This week's Athlete of the Week is Auburn High junior Aubrey Lake, who runs on the Tigers' cross-country team.
Auburn Villager: How did you get your start running cross-country?
Aubrey Lake: Well, I started when I was in fourth grade running rec track just because my dad wanted me to do a sport. I was like 'I run a little bit, so I'll do rec track.' And then it started from there and then I just progressively got into it more.
AV: That's a different kind of sport to start so young. What drew you to that?
AL: Originally, I was really good at it. When I was young, I was pretty good at it, and then I was just like, 'Why not keep going and see how good I can get.' And I just kept going. And then basketball kind of drew me in too, which diluted my performance in running a little bit because I had to spend time with basketball.
AV: What is the biggest challenge with running those long distances?
AL: It's definitely mental, like our coach was saying. You could feel amazing going into a race and then one mile in you can tell yourself I don't feel good and then you do terrible. But if you just keep pushing, that's how you get through it.
AV: How do you mentally prepare yourself. Is there a trick to it?
AL: Coach introduced us to something new this year where we sit down. If we're traveling somewhere where we're staying the night, we sit down in the hotel room and we're all just quiet for 10 minutes and just picture the race and how it's going to go, and that's usually what we do.
AV: Is there any strategy you take to break up the long distances?
AL: Well, yeah, kind of. I run without a watch because when I run with a watch I constantly look down. But mentally, everyone breaks it down into miles. You've got the first mile, the second mile, the last mile, and then the last 200, which is just sprinting.
AV: How much training goes into getting your body ready to run for so long?
AL: Well, you have to have a good balance. It's long distance, so we have our long runs on the weekends. And then obviously speed work, which is twice a week. It's probably 45-plus miles a week is what we get in just to run a three-mile race.
AV: How is the season going for you and the team so far?
AL: I started out strong, had a huge PR (personal record). And then we had a couple bad races as a team, just some bad races. Things weren't going our way. And then the past race, I just had a good race, another PR, so I feel like I'm on track again to keep going.
AV: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
AL: Me personally, I look to get around 16:30. That would be nice, as a junior. And the team, there's another good team out there right now. We probably have a shot at state, but if not state, runner-up. Our coach doesn't expect anything less.
AV: Do you have any role models or anyone you emulated?
AL: When I was younger, I really wasn't looking at running athletes as much. I viewed running as something I had to do just because I was good at it. And basketball was something that I liked, so mainly it's Kobe Bryant just because his work ethic.
AV: What do you like about playing basketball?
AL: It's not like running because it's going to show through every single race — your training will. But in basketball, you can have good games and bad games. But it's a bunch of pressure at the end just to make that shot. I like the pressure.
AV: Do you have any hobbies outside of sports?
AL: Just hanging out with my friends, really. It's mainly just the cross-country team. Just try to team-bond.
Interview by Brian Woodham