We’re back with another round of questions in our Ask Drew (Hunter) series on MileSplit. The accomplished Tinman Elite professional and adidas distance runner — a recent qualifier to the World Championships who had to pull out due to injury — has taken time to answer heartfelt questions from the high school cross country community that are on your mind. Drew is a 2016 graduate of Loudoun Valley High School and is one of the best to ever do it in the prep ranks.
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If you would like to ask a (serious) question for Drew, send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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You are my favorite runner of all time, and I’d just like to ask you how you stay motivated to run when no one else on your team tries. I am my team’s No. 1 runner, and I tend to run alone 99-percent of the time and it’s tough to get through the runs. Thank you!
– Wondering In Maine
Thank you for the kind words. Great question and one that I’m sure many runners deal with at one point in their running journey. Training alone is hard! Training alone is a skill. I was fortunate enough to learn that at a young age. The first thing you need to do is sit yourself down and actually ask yourself, “Do I love running?”
The answer to this question is vital for the rest of your running career because once you view running as a burden-your relationship with the sport will falter. Are you going to enjoy every solo run? No. Are you going to enjoy every mile repeat by yourself when nobody is around to watch? No. But will it be worth it when you show up to the race prepared to set a new personal record? Yes. If you are enjoying the journey it’s worth all the effort. Remind yourself of this on your daily runs. I also have a few tips for making solo training easier and more enjoyable:
- Switch up your running routes. Running can often get stale if you’re running on the same trail or road every day. Mix it up and drive a few miles down the road or even once or twice a week to a new town. A new location can spark that sense of excitement you have on the first day of cross country practice.
- Music. I personally don’t listen to music while running. But, many runners of all levels use it as a way to get motivated about daily training.
- Compromise: find a way to run with people on your team or schools nearby. If you have a car and some time on the weekend to meet up with a running buddy from another school or town-do it. Or if someone on your team is running for 30 minutes and you planned on running for an hour, start with them and then finish the run solo. A solo 30 minutes is better than 60!
- Be present. Instead of thinking “I have an hour run coming up and I don’t want to do it.” Focus on the moments within the run. Ask yourself, “How’s my breathe?” How’s my cadence” “Am I running with good posture?” If you stop and do body scans and focus on each moment of your running and not the entire run at once-chances are it will feel a lot better.
I love the feel of winning and I love the competitive aspect of cross country. It’s raw, hard, and fast. But even though I live for cross country, I can’t find a way to love it like other sports since there is so much pain constantly–and running hurts a lot. I won my first race yesterday and it felt so good to win, but the pain of the 5K almost outweighs it in the end. I see your Inside Tinman elite videos and I can’t figure out how you all just have such a love for it, and can’t wait to run. You guys say “This is gonna be fun” before a race and I can’t wrap my head around it. I feel like I’m missing something and I would love to have that mindset. Any help?
– Hopeful in New York
Wow. Tough question and definitely not an easy one to answer. I will do my best to give you some thoughts that come to my head. I think a lot of my personal love for running stems from running for something greater than myself. And you yourself have to figure out what that is.
It could be for your family, your teammates, a strong belief that you have a gift and don’t want it to go to waste, etc… Showing up to the starting line with that mindset behind you really makes running become something so much greater than doing it for yourself. Running is hard. It’s hard physically, it’s hard mentally; but that’s what makes it so unique.
When you’re out on the track or the cross country course it often becomes a battle between you and your limits. Yes-it will hurt. But it will be worth it in the end if you want to figure out how good you can be. Finally, I want to stress that running isn’t for everyone. And there is nothing wrong with admitting that you are struggling to love running. In fact, I think it is incredible mature that you can admit that you are struggling to love this sport.
So many athletes are on the edge of being all in and committing a lot to this sport and others are too afraid to commit to such a challenging endeavor. I say that whatever decision you makes– the right one. This is your life. Do what you love.
I’m out for most of my XC season due to a hamstring injury but want to stay fit for when I do get back to training. Problem is, I don’t have access to a bike or a pool and only have access to my school’s gym twice a week for weights. Is there anything else I could be doing to stay fit?
– Itching to get back in Alabama
Tough question. I always suggest the three best forms of cross training (in my opinion):
- Aqua running–Tether yourself and use a belt in the deep end of the pool. Do a lot of intervals at high intensity with short rest. EX: 20×1 minute on/ 30 seconds off. Your heart rate should be very high.
- Elliptical–This is pretty close to mimicking running and is another form of cross training that can be highly effective. I like to do longer intervals on the elliptical and slowly increase the intensity throughout. EX: 4×5 minutes hard/ with 1 minute rest. Start with the lowest intensity level and increase throughout. Just like the pool running-your heart rate should be through the roof. Note- with some injuries you can’t elliptical. There still is a little pounding and some toe off when you use this machine so be careful when transition to this.
- Biking–Either stationary or without one. I am not that experienced with Biking but it is a great way to get your heart rate elevated without pounding the legs. My suggestion is to hit the hills hard and get really strong.
However, if you can’t do any of these things I would suggest just being as active as possible. Go for walks, go hiking, get outside and move. Keep up with your PT exercises, core work, and anything else that doesn’t harm your hamstring. Heal up!
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