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2018 NCAA Track & Field Championships

By: Preston Johnson

Article originally featured in Run Utah Magazine Summer/Fall Edition 2018.  Click HERE to download Full PDF version of the Magazine.

In June the nations-best collegiate track athletes gathered at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene Oregon with national titles on their minds. Among those athletes were 14 Utah based distance runners, ready to run fast.

Qualifying for the NCAA Championships is no small task. The first requirement is to run a top 48 time in your region in your respective event, with their only being two regions (east and west) these regions include a lot of athletes. After hitting your qualifying time, you are then sent to your respective regional meet where you compete in either one (5k, Steeplechase, and 10k) or two rounds (800m and 1500m) of your event eliminating more athletes each round to get to the final twelve that will be sent to compete at the national championships.

The NCAA championships consists of four days of competition, two for the men and two for the women. Again, this meet may include a semifinal heat (800m, 1500m, and 3000m Steeplechase) before the actual final. As I break down each event keep in mind that I am only covering the events with Utah distance runners. In the other distance races, I will briefly list the top three finishers.

Men’s Day One

Day one consists of four distance races. The 1500m semifinal is first, followed by the steeplechase semifinal, 800m semifinal, and then the 10k final. With no Utah athletes in the 1500m semifinal, we will jump straight to the Steeplechase. This race included four Utah athletes, Clayson Shumway from BYU, Spencer Fehlberg from Utah State, Jordan Cross from Weber State, and Matt Owens from BYU. This event was wide open when it came to favorites, there were lots of athletes all with seed times in the low 8:40’s and high 8:30’s. Ultimately two of the four Utah athletes made it through the semifinal round, Clayson Shumway taking the second seed into the final and Matt Owens taking the tenth seed into the final.

Next up was the 800m. Representing Utah State, Clay Lambourne was the only Utah athlete to qualify. While he was ultimately eliminated in the semifinal, Lambourne deserves a lot of credit for a great season in an event that was absolutely stacked.

Following the 800m was the first final for the distance races. The 10k was also filled with lots of talented Utah athletes, including Rory Linkletter from BYU who had taken second place in last year’s championships, Dillon Maggard from Utah State who had taken sixth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Clayton Young from BYU, Mike Tate from SUU, and Connor Mantz a freshman from BYU. Generally, at championship meet the 10k is very tactical. The race is taken out really slow and over the last mile or two the pace picks up dramatically breaking most of the field and allowing for a very fast lap. That was not the case in this year’s race though, with the leader coming through the first 400m in sixty seconds and the mile in 4:21. This fast start caused a lot of havoc among the athletes ultimately causing a lot of changes to race plans. Dillon Maggard ending up being the top dog for Utah athletes taking third place overall in 28:38 behind Vincent Kiprop in second, Michigan’s Ben Flanagan winning the race with a quick last lap of fifty-six seconds. Connor McMillan was twelfth, Mike Tate was twenty-first, Connor Mantz was twenty-second, Clayton Young was twenty-third, and Rory Linkletter was twenty-fourth.

Women’s Day One

Day one consists of the same events as day one for the men. Kicking things off for the women was Sophomore Whittni Orton of BYU, the lone Utah athlete (men or women) to qualify in the 1500m. Placing ninth in her heat she didn’t qualify for the finals but ran her second fastest time of the season (4:17.84) to finish nineteenth overall.

Following the 1500m was the steeplechase semifinal. Grayson Murphy of the University of Utah and Cierra Simmons of Utah State would toe the line for this event. Murphy came into the meet as one of the favorites to podium after taking eighth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, second at the Pac-12 championships, and third at the Stanford Invitational. She didn’t disappoint winning her heat in a PR of 9:48.57. Following closely behind her was Simmons who also ran a PR of 9:50.35. Each of their performances earned them a spot in the final two days later.

Unfortunately, no Utah athletes qualified for the 800m or 10k. We will cover the winners of the 800m final in day two. The 10k was a very fast race as it saw a thirty-year-old meet record fall due to Sharon Lokedi’s (Kansas) 32:09.20 winning time, but she wasn’t the only runner to break the old meet record as five other runners dipped under the previous record. Dorcas Wasike of Louisville took second and Karissa Schweizer of Missouri took third.

