Friday, May 8, 2009

Tim Nelson Answers Your Questions

Tim Nelson On the PhoneYou rang and, now, he answers. Tim Nelson is a former Foot Locker finalist, a multiple-time All-American at Wisconsin, and just the 14th American to break 27:40 in the 10k.  The California native and former Badger takes on your questions, below.

1. In your fantastic race at the Cardinal Invitational you had the benefit of Team Schumacher training-mates Chris Solinsky’s early pacing and also Simon Bairu in the race. How important has working with the Schumacher training group been to your training, racing, and recent successes? Could you describe how your workouts are structured for group and individual training, i.e. when you all work together and when you are on your own.  Great running and racing, we look forward to more of the same! –Matt

Jerry Schumacher and the Schumacher training group have been integral to my running. Although I believe I have a God-given talent, it would have been impossible to develop my talent to this point without the guidance of Coach Shumacher and the support of our training group. Jerry has always been good at looking at the ‘big picture’. Even when I started at the University of Wisconsin six years ago, it seems that Jerry coached me with my post-collegiate running career in mind. From a college student’s perspective, it is difficult to think very long term, but Jerry told me my sophomore year that I would be good in the marathon.

Our man in Kenya.The training group that I have is also an immense blessing. I spent some time in Kenya during the fall of 2007 training with some of the Kenyan Kimbia athletes. That experience helped bring home the importance of training groups. The Kimbia guys trained much harder than I had imagined and they pushed each other to the limit. I feel like Schumacher’s training group is no different in this regard. The training load is intense but with a large training group we are able to do much more than we would be able to do on our own.

2. Congratulations on the huge 10k, and I think you can definitely take a shot at the win at the USA Champs, and hopefully compete well in Berlin. You definitely have more in the tank than 27:36 this season. I had a few questions about your career progression, mileage and training progression. If you could give a brief summary of your pr’s since freshman year of college that would be greatly appreciated to see how you developed. Also, how many days a week do you typically double during base and conditioning training phase? Approximately how much mileage do you run during the different phases of each year? –Miles Becker

The progression for the 5K is as follows (freshman through senior year):


and the 10K:


[Ed. Note: Tim graduated HS with PB's of 8:56 (2-mile) and 14:45 (5k, 5th @ the 2003 USATF Junior Championships).]

During my base and conditioning phase I normally double six days per week and average around 115 miles per week. My mileage only decreases during the summer when I race in Europe. At that point, typically I run 70 to 80 miles per week.

3. Tim…congrats on the big PR! In the 15k and XC champs, you were right on the heels of the winner. What do you take from a race where you run that well, but don’t quite get the win? Best of luck the rest of Spring and Summer! –Brian

At XC champs I was a little surprised by my level of fitness. Coming into the race, I knew I was probably conditioned well enough to place in the top six, but I did not expect to be close to Meb. At the 15K champs I was a bit more disappointed. My coach and I believed that I could win the race, but I was a too hesitant to go with Fam when he made his initial move before 5k. Both races were eyeopening experiences. Placing second twice by a slim margin made me more hungry to perform better in future races. And now that I have finally won a race, I am all the more motivated to put in the miles and do all the little things necessary to perform well. It also a great blessing to see some positive results after what I would consider a mediocre 2008 season.

4. You seem to have been race sharp since XC Nationals. Now that you have the A standard and such a great time early in season (compared to Europe). How to you stay sharp for such a long period of time. through Nationals in 2 months and Worlds in August? And have you changed anything from your near misses at XC nats and the 15k? Thanks and good luck. would love to see you on the team. and have a National title. You have been running great this year keep it up. –John

I do not believe that sharpness is the key. For the past six months, training has been high volume, and it will probably remain so until before US track champs at the end of June. Because we have been focused primarily on improving fitness, we have raced sparingly. However, it has been encouraging to see some of the preliminary results at US XC, the 15k champs and the Stanford 10k. Much of our groups positive results can probably be attributed to the cumulative effect of mileage and workouts done over the last five to ten years. As mentioned earlier, Jerry is very good at looking at the ‘big picture’. That said, we did not change our training much as a result of my near misses at XC and the 15k champs. Both races were good learning experiences. Because of them, I feel like I will be better prepared for future championship races. Jerry’s training program is focused on preparing us for the summer championship races, not as much the early season races.

5. I wanted to know your thoughts on high-mileage training. For an exclusively 5k-10k training regime, what kind of mileage would you find to be the most beneficial? I come from a high school program that hit 50-60 tops, but a very high intensity, and then in college ran for a program that I feel is more “typical” of distance training (75-90 miles/week). I’m trying to make one final push to break 15 for the 5k, and was looking for advice from someone who’s obviously been there. I’m currently anti-high mileage, but I could be convinced otherwise. Look forward to seeing/hearing your thoughts. –Eric, New York, NY

I am an advocate of high mileage if your body can handle it. Some people do not do well with high mileage simply because of the demands it places on the body. For those who can handle it, I think it is a great way to strengthen the cardiovascular system, which is pretty important for an endurance runner. It is not that I think high mileage is the only way. There are plenty of other runners who do much less mileage than I and have been successful. There is more than one way to do it. Some low-mileage programs consist of short workouts nearly every day of the week. For me, high mileage and long workouts have been the key. I hope my answer is helpful, and I wish you the best at your attempt at the 15 minute barrier.

Thanks to all who wrote in!  Feel free to submit questions for a future session in the comments below!

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3 Responses to “Tim Nelson Answers Your Questions”

  1. John says:

    Wahoo! going to World champs in Berlin CONGRATS

  2. TJ says:

    I was wondering if you could share how Shumacher’s training differs from others, or if it does at all?

  3. George says:

    I remember watching you and Lauren Jesperson duel it out at the Yreka invitational. What do you think allowed you to take your running to another level and keep improving as compared with other talents who never break through? Is it a lack of talent or a mistake in training?