Getting To Know Christine Mallard
As one of the top sprinters in the country, Christine Mallard has earned awards at the AAU Junior Olympics, Brooks PR Invitational and the 2022 New Balance Nationals. Here's a peek into Mallard's goals, outside interests and how she became a part of the Trojan Family.
Q: What do you like to do on campus when you're not practicing?
C.M: I just go out and explore. I went to two museums in a row and also went to the science museum. I also went to the Rose Garden last week and then I finally went to my first Lululemon. The workers were so nice. Outside of that I still like to look at different topics like psychology, animation, media and film. I look at all of that in terms of just walking around campus. I just explore different places and find new things that would appeal to me. I used to read a lot so I'm trying to get back into that.
Q: When you are practicing and in season, what's your favorite event?
C.M.: Surprisingly, the 400m. So junior year my coaches didn't allow me to run it; they only allowed me to run it one time. But that summer my coach was like, "OK, you ran a 55.50 your first time which a lot of people would consider good." So the next time I did it with AAU junior Olympics I ran a 54.04 then at regionals I ran a 54 and then I got to the Junior Olympics and broke the national record with a 52.66. So that was my junior year of high school. And that's when USC contacted me after my fifth time running it. And then at Brooks PR during my senior year and I broke the meet record there and I got a 52.12. And that was my second year running the 400m.
Q: Do you do the 4x400m relay?
C.M.: I actually haven't in a long time. We're in an environment where everyone runs similar times. For the relay, the first leg has the best start, the second leg is someone who can really come out aggressive, the third leg is to maintain the speed, and the fourth leg usually extends the lead or just gains more ground. I don't know which leg I would be on in terms of that, but I'm excited and we'll see where I fit in the 4x400m.
Q: What's the difference in training for 400m?
C.M.: I do a lot more endurance work. I was working with a private trainer at that time because in high school track you don't get to where you want to be sometimes with a specific event because you have to do multiple events. With my coach, we would do a lot more speed endurance training. There were even times where I would be doing miles which trains your respiratory. He also had me do cross country my senior year. That was hard.
Q: Would you say that that experience helped you?
C.M.: Yeah, because it kept me in shape. You don't want to have a time where you're just off like not doing anything because there's always someone who's working if you're not. In doing that I have a lot more endurance. That's why I was able to run the 100m, 200m and 400m at states in Texas because I have the strength for it.
Q: You spoke on how it's important to keep working in the offseason because if you're not working someone else is, would you say that that's something that motivates you?
C.M: It's funny, because when I look back, I got into the sport because a friend asked me to in fifth grade. Had she not asked me to, I would've never touched sports. I used to be a bookworm. Me and my friend progressively got better at it, we tried out and I beat her, so she got upset and quit. I went to my mom and said I'm going to quit, too. She wasn't having it. She told me, "No, you're not," and actually convinced me to keep going when I first started. For me, my goal to become a world record holder and get an Olympic gold medal is what motivates me. That's what I want for myself: to become a professional athlete. Now in terms of a career, I don't know what I want to do yet, because I feel like I have so much to give in terms of what I may provide. In my internship I did a lot of graphic design and media. I have these skills, I just don't know what I want to do with them yet, but I know I want to help people.
Q: How has your mom played a big influence in not only your development as an athlete, but also as a person?
C.M.: Well, my mom and I are basically the same. We kind of are similar because she also did track, too. She knows how to properly diet. I learned a diet from her. Now I have a salad with salmon almost every single day. And so with her, she played a big impact in terms of me training and getting me where I needed to go. My dad was working a lot of overtime as a firefighter, but he was always there and supporting me because he would always videotape my events. My mom would run and do the workouts too. So yeah, my mom would always help me in terms of motivation and always keeping me disciplined.
Q: Were there any other schools that were contacting you? Did they start contacting you around the same time as USC?
C.M.: Yeah, I was about to go to Harvard, but eventually it ended up being between USC and Oregon. My official visit to Oregon ended up getting postponed because of weather conditions. Carmelita Jeter was actually the first one to contact me, so I was able to build a relationship with her as well. And what I appreciate about the coaches at USC is that they're very straightforward about what they want from me. Those relationships made it difficult for me to turn away from that.
Q: Why USC over Oregon?
C.M.: USC makes more sense for career. I felt like I got the best of both with Quincy Watts. Also, I get to train alongside Rai Benjamin and Michael Norman. There was a time I was training with them on the hills in West LA, so it's been pretty good in terms of training. My goal this year is to break 50 seconds in the 400m and he sees that in me. Considering that I've only run the 400m around 20 times in my career there's so much room for me to grow. I look at things very analytically.
Q: You mention that you're very analytical and strategic about the things you do regarding pre-practice routine, so what is your pre-practice routine?
C.M.: For example, this week I had a shin issue, so I went in an hour before to roll out my foot, I massaged my calves out, and did some more stretching outside with my own personal rollers. I went back into the locker room, I rolled out, and it's about 12, 12:45 by that time. After all that, I go outside and start practicing. I'm just very thorough about that.
Q: Do you think that thinking analytically and being thorough helps you in your race?
C.M.: I think so because you can run the 400m so much differently depending on your height, body type and the way people run. In terms of my competition, I look at their advantages and disadvantages.
Q: You said you used to read a lot. Do you still read a lot?
C.M: I actually ordered one book called "School for Good and Evil." It just came out with a Netflix movie. I already read the book, so I plan on re-reading the book, and then watching the movie. I also read another book called "Everyone Dies in the End." On the notes of the first page it says to make sure every day counts. Of course, there was a time I stopped reading completely because I invested so much time in track and it sprung me where I am now. But I let go of so many hobbies along the way that I'm now trying to regain.
Q: I feel like that's something that a lot of athletes go through…like figuring out who they are and what they like to do outside their sport.
C.M.: Yeah, outside of athletics, I used to draw realism and abstract art all the time and I stopped doing it. Now I'm coming back and I have so many ideas in terms of things I'm interested in, like sports, animation and film. I'll figure it out. On the road to discovering whatever I want to do.
Q: That's really impressive that you're still really driven to remain curious about the world around you while still competing at such a high level.
C.M.: Well, I always think without my sport, who am I as a person? I felt like that's something I always appreciate with track because sports do teach you a lot about yourself and a lot of life lessons. I think what also happens is that with time you grow. You realize you want to have a fulfilling life. And outside of athletics, you want to be able to have that balance. On my off days I still want to be able to be productive. I'll go to the bookstore and buy a random notebook and think, "I don't know what I want to do with this yet but we're going to figure it out." Just things like that and see where it goes. I feel like we have to have this opportunity to not worry about our finances right now, so it's like the world is in your hands. We should make sure we're really taking advantage of that.