Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getting Ready for a 5k

We are now in Thanksgiving week!  In high school that meant trying not to eat too much on Thursday before Footlocker Regionals on Saturday, and in college it means a nice break week for everyone after the NCAA national meet.  This year, my Thanksgiving week is a little different.  I won't be eating half a pumpkin pie or lying on the couch watching football all day this weekend, and I won't be jogging around like I have the past several years.  Instead, I'm in the middle an intense training block, preparing for a hot 5k in Bloomington on December 7th.

After Diego Estrada famously got his indoor 5000 auto qualifying time last year (13:39.54) at the Hoosier Invite in Indiana, I think a few others have caught on to the great idea he had: extend your cross country fitness a few extra weeks (in this case, 20 days) and use it to get your 5k qualifying race out of the way.  I've heard rumors that top runners from Oklahoma State, Indiana, NC State and others will toe the line on December 7th to go for a time.  Unlike them, I didn't run cross country this season, but I'm planning on hitching a ride with the goal of running 13:45.  There isn't an auto time anymore; starting this year the NCAA will simply take the top 16 athletes in each event, but we figure the time required will wind up being about the same anyway, especially for the 5k, a slightly less popular event indoors.

If the race goes as planned, I'll have a more diverse set of options when it comes time to declare for the national meet.  My favorite indoor event is the 3000, but if things at other meets don't go as planned, I'll potentially have that 5000 time in my pocket.  It's a nice bit of insurance.
Doing some threshold work at camp Mabry in Austin, TX

Training hard for a meet in early December involves a delicate balance between getting prepared to race and making sure I save my legs for the spring and summer.  My ultimate goal of reaching peak fitness in July and August means my fall training has been strength based, but lately I've been doing some mixed workouts that additionally develop the anaerobic and speed systems.  A 7 mile tempo followed shortly by a 2k at 5k pace, or three sets of 3 x 800 with 1 minute rest at 5k pace w/ three minutes between sets are tough workouts that simulate the final minutes of a 5000.  Most runners don't do these kinds of workouts in the fall, but I'm not worried about overworking myself: I'm doing things my body has done before.

Most of all, I'm excited to finally pull on the Texas uniform, spike up, psych up, and roll around the track with a great field of athletes.  After all these years of being a runner, I've realized that it's really all about enjoying training and competing.  No need to be absolutely amazing every day: since that isn't sustainable.  It's about being good every day to become great.  I call this the "happiness theorem", and I could write a book about it, but I'll start with just a future blog...

By the way, I finally have a bio on the Texas athletics site, pretty excited about that.  Check it out here!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Right now I'm sitting in the living room of our house here in Austin.  It's a lot quieter than usual, giving me time to reflect on some things.  Of the seven Longhorn runners living here, four have left for the NCAA cross country meet in Louisville this weekend, meaning we make up most of the #5 ranked Texas team that we'll field on Saturday.  Our crew in the house consists of four grad students and three younger guys.  Between us graduate students and sophomore transfer Blake Williams from UNC, our house alone diversifies the team in terms of home states, age, and running experience.  I bring some of the midwest to the table in my cooking and Milwaukee accent.   Kyle Merber's savvy driving reflects his New York City street habits.  Blake uses every chance he can to barbecue any meat in sight, North Carolina style.  Trevor Van Ackeran's friendship and good cooking makes our house as comfortable as the one he grew up in in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Austin Bussing ("The Bus") is freshly graduated from Kansas U. and brings a quirky, well, indescribable flair to the house.  Then there's the star of Texas running past and present Craig Lutz, who brings a lot of talent to the team (and improves our batting average with girls).  Last but not least is Ryan Dohner, the skinny stallion and 10k All American, the one responsible for organizing this ship and its crew in the first place.

We're a rambunctious bunch, but we've got one collective goal in mind: running fast and putting ourselves and Texas on the map.  While our place shares a lot of the qualities commonly seen in any college track house (read: old shoes, socks, various rehab equipment, ice packs, sex doll named Patty), we try to do things a little differently.  Several nights a week are family dinners sometimes planned in advance but often whipped up last minute.   We hang out on our roof, watching the nearby freeway and listening to the occasional rumbling freight train while the Bus serenades us with his lovely voice and guitar skills - he does a lot of Blink 182 which I like (I was [and still am] in a Blink cover band at Princeton).  Aside from bickering about cleaning the dishes and paying the bills, we all get along surprisingly well.  I sense a bit of underlying competition between us all once in a while, but I know that's what's brought us all to this point in the first place.
The Roof.

I could think of nothing better than living with six other people who understand my running lifestyle and who share many of the goals I have.  A year ago I had no idea I was going to be in graduate school, let along Texas.  Right now I'm living life as it comes and loving it.  I'm super excited for the race this weekend.  I wish I could be there, but I'm busy getting ready for my lone indoor season.  Thats our thing: every guy in this house, doing what he needs to do to make the team the best, together.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hello World

I'd like to begin blogging for a couple of reasons.  For one, as I've gotten older (jeez, I'm almost 23!) I've become more and more reflective and thoughtful.  I need a diary-like outlet in which to spill my convoluted thoughts with the hope of organizing them.  As a bonus, I hope that somebody somewhere will glean some wisdom from what I write about running, school, life, girls, ways to prevent nipple chafe, or what have you.  Lastly, as I squeeze the last drops of NCAA track eligibility from my collegiate career, I figure it's time to start putting myself out there with the goal of entering the professional running circuit in 2013.

A bit about me:

I'm from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and am currently training and going to graduate school at the University of Texas in Austin.  I ran for Princeton and used all but one indoor season of eligibility there.  Due to Ivy league regulations I could not run my final season in a 5th year, so I had to go elsewhere.  My situation is somewhat unusual: most transfers or graduate students have at least an outdoor or cross country season left, whereas I have only indoor track, the neglected little brother of the other two when it comes to distance events.  I plan to continue training here in Austin following that season and if all goes well, pursue a professional running career.

Most of the topics I think I'll write about in this blog will pertain to how running interacts with other aspects of life: work: family, relationships, a social life.  I believe that the ideal approach to training does not necessarily equal a day focused only on running but a balanced one that exercises the mind, body, and emotions.  I attribute my success as a collegiate runner to the additional challenges simultaneously posed by school, relationships, and social interactions.  In short, a runner toughened by more than the stresses of training over a long period of time is more focused, better equipped to react to unexpected situations, and can enjoy the entire process of living as a runner to a fuller extent.

My hope is that runners everywhere and of all ability levels might gain some wisdom from the sharing of my experiences.  The running community has given a lot to me in the past eight years, and I think it's time to begin giving back.