Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jon Peterson: A Californian Learning to Like the Snow

Jon Peterson has made the journey from his native California to Minnesota this year to join Team USA Minnesota.  He's already had an impact, both in his running and helping out coaching with the Edina boy's high school team.  Here he talks about his adventure and plans for the future.
Down the Backstretch:  What were your objectives going into the USATF Club Championships?  How does it feel to be on the US team for Scotland?

Jonathan Peterson: My main objective was to get onto the team.  Ideally I wanted a win, but making the team was the main objective so I made sure to race accordingly, and raced in a more tactical way.  Making the team was exciting, especially since it's my first time making a US team.

DtB:  Has the adjustment from being a Californian to a Minnesotan a tough one?  Are you running a lot on the treadmill now or braving the ice and snow?
JP: It hasn't been anything too out of the ordinary yet.  I've had to adjust a bit by becoming more acquainted with the treadmill for longer, threshold type of workouts, but other than that I've been enjoying recovery days in the snow and have actually come to enjoy the cold a bit.
DtB: Has the shift from being a Californian to a Minnesotan been a mental and/or physical challenge or is it too early to tell as winter is just beginning?

JP: In terms of training, the toughest part is getting out the door when it's completely miserable out, mostly because I still dread doing anything on a treadmill.  But when the workout (i.e., short interval work) allows us to be outside then it's much more enjoyable than the treadmill, no matter what the weather is like, including doing hill sprints in the sleeting rain, which was only miserable during the cool down.

DtB:  Why did you choose Team USA Minnesota?  What attracted you to the program?
JP: In discussing training with the coach (Dennis Barker) prior to my decision, it seemed relatively similar to what I had experienced at UCD with a bit more emphasis on longer distance and building overall threshold while also maintaining a bit of my speed element.  And, of all the groups I was looking at, Team USA Minnesota had the best track record in terms of individual performances on the national level. 
DtB:  You could be classified as something of a “late bloomer,” though 4:13 and 9:11 bests in high school certainly indicated early that you have talent, and you were the first All American for UC Davis(UCD), so you have had success, but it has been more of a roller coaster than a straight shot to the top.  Can you give sort of a brief sketch of your career, the highs and lows?

JP: I had high hopes for my college career, but I wasn't exactly sure how to get there.  The culture of UCD at the time when I was recruited was a much different one than it is now since we had just transitioned out of Division II.  Thus we had to adjust our definition of success and change the overall structure of our training regimen to fit that of a Division I program.  Small injuries and illness also kept me from having a solid block of training that was necessary to compete at the national level.  

In discussing my goals with Coach Wartenburg, we knew we had to focus on getting through the season healthy while finding ways to approach each race hungry to compete.  Once I had discovered the crucial aspect of maintaining health throughout the season by changing the small necessities within my daily routine, both on and off the track/course, I saw huge improvements in my racing as well as my overall fitness.

DtB: How has coaching at Edina factored into your development.  The team had a good year with second in the State Meet, then third in the NXN Heartland Regional Meet.  What was the experience like for you being a coach?  What did you learn from it?  Any things you could apply to your own running?

JP: It was great having the opportunity to discuss my own experience and training with a young group of men with a similar passion.  Since I was completely new to the team, most of what I did was take in the training and atmosphere of the team itself to get a feel for how the team, as well as each individual, functioned and adapted within the multiple factors that comprises the overall training and culture at that level.  

One thing that is much easier to see at that level is the amount of fun that everyone has in the sport, and I think it's essential that I continue to seek the fun within the training while keeping my sights on my goals.  

DtB:  What are your plans for 2013?  Will you try US XC Nationals?  Go straight to track?  What event/events will you be focusing on for 2013?  Long term goals?

JP: My main goal for the season is to make the US team for XC so I will be competing at XC Nationals along with a few indoor meets for tuneup work.  Outside of that, I look to improve on the track, and possibly road, in the 5K and 10K, with a bit more emphasis on 10K.  

Much further down the road, once I've exhausted my 5K and 10K abilities, I believe I have a lot of potential in the marathon and look to compete anywhere from the 5K to the marathon in 2016 for a spot on the US Olympic team, depending on where I'm at in my development.  

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