A Day in the Life: How cross country junior Najwa Chouati prepares each day as a college athlete

Sophomore+Najwa+Chouati+runs+in+a+GLVC+Dual+Meet+against+Maryville+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+9%2C+2020.

Don Adams

Sophomore Najwa Chouati runs in a GLVC Dual Meet against Maryville on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020.

Will Crawford, Reporter

A common opinion about the sport of cross country is that it is just about running and running alone. Lindenwood cross country star Najwa Chouati proves the sport is far from that. 

Chouati is one of the leaders of the Lions, as she has already placed in events this season. In a 4k race she competed in at a dual meet, Chouati ran a time of 15:09.79 for a first-place finishSecond was almost a full 30 seconds behind her.

The junior then would go on to place seventh in the 8k race with a time of 23:24.70 in the GLVC West Divisional. Chouati says that she challenges her time each run and each practice, which is one of her favorite things about cross country.  

What does the day look like for a star like Chouati, to make sure she stays meet ready? To start, they wake up each morning as a team and do a shakeout.  

“The shakeout is really important to get the body awake and get the blood flowing,” Chouati said.  

A shakeout is an easy run, about 15 minutes, then some light stretching and rolling. After that, Chouati always makes sure to eat breakfast before going to work. Once she’s done with breakfast, the junior goes to work, does her online schoolwork, goes to practice or her meet, and then ends the day with dinner and more homework before bed. The days never stop for Chouati as she is always doing something to make herself better in the classroom or for cross country.  

When the cross country team practices, they always emphasize warming up and cooling down. As collegiate athletes, they’re expected to put in 100% effort no matter what they do. When she is competing, Chouati thinks of the great Muhammad Ali with his quote, “Don’t count the days, make the days count”. 

While many athletes have a ritual before a game or a race, Chouati is an exception. Instead, she focuses on mental things such as calming herself down. 

“I try to relax myself and think what strategy I am using on that race,” Chouati said. “I just try to keep myself calm and motivated at the same time.”  

According to Chouati, it is the confidence and positivity at the starting line of each race that helps her in each race. To add, the two days before her race is key. She focuses on rest and nutrition.  

“Rest and nutrition are the key of becoming an excellent athlete. I try to take a few ice baths before the meet and stay hydrated,” Chouati said.  

Despite having success, Choutati, like many others during COVID-19, has faced many adversities.

“As an athlete, COVID had a huge impact on my carrier but on my personal life had more impact,” Chouati said. “I had to fly to my country and stay away from my family for two weeks just in case I had the virus. Having to go all online affected my academic performance because I was all day at the house and I could not disconnect by going out for a run.”

Despite the struggles, Chouati is still competing at her highest level. She looks to continue her success at the GLVC championships on Oct. 24 in Elsah, Ill.