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This is what the running elite has to say about "All in a Day's Run":

"Gary's experiences and thoughts are very entertaining, all levels of runners can relate to them."
Brian Sell — 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathoner

"Each of Gary's essays is a short read with great information on training, racing and nutrition."
Dave McGillivray — Boston Marathon Race Director

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Nick Arciniaga — November, 2013
Nick Arciniaga is the current U.S. Marathon Champion with his 2013 Twin Cities Marathon victory in a strategic race that he won by two seconds in 2:13:11. Nick’s three marathon sub-2:12 times include a 2:11:48 for third place at the 2010 San Diego Marathon, a second place finish at the 2010 Houston Marathon in his personal best time of 2:11:30 and an eighth place finish at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in 2:11:56. He finished in 10th place at the 2008 Boston Marathon and eighth place at the 2009 New York City Marathon. Nick’s debut marathon was at Chicago in 2006 where his 22nd place finish in 2:16:58 qualified him for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon where he finished in 17th place. He represented the U.S. at the 2011 World Championships in the marathon. Nick has multiple top 10 U. S. Championship finishes. He graduated from Cal State-Fullerton in 2006 where he was a solid middle distance runner with collegiate track bests of 1:55 and 3:54 for 800 and 1,500 meters, respectively. A 14:23 5,000 meter race his senior year encouraged him to switch focus to longer distances. At Fountain Valley (CA) High School he recorded best times of 1:56 for 800 meters and 4:18 at 1,600 meters. His personal best times include: 10,000m – 28:29.71; 10 Miles – 49:08; Half Marathon – 1:03:22; and Marathon – 2:11:30. The Cal State-Fullerton Accounting major lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with his wife, Caroline, and their dog, Luna.
GCR:Congratulations on your winning the U.S. Championship at the 2013 Twin Cities Marathon. Now that you’ve had ten days since winning to reflect, what are your thoughts and emotions after winning your first marathon in 13 races at the distance and in doing it on the national championship stage?
NAThank you. It has been a great experience and I have been reflecting more on how it was a dream-type of race after I watched the video and saw again how I dropped behind a bit, rallied to catch back up and then pushed that last stretch coming into the finishing gate. I could not let myself look back or think that I had the win until I crossed the line and then when I did I couldn’t believe that it actually came true and happened.
GCR:Was it even more gratifying to win a close race with a kick rather than pulling away earlier to a more comfortable win?
NAYes, since it was overall a more tactical race than a time trial. I’ve run some fast times in races that were more like time trials, but this was the first time in head-to-head competition that I met my goals and succeeded as far as coming out on top.
GCR:How much did your years as primarily a middle distance specialist at 800 and 1,500 meters in high school and college help you to focus when it was so close at the end?
NAI didn’t think about the speed I gained in racing shorter distances in high school and college because even back in those days I was running high mileage. I did my good races during those years basically off of strength. So going into the last mile against Sergio Reyes, Josphat Boit and Shadrack Biwott, I knew that Sergio was the only one who was as experienced in the marathon as I was. I thought that I had more strength than my competitors, even though they had fast 10k and half marathon times, and so I should be able to pull away. I have a history of having good leg speed.
GCR:What was your strategy for the early miles, mid-race when moves start happening and the final 10k and how did it change based on how you were feeling and where you were in relation to your competitors?
NAMy goal going into the race was to sit with the lead group. I knew there would be random moves of one guy taking off here or there, but I wanted to stay with the main group through halfway. Then from 13 to 20 miles I wanted to throw down the hammer and run in the 4:50s before the hills began at 20 miles and the real racing started. What happened was that at 11 miles I was still with the lead group and my hamstring tightened and made me nervous. I thought it might pull because it was so tight and I was in pain. Then I decided to settle in and see how things played out.
GCR:Did you have any pre-race strategy to work for a while with others such as Tyler McCandless, with whom you are friends?
NAI hadn’t talked to Tyler about it as I didn’t realize he would be the main aggressor like he was through 16 miles as he was always right at the front. I had talked with Pat Rizzo beforehand and he had a similar strategy to wait until at least 13 miles. I also talked some before the race with Shadrack Biwott as we’re pretty good friends and we figured we all could help each other out. Patrick and I had a rule that if we were still together at 35k then friendship was off and whoever had the best wheels at that time would take it. So our mentality was to help each other until it got to the point in the race where it was time to race each other.
