Running Brave With Ali Upshaw

(Ali finished 2nd in the Division 4 Girls race at the State Championships.-photo by John Hays)

Name: Aliandrea "Ali" Upshaw
Year: Sophomore
Where are you from and when did you begin competitive running?
I am from an area called Rabbit Brush, which is on the New Mexico and Arizona state line between Red Lake NM and Fort Defiance AZ on Navajo Nation. My mother clan is Zuni Red Running Into Water and my father is Weaver-Zia Clan. We live on a small off-grid ranch that has been passed down from my Great-great grandmother down to my grandmother. I started running in the 7th grade competitively for St Michael.
What does a typical training week look like for you?
Mondays and Wednesdays are our workout days depending on what time of season it is. Tuesdays will usually be our longer "recovery" runs, then on Thursdays we'll do strength, circuits or plyos. I'll go on my long runs on Sundays if we have a race on Saturday; if not I'll do my long run on Saturday. It just depends on if we are racing that week or hard training week. Fridays is either race prep day or a workout depending on week. Sundays is my rest day if we are not racing that week but I help at home with wood or water hauling or going after the cows that's a workout in itself.
What is something that helps you mentally prepare for a race?
I try to watch "Rocky" Movies, mainly IV is my favorite. I also like to watch "Running Brave" about Billy Mills Native American Olympic Gold Medalist and his life. I look over my running journal to remind myself about my training and what I have done to keep my mind focused on the positives.
What's your favorite XC meet?
(Below: Ali Upshaw took 14th in the Girls Sweepstakes race.-photo by John Hays)
I really like Desert Twilight in Casa Grande because that's the only time I can be outside and run at night because of my Navajo culture.
What's your favorite post-race meal?
Shimasani (My grandma) makes a mean vegetable mutton stew or beans with pigs-feet with HOMEMADE nanask'adih (tortillas).
Do you have any role models on the team or from years past? If so what's the most helpful advice they've given you?
I look up to my mom and my Step-dad because they both ran in high-school and college. They tell me about their good and bad experiences so I can be the best I can be with my academics and athletics. My mom used to tell me "Never worry about what people think of you" from there I decided to keep running even if I was from a Small School with Small Team and from Small Town. We don't have a dirt or all-weather track so our workouts are done around our soccer field or softball field. I always remember, 'It doesn't matter what you have but how you use what you have,' and that's what we are always taught.
What's it like having your mother as your coach?
It's great, we talk about everything together: running, school and everything else. We have learned a lot over the years about each other and the training itself. We are still learning together. I could never ask for a better coach.
What's your favorite thing about running in St Michaels?
Well it has to be the people, my teammates I run with and the memories we have on the trails we run in St Michaels. I love running up the mountain behind our school, with the beautiful scenery and having a good time with my second family out there. I maybe ran the same trail a million times but it's the people I run with who make it the first time all over again. I have a lot of good memories of St Michaels.
If you could go on a long run with any professional athlete who would it be?
For sure it'd be Jordan Hassay.
What's your favorite subject in school?
I like History, World History and sometimes my math classes.
Will you be racing any post-season meets and if so which one(s)?
Most likely Nike Southwest Regionals and Footlocker West, to try and qualify for the Wings Team which takes Native runners to National meet in February.