ATHLETE PROFILE: Pieterson in life for the long run
By Zara McAlister
November 17, 2011
In Grade 11,
Becky Pieterson decided to take up long-distance running at Regina Mundi High School
in London because her friend said it was a safe way to skip classes without
She was an average runner, preferring to play soccer with her friends over training for running. But over time, she favoured running. “It became more fun running for the ball in soccer than kicking it,” she jokes.
After she qualified with her cross-country team for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations meet in her final year of high school, her coach told her she had the potential to go far. If only she kept running.
And so she did.
Now, the 21-year-old Londoner is a key member of the women’s cross-country team at The University of Western Ontario. Pieterson helped lead the team to a fifth-place finish at the Ontario University Athletics provincial meet, after she placed ninth individually. That qualified her for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Nationals, where she finished 19th.
When not running, Pieterson is a fourth-year nursing student, her second passion. In fact, it’s the only thing she sees herself doing outside of running.
She dedicates equal time to nursing and running, working her nursing placements on Thursdays and Fridays, and then hopping on a bus to compete in meets on the weekends. She credits multitasking as a way to remain dedicated and focused to running and everyday life.
Pieterson juggles her nursing program, a rigorous daily training schedule and a job she’s had throughout university at the grocery store No Frills.
When she’s not competing at weekend meets, she works a long shift at the store on Sundays. Then she changes into her running gear and heads out for a 45-minute run back home. Rather than looking tired, her face is glowing when she sits down on a park bench to take a break.
Pieterson explaines she’s used to having a lot of energy.
“When I was younger, both of my parents really encouraged me to be athletic in general,” she says. “In public school, they would give us $5 for every sports team my sister and I joined.”
She said her parents, John and Susan, were happy with the sport she chose to stick with after high school, and they’ve supported her ever since by coming to all of her meets.
While Pieterson is proud of her individual accomplishments, what she treasures most is sharing her triumphs with her team. “Team is actually a very important part of running, and not a lot of people get that. They think running is more of an individual sport, but it isn’t,” she explains.
After the provincial meet last year, Pieterson says her fondest memory, besides beating some women who had always done better than she did, was her celebration with the team afterward.
Although she’s a dedicated runner, Pieterson says she has insecurities like all athletes. One of her biggest is letting her team down.
“It’s easy to be negative in this sport,” she said.
Talking with her teammates is the best way to overcome her anxiety about not being fit enough, or over-thinking strategy during a race, because they share the same fears.
She hopes to overcome them as she considers running with a team professionally in the future, while also nursing in rural areas.
Pieterson believes she and her friends can make it to the 2016 Olympics. This year, she’ll settle for medalling at the CIS nationals, individually and with her team.
DID YOU KNOW?
- When she’s not running, Becky Pieterson plays soccer, tennis and Mario Kart;
- Her favourite song to hum while she runs is Carry on my Wayward Son by Kansas;
- She watches the films Without Limits and Remember the Titans the night before a race;
- Her favourite runner is Rob Watson, who’s originally from London; and
- Her favourite meal is pancakes for dinner.
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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