Men’s Day Two

As day two is only comprised of finals the number of athletes we have competing drops off quite a bit. No athletes from Utah were represented in the 1500m or the 800m.

The men’s 1500m included a big upset as Josh Kerr, collegiate record holder, failed to repeat as the winner. Oliver Hoare from Wisconsin won a tactical race in 3:44.77 followed by Vincent Ciattei of Virginia Tech (3:45.012) and Josh Kerr (3:45.015).

Up next on day two was the steeplechase final. Our two qualifiers from day one’s prelims, Owens and Shumway, both finished as All-Americans finishing in sixth and seventh in the twelve-man field. Minnesota’s Obsa Ali was the winner running a PR of 8:32.23, Eastern Kentucky’s Jamaine Coleman was second, and Stanford’s Steven Fahy took third.

The men’s 800m saw another collegiate record holder get beat to the line as sophomore Michael Saruni (PR of 1:43.25) of UTEP finished in third. The freshman from Mississippi State, Marco Arop, finished in second, and Isaiah Harris from Penn State got the big win in 1:44.76.

The final distance race of the meet for the men was the 5k final. Utah had 4 athletes doubling back from the 10k final two days ago, Linkletter from BYU, Maggard from Utah State, McMillan from BYU, and Young also from BYU. This is another race that is often run in a tactical manner in championship races and this one played out in exactly that way. Again, our top runner was Maggard taking sixth place, behind him was Linkletter bouncing back from a disappointing 10k to finish eighth, Young finished in twelfth, and McMillan finished the race in twenty-fourth. Grant Fisher from Stanford took third, Justyn Knight the pre-race favorite from Syracuse took second, and this year’s 5k national champ was Sean McGorty from Stanford with a time of 13:54.81.

Women’s Day Two

The final day of competition for the women, and the meet as a whole, started off with a bang. The Women’s 1500m, always a fan favorite distance to watch, was first. Jessica Hull from Oregon got the win in 4:08.75, Nikki Hiltz from Arkansas finished second in 4:09.14, and Stanford’s Elise Cranny took third in 4:09.49

The single distance event of day two for the women that had Utah athletes was the steeplechase and both of our athletes that qualified came ready to compete. Murphy from the University of Utah finished in sixth nearly equaling her time from the semifinal running 9:48.80. Simmons from Utah State surpassed her time from the semifinals to get another PR (9:49.33) and finish in eighth place. Allie Ostrander the Sophomore from Boise State got the win in 9:39.28 winning by more than 6 seconds. Charlotte Prouse (New Mexico) was second and Paige Stoner (Syracuse) was third. Both Utah athletes have earned All-American honors.

The women’s 800m was up next. Raevyn Rogers of Oregon was the women to beat the last few years collecting five national titles, but now that she has graduated it was time to crown a new champion. That champion was Sammy Watson the freshman from Texas A&M winning in 2:04.21. She was followed by Abike Egbeniyi from Middle Tennessee State and Ashley Taylor from Northern Arizona.

The final distance race of the meet was the women’s 5k. After doubling back from a third-place finish in the 10k Karissa Schweizer of Missouri struck gold winning the race in 15:41.58. Allie Buchalski of Furman finished just one second shy of Schweizer in second and Lilli Burdon of Oregon rounded out the top three.

If you would like to view full results of every event at the NCAA Championships check out the official results here.

Preston is a former student athlete at Weber State University from Kaysville, UT. At Weber State he competed in the 5k and 10k on the track. He graduated in the spring of 2018 with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science. He still runs as a member of the Utah Running Elite racing team and is working towards the Olympic Trials Marathon in 2020. He is one of the managers at UtahRunning.com and loves coaching and helping other athletes reach their goals. Outside of running he enjoys hiking, biking, swimming, and rock climbing.


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Eliud Kipchoge: The Worlds Greatest Marathoner Interview

By: Preston Johnson

Article originally featured in Run Utah Magazine Summer/Fall Edition 2018.  Click HERE to download Full PDF version of the Magazine.

