Photo courtesy of Paul Wilke.
This week I sat down with dual athlete in swimming and track and field, junior Eryn Blagg. Blagg has been in a boot for most of her track season, but is still continuing to run and push through the pain.
Sarah Grubbe: You’ve been seen in a boot throughout your time here at Lawrence. What’s going on?
Eryn Blagg: More is expected of you when you’re running college track and I quickly developed shin splints that eventually became stress fractures and last year I broke my shin. The pain is a constant but I have a high tolerance. I’ve also gotten to know my body in a way where I know when enough is enough; I know when to step back.
SG: What does your support team think of that mentality? Do they discourage you from possibly harming yourself even further with the stress fractures and recent break?
EB: My coaches and parents and teammates know me—they don’t fight it because they know I’ll be out there anyway. My teammates count on me and I take that responsibility very seriously—we work to go to conference, which matters a lot to all of us. The experience of running means so much to me emotionally, mentally and physically.
SG: Relays are a huge part of your track career here at LU. What about the Lawrence environment and your team makes you want to show up to practice every day giving everything you have with your stress fractures as a consistent burden?
EB: Running provides me with so many outlets that aid my ability to endure the pain. I run for myself on my good days and my bad days and I run for my team. I relieve myself from emotional stress by pounding it out and pushing my limits, both physically and mentally. Running keeps me on track with a firm schedule and keeps me on my toes for any upcoming swim seasons. Another critical part of the process is the community and friendship that track and field has provided me.
SG: Knowing that your running career has become somewhat of an uphill battle, how do you combat the struggles that are present on a daily basis and come out with faster times in your relays nevertheless?
EB: It’s all about enjoying the season and getting to conference. Every day before practice I partake in ESTEM therapy treatment with an hour of rehab and plenty of icing–“prehab” is my best tool. I don’t notice the pain until I stop. I don’t want to give up that part of me yet and being in pain for two hours a day is a small price to pay for something I love so much.
SG: You’ve been a swimmer for as long as you can remember but your track career began in high school. What made you accommodate track and field in your already demanding schedule?
EG: It began as a way of cross training in the off-season and I found that sprinting appealed to me in a way that cross-country couldn’t. When I’m sprinting, it’s a lot like swimming and the speed is freeing–nothing can stop me when the wind is whipping around me.