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Karl Meltzer Interview

UtahRunning.com: Hey everybody out there in the utahrunning.com community. This is Ken Richardson and we’re excited today to be able to interview Karl Meltzer. He is an ultra marathon fiend. He’s done some of the most hundreds in the calendar year and he’s also the winningest 100-miler runner on the planet. He’s won 35 and it’s incredible how fast he is over those long distances. We’re excited to have him with us. Thanks Karl, for joining us.

Karl: It’s great to be here.

UtahRunning.com: Tell me about your running background. I know you moved to Utah to kind of become a ski bum, but then you caught the running bug. What happened and how did you get into the running scene?

Karl: Before I even moved to Utah, I did run in high school. I didn’t go to college. I went for one year and decided I wanted to be a ski bum. I did run a bit in high school and I was a state champion cross-country runner. I had some background there. When I did move to Utah it was all about skiing. My buddy and I moved to Snowbird, Utah or Sandy, Utah I guess you want to call it that, and skiing at Snowbird and Alta. We recently went to Jackson Hole, ended up at the time that it was maybe too expensive for us. It’s funny when I look back at it now, how much it was. But at the same time I came here as a ski bum and then we skied. I planned on going back east, back home after one ski season, but the mountains were pretty intriguing.

I started riding a mountain bike. Everyone was fired up about a mountain bike at the time, so I bought a mountain bike for I think 500 bucks. That tapped the bank account for me at that time, but my real love was running and being on foot. I rode some biking for maybe a month and a half or so, but then I started running. The love of running through the mountains came to me instantly. It was very gratifying, very enjoyable. You could hit a summit peak anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour and a half, whatever it took.

That really didn’t take any motivation to get me out the door to do that. I just started running and running, and ran the Snowbird Hill climb, which at one time was called the “Rowdy Run,” in 1990 or ’91. I won the race with about three weeks of training. So that was another thing that really intrigued me to keep running through the mountains.

It wasn’t really about marathoning at the time, it was really about getting out and running through the wildflowers and things like that. It evolved over time in terms of running races and challenging myself and racing other people. But really just a love for the mountains, as opposed to being back in New Hampshire where there are great mountains in Northern New Hampshire, but I love to live in Southern New Hampshire where you had to drive an hour and a half to go have some fun.

The proximity of the mountains here in Salt Lake are in my backyard. It was easy for me to start running and to see where it was going to go at that point. I don’t know, I never thought I’d be a pro runner, but time evolved I guess.

UtahRunning.com: Yeah, and it’s a great thing to be so close to the mountains, have them right at your back door.

Karl: It’s nice to be in the mountains. When I go run every day, I don’t run from my house. I usually drive up to Alta and go up to Cottonwood Canyon or something like that, and run up there. To me it’s automatic, even if that drive might take 20 minutes. It’s a no-brainer for me. I just love the accessibility of Salt Lake and the mountains here. I could live in another mountain town in Colorado or California, and I would have accessibility to mountains as well. But at the time when I started doing this, it was pretty inexpensive to live here. We were able to manage a bit of work at Snowbird being a bartender and working as little as possible during the summer and just giving myself more time to run. Again, like you said, living right here at the mountains is pretty cool. It’s a very unique place to be a mountain runner.

UtahRunning.com: And you’ve had the opportunity to travel and run all over the place. Definitely had a lot of career highlights. What are your top few running experiences throughout your career?

Karl: My top running experiences, you can look back at all my races and all these wins that I’ve had. Some bigger than others, but what I remember most, I’ve been doing this now for 22 years in Utah, so I’ve been running around these mountains and I know every nook and cranny. I know every trail, every place to go. But really one of the biggest highlights from my career was really 2008, not that long ago, was running the Appalachian Trail.

