Coffee, dog and porch enthusiast, Alicia Monson grew up in Amery, Wisconsin. Surrounded by a sporting family, she played on many different teams but always had her heart set on running cross country and track. While competing for the University of Wisconsin, Alicia earned Big Ten titles, All-American titles and an NCAA title.
Why running and how did you get started? My family has always been involved in sports, so I grew up playing basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics and usually showed up to my eye doctor with broken glasses after playing football with my brother. I got into running in middle school after copying my older sister, and I continued with cross country and track during high school. As my running career progressed, I decided I wanted to pursue it further in college at the University of Wisconsin.
On days where you might not feel like training, what inspires you to get out there? My training partners! Even if I don’t feel like running, I know my training partners and friends are there to hold me accountable. Also, I can (almost) always expect that even if I start a run unmotivated, I’ll feel much better afterwards.
Can you tell us about a race that taught you a few lessons in this sport? One race that taught me a lot about this sport is the 2019 Indoor Big Ten 5000m. I went into that race already a little banged up but knew my coach wanted my teammate, Amy Davis, and I to achieve 1-2 to get as many points for the team as possible.
I really wanted Amy to win the race because of her dedication to her career and because it was her last indoor conference meet. As the race went, we put ourselves in good positions, and with about a lap to go, I made a move and knew Amy would follow me. Coming through the last stretch, the race was close, and I was cheering her on as we went. We ended up going 1-2.
That race showed me the importance of teammates and comradery in this sport. We show up to practice every day to help make each other better, and we share a lot of ups and downs along the way. I was able to fully commit to helping Amy when she needed it because I had experienced her selflessly doing the same for me as a teammate, competitor and friend for years.
Do you have a special pre-race ritual? I keep it pretty simple, but some basics are a peanut butter banana sandwich because I know it sits well in my stomach, coffee and music. I like to get ready for a race with fun music to find some focus but also keep things light-hearted before the race.
Is nutrition a big focus for you? And, what would you say is your go-to meal after a tough run? My undergrad major was in nutrition, so yes! I think it’s important to recognize that nutrition can play a big role in performance and recovery. However, it’s just one of many tools we can use to help perform our best and reach our goals (whether that be running fast, passing a test or being a positive influence at work). For me, it’s best to not stress and enjoy the little things, like a bowl of oats with coffee on a quiet morning before a run. My go-to after a big long run or hard workout is an omelet loaded with veggies and cheese (Wisconsin girl at heart) and chocolate chip pancakes on the side.
What are your top tips for a speedy recovery after training?
• Refuel after training – water, electrolytes and snacks.
• Stretch and roll – usually after running I use a foam roller to work the legs out and do a few vinyasa flows to stretch.
• If you’re tired, sleep – when I’m in heavy training, I like to nap between morning and afternoon sessions, and in the summer, I try getting to bed early, so I get enough sleep before waking up to beat the heat on a run.
Who is your “team”? Everyone who supports me – friends, family, teammates and coaches of past and present, medical/physio professionals. When we toe the line for a race, there is a lot more behind a performance than just ourselves. Everything is a team effort.
Apart from running, what are your passions? Baking/cooking, spending time in nature, coffee, mornings and evenings spent outside on a porch, goofing around with friends, and helping others enjoy their own passions.
In terms of apparel, what is an essential running piece for you? A comfy pair of socks. I literally love all of the On socks. I think they’re extremely functional and comfortable while just looking really cool.
Finally, why On? Not only does On care about preparing you with the right equipment to perform at your best, it’s a company that cares about the person behind the athlete. I’ve been impressed with how On recognizes that everyone has unique stories and passions that should be shared. I think this allows the focus to go beyond performance and shoe and helps us dig into how we get there.