Salute To Seniors: Max Litster, North Andover
MileSplit: What would you consider the highlight of your high school career?
Max: My junior year, three of my senior teammates and I went to a BU Mini-Meet on New Year's Eve to break the seldom-run indoor 4xMile record at our school. We had been training together since the summer, and one of our goals was to break the relay record. When the day finally came, everything clicked into place and we all ran personal bests and broke the record by nearly a minute. It was immensely humbling and gratifying, and I'll always remember our massive group hug afterwards and the collective cry of "we did it!".
Also, there was the time that a picture of me racing ended up in the "Girls Track" section of the yearbook.
MileSplit: What was your most memorable performance?
Max: My most memorable performance was the 2018 Andover Boosters meet. I had set breaking 10 minutes as my goal for the outdoor season, and Coach Varney and I had agreed that Boosters would be the place to do it. I had made a lot of sacrifices this season to work towards the goal, running longer cooldowns after meets to pick up more miles, waking up early to run in hotel-room treadmills while away on college visits, the works, and when the day to do it arrived, it was rainy and miserable. There were a few times during the race that I nearly broke, breaking ten minutes seemingly not worth the immense pain and discomfort I was undergoing. Somewhere during the second mile, Coach O'Connell and I made eye contact, and he began to calmly and confidently tell me what I had to do on each lap to get under ten minutes. To finally see the clock tick to 9:58 as I crossed the line was proof that every extended cooldown, painful workout, and early bedtime had been worth it.
MileSplit: What was your most difficult obstacle to overcome?
Max: Coming into last fall, I suffered a pretty severe stress fracture to my tibia. This left me unable to run for nearly half of the summer and the entire cross-country season. I would go to the YMCA every day after practice and pool run for 40 minutes to an hour as a supplement for running. For a while, it seemed that my hopes for new PRs and leading my team were no longer possible. The rehab process was arduous and painful, but left me hungrier than ever when I returned to the track. Stress fractures or any long-term injury absolutely sucks, but through mine I enhanced the mental fortitude required to be successful on the track. Hours going back and forth in the pool made me a stronger, hungrier, and smarter athlete in ways beyond the physical. Halfway through the indoor season during our final dual meet, I finally felt like myself on the track again, and clocked a new PR and picked up team points on the track. Without the encouragement of my coaches, friends, and family to keep working in the pool, keep fighting through to get back to the athlete I used to be, it would have been impossible.
MileSplit: What advice would you give to younger athletes?
Max: Learn to love it. One of my first friends in cross country told me to "love the fight, not the victory," and I really feel that that's the best way to look at it. Learn to love the day-in, day-out struggle of running, workouts, strides, and everything in between. Embrace getting better and taking care of your body, and ultimately the times, varsity letters, or whatever your goal may be will come. Also, reach out to your teammates! Track athletes, and distance runners in particular, are the best people in the world.
MileSplit: What will you miss most?
Max: I will miss completing a hard workout or long run with great friends and frantically chugging chocolate milk afterwards, or the awesome and competitive MA track atmosphere and the great friends I've made in the sport.
MileSplit: What are your future plans?
Max: I will attend UC Berkeley this fall as a prospective Computer Science major. Although I will not be competing in track or cross country there, I will continue to run on my own. I am hoping to compete in marathons, halfs and a triathlon or two.
MileSplit: What influence has your coach (or coaches) had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
Max: My coaches have been immensely influential. Coach Nugent has been a role model for work ethic, character, and moral conduct since my freshman year. Having tried numerous events as a ninth-grader without much success in any of them, it was unlikely that I would have stuck with track had it not been for Nuge's encouragement and the environment he created. My event-specific coaches, Bill Varney and DJ Sturtevant, have been tremendous influences. Not only did they always believe in me and support me with any goal I'd set, but were also there to help me work through injuries or any problem that would arise. They have instilled a lifelong passion for the sport in me and I hope to follow in their footsteps and coach someday.
MileSplit: Who would you like to say thank you?
Max: First and foremost, my family. Whether it was driving hours to the Dartmouth Relays or coming out to track meets in the pouring rain, they have been the number one supporters of my passion. My pre-race nerves could always be calmed by a subtle thumbs-up from my mom beside the track or my dad's bellow as I stepped up to the line. Zach, Matt, Ben, JJ, Ryan, Pat, and Dan for being my role models and pushing me to test my limits with every run, race, or workout we entered together. My fantastic group of friends, who are family, teammates, and co-captains all at the same time. Varney, Sturtevant and Dell for instilling a love for distance running in me, and of course, Danny-Boy. Shhboom.
Favorite Food: Eggs Benedict
Favorite Movie: Fight Club or Pulp Fiction
Favorite Athlete: Teammate Noah Olsen
Favorite sport other than running: Swimming
Stranded alone on an island, what would be the one thing you would need to maintain your sanity?