Utah Running: First off, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. We are beyond excited to hear from you. This interview is going to be a part of UtahRunning.com’s Summer Edition Run Utah Magazine. The theme of this magazine is “The Complete Runner: Training Your Body and Mind for Total Running Fitness”. After writing the outline for the magazine and deciding I wanted to write a mind over body article you were the first runner that came to mind. I believe lots of people have this perspective of you being the epitome of being mentally strong in competition and training.

The first instance that comes to mind of your mental strength is the Nike Sub 2-hour attempt. Attempting something that for years had been this elusive goal for the entire marathoning community yet had been seen as an almost impossible task. You went in with so much confidence and really changed the worlds perspective on if a sub-2 hour marathon was even possible. Can you talk to us a little bit about your approach to this event? Did you approach this event any different than you do a typical world marathon major? If so can you elaborate on some of those differences?


Eliud Kipchoge: Thank you once again, remember to every human being it was impossible, I approached differently in that, it took all my time for seven good months, I changed my thoughts and tell my conscience that, I am going through, be it in any circumstance.

For a normal marathon, it’s just running to win, but for breaking 2, it was about running against the unthinkable, that’s a big difference.

Utah Running: During the Nike Sub 2-hour attempt, we all watched in amazement as you came within seconds of making a sub 2 hour marathon a reality.  Could you describe the experience from your perspective? What were some of your thoughts throughout the experience and after you finished and the results had settled in?

Read More….

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Is Static Stretching Before Your Run Hurting Your Workout Performance?

By: Preston Johnson

A widely debated topic in the running world is whether or not stretching before your run is hurting your performance? We have been taught since elementary school that we should stretch as part of your warm up, but a study in Brazil, among others, may say otherwise.

The study was focusing on the effects of static stretching on your muscles output of power and strength. Along with previous studies pointing to a dampening effect on your strength and power, there has also been more conflicting studies pointing to the fact that it may decrease your running economy.

First, we want to clarify that this is not saying that stretching doesn’t have a place in the running world, because it surely does. Stretching is still highly encouraged post-run to help any sore or tight muscles to aid in the recovery process. We are solely going to focus on the debate of whether or not it is essential to stretch before a run.

This study took eleven recreational runners and put them through several tests, including a 3-km time trial. This test was done twice once without stretching and a second time with static stretching prior to taking the test. The stretching consisted of seven lower-body stretches performed three times each for thirty seconds.

Speed was measured every one-hundred meters in both the stretching and non-stretching trials as well as the perceived exertion every four-hundred meters. The graphs below show the results of the trials.  Keep in mind that RPE on the graph on the right stands for “Rate of Perceived Exertion”.

The findings showed that there was a significant difference in perceived exertion and the actual pace being run when comparing the control time trial and the static stretching time trial. The pace was significantly higher with a lower perceived exertion level for the group that didn’t do any static stretching prior to the time trial. However, there was only a measured significant difference in the first 100 meters. The running economy of each runner was not effected by static stretching, but the stride duration was increased. Ultimately, the finishing time between the two groups was unchanged.

What do you think? Do you stretch before your workouts?
Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook Page.

To read the full study click here.

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Race Day Preparation

Pre-Race Preparation

No matter how hard you train, the days leading up to a race can make or break your performance. There is no one proven way to prepare for a race or big workout, so keep in mind that some, all, or none of these strategies may be beneficial to you. The following are some of the most successful approaches to race day.

Tapering: In the days leading up to a race, cut back on the length and intensity of your run. For some, it is mentally difficult to ease up during runs leading up to a race for the fear of “losing fitness”, but keep in mind that a few days out from a race you are already as fit as you’re going be for that race. You don’t have anything to gain from running faster or farther, but you have a lot to lose. Enjoy some easy runs and focus on the race ahead.

