Most of us, if we’re fortunate enough to run, jump or throw at an elite level, are pretty locked into a narrow range of events. Some of us require a little more tinkering than others, especially once we get to college. But by the time we graduate, our wheelhouse is more or less defined.
Not so with Curtis Beach. Best known as a decathlete, the grueling 10-event odyssey in which he set high school records and won NCAAs, Beach turned heads for a different reason this year. The Albuquerque native and former Duke University star announced back in February that he would be leaving the multis behind and narrowing his focus to the 400m hurdles and 800m. Though it may seem like a risky move for a guy who’s been on a different path for his entire track career so far, Beach has already revealed some big-time talent over the middle distances. He set a world heptathlon best in the 1,000m as a college freshman, and holds the second-fasters 1,500m time in world history for a decathlon. “I’m excited to see what I can do” in his new events, Beach said. Needless to say, his fans are too.
Curious about how a guy who’s competed at a high level in nearly every track and field event there is, I asked Beach what role music plays in his pre-competition routine. To my surprise, this was his response:
So I pressed the matter further, well aware that music isn’t a prerequisite to a great performance. What exactly does Beach’s race prep entail?
“Honestly, I just keep everything the same as always,” Beach replied. “I think plenty of people do something special or extra the day of competition to try and maximize things, but I think anything different usually just gets in the way. There is something to be said for purposely putting the right amount of emotion or intensity for a particular event (for example, being super pumped up will help in the shot put, but not so much for the 1500), but for the most part, I just stay calm and collected, have a good time, and let the performance take care of itself.”
Beach’s race day routine follows this familiar script: “Wake up, have breakfast/ coffee, stay off my feet until I shake out three to four hours before competition, arrive at the venue about two hours before competition and get situated there. I’ll figure anything out that wasn’t done for pre-meet the previous day (find out where I want to warm-up, check where to leave my stuff, locate call room/ bathrooms, put my bib number on, etc). I’ll be sure to stay hydrated with an electrolyte solution, I’ll have a 100mg caffeine tablet about 90 minutes before comp. Warm-up about an hour before I have to report to call room and then race!”
“It’s pretty rare when everything lines up perfectly before the competition,” Beach went on, “so just pre-accepting that I’ll have to deal with some sort of stupid situation helps me avoid any anxiety or random stress.” Amen to that.
Though I can’t tell you any songs that will allow you to pretend you’re Curtis Beach before your next race, I will invite you to keep an eye on this guy as he completes his exciting transition to the middle distances. Follow him on Instagram at @curtisbeach, and on Twitter at @curtis_beach.