My candid chat with Olympic Gold Medalist Natasha Hastings (2008 Olympic Gold Medalist on 4×400 Meter Relay) is called a virtual interview in this Part I conversation to let the readers visualize her journey to the London 2012 Olympics and to see a personal side of her. The questions are in no order of events.
From Brooklyn, New York, Natasha Hastings is on the fast track (literally) to Olympic Gold in the 400 Meters. At the tender age of 25, she already has many accomplishments. Most of her successes have come as part of the 4×400 Meter Relay. She’s a 4-time World Champion, a fitness model for Wilhelmina, a blogger and a social media queen and diehard Gamecock alumni.
DD: Your compression boots that you tweet about, please tell me what those are?
NH: Basically, they are a pair of boots that go all the way up to your thighs that are hooked up to a battery pack/machine and pumps air into the boots where they are compressing your legs (similar to an ice bath or a massage). They help to flush your legs after a hard workout. I usually sit on the floor because they can get pretty big and I even use them before a competition sometimes.
DD: I also noticed that while you were taking an ice bath you had on leotards or tights? Are those from Under-Armor? (Hastings recently signed a sponsorship deal with them)
NH: They are called “recharge” in the form of tights as well as a compression long-sleeved shirt. They help with recovery and I wear them in my ice bath and sometimes I sleep in them at night after a hard work-out or the day before a competition. It’s the same idea but they aren’t as restrictive as the boots with the idea of compression and getting good blood circulation for competition or recovery after a workout.
DD: The Samson Diamond League events, I see that you aren’t entered in any thus far. Is that indicative to where you are going because you have been competing in mostly low-key meets?
NH: Yes, I switched coaches last December and moved to Austin the day after Christmas. (Hastings previously was residing in South Carolina) You know, going to a new coach, we definitely wanted to take things slowly and make sure I am ready. I did a couple of meets indoors. One of my main concerns is that in the past I felt like I raced so much that I might have run fast at some point but I wasn’t able to finish the season strong as I would like to so I’ve been training really hard. I didn’t run a competitive season as I did the year before. However, I went to Istanbul and came away with a bronze and silver (2011 World Indoor Championships, 400 Meters and 4×400 Meters).
This outdoor season we took the approach to run a lot of relays in the beginning of the season and gradually move on into open events. Particularly, the meets overseas, that long travel that it becomes a mental block for me and I need more time to get over there and compete well enough. I feel I can get more quality races in on this side of the globe; I don’t necessarily have to make that trip to Europe and, of course, miss out on quality training as well. I am entered in the Prefontaine Classic this weekend (Hastings will compete on Saturday, June 2 at the Hayward Field Stadium in Oregon – place of the Olympic trials), which is a Diamond League event.
DD: You tweet about your weight and body composition/mass. Are you comfortable with your weight? Do you want to lose weight?
NH: In the past, my weight has always been a topic. I think if you compare me to other quarter-milers, I am on the larger end of the spectrum. I feel like as a woman period, and as a woman going through high school and college, sometimes the way weight is spoken about I kind of see it as an issue if it’s not handled delicately enough. Not that it’s something that happened with me but I’ve seen women develop eating disorders or become close to it because so much pressure is placed on “Well you need to be this number, or you need to be this weight”. One of the things we implemented with my coach is that we check my body composition regularly.
DD: Who do you think will be your fiercest competitors at the Trials?
NH: I never sleep on anyone because I feel like it’s an Olympic year and training as a whole, everybody has a new resume. Sanya, Jessica Baird, Francena McCorory, Allyson. The Olympics only come around every four years.
DD: Are you friends with other quarter milers on the circuit? In my day, we used to trash-talk but now everybody is so pleasant and everybody likes everybody? Is that common?
NH: I hear that more from you and Ato (Ato Boldon), and they always talk about how we’re so nice and we don’t trash talk. We come together at the end of the meet for the relays but there is definitely competitiveness between all of the women. We’re cordial; we have conversations here and there.
Stay tuned for Part II of the Hastings interview.