Sunday, September 30, 2012

Catching up with Etna HS runner, John Whelan...

Today we chat with the 6th fastest overall runner (15:23.9) from yesterday's Stanford Invitational, John Whelan of Etna HS.  He was the Northern Section champion last year in cross country defeating runners from Divisions 1-V. He went on to finish in 7th place in Division V at the state cross country meet and is the 2nd fastest returner from that division behind only Connor Clark of University HS (2nd place finisher).  During track season, Whelan finished in 2nd place in the 3200m. at the NS championship meet, running a lifetime best time of 9:28.20.  This past summer, Whelan attended the Steen's Mountain Running Camp once again and broke the uphill 5k record formerly held by Ian Dobson of Klamath Union (also Stanford grad now).

1) What other sports have you played besides XC and TF?
I played basketball in junior high through to my freshman year; I've always been hopelessly uncoordinated so I gave up basketball and switched my focus to running year round.

2) How did you get your start in running?
I got started in running thanks to a very active P.E. program at my junior high. We'd run a timed mile every week, I loved seeing my times drop and have been hooked on the sport ever since.

3) What was the first success that you remember in running?
My first real success was my first track meet of my freshman year. I broke 5 minutes in the 1600m which was a big barrier for me at that time and I ran it over 30 seconds faster than I had run the year before. Though I had much greater successes that season and the years afterwords, that race really redefined what I thought of myself as a runner.

4) Tell us a little about your freshman seasons in both sports and some of your highlights.
Freshman year of X-country I was really just discovering the sport since my junior high had no X-country program. I ran well, but didn't make it to state or do anything else substantial. Track is where my first success came; I made a huge improvement during the season, and finished it with a 10:13 3200m that broke my school’s frosh-soph record.

5) What about sophomore seasons? Highlights?
Riding the success of the last track season, I made big improvement s during my sophomore X-country season. I became competitive in our region and placed 33rd in D5 at the state meet with time of 17:00. Through the winter I put in the best training I ever had done instead of playing basketball. I dropped my track PR’s to 4:32 and 9:37, and placed 2nd in the 3200m at the NSCIF finals.

6) Did you change anything during your summer before your junior season in XC? What Training wise, what do you mostly do during the summer?
My training wasn't anything special, bu my mindset started to change. My summer before junior year I actually had to only workout on a bike for 3-4 weeks in the beginning because of some foot pain that I didn't want to advance into a serious injury. I still got 2 months of running in and attended Steens Mountain Running Camp in Eastern Oregon. The camp was a great experience, they had an uphill 5k race during the camp that gains about 800ft of elevation which I won against some top runners from multiple northwest states. It gave me the confidence to run against anybody.

7) Highlights for your junior seasons in XC and TF?
Junior year of x-country was a breakout year for me that really started with winning the D5 race at Stanford. I won the NSCIF cross country meet which has all divisions combined. I improved my place at state to 7th with a 15:53, though I felt like I didn’t run to my full potential that day.  I definitely learned a lot that season. I had a solid track season, but lost the NSCIF 3200m by 1 second and missed qualifying to state (in the north section only the section champion in each event qualifies for state).

8)  What are your current PRs on the track for 800, 1600 and 3200?
My current PR’s in track are 9:28 for 3200m, 4:24 for 1600m, and 2:05 for 800m.

9) What does a typical week look like for you now during XC season in terms of workouts, long run etc?
Over the summer I ran consistently about 52-58 miles a week, with a lot of quality sessions. During this season I’m running the same mileage as the summer, with usually 3 workouts a week, a race, and then mileage to fill the other days. In terms of workouts we run a wide variety of stuff: hills, tempos, fartleks, and intervals –I don’t usually do a specific long run. We usually focus on developing one system each week (strength, speed, etc…) in a cycle that revolves around important meets.

10) How much traveling do you do during the season in order to compete against some of the best runners in the state?
Not a whole lot.  We’re doing a little bit more traveling this year because most of my top competition locally were seniors last year. We went to the Northwest Classic in Eugene that had some of Oregon’s top runners as well as the Stanford Invite, but other than that we’ll compete locally until the state meet.

11)  Favorite long run? Favorite XC meet/invitational? Favorite XC course? Favorite XC workout? Favorite track event? Favorite track invitational? Favorite track workout? Favorite opponent(s)?
I’m not sure I can name a favorite run, I live in a rural mountain valley that has so many great places to run. Behind our school we have a lot of hilly dirt-roads and trails, and I live only a 3 mile run away from a summer camp that has some great roads and trails.
Favorite XC meet -Stanford.
Favorite XC course- Lithia park in Ashland, OR; and our section championship course at West Valley. I like challenging courses.
Favorite XC workout -Mile repeats or tempos, they tell you a lot about your current fitness.
Favorite track event –I think the 1600m is the most fun but I’m better at the 3200m.
Favorite track invitational -West Valley/Oroville invite.
Favorite track workout -we do a workout that has multiple sets of hills and 300m repeats, it's brutal but has a lot of variety and makes us strong and fast.
Favorite opponent(s) -Tony Meredith of Foothill High School (Palo Cedro), he graduated last year but we’ve had some epic battle both in track and xc! It also always a blast to train or race with the Yreka guys (2011 D4 state xc champs), and I love racing and meeting new people at big meets as well!

12) Anything else you would like to add.
A big thanks to the coaches, teammates, friends, family, and community members that have helped me get to where I am now. Even when running as an individual, x-country is not an individual sport.  I couldn't accomplish what I have without so much support.

Thank you very much for your time John!  AJC

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're the man, John!