Granted, that’s more of a hike than a run. You kind of jog and you hike a lot of it but it’s an experience where we were out there for 54 days with the crew that kind of takes care of you to a point. Those kinds of experiences for me are what really are the coolest. The races are quick. They seem like they take forever when you’re out there, but at the same time it’s like bing bang, it’s over. All the Hardrock races I’ve run in Silverton, Colorado, the Hardrock100, the Wasatch 100, I’ve won that six times.
I’ve won Hardrock five times. All those races were incredible experiences, but the real experiences are when you go day in and day out of just being in the mountains and doing what you love to do. The Appalachian Trail was the ultimate trail in the U.S., as opposed to other races out there. Those are cool times.

I ran the Pony Express Trail too, which is the same experience with Red Bull when we had this project and ran 2,000 miles across Sacramento to St. Joe Missouri. That was again the same kind of thing as the AT, out there multi-day. That’s what I really like to do.

Right now in my career, I’m 45-years old and I hope to have another experience like that, where I go to the Appalachian Trail again and try to break that record. Again the races are great and I’ve had some great races when I won Hardrock in 2001. My first Wasatch 100 win in 1998 was my first ultra win and that was a huge experience for me too because I never thought I’d be winning the race. I kind of entered the race from a friend who mentioned it up at Snowbird, “You should run Wasatch 100.” I was like “Why would I want to run 100 miles? That’s stupid.”

I thought he was crazy to think that but once you do something once and your experience is positive, you kind of want to go back and do better. The first time I ran it I was 28th, second time I was 7th, and when I won in ’98 it was like wow; I can’t believe I’m still running in mile 90. That was certainly a huge career highlight and it gave me the fire and desire to continue just being a runner or trying to be a runner.
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by on Jul.10, 2013, under Interviews

Paul Pilkington Interview

Utahrunning.com: Maybe to get us started, could you tell us about your running background and how you got started into running?

Paul: I didn’t run until my senior year in high school. I grew up in Blackfoot, Idaho. In the summertime we all had jobs moving irrigation pipe in the potato fields, so we’d go out at 4 o’clock in the morning and move the lines again at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. When we got big and strong enough that we could pick up the pipe and run with it, we’d run our lines both ways because we got paid based on how many of those quarter-mile sections of irrigation pipe we moved. If you ran then you could make more money because we only had an hour and a half window before they turned the pumps on again. I was running from the time I was about 13 or 14 years old, every summer, but it was moving irrigation pipes. I didn’t run competitively until my senior year in high school.

Utahrunning.com: You ran here at Weber State. Tell us about some of your college highlights there.

Paul: I ran first at College of Southern Idaho, which is a junior college. I only ran one year. I wasn’t recruited by an NCAA Division I program, or wasn’t fast enough. Then I took fourth in the Junior College Nationals in the steeple and got the attention of the Division I schools. I ended up at Weber because of their distance tradition and Chic Hislop was coaching here. I was his second qualifier that he had to qualify for the NCAA Championships, and he was really just learning the steeple at that time. I was one of his guinea pigs.

Highlight wise, I made it to the NCAA Championships, was the USA Track and Field All American. I didn’t make the finals at the NCAAs in the steeple though but my senior year I got pneumonia and it wiped my season out, so I really felt unfulfilled as a runner. I wanted to keep doing it when I finished college.

Utahrunning.com: You definitely did some great things after college. You became a competitive marathoner and running on the road. Tell us about that transition and what events you competed in post-collegiately, maybe some of the highlights.

Paul: It was just right after I came out of college in 1981; they made it legal to earn prize money and still run in the Olympics. So the road racing boom was kind of taking off with money. It took me a long time to develop because I was working fulltime, teaching school, so I was getting up and doing my morning run at 5-5:30 in the morning, and again in the afternoon, and on my feet all day. I had a family, so my progression was a long time. I really didn’t get real good until eight or nine years after college. But I started running marathons because that’s where the money was. Eventually figured that event out. It took a while.
I won the Houston marathon in 1990. Made more money in one race than I was teaching school all year. So that afforded me the chance to go back to graduate school and I ran fulltime for several years. I got a master’s degree and was then a competitive road racer. I really got to race all over the world. I’ve been all over Europe and Asia. I was in Russia when it was still communist, and ran the first prize money sporting event they ever had. I’ve been just about everywhere. I made the World Championships for the US and raced in Katzenberg, Sweden in the World Championships. It was a good career. I got to see the world and places that I never would have gotten to otherwise.

