Monday, August 26, 2013

The Decision....and our philosophy at NJ/NY Track Club

Two years ago, after I graduated college, I was faced with a decision.  Where next??  I knew that I wanted to run post-collegiately, but I didn't know where.  I met and spoke with a few coaches from different training groups.  I had to weigh the positives and negatives of each team and what was most important to me.  I spoke with Coach Roy at UConn and we both decided that it was probably best that I leave Storrs, CT.  I wanted to let the college guys develop on their own and I didn't want to be the guy that stuck around as a "Super Senior" for several years.  Next I realized that I couldn't leave the Northeast.  I would be too far from home, friends, and everything that I knew.  From was a no brainer for me.

I decided to join the relatively new, still developing group that was based out of the tri-state area of NJ, NY, and PA.  In just a few seasons as a training group, they were making huge improvements and talented athletes from all around the northeast were joining the team.  It was a group full of runners that I knew and a training philosophy that I was familiar with.  The New Jersey/New York Track Club was my new home, and I haven't regretted it for a moment since.

Recently, many other athletes have made the same decision.  We all come from different backgrounds, but everyone feels that this team is the best opportunity for them to develop into the best athlete that they can be.  Our goals are to be competitive on the US and international level.  We want to be regarded as one of the best training groups in the world on both the men's and women's side.

Frank Gagliano is the brains, knowledge, and experience behind the team.  He has been coaching for over 50 years and has had countless athletes succeed on the domestic and international stage.  His philosophy is pretty simple - mix in strength/aerobic training with speed/anaerobic training.  We will do 800 meter repeats and 1000 meter repeats from October until July or August.  But at the same time we work on speed throughout the year by doing some 200 meter repeats or hills workouts towards the end of the fall, until our summer season has ended.  For a little more specific training schedule, please see my previous post about my typical week of training.

Since every athlete is different and we all come from different training backgrounds, we all have different strengths and weakness.  This leads to a dynamic training group that constantly pushes the envelope in workouts and races.  For example, one of my teammates, Christian Thompson, races the 10k and half marathon while another training partner, Tevan Everett comes from a 400/800 background.  Everyone else is somewhere in between those two.  In strength workouts, Christian will usually push us through every interval, while in speed workouts, we will all be trying to hang on to Tevan as long as we can.  It makes for fun, intense workouts every week.

I am constantly striving for lofty goals.  NJ/NY Track Club will be the team to get me there.  With the recent additions of Russell Brown, Kyle Merber, Donn Cabral, and Robby Andrews, among others, we will continue to grind out the work that needs to be done to turn heads, run fast, and win championships!!

For questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post below or email me directly at!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Very First Running Camp

Before I dive into the bulk of my post, I want to give everyone a quick update of my training/racing schedule....

Unfortunately, I have decided to call it a season.  My Achilles tendonitis that I touched on in one of my previous posts, has been a bit of a pain in the you-know-what.  I was hoping to get back into racing on the track again this season, but it just doesn't seem to be in the cards for me.  I'm taking it all with a grain of salt.  It can be hard to get over injuries, especially when you're as stubborn as can be.  But overall health is crucial in this sport and taking time off now is better than a bigger layoff down the road.

On a lighter note....I was very fortunate to be part of my very first running camp this past weekend - The Montauk Project.  Some of you may have seen ads for it or a few of the hundreds of photos that have been posted on Instagram (#MontaukProject). I was told it wasn't your normal running camp, and it wasn't.  It consisted of a small number of runners that had varying backgrounds in the sport.  There were some runners that had run multiple marathons and were gearing up for a season of Fall races, but there were also some athletes who had just picked up the sport within the past few months, or weeks, in order to attain a healthier lifestyle.  I must say, it was one of the greatest experiences I have had as a professional track and field athlete.

My primary goal leading up to the camp was to share my experiences with the runners and teach them about the sport from a physical, as well as a mental, aspect.  What I experienced though, was much more.  I was able to take a step back from my focused and intense outlook on the sport, and remember the reasons why I started the sport in the first place.  Fun, hard work, and comradery.  I find that sometimes I get so caught up in my training and competition that I lose what are truly the best parts of the running world.  The thrill of competition, where you toe the line to see who the fastest man is on that day.  The experience of meeting and training with other athletes, all with the same goal - to get better, whether it's as a unit or as individuals.  And the fun of traveling to new places and seeing the fruits of your labor unfold before your eyes.  Those are some of the best parts of this sport.

This running camp truly captured those aspects, in my opinion.  No matter the skill level or experience of the athlete, every person that took part in the camp put their all into every run and every workout.  They rallied around each other during hard sessions and supported each other during recovery runs.  Blood, sweat, but luckily no tears, were shed during the four days of the camp.  I watched a group of relative strangers become one cohesive unit that were reluctant to leave each other as they all parted for home.

