Sunday, February 08, 2009

Catching up with former Davis and current Stanford runner, Brendan Gregg...

Today we chat with former Davis HS and current Stanford runner, Brendan Gregg. He is seen here to the left during his hs junior season, leading a group of runners during the mile run at Stanford. His senior season at Davis was full of achievements as he won the seeded Stanford Cross Country Invitational and came back to the Farm to claim the 3000m. race in 8:30.38 on the track. Gregg also led the Davis team to a 3rd place finish at the XC state meet in the tough Division I race as he finished 6th in 15:21. On the track, he ran the 2 mile race at Arcadia and finished an impressive 4th in a time of 9:02.34. In the SJS championship, Gregg finished 2nd. to the not quite yet famous, German Fernandez, in the 3200m. (9:13.80 to 9:13.70) and went on to finish in 5th place at the state meet in 9:12.54. This past season in cross country, he was a member of Stanford's 3rd place team at the NCAA Division I Championship. He is currently racing for the first time on the indoor circuit before he heads outdoors with new goals to achieve. 
1) Looking back at your high school career, what do you feel was your best race in cross country? Track and Field? Winning Stanford Invite for XC and breaking 9:00 for 3200 at Arcadia are the two races from high school that really standout in my mind. Those races were really the only two where I feel I took full advantage of the shape I was in and really went for it and took the risks necessary to make some good things happen. 

  2) What do you think you did in high school that helped prepare you for college in terms of training? The most important thing I did in high school was stay healthy. I had four years of solid, uninterrupted aerobic development with no injuries. I was coached by my dad (Bill Gregg), and one of his central philosophies as a high school coach has always been that high school is just one step on much longer path to success in running, and he trained me (and all of his runners) with that in mind. We tried not to over race, which isn’t always easy in high school, and he found the right balance between training hard enough to compete at the level we wanted to and still leave something in the tank for college. We had a nice mileage progression over the four years, something like 30 miles per week as a freshman, 40 as sophomore, 50 junior, 55-60 senior. 

  3) How did you end up choosing Stanford? I ended up deciding between Stanford and Chico State. I visited a couple other schools that I liked a lot, but in the end I knew I wanted stay relatively close to home and be at a top-notch distance program, so it came down to those two. Once I got in and went on my visit to Stanford, the opportunity was too good to pass up. I get to train with some of the best athletes in the country, hang out and have a great time doing it. There’s a quote from somewhere I can’t remember but I think really sums up what we’re about: “We’re all here do one thing in common: to train and be righteous”. 

  4) During your freshman season, what was your toughest adjustment? It didn’t actually end up being all that much of a transition. The training was different than high school and being a college student is a lot different from being a high school student, but I came in with an incredible group of recruits, JT Sullivan, Jake Riley, Elliot Heath, and Tommy Gruenewald (now at BYU), and that really has made all the difference. Having a group of guys who are all on the same page, working towards the same goals, makes everything running-wise just fall right into place. That being said, I will say that it’s a bit of an adjustment to go from being used to being the fastest guy on the team in high school to a place like Stanford where everybody’s a number one guy. You’ve got to get used to getting rocked in a couple of the workouts at first. But that’s how you get better; excellence begets excellence. 

  5) Besides the competition, what are some of the biggest differences between high school and college running? In high school I think there’s some guys that can get by doing a little less, rely on talent a bit and still do pretty well. But once you get to college, the guys who are successful are the ones who stay consistent and bust their ass every day to get better. You can’t fake it at this level; you really have be committed to living the lifestyle. The training is also a step up from high school; you simply have to run a lot more to be competitive. I can remember in high school when 8 miles was a long run; now, we’ll run 11-12 miles on a recovery day. 

  6) What do you miss about high school running that is not present in college? One of the things I miss is racing all the time in high school. Like I said before, over racing isn’t ever in an athlete’s best interest, but when you get down to it, racing is why we do what we do, and it was a lot of fun to load up in vans every Saturday morning and line up with a couple hundred other guys to go tearing around a golf course or some dusty trails with a bunch of people hollering at you. It’s still a blast, you just do it a little less often. 

  7) You have had two different coaches with different philosophies in terms of training during your first two years in college. Tell us a little about each coach and their training. Last year we were coached by Peter Tegen, who has now moved on to a well-deserved retirement. Peter was a bit unique in terms of training; what he had us do was unlike anything I’ve done before or since. I’ll over-generalize a bit too much here, but if I had to pigeon-hole his training it was more of a low-volume, high-intensity program. We’d work out three days a week and were off Sundays, and there wasn’t too much in the way of hills and long runs. That’s not to say we didn’t run mileage; I was still running more in six days per week than I was in high school running seven days a week. Now we have Jason Dunn coaching us, and things have been really great. We’ve just focused on getting strong, getting tough, and staying consistent. All I’ll say is that I think it’s been working pretty well. 

  8) What distance will you be mainly focusing on in track? For indoors we’ll run a couple 5ks and a couple 3ks. The main focus for outdoors will be 10k, with a few 5k’s thrown in as well. 

  9) What are your goals for this coming season? Goal number one is getting to nationals, which usually takes around 29:00 to get in, and then focus on being competitive in the 10k at NCAAs. Scoring in the 5k and the 10k at PAC-10s is also pretty important. 

  10) I am not sure if you ran your first indoor race but if you did, how did it go? If you haven't, what race are you running and where? We opened our indoor season with a 5k at UW the last weekend in January. It was a solid way for the longer distance guys to kick off the season, with three PR’s and one NCAA auto. I ran 14:11, which was an 11-second drop from what I ran last spring. I wasn’t quite aggressive enough in the middle laps to run as fast as I would have hoped, but I’ll take a PR in January any day of the week. 

  11) What would your advice be for prospective college runners? Work out hard, don’t hammer the off days, run relaxed, run tough, and be confident. 

  12) Anything else you would like to add. Go Cardinal, go Davis, go SJS. 

Thank you very much Brendan! AJC

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