Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interview with Trisha Miller - Elite marathoner running Rock and Roll Arizona

Trisha with her (also elite) fiance Andy after her win at Rock and Roll Denver

A few weeks ago I had a light bulb moment that it would be fun to interview one of the elite runners who is also running the Rock and Roll Arizona marathon.  One thing lead to another and I sold a kidney on the black market I was put in contact with Trisha Miller.  If you don't remember Trisha's story, you can read about it in my previous post. In short her first marathon was a 3:30 when she was in her 20s and she is now running a 2:51.  (Read: she is FAST)

Since I am certainly no interview expert, I decided to open it up to my readers to ask some of their questions.  Questions ranged from training, nutrition, to makeup, and even poop (guess who asked about that last topic :).  Here is what everyone asked and what Trisha said!

Laura asked:
Were you a runner growing up? What kind of times did you run in that darned twice yearly mile we all had to run in gym class?
I was not a runner growing up. I was athletic though, played a lot of soccer, skiing, gymnastics, dance ... but never running specifically. I do vaguely remember having to run a timed mile in middle school, but I have no idea what my time was. I'm sure I didn't come in first, or last for that matter. The fact that I can't remember my time probably means it was less than spectacular.

What is a typical week like for you in terms of workouts? Do you cross-train, weight lift, etc?
I work 8-5, M-F so that gives me a pretty regimented week, so I'm sure my schedule is like a lot of runners out there. I would say in a typical week, I run every day. Tuesday is usually a track workout, Thursday or Friday is another speed type workout and Sunday is long run day. The other days are easy or recovery runs or some combo of easy and faster pace work. Now that I have a coach writing my training programs, the workouts all included a little of everything. I don't cross train too much, especially in the winter. In the summer, I do enjoy road biking, or I may dabble with a triathlon or two... All last year I did a lot of plyometrics - I took a class once or twice a week. I also do yoga on to two times a week. I am a big fan of yoga.

Laura asked
What aspect of training do you think made the most impact in cutting so much time off?
Definitely adding miles. No question about it. I was training about 40-50 miles a week, peaking at about 60. I added about 20 miles a week to that before Eugene. Made a HUGE difference. (Note - I'm not sure I recommend this. They say add only 10% more miles a week, and I don't want anyone to get hurt.)

Danny asked
As you have gotten faster at long distance, has your sprint time improved any (i.e. 100m/200m)?
I'm sure it has, as I feel faster... but I haven't really measured it. I did have a PR in the 5K last summer. I also ran a timed mile this summer on the track (a real mile :) It was my first timed mile since probably that middle school mile mentioned above. I just showed up at track one Tuesday, and our Run Wild Missoula track coach (Canadian Olympian Courtney Babcock - she's nothing short of amazing!!) said 'Today is the timed mile!' Normally, I'd opt out and do mile repeats or something... but I was in between marathon training programs, so I'd though I try it. I clocked a 5:19. I had no idea I could do that. I may try again this summer. Maybe I'll get a 5:15.

What's the most bizarre thing you think of during a training run?
Oh, jeez... so many things run through my mind. I'd say about a month ago I was running, and somehow that "Smelly Cat" song from Friends was stuck in my head. It was a 13 or 14 mile run. I couldn't shake it! 

Joni asked
What do you do for nutrition during your marathons?
I try to take 4 gels and drink whatever sports drink is on hand. I like Gu and Gu Roctane. Hammer gel is great too... but no caffeine. I can only eat fruit flavors though. Gels that are the flavors of cake batters or coffee gross me out.

Where we should eat our pre-race meal in Missoula, I just signed up for the 2012 Run Wild!
Yes!! This is so awesome!! Missoula Marathon is such a beautiful course, and I know I'm partial... but Missoula is a fabulous town. You will love it. You should eat at Cafe Dolce pre-race. Hand made pasta & pizza (and gelato!) Nothing is pre-fab and it's very, light Italian fare. Go early, it's always busy. Whoever this is - please find me and say Hi!! Also, for the rest of you out there (shameless plug :) come check out what Runner's World voted at the BEST OVERALL MARATHON!

Christina asked
Does she use mascara when she runs? If yes, what brand?
Ha ha. Sorry. No mascara for me. 

Mike asked
Favorite recovery meal, favorite snack, favorite workout?
Favorite recovery meal: Fish burrito from a Taco Del Sol, a local burrito shop. I'm salivating right now thinking about it! Favorite snack: Baked potato chips dipped in fat free sour cream. Favorite workout: I do enjoy a mid-week long run with some speed work.... something like 14 with 6 or 7 x 1 mile at race pace or faster. It's tough... but I always feel so accomplished when done! It's a big confidence booster too.

