Sunday, December 23, 2012

Interview with Derek Rubis

My first face in the hole by Derek.
I recently sat down (over the internet) for an interview with fellow Wisconsinite Derek Rubis, who in the past couple years has singlehandedly changed the landscape of running superfandom.  You may know him as @djsjeffer on Twitter or from his blog entitled The Hub Of Distance Running, or from meeting him at the many track meets he makes it to.  I wanted to find out what drives his love for running and what he thinks needs to be done to improve involvement in and attention to running from Americans.

Derek, in the past few years you've become a top fan of collegiate and professional US distance running. It's clear you have a true love for the sport. Who or what got you so interested in running, and when did you begin running yourself?

I got started running for the 6th grade run but I was never a fan of distance running until I was a Freshman in High School. Nobody got me interested in Distance Running but myself and I thought it was sport that I could do that not a lot people could do.

Getting face in the holed has become a prestigious honor in the collegiate circuit. Last year, amongst the running goals I had listed on a sheet of paper above my bed, getting face in the holed was one of the top entries. What are your criteria for bestowing that honor upon a runner?

The only criteria is that if the photo was good enough for my pic to fit in the Face In The Hole

You tweet often. Actually, by my calculations, your current rate of tweeting will bring you to two million tweets by the year 2050 with room to spare. Do you think social media (Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc) is a good thing for the sport of running in terms of following the action, or is there need for a more organized, larger form of coverage?

I think so but as of right now we are still low on the ladder of sports and that is what I am trying to change to make our sport climb that ladder faster and be cared about like Football & Basketball in College & Pro

I think I speak for a lot of runners out there when I say that your support for us really is appreciated. You have found a way to connect with your favorite sport's athletes in a personal way, something that can't be done in many other sports. Do you have any words about what can be done to bring running's fan base closer to it's athletes? Or perhaps an idea for how to make the sport more interesting for a larger American audience?

More media attention, college ADs doing more for our sport & getting more money to our sport so that College & Pro Athlete can promote the sport more to get more people to our sport. An idea I have is that if Title IX wants to put sport in cause of they need a women's sport to compliant the men's sports & cut a sport to do it then why cut Men's XC/Track when they don't have Women's Football. Just cut Men's Football and put that money into the other sport that need that money and I don't mean Basketball, I mean sports like XC/Track, Soccer, Volleyball Swimming & others

Where is your favorite place (or favorite city) to run in?

I loved running in Eugene, Oregon when I was out there for The Olympic Trials

What do you hope to see out of both collegiate and professional US running in 2013? Any NCAA , US or World championship predictions?

In 2013, I would like to see that the CEO of Track & Field get Distance Events in the media and sho the whole events, ie Steeplechase 3K 5K & 10K without ads, going to another event in the middle of a distance event

What are some of your favorite running related moments, both on and off the track?

Moments off the track: Nick Symmonds wanting a pic with me at Olympic Track Trials, being made a third Heath & Jefferson brother, Meeting my running idols A.J. Acosta, Jordan McNamara, Nick Symmonds & John Jefferson & running with my steeplechase coach Billy Nelson aka Coach Yelawolf

Moments On The Track: Getting to run an All Comers Meet on Hayward Field Track, getting my prs in the 3K, 5K & 10K this year & getting to run a shakeout 3K with Nick Symmonds in Milwaukee, WI

What are your personal running goals for 2013?

My running goals in the 3K-11:00 or under, 5K-19:00 or under, 10K-under 40 mins on the track, Steeplechase-12:30 or under. Also, another running goal off the track is to grow a sweet beard like A.J. Acosta & John Jefferson

Sunday, December 16, 2012


My brother Dave and I acting(?) depressed that we have to go
running on Christmas day, 2010
In my experience, December has always been the wackiest month for training.  Most collegiate runners are just coming off rest periods following the cross country season, and with the school semester ending and exams, most student athletes aren't following their normal training routines in the weeks leading into the holidays.  Everyone goes home where there are plenty of distractions - from family and friends to cold temperatures (if you're from where I'm from) to the strong desire to sleep in after eating Christmas feasts.

But December can also be a gold mine of training opportunity.  The same lack of structure at home can be turned into what I like to call freedom of training: the ability to run when you want, spend as much time doing strides, stretching, lifting, and recovering as your heart desires.  It just takes a little responsibility and self-coaching.  For me that means doing things like getting to bed on time, continuing to eat right, and making sure I get those doubles in before it gets too dark (today the sun set at 4:17 in Milwaukee).  That said, for as short as the break from school is, I've never been at home without suffering from a bout or two lack of motivation.  In those times, it's important to remember how soon the January races are.  For anyone suffering from the winter training blues, I'd say this: watch an inspiring race video or listen to some Blink 182 and you'll hop right out the door.  That might not work for everyone but the point is that winter breeds lethargy and lethargy is cured by energy.