GCR:You had some disappointing races since the 2012 Olympic Trials with a DNF at Boston in 2012, a rain-affected 2:18 at the Cal International Marathon and a sub-par 2:17 earlier this year in Los Angeles. What did you do in training over the past six months to prepare mentally and physically for the Twin Cities Marathon that helped you to rebound and race strong?
NAI’m always been of the belief that my training strength comes from the past several years and not necessarily the final few months before a race, though that is not how most people look at it. I had done a lot of super long runs before the Los Angeles Marathon earlier this year and that mileage made me tired for L.A. The mileage was still in my legs as I prepared for Twin Cities. I did tweak my cycle a bit as I went to a two week cycle rather than a ten day cycle. In week one I ran hard Tuesday and Friday with a long run on Sunday. In week two my hard days were Wednesday and Saturday. There was a little extra rest between hard days and I could get mentally prepared to tackle this marathon distance. I have been thinking about this race for a long time and it is the one where I wanted to be the champion.
GCR:Your marathon racing has had maybe more than its share of ups and downs. When you review and evaluate your race results, does anything stand out that helped you to be successful at races like San Diego in 2010, Houston in 2011, the 2012 Olympic Trials and your recent Twin Cities win that was different when it didn’t come together at Chicago in 2010, the 2011 World Championships, Boston in 2012 and L.A. in 2013?
NAIt has been hard to figure it out as in some of the lesser efforts like the World Championships, Chicago in 2010 and the L.A. Marathon earlier this year I went into the races with great workouts and feeling great. Then I was already feeling bad only two miles into the races. I had prepared specifically for three months and had years of good training so it was detrimental mentally. I still pushed through physically but they weren’t my best races. It was tough and for some reason on some days I just wasn’t able to run well. At Boston last year it was different as I over-hydrated and started dry heaving all of my fluids. At the Cal International Marathon I went out too fast, which was kind of amateurish, and faded toward the end. There are a lot of factors at these races that I have tried to learn from. Hopefully it helps the cards to play out and this time at Twin Cities it worked in my favor.
GCR:How tough was it in late 2012 to be ready to race the New York City Marathon, have it cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy and then switch to the Cal International Marathon a few weeks later?
NAI was super pumped for New York last year. I had a really good race in New York in 2009 as I ran a 2:13 for eighth place and it was one of my big breakthroughs. This time around I felt like I could have another breakthrough, finish in the top ten and possibly run 2:11 or so. The week after the New York City Marathon was cancelled was horrible in terms of training as I had tapered for the race and I was prepared mentally. It also took a long time to travel there and back with the weather problems. My legs were shot and I was mentally drained. After a couple weeks I was getting back to some good training and decided to run CIM as I felt I needed a race. I still had my fitness so I wanted to race as quickly as possible when I was mentally ready to race. It was difficult for sure.
GCR:As we noted, you were a collegiate middle distance runner, though you were running high mileage. What did you do after you graduated to ramp up for such a drastic change to the marathon and were you surprised to run 2:16:58 at Chicago?
NAAfter college and even during college I was running 100 to 115 mile weeks. I had a full year and a half after college before I debuted at the marathon so I got a lot of base miles under me and raced from 10ks to half marathons. I had done a couple half marathons in 66 or 67 minutes. I went into Chicago not really knowing what to expect. I wasn’t expecting to run as fast as I did, but I was hoping to get the Olympic Trials ‘A’ standard which was 2:20. If I had an off day I hoped to be able to hold on for the ‘B’ standard of 2:22. I ran the first couple miles with Patrick Rizzo and a huge group of guys. Then I pulled away with Justin Young and we ended up catching a group of the Hanson’s’ team runners who were running at 2:15 pace. So I stayed with them until about twenty miles. Then the rest of the way I ran either alone or with Justin Young. I was riding the highs as I knew how fast I was going and I couldn’t quite believe it. I’m one of the guys who when I hit the wall I don’t really hit it hard. I gradually scrape against it and slow down a bit so that race was my first realization that I should have been a long distance racer a lot earlier.
GCR:In addition to the steady mileage weeks, what else did you do in terms of long runs and intense sessions when you first trained for the marathon?
