Friday, March 3, 2017

Ten Questions: PSU Is 800U Edition (Part 1?)

 As most of you know, the 800M is my favorite event in Track and Field.  I wasn't particularly good at it, with a PR in high school of 1:58.4 for the 880Y, but I won all those I ran in my Senior year except the last one I let a teammate win for his only event win of his career. And even though my interest in the other events is constantly expanding, I still fall back on the event as a meme on the blog. It's easy with the perennial excellence of the middle distance runners in recent years at PSU.

Recently I have tried to reintroduce the 10 Questions Posts to the blog without much success.  My recent efforts have centered around asking the same 10 Questions to PSU middle distance runners of varying ages and decades.  I have heard back from some of the Honorary Members of 800U also, but not their responses to the questions.  I think the answers will be of great interest to those who share my love of the event.

The first to respond is Ryan Foster, the new Head Cross Country Coach of the Edinboro Fighting Scots of the great Division II PSAC.  Ryan and wife Kara (Millhouse) Foster are both Assistant Track Coaches. Ryan's running pedigree is well known to most of us, but my favorite highlight is the first Tasmanian to ever run under 4:00 for the mile! Take that devils!

With the end of his first successful season, Ryan took the time to respond in great detail to the questions that  both PSU Outdoor Mile Record Holder Larry Mangan and I (PSU record holder for the most "strawberries and bananas cups" ever eaten in the dining hall for dessert in one sitting!) asked.

My extreme thanks to him for responding, and both of us are throwing down the gauntlet to the others in the queue to respond also.

 800M Questions: 

1. What was your hardest and your favorite workout ever? (Larry Mangan question) 
Hardest and favorite would be 1x800m… outside of that, I always enjoyed The Ladder (3x200, 2x300, 400, 2x300, 3x200, with 90sec rec). Hardest was 3000m of 200 in 30sec, 100 in 20sec. Only did that one once and it was a bit of a flop. 

2. What 200M in an 800M race was your focal point? (Larry Mangan question) 
All important for different reasons. Probably from 300 to 500. It always felt the longest from home because I was starting to feel the pinch and had to focus on staying relaxed. Once I got into the last 300 it was just counting off the distance until it was done. 

3. Describe your training in your best season from base to peak? (Larry Mangan question) 
Around 60 miles a week. Substantial amount of work at mile pace. Most workouts finished with some type of speed component. Nothing overly complex but consistent and aerobic focused. 

4. What workout was the most common during your training? 
The Ladder (see above) 

5. What aspects of training other than running do you feel was most important, and why? 
I lifted a lot before getting to PSU and I feel that the residual strength from that was why I was more successful in the 800 as a sophomore. As a coach, I fit lifting into the schedule as I think the more explosive and more athletic you are the better. 

6. Who were your idols or mentors in Track and Field (Athletics)?
Growing up I was a big Hicham El Guerrouj fan. I remember tearing up when he finally won in Athens. “The greatest never to the greatest ever” was how Bruce McAveny called it. My high school coach Max Cherry was my number one mentor. He was a Percy Cerutty disciple and followed a lot of Cerutty’s ideas closely. It was a holistic, self-sacrificing approach that was the foundation that I’ve really built off of ever since (in training and life). 
7. Is there anything you would change about your training if you had the opportunity to live it all over again? 
Sure. Maintaining the lifting routine I had before PSU. Maybe wait another year before moving up to the 1500m/mile. A few more race model workouts to work on kicking harder and later. Who knows though. It’s easy to look back in training and see areas to improve but the reality is you just don’t know if it would be better or worse. I’m happy with what I achieved. 

8 . How do you see training for the 800M changing in the future? 
I’m not sure. Training is always changing with new fads. Coaches tend to try and pull from what the best performing athletes are doing at the time. I don’t always think that what is good for the goose is good for the gander so the way I coach athletes won’t change drastically. 

9. In the entire history of Track and Field (Athletics), who do you admire the most? 
Herb Elliott. He did it all and then had the balls to walk away on top. That’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. 

10. Other than Track and Field (Athletics), what other sport would you have excelled in? 
I was a good field hockey player. I think I could be a solid Australian Football player in the current game. It’s become a lot more running based so would suit someone like me.

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