Five tips from a 3:45 1,500m runner

Some of you already know my friend Zach Hancock from this guest post earlier this year. Zach’s done a lot in life, not the least of which includes a visit to Arthur Lydiard at his home where Zach was able to talk track for a couple of hours. Jealous? I know I am.

I asked Zach a simple question. What tips do you have for runners, given how fast you ran in college? Below are his first five answers. Zach was extremely self-effacing in his answers.

To use a Ken Kesey analogy, Zach wasn’t always on the bus, but the flip side is Zach found the bus and ran 3:45 as a fifth year senior while doing his student teaching. So as Kesey said,

There are going to be times when we can’t wait for somebody. Now, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again. If you’re off the bus in the first place — then it won’t make a damn.

I remember Zach coming late to practice his fifth year because of his student teaching duties, then rockin’ a 1,500m workout. Definitely on the bus.

Not only am I indebted to Zach for introducing me to Gene Logsdon but also for being one of the people in the world that pricked my brain. Thanks Zach.

Here’s his list.

1. Consistency. I was the model runner my fifth year in college because I ran year around, did long warm-ups and long cool-downs. I did more mileage. I did everything my coach said.

2. My fifth year I curbed my extra currciculars…those involving canned beverages, not dodge balls.

3. There is something about being inspired and full of enthusiasm for running that makes training and racing successful. Conversely, I pissed away my summers and might have become a sub four minute miler. I wasn’t invested 100% before my fifth year.

4. I think another thing that is important – and connected to the first. I had this book, Yoga for Runners. It reminded me that there was maintenance work to be done when you do a lot of high level training. For me this mostly meant stretching. Attending to maintenance.

5. The mornings before Sunday long runs I got into habits that became my ‘handrails’ before the long run. Toast and tea – that was a habit before long runs. That’s one example. It’s about business, and the tea and toast meant that I was prioritizing.

…and sometimes runners go off the deep end with this, all consuming focus on running and they become self obsessed.

I’d like add that the long run was so difficult for most runners at CU – and arguably more so for the true miler, such as Zach, than the 10,000m runner – that his advice is good for any runner who takes their long run seriously. Get up a bit earlier, have your tea and toast (Wetmore’s exact words, by the way) and be ready to run to your potential. Don’t roll out of bed, rush to the start of the run long run and expect to run a great twenty miler. Doesn’t work that way.

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