AZ XC Athlete Spotlight 2020: Xander Black

If you have been around middle distance and distance running for the past 10 years you probably already know the name Xander Black. He was an outstanding club runner as an age-group All-American and has been tearing up the track and cross country courses ever since joining the Broncos of Brophy. He is currently the number two ranked runner in Arizona and the number one ranked Division I cross country runner so far this season.

Xander took the time to answer some questions for us about himself and the season thus far - here are his responses:

Where will you be running in college next year?

I don't know yet

What are your XC goals for this season?

Going into this season, I really wanted to establish myself as one of the best distance runners not just in Arizona but in the country. I've taken steps in the right direction, but I've still got some work to do. With so much uncertainty surrounding the remainder of the season, I think I'll try to take advantage of any opportunities that do arise to race. I want to surprise people.

What has been the strangest thing about training for XC during the pandemic?

Honestly, I think the pandemic has made it like running even more. Now more than ever, running keeps me grounded and gives me purpose. For me, training provides structure in this world full of uncertainty. Especially in a socially distant society, practice is one of the few times I get to see my friends and hang out with them. It's always my favorite part of the day.

Who is your toughest competition?

I've had lots of different competitions over the years. But after Desert Twilight last weekend, I'd have to say right now it's probably Randy Espinoza

How are you liking racing in these waves at meets this season?

It's been alright, certainly much better than not having any races at all. At Desert Twilight, I liked how they did waves based on seed time as opposed to being random. That way we were still able to race with some really solid competition while competing in a smaller field.

What is the biggest difference you in racing last year to this year?

This season I've really been focusing a lot on the mental side of the sport. I think most people don't realize how important that aspect is. I won't delve into all the specifics, but I think my mindset regarding training and going into races has changed for the better. I'm always working to improve it too.

Who is your biggest fan/supporter? How do he/she/they show you this support?

My coaches, teammates/friends, and family are all huge supporters of mine. Without them, what I do would not be possible and I'm really grateful for all of them.

How was your summer training affected by Covid this summer? What was similar to previous years? What was different about it?

It was somewhat different. Like every school, we were unable to hold team practice over the summer which was obviously not ideal. But we try to keep a positive attitude and make the best of things. I was fortunate enough to spend most of the summer training in Flagstaff with a couple of my teammates and friends. It was a really incredible experience. The trails and stuff up there are hard to beat, plus I met guys from all over the country and ran with some people a lot faster than me haha.

How long have you been running? What do you enjoy most about running/xc?

I started running pretty young, around fourth grade. But I also played soccer at the time and wouldn't say I started running seriously until about 7th grade. I really love the sport, especially compared to others it's beautifully simple. To me, there is no better way to spend a morning than by getting after it outside in nature with my friends. Most afternoons, I'll get another workout in (even if it's not running). I truly enjoy the process.

Is there a song, movie, show, or saying that motivates you or keeps you focused on your goals? If yes, what is it and why?

I don't think there's any specific song or movie or anything that keeps me motivated. I feel like my motivation is more internal. I've always been pretty driven and competitive, I have big goals and am working hard in order to achieve them.

What's your pre-race meal?

Oatmeal or toast with fruit

Do you have any superstitions before the night of a race? (Any clothing you have to wear? Song you have to listen to? Food you need to eat? Etc.) If yes, how did this start?

No, not really. I just like to relax. I'll eat a healthy dinner and get to bed early, nothing out of the ordinary.