It’s only May and Josh Moen is already busy setting PRs. In April he ran the 5k at the Mt. SAC Relays and lowered his best time by 18 seconds. For most of us, that doesn’t sound like a lot. However, when you’re going from 13:53 to 13:35, it’s a big jump. A week later, Moen, who just turned 27th this month, shaved 5 seconds from his 10k time, lowering it to 28:26. The Team USA Minnesota runner grew up in Northeast Iowa and graduated of Wartburg College, where he was a 10-time NCAA Div. III All-American, and 5-time National Champion.
With our winters, most local runners aren’t in PR shape in the spring, yet you’ve already set PRs at 5000m and 10,000m this spring. Going into those races did you know you were so fit?
I knew I was pretty fit when I went down to a small 5k in Ft. Myers, FL called the Edison Festival of Lights 5k. I ran 14:08, winning by 40 seconds. That was my first sign that it would be a good spring. The next sign was doing workouts at paces I’ve never touched before and feeling relaxed doing them.
Even if you had some inklings of your fitness, shaving 18 seconds off your PR – in your first 5000m on the track this year – had to be a little surprising. Would you agree?
I was hoping to run 13:40 on a good day. I talked with my coach, Dennis Barker, and he said I should be shooting for the 13:30’s. I just went out there and let ‘er rip. To finish in 13:35 is a big step for me since I don’t consider the 5k my strongest event.
What kind of changes have you made to your training to account for your recent success?
The biggest changes have been in volume and frequency of workouts. The past few years I would hover around 80-90 miles per week and now I’m averaging 100+ on a consistent basis. Workout are now scheduled more closely together, sometimes back-to-back, whereas I used to do a workout every three days.
Any long-term goals that you’d like to share with us?
My long term goals at the moment are to get the World A Standard in the 10k, which is 27:48 and to run in the Olympics or World Championships in either the marathon or 10k.
As a relative newcomer to Team USA Minnesota and a former Brooks-Hansons member, can you compare the two elite training groups?
This is a good question. Brooks-Hansons is totally based on the Group Training Theory. Everyone runs together 7 days a week, rain or shine. Workouts are generally every three days and are very strength oriented. Examples of this would be 3 x 3 miles, 6 x 1.5 miles, 2 x 4 miles. Track work is not neglected, though it takes a back-seat in some regards.
Team USA Minnesota takes an altered approach to Group Training Theory in that workouts are done as a group and recovery runs (easy days) can be done alone or with somebody. Dennis believes that all your systems should be worked on all year, which means we have standard workouts that are done year-round, such as 200’s, hills, tempos, and long repeats. He does emphasize some systems more than others at certain times of the year though depending on what you’re training for.
Last year you ran your debut marathon at TCM. How was that experience?
I absolutely loved the experience even though it wasn’t the best racing conditions. I’ll never forget running up the West River Road with my feet totally submerged in water due to the downpour. I also will never forget this one guy who was playing a pan flute in the rain around mile 19.
We like to debate whether or not Americans wait too long to move up to the marathon. You’ve had a taste of the marathon, as well as recent success at shorter distances. Do you think you need to distinguish yourself as either a 5K/10K runner or a marathoner?
I’m going to take the easy way out and just say I consider myself a runner. I have the versatility to move up or down.
What are your PRs?
400m = 60.1
Mile = 4:09
5k = 13:35
10k = 28:26
15K = 44:34
½ Marathon = 1:04.37
Marathon = 2:23.16
What's your fondest running memory?
I would have to say winning the 5k and 10k at NCAA Outdoor Nationals in 2005. It was hosted by my alma mater, Wartburg College in Waverly, IA. Both races came down to the last lap and I was fortunate enough to eke out the wins in front of a home crowd.
What’s your favorite race, locally or nationally?
My favorite race is probably the Minster Oktoberfest 10k in Minster, OH. Minster is a town of probably 2,000, but 3,000 people show up to run a 10k through the town and then out into the country. It’s just an amazing race, which is then followed by an equally amazing Oktoberfest celebration! I highly recommend this race to everyone. It’s definitely a race that deserves more attention.
Who were your role models growing up?
My running role model is Joe Hughes, who won state (Iowa) in 1998. He went to Wartburg College upon graduation and is a big reason I attended there. The way he carried himself and what he represented inspired me to be a better runner.
As a small town Iowan, how are you adjusting to living in the Twin Cities?
I don’t like how many people there are, traffic, the constant drone of the city, or the fact that it’s hard to see the stars at night. I grew up in the country where nature was right out the door along with miles of gravel roads. Life moves faster in Minneapolis.
I do enjoy the trails in the Cities as well as the active community.
If you could run with any Minnesotan or Iowan, past or present, who would it be?
I honestly would like to run with my mom. She has smoked ever since I was born and has barely run a step. To run even a quarter mile with her would be fun. I’m working on this one…
Other than some of your Team Minnesota teammates, who are some of the best runners from Iowa?
Lisa Koll. She runs for Iowa State and has the NCAA 10k record
Kiel Uhl. Another Iowa State runner
Casey Owens. A 10k runner
Lolo Jones. Hurdler
Robyn Friedman. Top 10 Olympic Trials marathon
Erin Moeller. Top 10 Olympic Trials marathon
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started running?
Take your easy days EASY and run based on how you feel. Running should be fun and enjoyable. If you push it every day it takes the fun out of it and also brings you down physically over the long haul.
If you’re interested, you can read another interview with Josh from almost exactly one year ago. Or if you want to go back over 5 years, there’s this interview, where one of the questions happens to be; “Where do you see yourself five years from now? Still running competitively?”