Utahrunning.com: As you trained for competition post-collegiately, you mentioned getting up early and getting your run in. How did you find time to fit that training in? What drove you to do that?

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by on Apr.12, 2013, under Interviews

Dr. Richard Gordin interview

Click the play button below to listen to the full interview or you can download the MP3 file by clicking the “Download” button.

UtahRunning: We’d like to start out with you telling us a bit about yourself and your professional background.

Dr. Gordin: I’ve been a professor here at Utah State for 32 years. I teach classes in sports psychology and other things. I’ve been in the field of applied sports psychology for about 35 years. I’ve consulted with professional athletes, Olympic teams, amateur athletes, and university athletes. That’s kind of what I do.

UtahRunning.com: What got you interested in sports psychology?

Dr. Gordin: I was an athlete myself. My sport was football. I played college football back in the dark ages, ‘60s and ‘70s. I thought there was a mental component that was more developed than just pep talks and those kinds of things. Luckily I hit the career at a time when we were sort of adding on to the research that was being done by sports scientists in this area, and started to get into more of the applied area, as well. I kind of hit the crest of the wave and I’ve been riding it ever since.

UtahRunning.com: Have you had any experiences that are highlights for you, as you look back on your career?

Dr. Gordin: I’ve had a lot of highlights. I’ve been officially at three Olympic Games with different NGBs [national governing bodies]. I went in ‘88 to Seoul with women’s gymnastics, 2004 in Athens with our U.S.A. track and field team, and then most recently 2010 in Vancouver with our Nordic combined ski team. I’m scheduled to be back to another Olympic games in 2014 in Russia, Sochi in Russia with the Nordic combined team.

UtahRunning.com: Tell me more about your experience with the track and field team and maybe share some of those experiences with the Utah Running crowd.

Dr. Gordin: I got into the group of U.S.A. track and field back in the early to mid ‘80s. At the time, Dr. Harmon Brown was in charge of Sports Medicine Services with U.S.A. track and field and we got a group of us involved with track and field at various levels, not just going to Olympic Games, but in coaching education, youth development, and junior elite camps in Chula Vista.
And also writing for all the publications in track and field, coaching clinics; we went to the national convention each yearand made presentations. Of course, the culmination of that is service delivery to our athletes, with Junior World Championships and then the World Championships, and finally the Olympic games. We were totally immersed in the organization. We weren’t just showing up at the eleventh hour to provide service to our teams at the Olympic Games.

UtahRunning.com: That immersion obviously gave you the opportunity to interact with some interesting people, some very talented people I’m sure. Who are some of the top athletes that you’ve had the experience of working with?

Dr. Gordin: If you’re familiar, as your audience is with the elite runners in the U.S. history, all of those. I’ll name a couple. Obviously your group is interested in people like Meb [Keflezighi] and Deena [Kastor] and people like that. I was actually there in Athens in 2004 when Deena became the second woman in the history of the U.S.A. track and field to medal in the women’s marathon, and also Meb a silver medalist. Deena was bronze and Meb was silver. I was there. That’s pretty interesting stuff.

UtahRunning.com: Maybe along with seeing those medaling experiences, what were some other favorite experiences that you’ve had and why?

Dr. Gordin: It’s meeting an athlete early on in their career, because that was our model of service delivery. We would start with juniors and it was about development, not just elite. So we got in with the development area. We got in with the coaches, and we would literally follow the athletes along in their career, until we finally accompanied them to Olympic Games.
For instance, like when I went to the Olympic Games officially in 2004, in Athens, I knew almost all team members since they were in their teens. I wasn’t like somebody just added on to come along for problems. I was part of the staff, so there was a lot of trust developed. I was a normal part of the team. You don’t want to be a distraction. You want to be part of the group that’s there to help everybody to perform at their maximum capacity, at probably the most important competition of their life.