I found myself coming away from the camp with a new, refreshed mindset as my current season comes to an end and I shift my attention to next year.  I feel inspired to continue to give back to the sport of running and every person that is involved in the running community.  I hope to continue to share my knowledge and experience with anyone that is looking for help, advice, or just an overall pep talk.  I love my sport.

For questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post below or email me directly at!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Balancing it All

There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of the races that I run and the training that I do.  Whether it is going to work, doing work at home, or just simply spending time with my friends and family, I have to keep everything in a balance in my life to be able to succeed on the track.

A happy runner and healthy runner is nine times out of ten, a fast runner.  And maintaining a balance in life is a huge part of making those two things possible.  As much as I would love my routine to be run, video games, nap, repeat, that is not the case.  I work at Princeton Running Company in, yes you guessed it, Princeton, NJ.  I work anywhere from 15-25 hours a week based on my running/race schedule.  Primarily, I work there to help pay the bills, but I also enjoy it because it fills the time between my training sessions.  Too much time sitting at home staring at the walls can lead to insanity, in my opinion.  At the same time, too much working can definitely negatively affect my training as I need to allow my body to recover from workouts.

When I'm not at work or on the track, I try to help out my wife, Katie, the best I can at home.  She is an incredibly busy woman with a full-time job as a Registered Nurse while also taking classes for her Master's Degree.  Although she doesn't always think I'm the best at cleaning....I do what I can!  Cooking, however, is one thing that I LOVE to do.  It gets my mind off of the sport and off the stresses of life, so it's almost therapeutic for me as well!  I'm constantly trying new recipes and I'm at the grocery store enough that I have it nearly memorized.

I love to spend my free time with Katie as well as the rest of my friends and family.  This of course is the best part of doing a sport that is very flexible.  I am able to travel, as long as I bring my running shoes and gear.

I find that getting away from track is the best way for me to balance my life.  It's very easy to allow it to consume all of your thoughts to the point where you find yourself a bit possessed.  I love what I do and I know that I give it 100% of my effort.  That's one thing that I take pride in, so I don't want anyone to get that confused.  But keeping that balance between work and play is something that keeps me happy, hopefully keeps me healthy, and keeps me on the right pun intended!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My typical week of training

I've been asked many times..."What is your typical week of training like?"

A simple answer without going into much detail is that every week is different.  Other than the Fall season, my training changes from week to week based on the goals for that week.  Sometimes I might have a race coming up or we might work on a specific part of my racing where I am weak.  To give you all a general framework, I'll lay out a typical week of training....

Morning Aerobic Strength Workout
    ex: 8x1000m
Afternoon/Evening Weight Room Session
Evening Swim
   Usually around 30 minutes

Recovery Run
Sports Massage

Morning Tempo or Fartlek Workout
   Distances and paces vary throughout the year
Afternoon Speed Session or Hills
  ex: 6x200 or 6x150m hills
Evening Weight Room Session

Recovery Run

Race Specific Workout - These workouts usually develop over time from 5k type of workouts in the Fall to 800 or mile specific workouts in the late winter and spring
   ex: 8x400 at mile race pace or 3x400 at 800 race pace
Afternoon/Evening Weight Room Session
Evening Swim

Long Run

Recovery Run

That's the basic outline of my training schedule for the year.  Again, from week to week we may shift workouts around based on the goals for the week.  Sometimes we back off of swimming and weight room sessions in order to get ready for hard workouts coming up.

Last week, as it was my first week back from Europe, I did a lighter fartlek workout on Tuesday (6x2mins at 5k pace, 2 minutes recovery).  Then on Friday I had a mixture of a mile and an 800 workout with 3x600 at mile race pace and 1x300 at 800 meter pace, or just a little bit faster.  My long run for the week was twelve miles.  I've gotten up to fourteen miles this year and was pretty consistent there but as the season goes on, we try to make sure we taper and freshen up my legs.

On Sunday I experienced a little bit of pain in my achilles and since then have taken three days off from running completely.  But I've made sure to cross train by going into the pool and doing anywhere from 60 minutes to 90 minutes of swimming to continue working my cardiovascular system.  Other things that I have been doing to work on my achilles include: taking anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen, using my foam roller to keep my calf muscles and achilles loose, icing the area of pain, and putting heel cups in my shoes to raise my heel slightly and take some stress off of the achilles area.  There are other methods of treating this type of injury, but I find that these work the best for me.

Paying attention to injuries and making sure you don't train through them is a HUGE part of this sport.  Running through a little bit of pain because you think it will go away isn't always the best recipe for success.  It could lead to big problems down the road and instead of taking a few days off initially, you could end up taking weeks, or months, off later.

I should be back up and running in no time though as the achilles feels like it's just about back to full strength.  My plans are still to race again this summer.  We will evaluate my fitness next week and see where I am!