Sunday, May 17, 2009

MEGHAN ARMSTRONG

Like my last interviewee, Josh Moen, Meghan Armstrong is a relatively new member of Team USA Minnesota - having joined the group last fall. And like Moen, Armstrong has started 2009 off with a bang, PRing at distances ranging from 5000 meters to the half marathon. Most recently she placed 5th at the TC-1 mile clocking 4:43. Now the 23-year-old Minneapolis resident sets her sites on the U.S. Championships next month.

When did you first start running and how did you get involved?
I first started running in the 7th grade after my 6th grade teacher told me she thought I would be a good runner. In 6th grade my class and I were doing mile runs once a week during gym class. Each time we ran the mile I would always run the fastest, leading my teacher to encourage me to try running. So, the next year I joined my first cross country team and I have not stopped running since.

Nothing against the University of Iowa, by how does someone with your high school credentials, from a strong running state like Oregon, end up in Iowa?
I decided to go to Iowa because I believed in my coach Layne Anderson’s vision. He wanted to build a nationally ranked team and I wanted to be part of it. Iowa offered a chance where I could be an influential member of the team from the start, but at the same time I was not the best, giving me a goal to strive for. Besides, at the time when I was looking at schools Oregon was going through coaching changes and was nowhere close to the team it is now.

You graduated last spring and joined Team USA Minnesota last fall. How would you describe your transition from college to the professional ranks? How are you adjusting to your new teammates, coach and city?
I would say that the transition was fairly smooth for me. My teammates here are so supportive and Dennis is a very caring and knowledgeable coach. Furthermore, I had a lot of support from the Team USA Minnesota board members, my boyfriend Cole and my fantastic agent Bob Gordon. Without this large network of people, I do not think the transition would have been so seamless.

Like another new teammate, Josh Moen, you’ve been running really well this year, including PRs at 5000m, 10,000m, 15K and half marathon. What kind of changes have you made to your training to account for your recent success?
The biggest changes have been in the number of miles I run a week, the types of workouts and the caliber of my training partners. In college I ran around 60 miles a week on my high weeks, now I run 90. Also, during workouts under Dennis I frequently use a heart rate monitor to determine the effort of my workout and they incorporate a lot less rest between intervals. Finally, as a member of Team USA Minnesota I train almost every day with world-class athletes who help to push me to new heights.

Given those races, along with the U.S. Cross Country Championships and the TCM 1-mile, you’re all over the map. It must be nice to be young. Are you trying to find your niche between track/roads, short distance/long distance or are you, as Moen said when asked a similar question, “just a runner”?
I would say that I am exploring myself a little bit, trying to find my niche. Yet, at the same time when/if I do find my niche I do not think that will change my range of races. I am willing to give any distance my best shot, because I think that races of different distance will help me improve as an overall runner.

What is your favorite distance and why?
Truthfully my favorite distance is probably the mile, only because I have the most experience with it. But, I really like the 5k and 10k also, and as I gain more experience with them they will probably become my favorites.

What are your PRs?

1500 - 4:17.41
Mile - 4:40.59
3000 - 9:17
5000 - 15:41.09
10,000 - 33:26.75
15k - 52:30
Half marathon - 1:14:57

What are your goals for the rest of 2009?
My goals for 2009 are to continue to bring down my times in all the events that I compete in and place well at the USATF Nationals in June. I would obviously love to qualify for the World Championships, but that is probably a goal that is more long-term.

What are your long-term goals?
My long-term goals are to represent the USA in the Olympics and World Championships and to win national championships here at home.

What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
My strengths are my natural foot speed and my ability to finish races strong. My weakness is my endurance strength. I have to run a lot of miles in comparison to some people to be as strong as I would like.

In addition to Team USA Minnesota, you are also sponsored by
Strands. Can you tell us a little about that group and what their support means to you?
Strands is a computer software company that launched a cool website back in January aimed at helping runners organize their online activities and their running. You can keep an online training log, share workouts, race results, nutrition and equipment with your “friends” or as we call them “followers”. It is a really great and easy to use website. And those of us who are members of Team Strands are the faces that represent the website. People really love to see us and follow our running on the site.

Finally, what does Strands support mean to me? It means that I can follow my dreams. When I graduated from college and was in the position to look for a sponsor, all of the traditional sponsors were in a “hiring freeze”. And even some of our nation’s best athletes were finding themselves without sponsors. So I was pretty nervous about the feasibility of being a professional athlete. But then Strands came along and made it possible for me to pursue my dreams of one day being an Olympian.

What is your fondest running memory?
One of my fondest running memories (man there are a lot of memories to choose from) is from high school when we used to do the shaving-cream relay. In reality, though I didn’t think of it this way then, it is a fun way to do a repeat1000m workout. You and one other team member were a “team” and you were competing against all the other “teams” in a relay event. Only, instead of a baton you had to carry a fistful of shaving-cream around and had to make sure to smear it all over your teammate when you tagged off with them. We always made a big mess and then would take great pictures when we were done.

What’s your favorite race, locally or nationally?
Well I am still fairly new to the road racing scene, so I am still feeling out my favorites there. But, when it comes to track I have always loved the Mt. SAC Relays and anything run at Hayward Field.

Finally, what do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started running?
Running is a long evolutionary process. The runner I was 11 years ago when I first started is nowhere close to the runner I am now. The process has taken a lot of work, dedication and patience.

4 comments:

Heidi said...

What an great interview. I have watched Meghan run countless races and she never ceases to amaze me with her skill, dedication and total concentration to her sport...plus she's an awesome young woman even when she's not on the race course.

Kyle said...

Meghan has a very strong future in running. I saw her run a few weeks ago at an international invitational and she PR'ed. It was awesome to see, she has a lot of potential.

btb1490 said...

Very nice interview! Your dedication and improvement is very impressive.

I first started running in the 7th grade after my 6th grade teacher told me she thought I would be a good runner. In 6th grade my class and I were doing mile runs once a week during gym class. Each time we ran the mile I would always run the fastest, leading my teacher to encourage me to try running. So, the next year I joined my first cross country team and I have not stopped running since.Boy does this sound familiar. My daughter is 12 years and she too was finishing 1st or 2nd in those 5th and 6th grade gym class miles. So now as a 7th grader, she was encouraged to try running on the 7th/8th grade Jr. High X/C team. With no initial training, she was finishing 6-7th out of 12 team members in the beginning. By the end of the season, she was 2nd on the team. The talent is there, but unfortunately the desire isn't so much. Hopefully she will catch on as you obviously have.

Anonymous said...

Meghan,

Keep running strong! Your development over the years has been fantastic to watch all those years since you left West Lafayette. May you attain all your goals.

Coach McGill
WL Junior High Track Coach