UtahRunning.com: Being part of that team, helping those athletes perform at a high level, tell me when you consult with these athletes, what’s the process you take them through?

Dr. Gordin: The first thing I need to do is get to know them as people and as athletes, and find out what their psychological strengths and weaknesses are. Obviously, they’re bringing a lot to the table, even as a junior athlete coming in. You don’t get invited to junior elite camps unless you’re physically gifted. But they also bring some psychological strengths with them. We do some assessment to pin that down, and then also identify some of the areas that they need to work on.

There’s critical mental skills, like the ability to be poised under pressure, to have the proper focus, to be able to have good self-talk and confidence in these big events, to be able to have a good pre-performance routine to not try to do something different, to control your environment rather than let your environment control you. All of these types of things are skills that need to be learned. You have to learn them before you show up to big competitions because you’re not going to develop them if you haven’t been training on them and working on them prior to getting there.

UtahRunning.com: It sounds like in those areas there are definitely some things that an athlete can do to prepare themselves and ensure performance at a higher level. What would you say are maybe the top-three areas with regards to sports psychology that athletes seem to struggle with the most in training and competition?

Dr. Gordin: It’s making that transition from practice to competition, that’s a big one. For distance runners, for instance, there’s a big difference between a training run and a competitive run. I like to say you need to make your training as much like competition so that your competition becomes like training; so there’s not a big leap between training and competition. You do that through proper training regimes with your coach, staying on track with where you need to be physically, so that you can spend some of your energy during a competitive run, in how to compete against the other runners in the field.

For instance, in distance running, one of the things that a lot of the distance runners always wanted to talk to me about was race planning, how to plan your race, and then stick to it, and still have a little flexibility there, but not let the conditions or the other runners dictate to you; you dictate your race to them and then let them react to you.

Another area would be pain. How do you handle pain? Pain is part of distance running. There’s that whole area of focus. How do you focus in a marathon, for instance, for two hours and thirty minutes, or two hours and ten minutes, depending on what gender you are? World-class runners, how do you keep your focus, and what do you focus on for that amount of time?

Part of that focus has to be on your body and how it feels, but the rest of it has to be being able to leave your body and not focus on the pain for a while. You have to have both skills: to be able to associate to your body and how it feels, but also disassociate. You know all the strategies that people use. People count the number of rooms in their house, go through all kinds of things. At the same time, you have to be able to focus on if you’re starting to cramp up in your right calf; you have to know how to make an adjustment and when to make your move and all those kinds of things.

UtahRunning.com: Those are definitely areas people could focus on and learn as they face those struggles. What mental strategies would you suggest for runners to take in their training, to take their training in racing to the next level? What tips would you provide in mental strategies?

Dr. Gordin: Again it’s making sure that you’ve trained correctly, number one. Sport is physical. But if you want to go to the next level, sport becomes a lot more mental. It’s showing up to a competition knowing that you’re ready to go.

If I can use swimming as an example, I’ll go across another sport. Michael Phelps for instance, in his book No Limits, talks about he and his coach would do the workouts that nobody else in the world was willing to do. Or they either couldn’t do it or they weren’t willing to do. People say why would you do that. So he goes, “That way when you show up at a big competition, you already know that there’s nobody there that’s in better physical condition than you are. You’ve prepared yourself physically for what’s being asked of you.”

I think a lot of mistakes that distance runners make is that they try to fool themselves with their training programs, and say I can only train at this level, so I’ll do that. Then when I get in a competition my adrenaline will take me to the next level.

I don’t think that’s true. I think your adrenaline is only going to take you to running a foolish race. You’re going to try and do something that you’re not ready to do. It’s preparation, confidence, shooting for – rather than competing against other people and maybe shooting for a personal best, and knowing exactly what that takes, and then seeing where that lands you in the final, as you cross the finish line, those types of things. Goal setting, all these things, I think people intuitively think they know how to do it but I’m not sure that’s right. I think sometimes they need to really study how to do it in the most effective way. That’s what I help them do.

