October 13, 2011

Profile in Run Utah Magazine

The latest issue of RUN UTAH magazine is out, and pages 19-22 have an interview with me. I talk about my background in running, training philosophy, goals, etc. I think it came out pretty good. Ken and Janae Richardson (creators of UtahRunning.com) do an excellent job with the website, magazine, and are excellent ambassadors of the sport. I have a lot of admiration for their enthusiasm and how much they give back to the running community. They interviewed Andrea earlier this year.

You can download the latest issue by clicking here. I've also pasted the text of the interview below...

Here is the full text of the interview:

Age: 27

Current residence:
Salt Lake City, UT

Running background:
I ran cross-country during my sophomore year of high school, with the goal of improving
conditioning for basketball season. It didn’t take long to find out I had some talent for the sport.
A year later I stopped playing basketball and was running both cross-country and track. During
my senior year I qualified for the 2002 New York State Track Championships in two events,
running 4:17 for 1600m and 9:16 for 3200m.

I didn’t live up to the expectations I had for myself in college (Colgate University), due to
a seemingly never ending injury cycle. I had some respectable finishes in cross-country,
and a few decent performances on the track (15:30 5K, 31:39 10K), but they were few and
far between. By my junior year, I decided to focus on my academics and no longer run
competitively. I felt like I had a love/hate relationship with running during college because I just
couldn’t completely break the injury cycle. It wasn’t all physical, either. As everyone knows,
running might be the most mentally challenging sport, and in retrospect, I didn’t quite have the
mindset and focus that I currently do.

From 2006-2008 I did some road racing while living in the Mid-Atlantic region. Patience was
not one of my best virtues during these years and I can’t say that my training was always very
smart. During this time period my best races were 1:12:28 for a half marathon, 52:22 for 15K,
26:02 for 8K, 15:39 for 5K, and I even jumped into open track meet a few times and could
still run a mile in the mid 4:20s. However, the good results (and my training) was somewhat

In 2008 I moved to Colorado and was exposed to a whole new world of recreation. Backcountry
skiing, climbing the 14,000 foot peaks, and long distance backpacking trips became my primary
athletic pursuits. I still ran daily, but for fun and general fitness. For two years I played in the
mountains, skied over 200 days, and most importantly had the good fortune of meeting Andrea
North (featured in the June/July issue of this magazine). We moved to Salt Lake City during the
summer of 2010 (more for the skiing than running, to be honest), but we were both itching to
start training more seriously and do some racing.

Last fall I signed up for the Antelope Island 50K, hoping that would keep me motivated through
the cold winter months. I had no concept of it at the time, but that simple action of clicking
the “register” button on my computer would kickstart a streak of 27 straight 100+ mile weeks,
which laid the foundation for me jump to a new level of running that I had previously dreamed
about, but never thought I would actually reach.

I started 2011 by winning a couple of trail runs (including the 50K), and as I started to prepare
for the Utah Valley Marathon, I realized that I had “jumped a level.” I had a string of good
workouts and races in May, went into my debut marathon with tremendous confidence, and
executed a great race. Running has been more fun than ever during this past year, and I can’t
wait to see where I can go from here.

Why the Top of Utah Half Marathon:
The timing was perfect as a cap to my summer racing season before I started my fall marathon
buildup. Paul Petersen recommended the race to me, and since he was also running, I knew
that I’d have all the competition I could handle and would be pushed to run my best. It was a
good test to see how I’d progressed since UVM. As an added bonus, my parents and sister
were in Utah on vacation, so it fun to be able to race in front of them.

2:21:47 Utah Valley Marathon
1:05:40 Top of Utah Half Marathon
15:04 Draper Days 5K

Training regimen/schedule (weekly mileage, types of workouts, when you fit it in):
My two training mottos are “Miles make champions” and “The secret is... there is no secret.” No
matter how talented you are, the aerobic engine is where it all starts. I have been averaging 115
miles per week for the past 10 months, with over a third of them in the 130-140 mile range. I run
7 days a week, with double sessions 5-6 days a week. I cannot stress enough that the single
most important change I have made in my training is to SLOW DOWN. I run the majority of my
weekly mileage at a very relaxed, easy effort. You wouldn’t believe how much of my running is
7:30 pace. I am able to get in the high volume without beating myself into the ground. Running
too fast on easy days was the mistake I made for 8 straight years after high school. Having the
confidence to run slower in training has helped me get a lot faster.

During a typical week, I’ll usually do 2 workouts and a 20+ mile long run. I touch all the systems
in my workouts; sessions are everything from 400m reps on the track to 13 mile tempo runs. My
long runs are usually progressive, where I’ll pick the effort for the last 4-5 miles, or simply run
the last mile of the long run at 5K effort. I try to never “leave my workouts on the track,” as its
better to leave something left in the tank and save it for the next harder session. It takes a lot
patience and self-confidence to not try and prove yourself in workouts. In the past I ran too hard
in workouts and couldn’t consistently get to the starting line healthy.

During a race week, I’ll usually just do one shorter, faster workout early in the week, some 150m
or 200m reps on Thursday to keep the legs feeling sharp, then race on Saturday and do an
easy long run on Sunday.

There’s nothing fancy about my training; the key is consistency. I’m self-coached; over the years
I’ve been a sponge and listened to all sorts of ideas on training, filtered out the junk, and now I
feel like I have a solid grasp on what works for me.

