Polish steeplechaser, Alicja Konieczek is chasing the Olympic dream. She is a nine-time NCAA D2 Champion and most recently competed at the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Qatar. Running for the last decade surrounded by a solid support team, this steeplechaser has big dreams.
How did you start running? I participated in lots of different sports growing up, but when my elementary school made everyone race in a local run, I won! Later, my PE teachers took small groups of us to numerous races and I started to win medals. I loved the feeling of the stress before the whistle blew and then the freedom I felt while running. Once I started competing at a regional level, it became a lot harder to make top three, so I knew I had to train. Together with my older brother, and later my younger sister, we joined our only local club. There was a coach, a 241m track and a few hurdles, and we just started to train. It became a habit, motivated by gradual improvement, and I never stopped.
Why do you run now? I run to find my limits, and then push passed them. I am lucky to say that my passion became my profession, thanks to my coach’s orders and lifetime friends made along the way. This sport teaches me about the world while I travel it, about nature while I am surrounded by it, about people while I get to know them, about myself while I face my strengths and weaknesses. In short, I love learning and running is a great sport to continuously learn from.
What was the most important race you’ve run to date? I think the most important race I have ever run was the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha. For as long as I have been training, I have been following a lot of my running idols. There, in Qatar, I was among them, competing against them. Quickly, I had to learn how to focus on my own goals and that was the most important lesson in my running career so far.
What is your pre-race ritual? The night before I load up with carbs – my go-to meal is pasta with chicken and a side salad. I hydrate a little bit more than usual by adding some electrolytes into a water bottle. Then I make an ice bath. Straight after, I get into bed and imagine the race: where I am going to push, where I am going to hurt and how I am going to deal with it. I end by thinking of finishing the race and being happy no matter the outcome. Then I pray.
On race day, depending on the time of the race, I eat something simple – a sandwich or bagel with peanut butter – and I always have three shots of espresso in a medium latte. That gets me ready to go!
What do you think about while running? It depends on where I am. While in the woods or on the trails I try to enjoy the beauty of being surrounded by nature. While on the track, I really try to focus on my technique and think positive thoughts. When it gets hard, I think: “No negative thoughts no matter what. You got this!”
What is your go-to training meal? My diet differs from day to day, but the one meal I like to have after my run is a ciabatta roll with butter, avocado, cherry tomatoes and fried eggs, with a side salad and apple juice. When I have a long workout in the morning, the night before I eat pasta with baked beef meatballs in tomato sauce. Love it!
How do you recover after a tough run? First things first, I take a BCAA shot and drink something with electrolytes. After taking a shower and getting in a good meal, I put on my recovery boots or go for an easy walk with my dog, as I prefer active recovery rather than passive.
What song is your go-to for the run? It changes every month because I always listen to it too much but right now it’s ‘Until We Die’ by WATEVA.
Who is your “team”? My team is relatively big: it includes my family, fiancée, coach and obviously the On fam; my dog is in there too because she keeps me company on most of my runs!
Apart from endurance sports, what is your passion? I like to stay up to date with what is going on in exercise science and the fitness community. I love to encourage people to stay fit and pursue a healthy lifestyle.
Travel is also my passion, as soon as I am done with my season or after a race, I love to explore other countries and try the local food.
What was the best piece of running advice you ever received? You have one body, treat it well.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps? You cannot do it alone. Talk to people and remember it’s always about having a team to encourage you.
Why On? The quality of the gear and the science behind it. On is a relatively young brand with an amazing outlook on the future and I want to be part of that phenomenon.
What’s your favorite On shoe and why? I love the Cloudstratus, it is a super-light training shoe with amazing support. I can take it anywhere – roads, trails or track – and it always gives me what I want, a quality run.
What’s your favorite item of On apparel and why? I love the Waterproof Anorak because it is super light and it keeps me warm, protected from the wind and rain.