LaTavia began running at the age of 4 years old and comes from a track family. Her mother, father, older and younger sister ran track. LaTavia went to West Philadelphia Catholic High School and won 4 indoor state titles in the 800 meters, and more. She earned a full scholarship to LSU where she became a 3 time NCAA champion, 12 time All-American, 8 time SEC champion and 12 time All-SEC. After College she was sponsored by Nike for 3 years.
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
I have accomplished a lot so far in my career in track, but I always feel like I haven't reached my full potential yet and I feel like I have unfinished business. I love the sport and I don't want to leave without feeling that I have done all that I can do. After my sponsorship ended with Nike I felt it was impossible to get to where I needed to be without that financial stability. Now I have put all the excuses aside and just started to embrace the journey and will see how far it takes me.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
With working full time and having a toddler to chase around now, it can be very challenging to motivate myself to go on runs sometimes. On days I'm just not feeling it, I just power through them. Find some motivating music, and suck it up. I always think about what the competition might be doing or thinking, and that moves me to know that I have a goal and I won't achieve them if I'm a slacker.
What are your goals for the upcoming year?
My goals are set a little different than how I used to set them. Before I would say to make the Olympic team and win a medal. Now my goals are more simple and step by step based. My first goal is qualify for the Olympic Trial. Next it is to get as far as I can, with the objective of making the team. I have stopped pressuring myself. Obviously my goal is to make the Olympic team. I would love to end my career as an Olympian but honestly I just want to have fun doing something I love. I'm not running to gain a sponsorship, fame, or money. I'm doing this for me to show myself that I can do it, for my own self gratification.
As a preemie father I found motivation from my son's fight in the NICU. How has your son's fight affected your running?
Watching my son Amari fight for his life for 76 days in the NICU made me look at life differently. How can I ever give up on anything after witnessing such strength? I want to give my son everything, but mainly I want him to always know that he is a fighter and remind him every chance I get that he was born a fighter. I want to show him through my actions. Every time I think about giving up or quitting my son pops up in my head, reminding me that he never stopped fighting, and who would I be as a his mother to show him that. No matter what my end result is, whether I retire an Olympian or not, I can tell tell him I fought to the end, gave it all I had, and no one could ever take that away. He motivated me in ways I never knew possible. Amari never gave up on himself, and he taught me the same.
What is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome while balancing running and being a mother?
The biggest hurdle to overcome is the separation anxiety that me and my son are both discovering more. Sometimes I think it would be easier to just stop running and have more time with him but I have a great support system that helps a lot in that area. I can't lie and say it is not hard though.
What has been your most memorable race to date?
My most memorable race was when I ran my personal best of 1:59 sec in the 800 meters. The reason it stands out to me is because to this date it felt like the easiest run I ever had. I was in the best shape of my life and all of my hard work paid off. It felt good to execute my race as I expected.
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
My weight training consists of a lot of full body workouts. Power lifting, core, upper and lower body. I believe that core is most important. I believe when I'm able to crush a good core ab session it will help me tremendously when it comes to running.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
My very first race when I was 4 years old. I wanted a t-shirt from the track meet I was at because of my older sister, but my dad said if I wanted the shirt I had to run a race. The only race for me to run at the time was a 800 meter race and it was indoors. I didn't know how many laps I had to run. That was the longest race ever at the time. My shoe came off, I cried the whole time running and my beautiful parents have it on tape where we can always look back and laugh at it!
What's your favorite types of fuel before a race?
I don't really have a pre-race meal or anything. I like to start off with a good full breakfast and I kind of snack lightly until the race. I don't like to feel full and I hate to feel hungry, so it can get a bit confusing.
What’s your favorite cheat food & drink?
I love to eat cheat food. Pizza, chicken wings, ice cream...I could go on.
Do you think if the LSU band played the Neck song during meets that the team would go undefeated and win the championship?
You've recently mentioned working on getting the confidence you once had. What do you think it'll take to get there?
Letting myself go and to stop overthinking. Before I would just go, but as I got older I starting thinking too much! I need to just have fun again!
What's been one of the benefits from training with Titania Markland and why is that relationship so special to you?
Having a training partner is always great when it's a good fit. It makes practice less intense. Training with Titania is special to me because it just happened, and I believe everything happens for a reason. I didn't know her before. Someone told me she was looking for someone to train with and back then I had been training with my dad early mornings before work, I always expressed that I wanted a training partner. Everything just worked out. We didn't live far from one another, she was able to training during the times I trained, and even though she is a 400 meter runner and I'm an 800 runner, our styles are great to train with together. It was just a great fit and we are thankful we found each other.
In your free time when you’re not running, what hobby’s do you enjoy?
I have to do active stuff. Bowling, top golf, skating and I like to sing karaoke. I also enjoy going to the movies or binge watching Netflix or Hulu.
Who is someone you look up to in the sport?
Jearl Miles Clark. She was a 400 and 800 meter champion. I always admired her success. She was the best!
If you could compete in one Field event, which would you choose?
The high jump. I think if I really wanted to learn that, especially at a younger age, I could have been just as good.
What's next for LaTavia Thomas?
I just want to see how far I can go in 2020 as far as running. After that, I want to enjoy my family and my son. I want to buy a house in a great school district and just be happy!
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