I do a lot of “run commuting.” I stash extra food and clothes in my office at the Huntsman
Cancer Institute (where I work as a Clinical Research Coordinator), and then I’ll run to work in
the mornings and back home in the evenings on my recovery days. It guarantees me at least
15 miles of running roundtrip, and saves me valuable time since I’m never stuck in traffic (not to
mention gas money!).

I’ve taken recovery a lot more seriously this year than in the past. Ice, self-massage, foam
rolling, and plenty of sleep (I rarely stay awake past 9pm) have been instrumental in allowing
me to handle the high training colume. Wearing compression socks while sitting at my desk
during the day also keeps my legs feeling a lot better for my afternoon run.

Over the winter months, I focused on getting the miles in and didn’t worry much about harder
workouts. I spent every weekend backcountry skiing (after running in the mornings, of course),
which I believe is the best cross training for running. You get all of the cardiovascular benefits
of working hard on uphills, but with none of the pounding on the joints. The endless, untouched,
knee deep powder descents are a major advantage of living in the Wasatch! Andrea and I
averaged about 8,000-10,000 vertical feet of climbing every weekend on our AT skis, so we
were constantly getting a huge aerobic stimulus.

My daily training log is posted at http://jkrong.fastrunningblog.com. I also post
race recaps and reports of other outdoor adventures at my personal blog, http://

Favorite place to run:
The Jeremy Ranch Road near Park City is my favorite spot for long runs. Nothing builds
strength like a dirt road with rolling hills at 6000 feet elevation. In Salt Lake City, Wasatch Blvd
is an underrated place to run. On winter mornings, its high enough that you can stay above the
worst of the inversion. I also enjoy running up and down Emigration Canyon. Outside of Utah,
my favorite area is the Sierra Nevada mountains, especially the trails in Mammoth Lakes, CA.

Favorite pre-race meal and post-race drink:
I always eat ice cream the night before a race (and every other night). I’m lucky that my body
handles dairy products very well! For breakfast, I usually just eat a good old fashioned vanilla
Powerbar. After racing, I’m always happy when chocolate milk is available.

I try to eat healthy on a day to day basis, with plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein.
I don’t obsess over diet, but know its important to keep the body fueled well. My primary
downfalls are Diet Mountain Dew and candy, although I have cut back significantly this year in
both categories.

Favorite race distance:
I’ve only run one marathon, but I can’t wait to do it again, because I feel it is the distance I am
suited best for. I like the mental challenge of having to stay engaged for over 2 hours. The 15K
to Half Marathon distances are also fun and you can recover a lot quicker.

Why run (motivation, inspiration):
I know it sounds cliche, but I absolutely love the sport, both as a participant and a fan. Even
when I took a few years off from competition, I still ran on a daily basis simply because I enjoyed
it. Now that I am racing again, I push myself in training because I want to know what I am
capable of and what my limits are. I love the feeling (after the fact, of course!) of going to the
well in a race and giving it everything I have. I want to see how I stack up against the best guys
in Utah and hopefully, runners on the national level.

I also run because I believe its the best way to stay fit and healthy. In the grand scheme of life,
those things are ultimately a lot more significant than any race results. Your health is probably
the most important thing you have and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Its makes me sad that so
many people are not conscious of their overall well-being, or simply don’t care enough to make
exercise a part of their life.

Favorite quote or best advice you’ve been given as a runner:
I’ve read Once a Runner about a dozen times because its loaded with inspirational quotes.
Everything you need to know about running is in the four pages of Chapter 17.

My Dad always sends me a message before races and tells me to “Have Fun.” That is advice
we could all use, whether its running or anything else life throws at us.

Advice you would give to other aspiring runners:
Believe in yourself. Take pride in your running. Don’t be afraid to run a lot of miles. Do all
the little things that enhance recovery. Go to bed early! Create a support system. Log your
training and take advantage of social networking (I highly recommend Sasha Pachev’s “Fast
Running Blog”). Find an non-running athletic outlet that you are passionate about (for me, it was
backcountry skiing)... this will help you maintain balance in your life, which is easier said than
done. And most importantly, step back every once in a while and realize what a gift it is to be
able to run... sometimes you have to turn off the Garmin and just do it for fun.

My goal for the remainder of 2011 is to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon. It might
be a longshot, and only really became a tangible goal within the past few months. I’m fortunate
to have excellent health and a high level of fitness right now, so I’m going to “strike while the
iron is hot” and give it my best shot. I’m running the Long Beach Half Marathon (October 9) and
Philadelphia Marathon (November 20) with hopes of hitting the “A” standard.

After this year, I want to continue to improve my PRs at all distances, have fun competing, travel
to new places through running, and find ways to inspire others. Saucony has been incredibly
supportive in providing resources to help me achieve these goals, so I want to represent them to
the best of my ability.

I’m very lucky to be in an amazing relationship with another fantastic runner (Andrea). We train
together and encourage each other on a daily basis. I can say with 100% certainty that I would
not be where I am right now without her influence. I dream all the time about both Andrea and I
being being on the line for the 2016 Olympic Trials. Whether it happens or not, the fact that we
are on this journey together is what really matters. I am going to soak it all in and enjoy every
step of wherever these dreams take us.

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