How They Train!Bryan Koon - January 2018
- 46 (as of publication – my birthday is Friday)
Did you compete in high school cross country or track?
- Yes. I went to school in Branford, FL, which at the time was K-12 school. It didn’t have a cross country team, so I ran track in the 8th through 10th grade on the same track where my dad ran when he went there. I wasn’t exceptionally fast, so I ran the mile and two mile races that nobody else wanted to do. I still run on that track when I go home to visit family.
Did you compete in college cross country or track?
How many years have you been running?
- I’ve run all my life, with some periods of less activity than others. I used to run to the mailbox when I was a kid, which was a mile round trip. I’ve been on a pretty steady clip for the last ten years.
Lifetime personal records
- 4:53.14 – Mile (in 2015, a full minute faster than in high school. Apparently I had some unrealized potential)
- 16:33 – 5K (some race in Arkansas)
- 34:38 – 10K (Chile Pepper XC Festival in AR 2010)
- 2:47:49 – Marathon (Boston, 2014)
What running events do you train for or what are your training goals?
- I really aim to do well in the Palace Saloon 5K in the spring and Breakfast on the Track at the end of the summer. I know I can’t win Palace, but if I can keep getting to the beer first, I’ll be happy. And it’s amazing what the two-second differential between 5:01 and 4:59 can do to one’s psyche, so I push hard all summer to stay in that first heat at Breakfast.
Consider your training over the past 6 months to one year. How many miles a week do you typically run when not injured and consistently running?
- I try to aim for 30-40 miles a week. I’m rarely injured; it’s the hurricanes that really disrupt my training!
What does your typical week of running look like?
In addition to the runs below, I try to do 25-50 pushups and squats a day. I like to have competition with my sons to see who can do the most in a month; Jack (the 9-year-old) always wins.
- Monday: Six miles or so, probably at lunch. When I worked for the Division of Emergency Management, I’d do these on the wooded 1.3 mile trail behind our office, or the trail along Capital Circle
- Tuesday: During baseball season (and in Florida, it’s always baseball season), I run to Levy Park after work, about 8.5 miles or so. It’s not particularly scenic and there are a lot of intersections, but it beats driving.
- Wednesday: Inevitably there’s a day or two when I can’t squeeze in a run, usually mid-week
- Thursday: Headed to Myers Park for more baseball, about 5 miles or so from Southwood
- Friday: Head home a little early to run around Southwood. At this point I’ve run every road here 1000 times, so just run around until I hit six miles or so. These lends themselves to running at tempo pace.
- Saturday: Longish run. I don’t run that many long-distance races, so this isn’t that far, probably 8 to miles or so. Occasionally head to Georgia Street behind Leon HS for the excellent ¼ mile hill repeats.
- Sunday: Track workout with Patrick. Our current favorite is a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 workout, where we start off with 1000 meters at 5K pace and get faster every repeat, hitting mile pace about the 600-meter point and full-on sprinting the last three with very short rest breaks. It helps our body realize that we can still run fast when we’re tired. This summer we may add in a 12 and 11 at the start.
How does your training vary over the course of a year?
- When I was Director of Emergency Management, there’d usually be an event or two that would keep me from running for a few weeks. This year that was Irma. After that, it takes me a month or two to get back up to speed.
Do you take recovery or down time?
- After a marathon, yes. But I don’t do very many of those.
Do you peak for certain races?
- Palace Saloon and Breakfast on the Track.
How much sleep do you usually get at night?
- I aim for 8 and settle for 7.
What time of day do you normally run?
- I prefer lunch time or late afternoon. I rarely run in the morning – my brain always convinces me that I’ll be able to squeeze in something later in the day. I’d rather run in 95-degree heat at lunch than get out of bed an hour earlier.
What injuries have hampered your training over the past year?
- Nothing, really. I’ve been remarkably lucky in that I’ve rarely had anything significant impact me that lasted more than a day or two.
Do you take any dietary or medical supplements?
- I share a hydration regimen with Gary Droze. It’s not really effective, but it’s enjoyable!
What type of running shoes do you prefer?
- Lightweight, neutral. I’m not really brand-loyal, but I tend to prefer Adidas, Mizuno, New Balance, and Saucony.
Do you race in a different type of running shoe?
- Yes! For 15K or longer I’ll probably use my Adidas Tempo. For 5 or 10K, I’ll go with my New Balance RC152 (they’re a little old, but I only use them for races, and they’re Gator Orange and Blue!) For the summer track series, Breakfast on the Track, and cross country races, I’ll break out spikes so I at least look fast.
Do you use weight training?
- A little. I have some dumbbells that I use for squats, obliques, and (occasional) arm work. A couple of months ago I bought one of those ab curl machines like you see in the gym from Play It Again sports. It looks a little silly in my garage, but by next summer I’m going to look like The Rock!
Do you stretch?
- Barely. For about 3 minutes before a run, and the same kind you learn when you’re in third grade. More before a race, so I look like I know what I’m doing.
What are your favorite running routes?
- I travel quite a bit for work, so I use running as a way to explore whatever community I’m in. In the last year that’s included circumnavigating Key West, taking breaks while driving on I75 to run on the Cross Florida Greenway (you’ve all seen it; it’s the pedestrian bridge you see just north of the Big Daddy Don Garlits Drag Racing Museum), and running along the East River in NYC on a path that passed the UN Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. I’ve worn a path on the sidewalks between Southwood and Myers Park and Levy Park to get to baseball games, and most of the dirt roads in Suwannee County.
What running resources do you like that would benefit someone else?
- I’ve got well-worn copies of Daniel’s Running Formula and Training Young Distance Runners. I usually read Runner’s World cover to cover. And or course Trouble Afoot and fl.milesplit.com.
How has your training changed over the years?
- I try to keep the routes varied and interesting, but the mileage and pace has remained pretty much the same. As Patrick (my middle son) has gotten more into running, I’ve changed my schedule and routines to run with him as much as possible. Doing the summer workouts with the Fairview MS Cross Country Team is one of the highlights of late summer.
What examples can you give of specific training methods, and what were the results?
- When we moved to Arkansas in 2006 I fell in with a Monday night track session led by a local store that introduced me to track workouts for the first time, and the results were transformative. And trail running is the best mind-clearing thing a human can do. Two of the best runs I’ve ever had in my life were a 12-mile trail run in a Hawaiian rain forest during a light mist, and a 10-mile trail run in the Arkansas hills during a snowfall while wearing Yak Tracks on my trail shoes.
What advice do you have for beginning or experienced runners to help them with their training?
- Don’t underestimate yourself – you’re way faster than you think, and you can run for much farther than you think. Set ambitious goals and have fun. And the faster you get, the sooner the race is over and you can socialize with your friends at the finish line!