Was Katie Negley born with the integrity, discipline, and adaptability to achieve her career as a police officer? Or were those characteristics developed over her years of competitive swimming and triathlon? Unfortunately, for those triathletes among us, when you pile on all the instruments she plays and languages she speaks, Katie is simply just that talented. Regardless, the world is now a better place, like Katie, Two-time Ironman, medalist at the intensely competitive World Police and Fire Games, and Fluid Athlete keeps the populace safe and tears up Mid-West race courses.
Home: Born and raised in Chicago, IL, now a suburbanite living with my husband and two cats in Aurora, Illinois, home of Wayne’s World!
Competitive Highlights: I’ve been a competitive swimmer for 20 years, and when I graduated college I was the most decorated female swimmer in my school’s history (go Polar Bears!). I was introduced to triathlon by a college teammate and ultimately “dragged” into racing by my mother. There have been many high points since my first race, however, I am most proud of winning a silver medal at the World Police and Fire Games, finishing Ironman Wisconsin twice, and completing the American Triple T.
Other Sponsors: Just Fluid!
Career: Police Officer
Why did you start running/swimming/cycling, and has competition always been a part of your reason for training?
I started swimming at about 10 years old. My brother was on a swim team (looking at you Ridge Park Water Rats) and I was often there for his practices. Once I decided I wanted to swim too, the rest is history (even if I did get sick in the middle of my first practice). Cycling and running were added during college (fun fact – I used to HATE running). I have always been a competitive person, so while competition is certainly not the only reason I train, it is part of what helps me push myself.
Which component of racing do you look forward to most?
Testing my limits. I really enjoy the satisfaction of finishing a race and knowing I left it all out there on the course. Even if it’s not my best result, I still know I did all I could. I really love getting to that place mentally and physically where I want to quit, and continuing to push on.
Do you cross-train beyond what’s inherent to triathlon?
I don’t do a whole lot outside of what is inherent to triathlon. I do love to lift though, especially in the off-season.
Do you compete in any team sports?
I don’t currently, however, I grew up playing team sports like soccer, basketball, and volleyball.
What cues/sounds/feelings/rituals/thoughts etc. do you use to help you focus?
I am very moved by music. Whether I need to amp myself up or calm myself down I can usually find just the right song to suit me. Not sure if it’s the police officer in me or what, but I am also very motivated by drill-sergeant style yelling and warrior imagery in general.
Which piece of new gear gets you most excited?
I love a flashy new bike, however, that’s not something that I get to upgrade often. I do feel good when I look good so a new jersey or kit makes me happy.
Does your life have a spiritual or faith-based aspect? How does that show up in your athletic pursuits?
Yes. I am a member of the choir at my church and often spend Sunday mornings when I’m not working in church. I also believe that using my God-given talents through athletics is a form of prayer. After a scuba diving accident that I thought I wasn’t going to survive, I especially feel like training and racing in the great outdoors is a fantastic way to take in the natural beauty that surrounds us and to learn to appreciate the little things.
How do you train at an elite level while meeting the obligations of a partner and working?
I work nights, so balancing the schedule can be somewhat of a challenge. I try to focus as much as I can on adequate sleep since without it recovery is not possible and training is essentially worthless. Thankfully both my husband and my mother compete. I am often able to spend some quality time with them while training or racing, which is often time other athletes spend away from their families. The only children I have to worry about are two cats, and as long as feed them they are happy!
What is something that amazes you about where your sport is now compared to when you started?
Two things that amaze me about triathlon now compared to when I started are the increased participation, especially of women, as well as how much the technology has advanced. Wetsuits, tri and cycling kits, helmets, wheels, bikes, of course, devices like GPS computers, and even running and cycling shoes have all come a long way over the past decade.
What is your favorite part of race day/weekend/week?
My favorite part of race weekend is transition the morning of the race. There are experienced athletes with all the “stuff,” and newbies racing on a 10-year-old mountain bike all mixed together; the shared feeling of anticipation is energizing to me. I also love being at the finish line and seeing the joy and accomplishment on the finishers’ faces.
Do you count calories or weigh food?
I don’t now, but I have in the past and likely will in the future. It’s helpful to know exactly how many calories you are taking in relative to what you need and to keep an eye on micronutrient requirements as well.
What is the most important area for you to improve in your competition?
Running is definitely a weakness. I start out solid in the swim and then everyone passes me on the bike and especially the run. I am strong and know there is a decent runner in there somewhere, I just need to drag her to the surface!
If you weren’t a competitive triathlete, what would you be doing?
As I mentioned before I am very moved by music. I am already in a choir and also play the bagpipes but as a former guitarist and clarinetist, I would probably be spending that free time learning more instruments. I am also very interested in the study of language, so I would probably add a few more to the three languages I am currently trying to learn.
How does your training/competing provide inspiration/motivation for the rest of your life?
Training and racing have taught me that I can endure a lot of hardship, that I have the ability to undertake and accomplish strenuous and daunting endeavors. Most importantly, I know that I haven’t failed until I’ve stopped trying!
Thanks Katie, keep on charging!