UtahRunning.com: That’s great. We really appreciate you taking time to talk with us and sharing your experience.

Dr. Gordin: My pleasure.

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by on Jan.25, 2013, under Interviews

Ed Eyestone Interview

Click the play button below to listen to the full interview or you can download the MP3 file by clicking the “Download” button.


UtahRunning.com:  Well, hello, everyone. We’re excited to have a great interview today with Ed Eyestone. Ed is an incredible runner and coach with strong ties to the Utah Running community. Ed’s a coach at BYU and an all-around running expert. We’re excited to have him tell you a little bit about himself, share some of his experiences, and maybe give us some tips on how you can improve your own time. Thanks for joining us, Ed.

Ed Eyestone:  Thanks. Good to be here.

UtahRunning.com:  Well, maybe if we could just start out with having you tell us a little about your running background. How you got started and some highlights of your career.

Ed:  Well, I got started way back in junior high school. I actually played little league baseball. I played a lot of baseball and was hoping to play on the junior high and high school baseball teams. Like happens to a lot of people who end up being good runners, I ended up getting cut from the junior high baseball team. So, as a result of not being able to continue playing the sport that I loved, in the spring of the year, I realized for the first time that there was actually another sport going on, and that was track and field. So, I went and spoke with the junior high track coach the next day, Noel Zabriski , my Spanish teacher. I asked him about tryouts for the track team. He said, you know what, if I came out every day and I did the things that he told me to do, and just tried my hardest, then I could be on the track team and there would be no cuts on the track team. I liked that and knew I wasn’t going to necessarily be the fastest guy in the world, but I knew I could try as hard as anybody.

So, that was my initiation, back as a 7th‑grader at T.H. Bell Junior High. From then, I just continued with the sport. The great thing about running is that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I found that over the course of my 7th, 8th, and 9th‑grade years, that as I dedicated myself and tried to do the workouts, the harder I worked, the better I became and the more improvement that I saw. I really liked that about the sport. That’s just how I got started and progressed from there to junior high school and on.

UtahRunning.com:  So, you competed there at BYU and after your college career, you became a professional runner. How was that transition from those college events to some of the highlights during your post‑collegiate career?

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Cory Johnson UtahRunning.com Interview

You can click to play the interview below and also you can click the “Download” button to download the MP3 file.

UtahRunning.com:  Well, hello, everybody. This is Ken Richardson with UtahRunning.com. We appreciate you listening to this interview that we’ve got today. We’re really excited to interview a renaissance man, Cory Johnson. He owns Old School Body Shop, he’s into ultra‑running, he’s great at metal artwork, and he also is an auctioneer. So he is a jack of all trades, but today our interview is going to focus on that ultra‑running piece, and he’s going to tell us a little bit about himself and will hopefully be able to share some tips with you out there in the UtahRunning.com community.

So, Cory, tell us a little bit about your running background.

Cory Johnson:  Well, as far as my background, I’m going to maybe just gracefully hit on high school. I was a sprinter back in high school and went to state a couple years in a row in various events. After graduation from that, I kind of went into a slump of 18 years and never had any activity as far as physical activity. Then I guess you would say I woke up one day to sort of a midlife crisis, so to speak, and got into running. I actually did a 100‑miler before I’d ever run even a marathon. But I kind of jumped into that whole trail‑running thing approximately about eight years ago, and it just kind of went from there.

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Brad Anderson Interview

You can click to play the interview below and also you can click the “Download” button to download the MP3 file.

Ken: Hello everybody, we’ve got Brad Anderson on the line and we’re really excited to interview him. He’s one of our first interviews for this year and we were trying to look for a story about a runner in Utah that would inspire you and motivate you as you look forward to 2012 and setting your goals and working toward those goals in 2012. We feel that Brad is a great story and it’s inspiring to us. We hope that you will be inspired as well. Brad, thanks for doing the interview with us.