NAI did pretty much all summer long a 20 mile long run on the weekends. I tried different paces and venues. I would run some on trails with good up hills and down hills. I would try to break two hours or get as close as possible. I did a couple 10 to 12 mile tempo runs and found out rather quickly that I had difficulty working out by myself on those hard days. So I started training with my college team, doing their workout and then added on afterward to double the workout or do one and a half times what they were doing. It was helpful to have others to train with. I wasn’t doing structured marathon training but was doing bits and pieces that I knew would work in my favor in terms of overall fitness.
GCR:I missed qualifying for the 1980 Olympic Trials Marathon by 40 seconds and it is an honor to compete in the Olympic Trials Marathon. How exciting was it to qualify and what are some of the highlights of your first Olympic Trials experience?
NAI joined the Hanson’s team in February before the Olympic Trials and started training with them. I got to know Brian Sell and Clint Verran who had placed high in the Olympic Trials and then Brian made the team in 2008. We had 12 or 13 guys on our team who had qualified and we wanted to place as many of us in the top ten and top twenty as we could. For most of the race I ran with Mike Morgan who was my roommate at the time and we remain good friends. We shared pacing and he dropped me toward the end. I remember when I was getting close to the finish hearing fans yelling things like, ‘Go Hanson’s – Brian Sell just made the team!’ I was thrilled and wanted to finish the race as hard as I could. I was really pumped that a teammate I had trained with for the past eight months had made the Olympic team. That race set me up mentally where I knew that being a top marathoner was what I wanted to be. Making the Olympic Trials was huge, but I wanted to make the next jump to a Brian Sell level.
GCR:How different was it at the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon where you were a top ten contender and had an outside chance to make the team if you just blew it out of the water?
NAIt was huge. Going into the race I was injured in September and October so I didn’t run a step off of the Alter-G treadmill. Then in late October I finally started running on the ground. I didn’t really get in shape for the Trials until two weeks beforehand. Up until then I was struggling trying to get through my workouts and just trying to get fit enough to complete a marathon. Finally I was actually confident that I could run well. Going into the race I was on a super high and feeling great. My goal was to run a 2:09 as I thought beforehand it would take that time to make the team. The quality of runners was so much better than four years earlier. I tried to run as fast as I could and an even split race. We had a huge pack of 13 to 20 guys through the half marathon. My current teammate, Brett Gotcher, was in the pack and helped me share the lead. We came through the half marathon right on target at 1:04:45 which would give us a 2:09:30 if we could hold the pace. If any of us could have held that pace we could have made the Olympic team, but it wore us down. Four or five of us ran 2:11 and I was thrilled to come off of an injury and to run as quickly as I did there. I was super happy with that but felt it was a missed opportunity if I could have run a 2:09. Still, I wasn’t too disappointed.
GCR:Your 2:11:56 effort for 8th place at the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon has you knocking on the door of a possible Olympic team berth in 2016. In what areas do you need to focus to be able to run sub-2:10 and put yourself in contention?
NAI’ve talked with various coaches and have mapped it out. I’m pretty sure it will take a 2:08 or 2:09 to make the team. It is getting more competitive and the depth is greater. My goal is to run a 2:09 in one of my next few races so that I know I can do it at the Trials. Or on a more difficult course like in New York, I would want to finish high enough that I had the confidence to feel I could compete at the Trials. I just have to focus on getting faster. Each time I have run 2:11 I was on 2:09 pace at twenty miles, so I need to figure out how to fix that last 10k and keep myself running at 2:09 pace.
GCR:How did you select the Hanson’s/Brooks Distance Project for your initial professional running program and how instrumental were they in molding you into a marathon runner?
NAIt was huge joining the Hanson’s team. I had seen many of their runners at races and ran much of my first marathon in Chicago with their runners Mike Morgan and Luke Humphrey. I knew they were a super-talented marathon group. One of my fellow teammates knew Peter Gilmore pretty well and he knew the Hanson’s so I ended up getting in contact through a third party. It was a great opportunity to run with about thirteen other guys who were at a similar level as I was running at that point. I realized quickly that I was doing the right mileage but wasn’t working out correctly the way they were. Day in and day out there was more intensity, more hard running, more longer runs and basically a grind. It was a growing experience for me as I learned how to train, what works for me and how to handle the ups and downs of training. I also got better at mentally preparing for racing.
