Ocoee High School junior Evan Kowalski is developing as a runner with the cross-country team.
After his family moved back to Florida from Canada, Evan Kowalski has found a place on the Ocoee cross-country team. Despite having joined the team to help build endurance for soccer, he has become a leader for the Knights on the course.
What has been your favorite thing about running?
Just seeing how much quicker I can go and how much endurance I can (build). Also, as a team being able to pick people up. Every weekend — we run on Saturdays — we get better and better and better, and it’s nice to see. I’m really doing it just for the team.
Is there a moment that stands out for you so far in your first year running at Ocoee?
I won’t say a highlight yet, but last week I did run my personal record, which was 17:34. The highlight for me is just getting better and better. One of my goals is I’m trying to go to regionals as a team.
What is the hardest part? The most fun part?
The hardest part is maintaining the pace throughout the whole race. About the second or third mile is the toughest, but you can’t overexert yourself the first mile — you have to stay consistent throughout the whole thing. And the thing I enjoy is really that. People don’t think there’s a game plan to it, but there is. Every time I do run I have an idea of how I want to run, who I want to keep up with and how fast I start — there’s many factors in it.
Do you ever hit a wall when you’re running, and if so, how do you overcome it?
Usually the start of the second mile and then throughout the end of the race my body does start to get sore, but that’s when the mental part comes in and I start to think to myself,
“You just have to go a little more, and push.” I run with a general group and I just stay at their pace and then I just think, “You’re almost there, you’re right there — keep on going.” At the start of the third mile and to the finish line I just give everything I can.
How do you prepare for a race?
It even starts after my race when I try to conserve my energy and refuel from the end of the race until Monday. On Monday I come out and practice hard, and then I go home and try to eat healthy — try not to eat desserts, which kind of sucks. But even after practices I try to recover — I eat some fruit and drink chocolate milk — and I actually get eight hours of rest every night.
What has been the biggest change in yourself since you first started running?
I’ve always thought I could go out and bust out that first mile, but you can’t think that — I’ve learned that I have to hold myself back a little bit and then I have to put it all together. The competition has also helped as well. … I try to look for other schools and try to stay with them throughout the entire race.
Did you have any goals in mind before the start of the season?
The funny thing is I really did this just to condition myself for soccer … going in I just wanted to do the best that I can by the end of the season.