In your DVD, you talk a lot about pushing yourself. You mention running reckless and giving 100%. How does that translate in terms of how much time someone should take for recovery between repetitions in a track workout. In your workouts, do you take as little time as possible for rest between your repetitions?
The other thing I tell young athletes is patience. There is a progression in running. I think most distance runners have delayed gratification. They think long-term. I think a lot of the non-elite athletes or somebody just coming into it like a high-school athlete, maybe look at just the short-term gains, because you maybe only have a couple years left in high school. You want to be state champion or be the best guy on the team. The difference for me when I say things like pushing it as far as you can…there was a progression for me to work that way. I worked as hard as I could in high school to the degree where I could stay with the seniors and then on the recovery days, I would take as much time as I needed so that when I got there back with the seniors, I would be able to hang again. I wasn’t killing myself, you know? So there was a balance. There is always a balance. But the fundamental thing about running, the thing that makes you a better runner, is pushing yourself further than you did last time. The only way you can get faster than you were yesterday is to keep testing that limitation—to keep pushing that boundary. That is the idea. How do you do that mentally? The key thing to doing that is how do you motivate yourself to push like that? For me, it seemed like there wasn’t a lot of stuff like that out on the market that was true to how it actually happens in real life.
You know, it’s not just some Hollywood production of some guy who’s incredibly talented in high school. He’s the state champion who ran an 8:40 two-mile and then he sets the track on fire. When most people start, we suck—straight out of the gate. It hurts. You want to quit the team. That’s how it started for me. So I wanted to give a little dose of reality and the progression that comes with it. I kind of wanted to show the workouts that I do along the way and the mentality that I had. You are going to face obstacles. You are going to get sick. Everyone gets sick in running. You are going to get hurt. Almost every single runner has been hurt at some point. That’s going to come. The athletes that succeed are the ones that understand how to deal with that.
There isn’t any information out there besides these stiff, standing-behind-a-chalkboard informational DVDs from coaches that say, “You got to do X and Y in order to get Z.” And so to relate to a more useful audience, I wanted to put something out there for the MTV generation/video game generation that was kind of distracted. I wanted them to take in this logo and this mentality of training where they can see that, relate to it, and then want to become a runner rather than going into the million different kinds of sports that they can go into now. You got extreme sports; you got skateboarding; you got all these distractions that take away from all these main sports that are out there. Running doesn’t necessarily have a big fan base to begin with. It’s not necessarily on TV that much. If you want to build steeplechasers you have to start from scratch—from the beginning. You have to find athletes when they are young, get them interested in it, and let them develop. There have been a lot of athletes throughout the years who have seen my videos and have taken up the event, because of them. For me, that was a success. I think what’s more important than learning the drills on the outtakes or hearing my commentary on it, is to understand the motivation behind it. It’s the energy and the ideals behind why I do what I do.
In your latest DVD you state a couple times that you do a lot of your workouts alone. Why is that?
It just turned out that way. I transferred to the University of Tennessee as a junior in college. At the time Todd Williams was running post-collegiate. I tried to run up to his level. Todd Williams was an incredibly intense runner. When I watched him work out, I was like, “OK, I thought I was working hard, but look at this guy; this is the level I need to work out at.” If you don’t have that environment where you see the athlete every day, you don’t understand that. I think that’s the advantage a lot of these Kenyan athletes have. You wake up, you go outside, and there are like 20 of those guys. You immediately see that this is the level that I need to train up to. I think that is part of the idea of the DVD, too.
I used to have a background in skateboarding when I was in high school. It was a really exciting individual sport to me. It was all about what you put into it is what you got out. The amount of time you learned a trick, the aggressiveness and the guts you had to go down a flight of steps; you knew you were going to go down the first 10 attempts on it. You might crack your skull open, but eventually you were going to land it. That takes a certain attitude to be able to do that. And so that was the attitude I took towards running: It was a little reckless. The main thing was that I didn’t see that kind of thing in running. I really didn’t see it in steeplechasing and so I said that I want to put a DVD in a running store like you would see 20 to 30 DVDs in a skateboarding shop where you would say, “Let me watch this athlete today and see his style of skateboarding, how he approaches it, and what is his mentality.” You know, watch it for the fun of being engulfed in the culture of skateboarding. You walk in a running store and there is nothing there except for clothing, sneakers, GU, tape for your nipples, breathing strips, and knee-high socks, now. I don’t see any high school runner walking in there and saying, “Cool.” I was hoping if I put a DVD in there, you would see a different side of running. You can approach this sport from any angle you want to. You can be any type of runner you want to be and I was hoping other runners would say, “Hey, let me put my DVD in this store.” No one has really taken up on it just yet.Next Page