GCR:When I interviewed Desi Davila, who also runs for the Hanson’s team, she was telling me about working up to six repeat two miles on a bike trail which she did under marathon pace with a half mile jog in between. Is that a workout you used in your training?
NAWe did various workouts on that bike path. Before I ran my best race with the Hanson’s team, 2:13 in New York City, Keith and Kevin Hanson tweaked my training and changed my repeats to kilometers rather than miles. This was to confuse me a bit so I wouldn’t know my pace as much as if they were in miles. Some of the workouts I did were four by 4k repeats or three by 5k repeats. I worked on dialing in naturally without looking at a watch. It worked out well for me. Another big workout we did two weeks before a marathon was five miles tempo at marathon pace, two miles softer than marathon pace and then five more miles at marathon pace. That went well and was a workout I really liked.
GCR:Another tempo session that the Hanson’s team is known for is the 26.2k marathon tempo run. How did that session work for you?
NAThat is something we did four to five weeks out from every marathon we raced. Its 16.24 miles. Kevin and Keith would set up a course around Rochester, Michigan that simulated the race course on which we would be racing. If it was a flat race like Chicago we would run on the Snake Creek Trail. If it was a hilly race like Boston or New York we would run a hilly course. There were kilometer marks and imagery like the Citgo sign that is close to the finish in Boston. I raced three marathons when I was on the Hanson’s team and every simulator that I did correctly correlated to how I ran in the race.
GCR:In early 2010 you changed training programs and locations to the McMillan Elite Group in Flagstaff, Arizona. What prompted the change and how did it help you continue to improve?
NAI was tired of being in Michigan at that point. I grew up in southern California and wanted to get closer than a $500, four hour flight. I had a college teammate who ran for the McMillan Elite Group so I met and spoke with Greg McMillan. Eventually I came out, took a tour and thought it would be good to train with Brett Gotcher who had just done a 2:10 debut marathon. I pegged him as a 2:09 guy who could be an Olympian and I wanted to train with Brett. We clicked well. It is a different kind of training as it is at 7,000 feet in altitude and we have to run at an easier pace. I slowed down 15 to 20 seconds per mile on my tempo runs and it was a huge transition trying to figure out what effort and times correlated to sea level training. The fitness I gained was huge. Since coming to Flagstaff I’ve run 2:11 three times and the recent 2:13 so I am pretty consistent. I need strength to take it to the next level and altitude training is a big part of that.
GCR:Possibly your most unusual marathon was at Houston in 2011 where you were pacing Brett Gotcher and then switched to racing midway through the race when you were running strong and on a personal best pace. Did the different focus and decreased expectations contribute to your running a PR and placing second?
NAGoing into the race I told myself that if I was feeling good I would keep on going, but the goal was to pace Brett at 2:09 pace. It was a struggle the first ten miles to stay on pace. I was running along with one Kenyan, Wilfred Murgor, who ended up finishing third and we were side-by-side clicking off 4:53, 4:54 and 4:55s mile after mile after mile. There were four or five guys just behind us. Halfway through Murgor and the eventual winner, Bekana Tolesa, took off and were running in the 4:40s or 4:30s. I stayed with Brett and we ran side-by-side through 25k. At that point I didn’t think I could run another step so I called out to Brett, ‘Hey, go for it. Take those guys down.’ Brett took off and opened up ten or 15 seconds on me. I came through the next mile in 5:05 and thought if I could hold that pace I could still run a PR. The next four or five miles I thought that if it wasn’t five-oh-something I was going to drop out. Then each mile got easier and easier and I was bringing Brett back to me. I caught him at 20 miles and I was in third place and feeling good so I wasn’t going to drop out at that point. I was able to bring it all the way to the finish. I slowed to the five-teens but held it enough for a PR. It was definitely a different experience because the first half of the race I was totally focused on Brett and being there to pace him. After that it was a matter of surviving. That first half did take a lot of the pressure off. The conditions were also ideal as it was rainy and I always have good workouts in the rain. So everything was in my favor that day.
GCR:Let’s discuss some elements of your recent training. First, what does your average weekly mileage top out at for a period of base building for a marathon?
