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NXN Interview: Matt Tegenkamp

11/12/2008 - 14:59

TegenkampOlympics08SF.jpg November 12, 2008 by Larry Eder. As part of the build up to the Nike NXN meet, top Nike athletes will be appearing at the regional qualifiers for the NXN. On November 15 in Heartland, Sioux Falls, Matt Tegenkamp (file photo), 4th Osaka World Champs, 2nd US Olympic Trials, 5,000 meters, 2008 Olympian will be onhand. Remember that in 2008, individual runners can now qualify for the NXN to be held in Portland on December 6.

1. What was your first experience in track or cross country?
7th grade track, went out because my friends were joining the team so I thought I would as well. Went to practice and by the end of the first week I wanted to quit; luckily for me my mom knew best and told me I had to stick with it until the end of the season. Once I got to racing I had instant success and wanted to sick with it. The success continued the next season in cross country and the rest is history.

2. What was training like in high school?
Missouri only races on the weekends in cross country so that left a lot of time for good training. I started out as a freshman running 30 miles a week with 2 workouts and no long run. I did not train the winter in between cross country and track my freshman year and that did not sit well with my coach or the upperclassmen on the team. From that point I listened to the advice that was giving and showed up to off season training, I learned the hard way that is the most important part of distance running, the base period. The years following my mileage was 40-45, 50-55, 60-65 senior year. I did not start "long-runs" until my junior year and saw a huge jump in my fitness because of them. Workouts stayed pretty similar, the times just got faster. We did repeats that varied from 12X400 to 4Xmile and lots of fartliks.

3. Tell us about your college coach? how did college differ from high school?
My high school coach was Dave Denny (coached Joe Falcon in high school and professional career ended up a 3:47 miler ). My college and current coach is Jerry Schumacher (as well as a recently added coach to the Nike Oregon Project). I consider myself very luck for the guidance that these two have giving me and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to them. Both had very similar visions, there goals were to train different muscle system at different times of the year. They both made a commitment to advancing their knowledge in the sport, were very open minded and willing to try new things. Really the only difference that I noticed from high school to college training was the intensity of training.

4. When did you make a commitment to running?
Junior year of high school

5. What was college training like?
A learning experience. It is easy in college to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and that is not always what is best for you. I made this mistake time and again; it was not until my Junior year of college did I figure you what I needed to do as an individual. As most know college training means more mileage and more intensity in workouts. Workouts generally have to be done with the group so what you need to focus on is your recovery days. An easy way to balance the increase in training is to have three or four double days; this allows you to keep mileage up without beating your body down. Also take some days to run by yourself; this allows you to read your body and you can run how you feel, it is to easy in a group to run another persons pace. If you are by yourself that doesn't mean you have to jog, if you feel good run normal pace, if you are tired, take it easy.

6. What is difference between college and being a professional athlete?

7. Tell us about your experience in the Olympic Trials?
Very Stressful, a character building experience. Nothing went to plan before or during the 5,000 at the Olympic Trails. My coach and I had a plan of what we thought would work best for me and one lap in I knew I was not going to be able to execute that. From that point on I made things as simple as possible and just focused on competing. When things don't go well I try to focus on competition, I want to beat as many people as possible and the result is usually pretty good. Focusing on other people can sometimes let you forget about how uncomfortable you are. Even though I was not on top of my game I believed in my preparation leading up to the trails and relied on my experiences from years of racing. In the end I was able to pull out a spot on the Olympic Team and it was a dream come true.

8. Tell us about your high school experiences in cross country? How was it in College and then open?
I have always seen steady improvement throughout my running career. I started out as a freshmen in high school running 17:30 for 5k on the JV team to running 14:47 my senior year for 5th place at the national meet. It took a lot of hard work, motivation, determination, goal setting. Which is great because they are great life skills to learn and it helped make the transition to college much easier.

In college I learned why I was doing certain training at a certain times. This allowed me to communicate better with my coach. I never disagreed with my coach about training I just wanted to bounce Ideas off of him and make sure we were on the same page. One really cool thing is that you get to travel all over the US.

I am luck that I am still with the same coach even after college because things have stayed the same. Still trying to improve our training by trying new techniques. The best part is that I get to travel all over the world now and see places I never thought I would see.

10. What keeps you sane during training? Fave music? Fave books?
It used to be video games, watch TV, take a nap on occasion, attempt art projects (some have been keepers)

11. Finally, tell us about your training group? Do you run together every day? Do you run on your own at all anymore?
I have a great training group that I am able to take advantage of. At least one run a day is with someone in the training group. I do still get out and run on my own because it is important for me so I can read my body and take recovery if needed. Recently running by myself got a whole lot easier with the addition of music. I did not run with music until very recently because I was to lazy to make play list every week. Now that apple came out with the new Genius feature in iTunes it makes it so easy so I got a shuffle. Music really does make the daily runs go by faster.



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