Brad: Good to be here.

Ken: Maybe to start out, could you give the utahrunning.com community a bit of background about how you started with running, and maybe some of the highlights from your high school career?

Brad: My dad was a runner and really as long as I can remember I wanted to be a runner. I thought it was cool. We’d go to some of his races and I was just kind of faster than a lot of kids my age. I’m drawn to it.

My first race was either a quarter-mile or half-mile road race in Liberty, Utah. I won it and I was hooked from then on. Growing up, I was never pushed to train. I’d do some 5Ks here and there and kind of kept winning my age group. I thought that was cool.

Then when I got into high school a funny thing happened. All the other kids catch up to you but I was regional champ my freshman year and placed in state. I was a 2A runner. Working through that I won some more regional titles. Kind of a highlight for me was my first state title my junior year. It had been a goal for such a long time so I actually won my first state title. That was probably one of my biggest highlight because of the hard work and all my goals had paid off. That’s a brief rundown of my running career when I was younger.

Ken: Which event did you win the state title?

Brad: I won the half mile and the mile. My first was the mile. My second was two miles. I should have won that one too but you know how it goes.

Ken: You started out having some great experiences with running, some fun experiences in high school and won a couple of state titles it sounds like, mile and you were in an accident. Would you mind sharing about that experience with us?

Brad: I was coming into my senior year. Over the summer I’d gotten faster than I’d ever been. One of my main goals was to take state in cross country. My two previous seasons I was sick at state and didn’t finish very well. My goal was to take state. I was faster than ever and really excited.

About a week into school my senior year there was a football game. After it they had movies at the seminary building so I was hanging out there. Some people hit me up about going down to Ogden to a Taco Maker. I wasn’t going to go but a girl — girls in general had a hold on me, if you will. I go down and get me a taco, so I said sure. I went to get in one car but there wasn’t enough room to buckle so I got into a different car.

Next thing I remember I woke up in the hospital but essentially going down Weaver Canyon we overcorrected right by the power station. The car rolled and kind of rolled down the driveway there at the power station. They said my head hit the road at 75 miles an hour and also hit a pole.

Things weren’t that great. They didn’t think I would be alive for my parents to make it to the hospital. That first night I wasn’t supposed to live through the night. The next few days they didn’t think I was going to live after that. Who knows maybe a coma.

All the news my parents got was not good. I’d never be able to live on my own again, things like that. Then after a week or so in there things kind of turned around for me. Instead of nothing happening, things started to go in the right direction.

My injuries were traumatic brain injury, which there is no cure for a brain injury. You just deal with it and your brain will learn how to do things again. After a few weeks I woke up from the coma. All the muscle in my left side had lost its memory so I couldn’t talk, couldn’t eat, couldn’t walk, and couldn’t move my left arm at all.

At that time I was moved to the University of Utah where I had to learn to walk again. My biggest question every day to therapist was will I run again. They’d say we don’t know. At the time I didn’t realize how serious my injuries were. I remember first thinking I’ll be out in time for state cross country, I’ll take state. I was like I’ll take state and set state records in track.

As time went on I sort of learned that maybe I wasn’t going to be out in time because it was more serious. But my goal was to run again. The longer things went on the more I realized I might not run again. I was optimistic but I made up my mind that if I wasn’t going to run again it was not because of anything I did, like I didn’t work hard enough in physical therapy or didn’t try again. I was realistic about it. I knew the injuries I had but I decided I wanted to run again and was going to do anything I could to do it.

Ken: You were pretty determined. At what point did the doctors start to give you a bit of hope that the road back to running again was a possibility?

Brad: It was always we don’t know. Every day I’d ask my therapist and one day she said probably not. That was when it kind of sunk in to me that this is pretty bad. Other than the optimistic hope of you do what you can, but I never from my recollection never had “you know, you may run again.” In my medical records too, it was talking to the family that I needed to kind of understand that I may not run again.

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by on Jan.19, 2012, under Expert Answers, Interviews

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