2020 Maine XC Watchlist: Emma Charles, Mt Blue HS

Notable Finishes: 3rd KVAC Championship 2018, 6th Northern Maine Regional 2019, 15th Class A State meet 2019.

Comments: Charles improved to 15th at the state meet last fall after finishing 23rd as a freshman. She is a big talent that should challenge for a top ten finish this fall. Her fastest 5k last fall was a 19:57 at Belfast.

How has COVID-19 affected you?

I think the thing that affected me most was not being able to spend time with my friends/teammates during and after school. It was weird for the first few months of quarantine, not having a team to do workouts with. I also had a few ski races in California that ended up being cancelled which was a huge bummer.

What has your summer training consisted of? How much mileage are you putting in?

I have been dealing with achilles tendonitis so I haven't put on as much running mileage as I usually do.  I've been able to find different things to do for training. I have been doing more Nordic skiing focused training because it doesn't put the same amount of stress on my achilles as running. This training includes roller skiing, mountain biking, hiking, strength training, and of course, as much running as I can do without making my injury worse.

What are your goals for the upcoming season?

It's hard to make goals without knowing what the season is going to look like, but my two main goals would be to do what I can to stay injury-free and to make it to New England's again.

What is your favorite workout that makes you feel most prepared for success?

I like doing short intervals after a longer run (for example, 200 or 400 repeats). I think these make me feel most prepared because it reminds me of what it feels like to push myself at the end of a race, which gives me the confidence that I always have a little bit left in the tank.

What did you learn from the last xc season that will help you improve in 2020?

I figured out that I race best when I just get "in the zone" and not think about what the people around me are doing until the finish. Doing this helps me pace better and know that even if I don't get the time or place that I was hoping for, I know I did the best that I could do.

How is your team looking for the fall?

I think we are going to have a pretty strong team this year, especially because a lot of our girls' team is made up of underclassmen so we have the potential for a really strong team for a few years to come! We have been able to have optional practices (while following the COVID guidelines) for a few weeks and I am excited about how many people have been showing up and working hard when we get together!

How do you stay motivated when you don't want to run?

When I'm not feeling motivated for a run, I try to remind myself that I am almost always in a better mood after I exercise. I'll usually put on a podcast during longer runs when I don't feel motivated or have a negative mindset because it ends up taking my mind off of whatever is going on.

What is the greatest piece of advice you've ever received in the sport?

My coach once told my team that when you're starting to feel tired during a race, it is because you've reached your VO2 max. This means you're gonna feel just as tired as you do at that moment, even if you slow down your pace.

What are the top three "little things" that you do to prevent injury?

It feels like I am always dealing with some type of injury (usually in my achilles), so I try to stay on top of doing my physical therapy exercises, stretch my whole body after every workout, and take ice baths before races.

What is the one thing you have done during COVID-19 that you have never had time for in the past?

I've started to really get into mountain biking this summer because this is the first year that I feel like I have the time to get good at it. I started mountain biking when I was in 8th grade as a way to stay in shape after missing an entire season of cross country because of achilles tendonitis, but I didn't have the time to go to a place that was good for beginners. Although, this year, I was able to drive up to Sugarloaf, which has really fun, easy trails. Once I started getting more comfortable, I was able to start biking the more difficult trails that are at Titcomb (which is a lot closer to my house).

What's the farthest you've ever run at one time?

I haven't ever been able to run super long distances because of injuries, but I think the furthest I've run is 8 miles.

If every day were a holiday, what would yours be?

It would be Thanksgiving because we usually have pretty much all of my favorite foods in one meal. I also like being able to see some of my family that live in different states and sledding with my younger cousins (when we have enough snow).

Favorite subject in school?

My favorite subject in school is definitely biology, more specifically, animal behavior. I like to learn the reasons why animals (particularly my dog, Kikkan) act the way they do in different situations, how to tell how they're feeling, as well as how to most effectively train Kikkan to do different tricks.

If you could go on a run with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Why?

I would want to go on a run with Jesse Diggins. Even though she is a Nordic skier, she is a huge inspiration to my running as well. It is so cool to see what she does for her cross-training because she does so many unique forms of training, including running up MOUNTAINS. I would like to talk to her about her pre-race rituals and how she fuels before races.

If your teammates gave you a superlative, what would it be?

My superlative would probably be "Coolest Socks" because I try to wear a fun pair of socks to school every day. My favorite ones that I own are definitely a pair that my parents bought me for Christmas last year that have squirrels in canoes.