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Natalie Concepcion - Lessons Learned

Published by
DyeStatFL.com   May 14th 2012, 3:22pm

Natalie Concepcion - Lessons Learned

Sometimes the most painful lessons yield the most pleasant results.

And that certainly was the case for Miami Ferguson’s Natalie Concepcion.

After strong freshman and sophomore campaigns the FSU-bound track and field and cross country standout fell into the trap that has snared many athletes: overtraining.

The result basically cost her the 2011 season as she both adjusted to a new training regime and recovered from being at the verge of exhaustion.

But she rebounded for the 2012 track season and left the University of North Florida with two state championship medals following the recent FHSAA Class 4A meet.

“I am extremely proud of the way she's finishing her high school career, as she's been a vital part of the program over the last four years and she is the strength behind our program's first state championship in that 4x800-meter relay,” her coach Ryan Raposo wrote in an email.

“Watching her win the 800 meters individually was one of the most exciting moments I've ever had as a coach, and I'm glad she pulled through.”

Concepcion won the 800 in 2 minutes, 13.79 seconds, ran a 2:09.18 anchor leg in the relay and also placed 15th in the long jump with a best effort of 16 feet.

Not bad for an athlete who a year ago was starting from scratch to rebuild her stamina and reset the course to stardom. And to acknowledge that listening is indeed a lesson.

“The biggest lesson was definitely listen to your coach and believe in his strategies and his ways of training,” Concepcion said before running 5:01 to win the girls 1,600 meters at the Holy Trinity All-Star Showdown on May 12.

“I definitely was listening to too many people, I was getting the tips from one person, another person. I tried to put them together, I just didn’t know, I’m not a coach.”

But the lessons didn’t stop there for the 5-foot, 2-inch 102-pound 17-year-old. They transcended just training smarter, not harder, to cover rest and just as importantly, nutrition.

To that end Concepcion received valuable input and assistance from her father John Concepcion, an information technology manager for Miami-Dade County.

“My dad had this whole routine for me,” she said. “Always have steak, I’d eat fish. Everything was incorporated in my meals. Everyday we have vegetables. My breakfast schedule . . . My dad would cook eggs, or oatmeal. He actually makes homemade French toast for me now.

“Everything’s different. Everything’s natural. There’s no preservatives in my food. Just healthy, healthy stuff.”

That was quite a change from her previous diet of “I just ate whatever,” she said.

Unfortunately the “just whatever” did not apply to her training over the summer of 2011 that nearly derailed her.

She took the approach of too many miles too early and paid the price.

“I got advice from other people saying ‘go harder in the summer. You should be running fast.’ Mentally I thought I should be running 8-minute miles so when the season starts I’ll be comfortable, it will be like warmup.

“I really pushed myself. That was a big change for me. I was tired. Mentally I’m like ‘I feel good.’ When I got into the race, at a mile and a half my legs would just shut down. It just felt like cylinder blocks on my legs. I was like ‘why, why, why?’

“I was so upset because I had trained so hard and it was not helping me. I was confused.”

But now that Concepcion is back on a structured schedule where easy days are easy and the hard days are hard where quality is stressed over quantity, the results have returned and she is living a dream.

“It was awesome, it definitely was a dream come true,” Concepcion said of her gold medal efforts at state. “I never thought I would bounce back.”

Now competing intercollegiately and carrying dual majors of chemistry and education at FSU await.

But based on the lessons the astute and articulate Concepcion has learned - in addition to her athletic prowess she carries a 6.0 (3.9 unweighted) GPA - her future is as bright as her smile.

Raposo certainly believes in her.

“As a person she is extremely kind, dedicated, hard-working, and responsible; they only area where I feel she could use a little more improvement is in her leade rship abilities, but she has improved greatly in that area as compared to when she was an underclassman,” Raposo wrote. Between her GPA, her countless community service hours, and all of her athletic efforts, she's extremely special.

“I truly wish the best for her as she moves off to college and I hope she understands the opportunities that she has both as a student and athlete in going to a school like Florida State.”



By Mark DeCotis
For DistancePreps.com

DeCotis can be reached at markdecotis@mac.com.

Natalie Concepcion Interview Videos

Post-race interview Brian Jaeger Elite Classic

Post-race interview 2012 FHSAA 4A Championships


Race videos

FHSAA 4A 4x800 Section 2 Final

FHSAA 4A 800 Section 2 Final

2012 Brian Jaeger Elite Classic 800

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