Monday, August 20, 2012
Joey Keillor has a new book out titled Run Great When It Counts: High School. Keillor ran for St. Louis Park High School and Minnesota State University, Mankato where he was a seven-time Division II All-American and national champion in the steeplechase. He recently ran a 4:17 mile and 14:45 5K on the roads at age 37. For the past decade, Keillor has been Associate Editor of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, a newsletter dedicated to health, fitness, and wellness of older adults. In 2011, he started Joey Keillor Coaching, a consulting business dedicated to helping people run fast, feel good, and train effectively without wasting time. His thoughts on his book are below...
Down the Backstretch: How long had you been working on the book?
Joey Keillor: It took about one year from when I started writing it until it was published. The writing part took about six months. Final editing, layout, organizing pictures, and other detail work took another six months. It took longer than I thought, but that was good because then it wasn’t rushed. Annoying delays were a benefit, as the more time it took, the more I was able to improve the product.
I would add that I’ve been unofficially working on the book for the past 20 years. That’s how long I’ve been a competitive distance runner., experimenting with just about every type of training you could imagine, talking about training with coaches and running buddies, reading running articles and books — my personal experience with all of that stuff really fed the book. The fact that I was able to write a book in a few months as a side project is because all of this information was stored up and ready to get out.
DtB: What prompted you to undertake the project?
JK: It started in recent years with people asking me about how to improve their training. Because of that, I started a small training consulting business called Joey Keillor Coaching. I expected to be helping out adults with training, but instead I ended up working mostly with high school kids. The more high school kids I consulted with, the more it was apparent that they all had similar questions, uncertainties, and gaps in their knowledge...which really weren’t all that different from the questions, uncertainties and knowledge gaps I had in high school and college.
Another frustrating thing for me throughout my running career has been a frequent inability to do what the title of the book says: Run great when it counts. Sure, I’ve had some great races in high school and college, but most of the time, the big races were a disappointment. Not in terms of place or time, necessarily, but just knowing that I felt mediocre or bad at the most important event of the year. Especially when you see familiar competitors running great at State or Nationals. It’s like: “I was neck and neck with that guy at Conference, now at State I’m way back feeling like crap and he’s battling for the win. What’s up with that?” It took me 15 years to begin to figure this stuff out...I hope the book allows many high school or college kids to advance past years of trial and error, and start taking the steps that successful clutch-runners (knowingly or unknowingly) take to make them feel great pretty much when needed.
DtB: What special insights do you think you offer to readers?
JK: The book is only 122 pages, which is pretty short for a running book. The shortness was a very deliberate decision. I try to boil down the advice into the very basics of what will make you a better runner and performer within the categories of Health, Running, and Confidence. I address issues that high school athletes may knowingly (or unknowingly) encounter such as iron problems, injury, overly hard training, emotional attachment to training devices, lack of training confidence, and responding to fatigue with harder training. I also seek to define a number of vague training terms such as “hard” training...everyone knows you need to train “hard” but what does that mean? And how do you go about training “hard” in a way that’s productive, rather than counterproductive?
One thing the book doesn’t offer is a training plan or specific examples of workouts you should be doing. Rather, it offers a way to approach whatever training plan you adopt. That’s important because nearly all high school kids have a coach, most of whom are offering them great advice. However, I think kids can lose confidence in whatever training plan they’re following, as the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. What I suggest in the book is an approach that can make just about any plan can work (intervals everyday, mileage only, or just about anything in between). In this sense, the book aims to give high school athletes confidence that under just about any circumstance they can be their best and run their best at the races that count the most. And feel good and have fun.
DtB: Who are some of your influences when if comes to training and racing?
JK: Well, who isn’t inspired by the greatest endurance runners in the history of the world...namely Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes. Talk about tearing training down to the basics...most of these runners start with, at best, a ragged pair of shoes and the clothes on their backs. Their attitude (or approach) to training is really one of the best models we have, and one I seek to emulate.
Closer to home, pretty much every coach, teammate and running partner and XC skiing partner has been influential...which I think comes through in the many anecdotes in the book. I could have included a lot more.
However, one person that stands out in recent years is Greg Hexum, who is a great trail runner and snowshoer — and principal at Esko High up near Duluth. Greg is also serious student of endurance athletics. We routinely exchange articles, books and internet links on running. And, since our daughters are the same age, it gives us a great excuse to visit each other a few times a year so we can go running together, stay up late and talk about running, and generally annoy our wives and children. Greg has really helped me crystallize my thinking in the past few years, and has had a strong influence on the content in the book.
DtB: What's the one thing you wish you'd have know as a young runner that you didn't?
JK: The one thing I’d go back and change is avoiding really killer workouts. A second choice would be to avoid tapering for races....a couple of days of rest makes sense, but weeks of tapering never worked even though we did it all of the time. If you combine those two changes, you’re basically talking about minimizing big upward or downward spikes in training levels, and keeping things more consistent with gradual advancement over time.
You can find out more information on the book and/or order a copy HERE.
Posted by jdf at 7:00 AM