Nutrition: This is probably the hardest aspect of race day preparation to master. It is very individualistic, so tweaking the following ideas to fit what you know your stomach can handle while running is encouraged. Your mindset towards food as a runner should be something resembling “calories equal energy”. This doesn’t mean you should go eat a dozen donuts, however, not all calories are created equal. As you become accustomed to racing you will start to learn how much food you need to be properly fueled for the upcoming race. When fueling for a race, the majority of your diet should be complex carbohydrates (roughly 55-65% of your caloric intake). Common meals for runners to eat the night before the race that aren’t too hard on the stomach that also includes high amounts of complex carbohydrates are baked potatoes, rice, and pasta (ideally with a red sauce). What you should eat on race day is very dependent on when your race time is. We advise that you shouldn’t try anything new on race day experiment with what works for you on days when you workout, not on race days when you have more at stake. Aside from what to eat, don’t eat any meals too close to your race. If you haven’t made this mistake yet you are either very lucky or know your stuff, but if you have made the mistake of eating too close to a race, you will never forget it. As a guideline, most runners need at least three hours between their last small meal and their race, and many need even longer. Last tip for nutrition: make sure you stay hydrated! No matter what the temperature is going to be on race day, being hydrated helps your body run more efficiently. It impacts a lot more than just temperature regulation, it also impacts your bodies ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles, among other things.

Read More….

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Tips for Stepping Up to a New Race Distance

by Lisa VanDyke

*Article originally featured in Run Utah Magazine Spring Edition 2018.  Click HERE to download Full PDF version of the Magazine.

I sat down with the Wasatch Running Center crew in Centerville, and got some expert opinions on how to prepare for a new, longer race distance:

When stepping up to a longer race distance, the basics of running stay the same. Following a plan and building up incrementally, recovering well between hard training efforts, and training your mind to see the finish line are all of utmost importance. The longer the distance, the more variables that come into play. Small issues that may cause minor annoyance on a 5k or 10k, can wreak havoc on a longer distance race.

“Become a student of your sport. Talk to other runners, attend educational events, and read books about running.” –Glen Gerner, owner of WRC Centerville

  1. Chafing – test out your race day clothing during a long run. Some fabrics are better than others, and the seams may appear non abrasive to the naked eye, but turn out causing a lot of chafing. There are products you can rub on your skin and clothing to minimize this issue.
  2. Blisters – good socks, and well fitted shoes make all the difference. Wool blend socks that are thin tend to reduce friction and wick moisture away from the skin. You may need to go up a size in your running shoes for a longer distance, as feet often swell when on your feet for many hours.
  1. Hydration/Nutrition – the longer the race, the more important pre-race nutrition and hydration become. You want your glycogen stores to be filled, and your muscles to be hydrated. As well, fine tuning your race day nutrition will keep you going strong for longer, and minimize fatigue. Tip, employee at Wasatch Running Center in Centerville and skilled triathlete, states, “In general, for longer endurance events an athlete should aim for about ⅓ their body weight in carb grams per hour (example: a 120 lb. runner would look to take in 40 grams of carbs, or 160 calories from carbohydrates per hour). Test out what your body needs during training runs, as this number varies based on the individual’s lean body mass, metabolic efficiency, intensity, race distance, and environmental conditions .
  1. Strength training – just as any gaps in your nutrition will be more obvious at a longer distance, so will the strength of your core and stabilizing muscles. Train them a couple days a week and your running form come race day will be stronger and more efficient.
  1. Proper pacing – many times individuals stepping up to a new distance will expect to hit the paces they do in shorter events. With practice, this might be the case, however a good training plan will have a runner performing a few miles faster than their desired race pace, some at race pace, and lots below race pace each week. Trying to race at a pace one has not practiced can set you up for disappointment. As well, attempting to run every training run at race pace can set you up for injury.

LISA VANDYKE, UtahRunning.com’s Executive Director, is a mother of three who spends any moment she can to sneak away indulging in her passion for running. She discovered running about 9 years ago, at first for stress relief, then to get fit, and much later on to push her own boundaries. Her first race was the Strider’s half marathon in 2013. She stuck with the half distance for some time, racing as well as pacing for a local pacing company, but by late 2014 she needed something different to challenge herself with, and she registered for the Ogden Marathon 2015. Training for this race was her first experience with a structured training plan including speed, tempo, and long runs. She loved marathon training as much as she loved running the race. Ogden got her a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon 2016, which became her second marathon. She has since added a couple more marathons to her journey, and will be Boston bound again in 2019. In addition to being the UTR Executive Director, Lisa also shares her passion for running as the Utah Running Club Layton Hub Captain and is amazing at leading and inspiring others. She loves how this great sport continues to feed her need for growth, camaraderie, and adventure.

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