NAMy average is about 125 to 130 miles a week and I usually start about three months out from the race. I’ll be in shape at that time running 100 to 110 miles a week and build up to 120, 125, 130, 135 and 140 increasing steadily and also doing good workouts. The last few marathons I’ve gotten up to 145 or 150. Then I drop to 125, 120, 115 and 110 miles each week as the marathon approaches. There are lots of long days and I always look forward to getting to that first 140 mile week.
GCR:In leading up to your last few marathons, how long are your long runs, how many do you do and at what pace or intensity?
NAI do 20 to 26 miles runs every other week. My tempo runs are 20 to 22 miles long.
GCR:From following your blog I know that you did several 28 mile runs coming in to the L.A. Marathon earlier this year. How do those extra-long runs complement your training?
NAOnce I get past 20 miles my legs struggle and feel like they do at the end of a marathon. Doing 28 mile long runs was a way to give myself extra fatigue as I clipped off mile after mile at a good pace so that I would have the feeling that I could do that in a race.
GCR:I interviewed Steve Spence recently and he was telling me about his long runs leading up to the 1991 World Championship Marathon where he earned the Bronze Medal. He started doing 30 mile long runs and would drop the last three miles under 5:00 pace when he was on tired legs. Is this something you might incorporate into your next training cycle as Steve felt this pushed him to another level?
NAThat is something I have thought about before, doing 30 mile runs with fast finishes. We did practice fast finishes when I ran with the Hanson’s team, but I haven’t out here in Flagstaff. I still need to build up to that as I try to focus on one energy system at a time and if I am on a long, long run of 28 to 30 miles I’m not going to try to pick up the pace like I do now at the end of a 20 to 22 mile run where I pick up the pace and try to get my legs going faster. I would have to build up to that 30 mile run with a fast finish, but it is definitely in my long term plans.
GCR:What are some of your favorite stamina and tempo sessions and do you usually do them on the road or track?
NAI’ve been working with a coach I know in California for the last year or so which is different than when I was with the McMillan Group. With them I was on the track about every week getting some speed work in. In the past year I do more of my workouts on the road for intervals or fartleks. I do two to four mile intervals at varied paces.
GCR:To keep top end speed and efficiency do you incorporate speed sessions and hill repeats in your training regimen on a regular basis or are you mainly in the stamina zone?
NAI’m mainly in the stamina zone. The only time I’m working on leg speed is in my fartlek workouts and I do feel like I’m going pretty fast. I do them in the middle of a distance run. I do a minute or two minutes or 30 seconds on and give myself ample recovery in between. I may do 15 times a minute on with two minutes off on a 13 or 14 mile run. It’s more about surges and feeling fast and then recovering. I would rather do it by feel than with markers around a track.
GCR:A lot of top American marathon racers, even going back to Frank Shorter and Alberto Salazar, got faster at 10k to improve their marathon. Will your primary focus in 2014 be the marathon or will you work to get faster at shorter distances from 10k to the half marathon?
NAI’m not focused on that in the next couple years. I did that a lot when I was with Greg and got my 10k down to 28:29 and my half marathon down to 1:03. I think that is ample enough now as long as I can get in a good training base and throw in some fast tempo runs.
GCR:In 2014 do you expect to put a spring and fall marathon on your racing schedule and will there be any minor changes in your training or a similar plan but a little faster?
NAI’ll do a lot of the same stuff as this last time I feel like I was dialed in and doing good things throughout. I had some good workouts and some bad workouts which is typical for me. There are always random runs that are off on a particular day. Next year I think I will do some longer runs like you mentioned Steve Spence did. I’m going to try a 50k race. I’m looking at a spring marathon like Boston or London. Then I’ll do another fall marathon.
GCR:Let’s go back to you formative running years. In high school you raced at 800 meters and 1,600 meters. How did you get started running and how did you progress as a prep?
NAI got started running when I was in eighth grade. I was just hanging out with friends and one of the guys said, ‘Let’s race down to the street.’ He was a year older than me and running cross country in high school. We ran and I was able to keep up with them. Even though it was just a short sprint they told me that I should come out for the cross country team. From there I basically joined the team in the fall and fell into a pool of guys which helped me to find my way in the sport. I started off not too great my freshman year in high school with 18:20s for a three mile race. Then I ran 11:20 in the 2-mile and 5:20 in the mile. I don’t even remember my 800 meter time. Each year I gradually improved. My coach, Barry Miglioriney, advocated high mileage so I put in a lot of distance and got better. By my senior year I got down to low 15s in cross country. In track I ran 1:56 for 800 meters and 4:18 for 1,600 meters. I didn’t race the 3,200 meters much.
