Life has changed a bit for Natasha Hastings, the “400-meter diva,” in the last year including a new city, training group and winning her first individual senior medal at the world track and field championships this year.
Hastings has moved to Austin, Texas, and is working with Coach Darryl Woodson. Woodson also coaches Bianca Knight, Mike Tinsley, Mike Rodgers, Candyce McGrone, and Carlin Isles. The group is benefitting each other. “It is a good dynamic group; where we are lacking, we pull each other. Bianca feels like I help her with her strength and they force me to work on my fast twitch” she said. Only after being in Austin a few months, Hastings already proclaims, “I’ve fallen in love with Austin and I would not mind making it a permanent move beyond track.”
Then there is that new bronze medal from the World Indoor Championships in March. Looking back at the race, Hastings knows there were a few technical mistakes that could have improved her time, but ultimately she sees it as a confidence booster and “I look at it as a stepping stone for this next year” she said. Hastings is currently back on track working on the speed part of her training, having ran a few 4×100 meter relays and 200 meter dashes already this season. She will be competing this weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays in the 4×100 meter relay and the open 200 meters. Hasting is looking to break 23 seconds this weekend.
“The better I perform at the shorter events the better I am at the 400,” Hastings explains.
Like most Olympic athletes, Hastings’ week revolves around training. She spends Tuesday and Thursday in the weight room and everyday somewhere between 2-4 hours on the track. The workouts range in distances and repeats, “Being a quarter miler you have to mix it up on distance,” she explains. Then after that she prepares for the next day, icing and taking care of injuries. She also has to make sure to consume 1800-2000 calories a day depending on activity level. She is an advocate of Pilates which she does on Tuesdays. “I can really get a peace of mind away from the track,” she states as the main benefit.
Hastings is now also now sponsored by Under Armour, who is fairly new to the track and field world. The relationship is fitting both her style and her needs.
“Since they are new to track and field, they are more hands-on than what I have experienced in the past,” she said.
Hastings has had a lot of input into her spikes and uniform even adding cheetah print to her uniform. She oftentimes finds herself grabbing her Under Armour gear over just jeans and a shirt to run errands. Overall, she said “It is a great match with my personality.”
When Hastings is not training, she is doing photo shoots and has signed with Wilhelmina models. Perhaps, her most famous photo shoot to date was for the ESPN body issue, which she thought was important to do to give an example of athletic beauty.
“First foremost women in sports period get put into a box that they are not feminine or sexy because they don’t have the curves or look how the models are portrayed (in fashion magazines). I’ve been an athlete all my life and have been muscular for a very long time. It is something I have learned to embrace.”
She goes on to explain that she wants others to know, “I look like this but I’m still a women and I’m still sexy and I’m still beautiful.”
Hastings says even though she loves the fashion, track is more second nature to her. “Walking runway is a little more difficult and a lot more work goes into it than people see – which I guess is the same for our sport; people do not understand the work that goes in behind it” she states.
Having already accomplished much, Hastings is looking forward to this Olympic year and beyond. “I guess now I have done all that for myself personally; I would like to go forward giving back more, to young girls especially,” Hasting states.
She remembers the trials and choices that she had to face as a young athlete and having to face peer pressure. “I would like to let them know it is okay to be a little bit different , it’s okay to go after your dreams at a young age,” she explains.
Hastings acknowledges that knowing what you want to accomplish at a young age can make one stick out especially when many of your peers do not even know what they want to do when they get to college. “I think being an influence to younger women to go after their dreams would be more rewarding than some of the things that I have already achieved.”
Follow Natasha on Twitter at @natashahastings.
Watch the Mt. SAC Relays LIVE on Flotrack to follow Natasha and the rest of the top collegiate athletes and US pro’s competing at this world-class event in Walnut, CA. Schedule below: