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Student Athlete Profile: Talking track with Eric Nygaard

PHOTO COURTESY — UMASSD ATHLETICSName: Eric Nygaard

Year: Senior

Major: Civil/Environmental Engineering

Hometown: Medway, MA

UMD Sports: Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Cross Country

How long have you been doing indoor track?

[Since the] winter 2007-2008 [season].

What first attracted you to indoor and outdoor track?

I ran outdoor track in high school (My high school did not have indoor track, nor did it have cross country), so I wanted to continue running in college.

I began running in track meets at the age of 4. There would be meets in neighboring towns once a week during the summer and I would go with my family to run in them…

Why do you continue to do track? Do you enjoy running, and competing against others? Or is it about staying in shape?

Mostly to see how low I can get my times down to.  I really do enjoy running and look forward to going on my runs each day.  You really don’t think about competing against others until you get into the race and it isn’t until the end of the race where you really start to think about beating everyone.

For now, running is about seeing how fast I can run a certain distance. Once I graduate it will be about staying in shape, but as of now staying in shape is not something I think about when it comes to running.

Is indoor track different than outdoor track in any aspects other than location?

With indoor track you never have to worry about the weather (temperature, snow/rain, wind, humidity).  Also, indoor tracks are 200 meters around while outdoor tracks are 400 meters around.

Also some of the events are different.  Outdoor has javelin, discus, [and] hammer. Indoor has the weight throw…

Speaking of location, where is your favorite place to run? Is there a particular place you would like to run someday?

No place in particular…However I have had many runs I will never forget while traveling on vacation with my family: Freeport; [the] Bahamas; Dickson, TN; Kayenta, AZ; Virginia Beach, VA; and Deer Lodge, MT to name a few.

I would like to run the Boston Marathon someday.

How would you describe the UMass Dartmouth indoor track team in terms of its athletic performance?

There are so many different types of athletes on the team, which makes track a truly unique sport.  We have muscular and quick sprinters, strong and powerful throwers, athletic jumpers and endurance based distance runners.  Everyone truly counts on the team because the sprinters could not do the job of a thrower and the jumpers could not compete in the distance events and vice versa.

Is it tough to balance sports and school?

Not at all.  I think it actually helps because you get to have a break from academics and it also helps with time management skills.

I plan my days around my run, but that makes for a more organized and structured day.  You know exactly when you have class, when you need to run and when you need to eat, and though it may be repetitive, I enjoy it.

Do you get nervous before meets?

Nerves used to affect me, especially in high school…[T]here were even a few meets where I would throw up before the race because I was so nervous.  Obviously nerves have no benefit and…[are] a big waste of energy.

This year I have found that I do not get nervous because I don’t think about the race.  If you think about the race you will always come to the point where you realize how much it is going to hurt and the inevitable pain that will soon develop in your body.  These are negative thoughts and they should not be present before a race.

So the secret to staying calm before a race is to simply not think about it and just go to the starting line and run.

How much would you say you’ve improved since your first year on the track team?

A LOT.  All my times are significantly better than freshman year.

What athletes do you look up to? Is there anyone in particular that inspires you?

In high school I really liked Lance Armstrong when he was winning all his Tour de France titles, but no one really now.

It was because of Lance that I started to do a lot of biking. I actually prefer biking to running. You can go longer distances and see more places. In the summer, when there is no running season going on, I do a lot of biking, but when I come back to school, all my focus switches to running.

Why should students go to the indoor track team’s events? What is exciting or interesting about them?

There is always something going on at track meets, there are never any breaks.  There are sprints, throws, hurdles, jumps and distance events; there is continuous activity…

Our home meet is Saturday, April 9.

Edited and condensed by Elise DePlanche.

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