GCR:What are some of your high school highlights?
NAI didn’t have too much success in high school and never made it to the big meets. My times got me to the California State qualifying races. Throughout the year in my league and county I had good races and could outkick most of the runners in the 800 and 1,600 meters. In the county meet I finished second to a 4:15 miler. We battled pretty much, he took off with 500 meters to go and he was able to hold me off at the end. I ran five or six times throughout the year from 4:18 to 4:20 but never really got to the next level. I hadn’t had much success early in my high school career and my junior year I had only run 4:33, so coming off of that it was pretty monumental for me.
GCR:At Cal-State Fullerton you were a solid runner with best times of 14:23 for 5,000 meters and 3:54 for 1,500 meters. Did your training change much in college or were you still on a similar path?
NAI started off in college with a little bit less mileage. My college coach, John Elders, wasn’t as adamant about the high mileage so I followed his training and believed in his training until I realized that I did need more mileage. My freshman year in college wasn’t very good so I knew that I needed to put in extra mileage in the off-season to be fit and ready. My sophomore year I made good improvements in cross country at the 8k and 10k distances. My junior year in track I was still primarily running the 800 and 1,500 meters, but my times were nowhere near where I was in high school in terms of being around my competitors. I was running 1:55 and 3:55 which were decent, but I wasn’t scoring in Conference, wasn’t making it to Regionals and wasn’t as fast as I thought I should have been. It wasn’t until I got to my senior year in track that I thought I would try out a 5k to see how it would go. I was running over 100 mile weeks and ran a 14:23 which was substantially better than my middle distance times when compared to my competition. Then I thought that I should have been running at 5k all along. It’s the same feeling I had when I ran my first marathon and realized I should have been doing them all along. So it took me time and a lot of error to find out where my potential really was.
GCR:We’ve talked about your running with different training groups. Just as your coaches help with your success as a runner, how important is it to be part of a training group of high-level runners versus running solo?
NAOn my long runs and easy runs I can get out the door and do them pretty easily. But for the hard workouts having a coach out there is huge to get myself up mentally, and having guys to run with is very helpful. I have always been one of those guys who races better than his workouts. I don’t put all of my efforts into training as I usually undertrain and over perform. Right now I train with people half of the time. There are some guys in town that I can hook up with for shorter stuff like ten mile tempo runs. We use each other for our mutual benefit. On many other days I run with runners in town.
GCR:Who are some of your favorite competitors from high school, college and currently at the professional level for their toughness or ability to push you to another level?
NAI didn’t have enough success in high school or college to have that one person where we went back and forth quite a bit. I made such substantial jumps in those arenas that I was running with one group of guys one year, another group the next year and other guys the year after that. In my professional races there are so many guys out here that I’ve gone head-to-head with. We are pretty even in terms of overall won-loss ratio. Abdi Abdiraman has run as fast as 2:09, but as poor as 2:17 and on certain days I have been able to nip him at the line, even in marathons. There are guys like Jason Hartmann and Mike Morgan in that 2:11 to 2:15 range that I battle with quite a bit as we go back and forth. Jason and I are pretty even as he got me a few times and I got him a few times. Even in the U.S. Championship race there were experienced marathoners like Pat Rizzo and Sergio Reyes that I knew I could run side-by-side with and use each other to our mutual benefit with one of us coming out as the winner There are a lot of guys I have respect for as my competitors. Sometimes who wins comes down to if it is their day or not.
GCR:Since you brought up Jason Hartmann, I interviewed him this year after he was top American and fourth overall at the Boston Marathon for the second straight year. He was telling me about a strenuous hill tempo run that he would do for four or five miles on a road outside of Boulder, Colorado. Jason runs at 5:40 pace nonstop up a hill from 5,000 to 6,000 feet of altitude and it is both mentally and physically tough. It is just a long grind. Do you do anything similar?
NAI did a lot of those in college on a hill we called ‘Four Mile Hill.’ My best pace on it was 6:20 pace. It was kind of a grind. I do it every once in a while when I am back in California. But out here in Flagstaff I haven’t done tempo runs like that per se. I have run up some peaks from 7,000 feet to 9,000 feet, but I’ve never made them into a tempo run.
GCR:We’ve talked about what you want to do in 2014 and there is another Olympics in three years. What are your future competitive goals and for how long do you expect to compete?
NAI think I can still be a contender even through the 2020 Olympic Trials. My goal is to try to keep myself going as long as possible. After the 2016 Olympics I may be a little less serious and go on to trying to develop my post-running career either by going back to school or developing credentials in the workplace. But I can see myself being competitive for another six or seven years.
GCR:Have you given any thought to whether you would like to be involved in the sport as a coach or in some other fashion once your competitive days have ended?
NAI’ve thought about that quite a bit. One thing I would really love to do is to take over my college coach’s team. Going back to my alma mater would be one of my dream jobs. Giving back to the sport, making guys better and growing the sport would all be part of that dream. Right now I am assistant coach at a community college in Flagstaff while I’m here. We also have a ‘Step Into Running Program’ which is for beginner runners and a ‘Kids Run Flagstaff’ which is a youth program. They are growing and we are also working on an elite program. So my focus is on building these community programs.
GCR:Much of what helps grow our next generation of runners is getting them out there when they are young. What advice do you have for younger runners to improve consistency, minimize injuries, stay excited and strive to reach their potential?
NAA lot of times kids are motivated by success like having a good race or getting an award. This can be tough as not everyone can do that and not everyone realizes their potential until later. For me I never became a good runner until I realized my junior year in high school that I could earn a scholarship. Much of it is created by success and by having fun. When kids are young they shouldn’t be out there running five days a week. It’s all about being active and enjoying yourself. Be out there with your friends and have friendly competitions with them.
GCR:We have more than one thing in common as we are both distance runners and majored in accounting in college. How does the structure and discipline of accounting and studying parallel that needed to be a successful distance runner?
NAI’ve got to tell you honestly that I did not study very much. My dad is a CPA so when I went to college I declared my major as Accounting as I thought that was what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until my third year of college that I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do as it was too tedious and too mind-numbing. It wasn’t enjoyable to me but at that point I knew it was smarter of me to finish up, get my degree and worry about other things afterward. At this point I have had two different jobs where I am an accounting clerk. Right now I’m working at a local running store and I do some accounting work for the owner. So I’m dabbling in it and considering going back and getting my CPA certificate. It’s not as boring as I once thought the education was. The schooling was terrible but the actual practice might be worthwhile.
GCR:Reflect on when you speak to groups about the major lessons you have learned during your life from working to achieve academically and athletically, the discipline of running, the patience of training many years with a goal, and coping with adversity that can help them to succeed. What can you share with my readers?
NABasically for me it is all about consistency. I have been lucky enough not to have too many serious injuries and I’ve only been sidelined for maybe two months out of 16 years. Running as often as your body will let you whether it is five days a week or six days a week, the more consistently you can run will lead to success. It isn’t necessarily how hard or fast you run – nothing that will break you – but go out there and enjoy it as you build your foundation for the future.
 Inside Stuff
Hobbies/InterestsWe spend a lot of time watching TV and movies. I also read quite a bit
NicknamesA lot of people seem to call me ‘Snick’ because I tend to slur my ‘S’ and when I say, ‘Hello, this is Nick,’ it sort of sounds like ‘Snick.’ During high school I was known as ‘Spiderman’ as I liked climbing up trees, swinging on ropes and stuff like that. So, I was also called, ‘Spidey’
Favorite moviesThe ‘Stars Wars’ saga. Adidas even made a ‘Star Wars’ jersey for me. I am into Zombies – not just the current movies as I have been enjoying Zombies for the past fifteen years
Favorite TV showsFavorite TV shows: ‘Walking Dead’, ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘The Mentalist’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’
TV Reality Show Dream‘Survivor’ or ‘Amazing Race’ - Something where it is a real competition and you have to perform really well
Favorite musicFoo Fighters and Nine Inch Nails. All sorts of 1990s rock
Favorite booksI read a lot of science fiction.
