New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

In the Huddle: Track star Grace Richardson sets her eyes on nationals

Grace Richardson, a Steinhardt graduate student, has seen plenty of success on the track this season. Now, she’s gearing up to beat yet another record.
Ethan Rendon
(Ethan Rendon for WSN)

Hailing from Kilkenny, Ireland, graduate student Grace Richardson holds one relay and four individual NYU track and field records: the indoor mile, 3K, 5K, distance medley relay and the outdoor 10K. Richardson has yet to break the record for the fastest women’s outdoor track 5K run in NYU’s history, but she’ll have the chance to try later in the season.

Between 70-mile weeks, strength training sessions and traveling to meets, Richardson is also working toward a Ph.D. in occupational therapy at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and received USTFCCCA All-Academic status in the 2023 season. 

In the fall, she also competed in cross country where she broke the NYU women’s record in the 6K. In March, she placed second in the 5K at the NCAA Division Ⅲ Indoor Track National Championships with a time of 16:26.75.

In an interview with WSN, Richarson talked about her racing process and hopes for the rest of the outdoor track season.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: What were your goals going into this season?

Richardson: My goal this season was just to improve on last year. I knew after the cross-country season that I was feeling stronger, but I still had a lot of work to do. I’m progressing slowly but surely. By the time outdoor season comes I’ll hopefully be in a really good spot in terms of goals. 

I came very close to winning the indoor championships in the 5K. So, obviously, the best-case scenario is winning a national title. And, if not, I’d love to be All-American again on outdoor track. I’m honestly just really enjoying the process as well.

Previously, Richardson achieved All-American status twice in cross country during the 2022 and 2023 seasons. In 2023, she placed ninth at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships.

WSN: What mindset do you take when you know you’re going to have to push yourself hard in a race?

Richardson: I suppose I enjoy the training side of it. I don’t feel like it’s a chore in any way. I really enjoy that and running with the girls. In terms of racing, when I was younger, I probably would have been very nervous leading up to a race and nervous about how much pain I was going to be in. But, I feel like now that I’m being more intentional about my training and feeling a lot more prepared once I get to the start line there’s a lot less pressure. I don’t get as nervous so I don’t think there’s as much mental preparation other than staying calm and enjoying it.

WSN: Speaking of training, what does a typical week of training look like for you? How many miles are you doing?

Richardson: In a regular week, we work out on Tuesday and Friday and do a long run on Sunday. Then, everything in between is just easy running. So I typically fall around 70 miles a week, usually, give or take, sometimes around 60, once or twice up at 80. But 70 is kind of a sweet spot. But, most of that, like 80 percent, is easy running. I meet the team when I can based on my schedule, but I’m always with them for workouts.

WSN: Do you have a favorite thing to listen to when running?

Richardson: If we’re running as a group or if I’m running with a friend, we just chat the whole time. But, if I’m on my own, I’ll listen to music. Although I think I’ve exhausted all my running playlists now, so I much prefer to run with company.

WSN: Recently you placed second in the 5K at the Indoor Track and Field Championships in March. You ran nearly a 20-second personal best. What was that experience like?

Richardson: During the run, I tucked in behind this girl from the University of Chicago, her name’s Evelyn. She always kind of leads, and I was happy to tuck in. I knew if I was feeling good toward the end, I could kick. So, the leader, Fiona Smith, was out quite far ahead, and the two of us were making our own chase pack.

Luckily, I was able to switch my brain off and tuck in behind her. I didn’t have to worry about pacing or anything like that. I knew I could trust my fitness to stay with her even if she was to go a little bit quicker. Honestly, I just focused on zoning out because it’s 25 laps. Then, toward the end of the race, I was trying to convince myself to take the lead but I left it until quite late. I took the lead [over Evelyn] and kicked and nearly caught the leader, but I just missed by less than a second. That was tough. But honestly, it was a big personal best, so I can’t complain. I was really happy with the run.

WSN: On March 29, you also ran a personal best in the 10k Raleigh and broke NYU’s record by over a minute in only the second 10k of your college career. What is it like racing a distance substantially longer than any other races you’re running? 

Richardson: I find the 10K quite mentally exhausting. There are many laps that I have to stay calm in the first half. I did a better job of it this time around, knowing what I was going into. I hung right at the back of the pack and tried to stay relaxed. I thought it would start to feel hard around the 8K mark, but it felt really hard around 6K. I was just hanging on.

That’s easier said than done, but it was a great opportunity to go to a meet like that. There were some really quick girls, and they dragged me along. It was a huge advantage, having people to push me and not running on my own. 

The previous 10k I ran, I ended up on my own from the second lap. It was really hot in Tennessee, and I’m Irish, and I’m not used to the heat, so that was really tough. I’m glad this time around that I got a positive experience, but still, the 10k is difficult, and I’m not really excited to do another one any time soon.

WSN: Currently, you’re second in DIII in the 10K. Do you have your eyes set on outdoor nationals right now?

Richardson: I’m definitely all eyes set on nationals this year. Last year, I found it hard to even qualify. I went to a last-chance meet and ran a 17:05 5K, whereas this year in the 10K, that was one of my 5K splits. This year I can feel a lot more confident going into outdoor nationals.

But in terms of events, I still have to discuss that with my coach. I’m not sure whether we’ll be aiming for the 10K-5K double or just one of the events. I’m not 100 percent sure, we’ll see how the rest of the season goes and then decide.

Contact Avery Hendrick at [email protected].

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