Friday, August 28, 2009

Todd Williams talk

Last night Puma sponsored a talk at Fleet Feet Huntsville by Todd Williams. For those that don’t know Todd, along with Bob Kennedy, basically was elite distance running in the US in the 90s. For much of the decade, he owned the 10,000 meters on the domestic level, winning 4 US 10,000m titles, two of which were Olympics Trials. He also finished 9th at the 1995 World Cross Country Championship (often considered the most competitive race in the world) and still holds the American record for 15k, 42:22, which he set at the Gate River Run. So needless to say, he has a seriously impressive resume.

While that is all well and good, what I find most impressive was that all of this success was despite the fact that he was not incredibly fast coming out of college. He never won an NCAA title and while his track times were impressive for most (13:44 for 5k, 28:18 for 10k) they certainly weren’t world beaters. However, Todd worked hard in high school, worked hard in college, then continued to work hard post collegiately and kept improving until he was one of the best in the world. Pretty cool if you ask me and just another example that consistent hard work pays huge dividends over time.

Last night he spoke about some of his experiences in high school and it was evident that he is very competitive. The main theme of the talk was that you should always be working towards goal you set for yourself and even if you don’t achieve them, that doesn’t mean that you should give up on continuing improvement. He repeated stressed the importance of hard work and consistency. I particularly liked this as it is what I tell people all the time when they ask how I got fast.

After the talk we went for beers and talked football.

I’ll end with a quote from an excellent interview with Todd from right after he retired:

“But the training never really changed. I think it was just years and years (added together that was key). I started in 1990 with my hundred mile weeks, and I would run between 85 and 115 miles per week the majority of the year and then I'd cut it down a little before the races. I just ran extremely hard.

As for specific workouts, I think that that's probably a just of waste of time to say. I'd do the 3 times a mile, 16 times a quarter, hard tempos of 30 minutes or longer. You know, the standard workouts.

There's really no magic to it. I was just fortunate enough to stay healthy and push the envelope as hard as I did. I mean even on my off days a lot of times I was probably pushing my threshold.”

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