Not Many People Know ThisI am an Eagle Scout and am really big into camping and the outdoors
Eagle Scout projectI re-landscaped an area at my church. The sprinkler system was spraying the walls on the outside of the rectory. I tore out the existing plant life; lay down a weed barrier and then some gravel. Next I put in potted plants and added a drip system to the existing sprinkler system where tubes ran into the pots. Then I spray-painted the walls. It kick started the other guys in my troop and about fifteen of them did projects at the same church
First carFord F150 truck
Current carI’m driving my dad’s Honda Accord that he traded to me for the F150. We did that when I moved to Michigan as it was more economical and better in the winter weather
First JobIt was in college around my junior year and I started working at a running shoe store out in California
Favorite Halloween costumeMy favorite because I wore it so much was Dracula. I think I wore it three or four years in a row. I wasn’t too outgoing in terms of originality
FamilyMy wife Caroline and I met in college at Cal State-Fullerton. She was a steeplechase champion and won her conference meet two times and made it to nationals. She is still an avid runner. She used to run with me on my easy days, but now she just goes out on the bike with me on my tempo runs and rides beside me. My parents got into running in local races but now they aren’t able to run that much and are doing local bike races. With the Long Beach Marathon there is about a 19-mile bike race and they did a tandem bike ride in that competition. My two younger brothers did the half marathon. The middle brother, Michael, is in grad school at Long Beach State and has done two marathons and a lot of half marathons. He did around three and a half hours for a marathon. My youngest brother, Samuel, just graduated from high school and started dabbling in longer running. My sister, Jennifer, was a swimmer in high school and is a housewife now. Her second kid should be born any day now
PetsWe are a pet family. My dog is almost a year old now. We got her just after Christmas last year and we love her. She is a medium size dog of around fifty pounds and is able to run with me. Her name is Luna and she is a Lab mix. I’ve only taken her out on four or five mile runs. When she gets older and stronger I’ll test her out a little more. We’re probably going to get another dog in the future
Favorite breakfastAfter most of my workouts I make breakfast burritos which are something my dad used to make for me. I cook up some eggs and beans and throw some meat in the tortilla
Favorite mealGrandma’s mac and cheese. It is a casserole I bake and is what my Grandma would always make when we were kids. We always loved it and I learned out to make it when I moved out to join the Hanson’s team as I had to cook for myself
Favorite beveragesCoca-Cola. I don’t have it often, but I had it a lot this week since I’ve been on my break. I don’t have soda as often as I would like
First running memoryIn fourth grade my teacher was an avid marathoner. In fact, when I was older and running marathons she did a lot of the ones I did like Chicago in 2006, New York when I did the Trials and Boston. She is a real good age group runner and always places in the top five. She did this thing called the ‘Fourth Grade Olympics’ where everyone did track events from 100 meters up to two miles or maybe a mile. I ended up doing the 400 meters that day, went through the rounds, won my heat, went to the finals and ended up running the fastest 400 out of the school on that day. I was the champion and it is one of the first memories I have of being good at running. I think I got a blue ribbon. It wasn’t so much that I won, but the attention that I got. Then people wanted to race me and were saying, ‘I can beat you over this distance or that distance.’ It was exciting for me
Running heroesStarting out not as much as I didn’t really know the sport. The internet wasn’t around and we didn’t see how people were doing or what they had done. When I started running the marathon I looked up to Brian Sell who was a good teammate of mine and we had a pretty good relationship during the three years I ran for the Hanson’s
Greatest running momentRight now I would have to say the Twin Cities race. To run it the way I did and become U.S. champion is something that had eluded me. Championships are hard to come by as in many of the races we face Meb Keflezighi, Mo Trafah or Ryan Hall
Worst running momentI don’t know as I’ve never considered quitting or retiring. I guess one that was traumatic was my first winter training in Michigan when I slipped on ice, nearly broke my ankle and tore a bunch of ligaments. It wasn’t bad enough for a cast or crutches but I was hobbling around for about three weeks and was very tormented at the time
Childhood dreamsI don’t think I had many. I wasn’t very imaginative. I just wanted to play video games
Favorite places to travelI’ve been to Tokyo, Daegu and Scotland outside of the U.S. and out of those my favorite is Scotland. It’s kind of an old country type of place that is historic and I had a lot of fun there