Today ends a "down" week in training intensity for me following a 5k I ran last Friday in Bloomington, Indiana.  I ran as I felt all week and turns out I felt pretty good, finishing up with 94 miles at an average pace of 6:19/mile.  Just not doing workouts made me want to run farther and faster by the middle of the week - I could feel my body saying "wait, wasn't I supposed to get beat up today" and when it didn't, I naturally responded by running faster than usual on normal runs.  Today's long run was pure bliss - a little over 18 miles averaging 5:50 per mile, feeling great the whole way.  It's been great to just run for a week and enjoy the extra energy.

This coming week I'll resume workouts, and with my brother Dave coming home soon from school at La Crosse, WI, I'll have a training partner to run with.  I'm looking forward to taking advantage of all the time I have to prepare for track season in the coming weeks... after all, when I'm not doing anything else, I like to think I'm (almost) living the life of a professional runner.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First Race

BOOM: Everything indoor track hits me at once: the air, smell, light, and sound of people. With it comes an instinctual rush of adrenaline as we enter Indiana University's Indoor Track facility.  As I step in from the rain, having not set foot on one of these banked ovals in eight months, I think, wow, it's suddenly indoor season and it's time to race.

Ryan Dohner and I are entered in the small but stacked invitational section of the 5000 at the Hoosier Invitational, ready to open our indoor seasons for Texas a little earlier than usual.  We came here with the goal of running 13:45 or faster, a performance that should qualify us for the national meet in March.  The plan is to run a slightly cautious 66.5 per 400 for the first 3000 meters, then increase the pace to break 13:45 over the final 10 laps.  Leading the way would be two very capable rabbits in former Indiana runners Andrew Poore and Ben Hubers, and with Olympic trials 5th place finisher Ryan Hill of NC State and four freshly honored cross country All Americans in the field, the race was sure to produce some fast times.

Tonight is a bit of a cross roads for me: I haven't raced since my last time in a Princeton singlet on June 16th in a 1500 up in Indianapolis. I'm toeing the line knowing only what my workouts have been saying about my fitness.  I know that it was going to take some serious guts over the last 2k to muscle out a sub 13:50 clocking.  The outcome of this race will be plugged into the increasingly complex algorithm that determines the plan for me at Big Twelves and Nationals, and thus the way I'll train in the coming months.  Tonight is also my first time running as a Longhorn and that adds a bit of excitement to it all.

The smell of burnt sulfur still hangs in the air from the gun as we pass the start, one lap already complete, falling into a single file line behind Hubers and Poore.  Chasing after the two unattached rabbits are my teammate, myself, Lane Werley of UCLA, Zach Mayhew of Indiana, and Hill and Andrew Colley of NC State taking up the rear.  Passing the mile in 4:27, we maintain that order for 3k, running consistent 66.5 - 67 second laps.  I see 8:18 at 3k and do a self check as Hubers steps off, his task complete.  I'm feeling about normal for this point in the race.  But as Poore takes over and the pace increases slightly, I know it's time to focus as fatigue begins setting in.  Around 3600 the line of runners begins to string out.  200m later Hill passes me, followed shortly by Mayhew.  I'm beginning to tire, and with 1000 to go I've switched to survival mode - just get to the finish!  I run some unimpressive laps in no man's land and cross the line in 13:59.23 for fourth.  As is often the case towards the end of a race, I can't say much about the final 5 laps - I just don't remember them.  Maybe too much lactic acid in my brain?

In terms of the time goal, the result was a bit of a disappointment.  I wasn't able to race competitively with the field when the going got tough.  However, lots of positive things come from the effort.  Being in sub fourteen shape in December is pretty good in my book, especially for not having raced in a while.  It puts me within striking distance of my goals for the indoor season.  Getting the race in my legs is of course a workout too.  In that sense, I'm happy that I went for it.  Now I know exactly what kind of shape I'm in - my training will be more informed and I'll have a firm idea of what areas need work.

That's what running is - lots of work, chances to race, success, and failure.  Getting used to the entire process takes a long time, but I think that seeing the positives in every situation helps you get to where you want to be.

Race Video Here