lately I’ve been obsessed with yoga poses. (Laughing) I’m not really good. I spend most of my time falling on the mat, but I’m determined to nail a pose. You can also follow me on Instagram and twitter for more fitness tips and exercises this upcoming fall.
FG: What’s next on your agenda? And where do you see yourself in 10 years?
MH: I have many goals I’d like to accomplish as a professional runner. I want to break the 50 second barrier for 400m and also make an Olympic team. 2016 Rio! 10 years from now, I still see myself working in the health and fitness industry. I would love to do more fitness modeling and eventually have my own workout DVD. Jillian Michaels and Jeanette Jenkins are two trainers I look up to and I hope to have the same ability to inspire others to live healthy and active lifestyles and to be strong and passionate about the things they want in life. I could also see myself dabbling in sports broadcasting or maybe even a movie role. I’m sure I could play a pretty good role of an athlete (laughs)…. …maybe even an action role.
FG: Monica, thanks so much for taking the time to interview with us. We wish you the very best in all of your endeavors.
Follow Monica on:
Her site: http://www.monica-hargrove.com/
Photos by: Dustin Snipes