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Katie Mackey is Better with Friends

The middle-distance star has been setting PRs and winning big since joining a team.

As they jogged 15 minutes up a dirt road in Sedona, Arizona, Katie Mackey and her Brooks Beasts teammates chatted about how their track workout at the local high school might unfold at 4,500 feet above sea level.

The Seattle-based middle-distance group of 14 athletes, including Angela Bizzarri and Nick Symmonds, spent much of March and April sharing a house in nearby Flagstaff, where they hoped altitude camp would translate into a season of personal bests and tickets to the world championships.

“It’s really fun to come up here and do these camps with the team, because we all run together, but then we also come home and have a lot of fun just hanging out,” Mackey says.

The camaraderie has been pivotal in her development, she says. When she and her husband, Danny Mackey, head coach of the Beasts, decided to move to Seattle to help launch the new professional group in 2013, they weren’t exactly sure how the scenario would pan out—but they knew that their personal and professional relationship was working.

Living in Boston in 2012, the Mackeys found themselves newly married and without a coach for Katie. In an Olympic year, they didn’t have much time to figure out an alternative, so Danny took the reins.

“We were really nervous about it, but that season was my best so far. I PRed in every event,” Katie says. “Obviously I’m biased, but Danny is really good at coaching.”

When the chance to join a group arose, they were fairly certain it would only enhance what they were already doing.

“It’s easier when there’s a team around. When I’m at practice, I’m one of the athletes and I can just be at work,” Katie says. “At home, I’m not an athlete anymore.”

It changes rhythm and terrain to simulate racing, and breaking it down into segments makes it easier to bite off and chew.

Putting in 70-80 miles weekly, she trains using Danny’s philosophy of touching all metabolic systems. In an average base-training week, Katie will do two days of easy recovery runs (split into doubles), two days of speedwork on the track or on hills, a long run of 90 minutes to two hours (with pickups in the last half), a moderate day, and one cross-training session—running in the pool or using the ElliptiGO.

This season the goal was to snag a spot on the U.S. team heading to Beijing, China, for the world championships in the 1500 meters (her PR is 4:03.81) or 5,000 meters (15:04.74). She fell short of that goal, but went on to win the 3,000 meters at the Stockholm Diamond Leauge meet in July.

Mackey is no stranger to a “world championship” event—she competed in the Flotrack Beer Mile last December, where she finished seventh in 6:55. This lighthearted approach helps Katie stay on top of her game, with her team to keep her balanced.

“They are relaxed and goofy. It’s good for me because I have a tendency to be really tightly wound,” she says. “That’s not when you run well—the tighter you grip it in your hand, the more likely it will spiral out of your control.”


Who: Katie Mackey, 27 What: A mix of tempo and hill intervals Why: The muscular stress from the hills and the metabolic stress from the tempo work results in 28 or so minutes of work, but in four segments. When: During base-training segments The Details

  • 4 x 70-second hills at 5K effort

  • 3 minutes jog recovery

  • 2 miles at “true tempo” (8 out of 10 effort) on the track or a gravel path

  • 3 minutes jog recovery

  • 4 x 45-second hills at mile race effort

  • 3 minutes jog recovery

  • 2 miles “true tempo”

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