Sept. 22, 2011
Editors Note: The below piece is featured in the 2011 Fall edition of Cougars Quarterly. The publication is sent to Cougar Athletic Fund members and season ticket holders. To learn more about the Cougar Athletic Fund click HERE or call 1-877-IMA-COUG. For WSU Athletics ticket information click HERE
Last year, then junior Justin Englund finished 25th and then-freshman Ruby Roberts 42nd to lead the men's and women's cross country team respectively at the NCAA West Regionals. The pair took time out from preparing for the 2011 season to speak with Cougars Quarterly about the upcoming season, their training regime, and their hobbies when they're not running. Follow Cougar cross country throughout the 2011 season at WSUCougars.com, the official website of Cougar Athletics.
CQ: What attributes are needed to run cross country?
Roberts: You have to like running and be willing to put in the time training.
CQ: What is the typical training day and training week? How many miles would you run in a week?
Roberts: I run at least an hour a day. In the off-season I run about 65 miles a week. In-season would be about 50-60 miles a week, for women anyways, it's different for guys. That's for me. Some people run more miles and some less.
CQ: Is that year round?
Roberts: Yes, we take a week off in the summer and five days off after the season is over.
CQ: So it is really 365 days a year you are running?
Roberts: Yes, you are in-season pretty much the whole year (laughing).
CQ: So you do have to like running, going back to the attributes?
Roberts: Oh, yes!
CQ: When you prepare for a race, does the strategy differ for each race?
Roberts: As far as strategy it depends on the course if it's going to be a narrower course you want to go out hard to get a good spot or if there are a lot of hills you want to save your energy for that. Even if it's muddy you might not want to go out too hard because you are going to get fatigued after awhile.
CQ: Why did you choose WSU?
Roberts: I liked the team and the coach and I wanted to be in the Pac-10, well now Pac-12. I liked the distance from home, so for me it's good. It's far enough away but I can drive home in a day.
CQ: What did you take away from your freshman year that you will apply to this season?
Roberts: My freshman year was difficult mentally for sure. I came from a 2A High School so every race I ran was a really small race. It is a lot different.
CQ: So that was a pretty big adjustment then?
Roberts: Yes, it's a different mental game for sure. Everyone out there on the course is training at least as hard as you are, if not harder. In high school I trained, but only 30 miles a week. This is a lot more training.
CQ: What are your goals this season?
Roberts: To run personal bests and as a team to place high in the conference championships and hopefully be on the cusp of trying to get to nationals.
CQ: When you're not running what are your hobbies?
Roberts: All through high school I danced. I try to keep that up but it's a little hard because I don't have much time.
CQ: Any particular style of dancing?
Roberts: Ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop.
CQ: Has that helped you in your running?
Roberts: I think it has. It has made me stronger. It helps my fast-twitch muscles with all the jumping.
CQ: Have you decided on a major?
Roberts: I am working on it. I am going to do art as either a major or minor for sure.
CQ: Now that you're enter your senior year, how different of a perspective do you have when you entered your freshman year?
Englund: It's a lot different. Coming into my freshman year I didn't have any idea what to expect. After a couple of years, I was hoping to make the varsity team and go to all of the big meets. Now I am in a lot different situation. I am in a leadership position and hope to set a good example and try to make our team as good as we can and make it to nationals.
CQ: How many miles a week do you estimate you run off-season and during the season?
Englund: In the off-season, like in the summer, you try to get up to anywhere between 90-100 miles a week for me. Outside of running, our coach likes us to do hill sprints or strides so we don't forget what it feels like to run fast. We also get in the weight room a couple times a week. In-season, once we're in the competitive part of the season, the mileage drops down, but for the first part we are still holding the 90-100 miles for the top guys. Once we get closer to Pac-12s and Regionals we drop down but not too much, somewhere in the 70-mile a week range.
CQ: Where in Pullman does the team usually run?
Englund: We try to get out on the gravel roads and dirt roads a couple of miles from campus as much as we can. We go out to Johnston Road by the movie theater and we have a loop called Lindgren's Loop named after Gerry Lindgren. That one we go out past the airport, do a loop, and run all the way back to campus, about a 10-mile loop.
CQ: Why gravel?
Englund: We need to get out on softer surfaces as much as we can for injury prevention. Because running as much as we do, if we stuck to pavement we would be getting stress fractures.
CQ: You are a mathematics major?
Englund: I am actually a double major in mathematics and finance.
CQ: Do you utilize mathematics in your racing?
Englund: Yes, I am able to easily calculate what kind of pace I'm running. I can easily keep track of my splits when they are calling out the times every lap. Sometimes that is maybe not such a good thing because I shouldn't be focused on every single lap and should be in there racing.
CQ: When you're not racing or studying what interests you?
Englund: I like to golf. I grew up on a golf course so I try to do that as much as I can every summer. I watch a lot of sports in general. I'm a huge Seahawks fan.
CQ: As you enter your senior year, what are your goals this season?
Englund: Personally I just want to keep on improving. I've done a good job of that every year. Last year I was 25th at regionals, which I was really happy with, but I definitely love to get into the top 20, maybe even top 15, and have a really good shot of making nationals individually. We should have a really good team this year and I'm hoping to make it to nationals as a team.