Adam asked (ME!!!!!)
Which is more important, placing well in a race or running the time to qualify for the olympic trials? Better asked, would you RnR AZ or qualify?
Neither actually. Don't get me wrong, winning a race is awesome! But I've always been more competitive with myself then the other runners around me. The marathon is really quite special in the fact that so much of the race is actually pacing, not racing. You have to be smart and know your limits. You can't train at 10 minute mile, then go out race day and try to break 3 hours. You're going to blow up. I've always set min/mile pace or overall time goals for myself. I look at how hard I've trained, and set my goal accordingly. Also, I can't qualify for the trials until 2 years before. So starting in 2014, the trials time will probably be my focus. 

What is your advice for someone wanting to be faster?
Get with a training group and go to track workouts. Find runners who are just slightly faster than you and train with them. Talk to them about their training and what kind of runs they are doing. I had no idea what a track workout was or what the heck a tempo run was until I started running with Run Wild Missoula. You have to work hard. Seriously. You have to run hard, really hard. It's scary and it hurts, but reaping the benefits are in my opinion spectacular. I'm also a firm believer that all runners are different and what worked for me, might not work for someone else. So, if you aren't into the group thing, I would say get online and read up on all the different training plans. Find what a successful pro does and dial it back to a level comfortable for you. A good place to start is McMillian or Jack Daniels websites.

Finally, I’m known for a bit of potty humor on my blog – do elites have issues with runners gut?
Who doesn't? If you're a runner, you have to deal with it. I know girls aren't supposed to poop or fart... but come on! I am not shy about this topic at all :) I call it the 'Fever" ... you're sweating and you have to go NOW!! In fact, both Andy [Trisha's (also) elite fiance who is going for sub 2:30 at Rock and Roll Arizona] and I talk potty humor all the time. I suppose it's just the joy of having two runners in a relationship. In Missoula, the public restrooms at parks and such all close in October and don't open again until the spring (wouldn't want any pipes to burst in the cold!) so you have to know where the toilets are AND I always pack TP in case of emergency.  I've learned I can't eat 2 hours prior to a run and I also know I can't eat hummus or anything bean based if I have a run in the near future. The more you practice, the more likely you are not to get 'the fever.' Race day morning, I like bland oatmeal, non-flavored and no sugar. Tastes like crap, but works for me. 

Thanks again goes to Trisha for answering my questions during what is likely a VERY busy taper period and to the Rock and Roll marathon group for putting me in touch.  If it wasn't for you, the world might never have seen this picture!  And that, would have been a travesty!


Jamoosh said...

I think you can take her!

Jeff Irvin said...

Yep she is a runner for sure based on the fact that the poop question had the longest and most detailed answer. Well done Trisha!

Gracie (Complicated Day) said...

Great interview - because Trisha cut so much time off her marathon, I feel like she's kind of of us! I mean, she had to work hard to get to where she is. Plus she works, and I always take advice from full-time-job athletes seriously.
Good luck Trisha!

C2Iowa said...

Awesome report/interview. I will be back to reread more than once.

Jen said...

Great interview - loved it. Well done, sir.

Mike said...

Very cool Adam! Also, nice job not being blunt in your poop question by disguising it with "runner's gut". You left many stones unturned though :-). I'll give you some more detailed poop questions for your next interview :-).

Char said...

So my take on this is - I'll get faster if I don't wear mascara.

Laura said...

GREAT interview - it's really interesting to see that the elites kind of do the same thing we do; they just do it much faster! :)

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

yeah this was really fun!! it looks like i will get to interview ryan hall in a few weeks so i might be stealing no I won't do that :)

congrats on putting yourself out there to get the interview!!

mikemilzz said...

Good job Adam - interesting stuff. I'm always fascinated by people who can do all that with an 8-5 job. I get how pro athletes who have the job of 'running' but Trisha shows that you and I can get better with LOTS of HARD work. Reading her list out her runs was funny; I run every day...and I do this...and I do that...oh and I like yoga so I do that twice a week too! Again - how does she find the time!

I certainly don't expect to be running near Trisha or Andy but hopefully I'll catch a glimpse from the starting line and will have a good reminder that all things are possible.

See you at #RnRAZ!

Joni said...

Cool...thanks so much for posing my questions! Bonus I even got recommendations for post race meal in Missoula! I'll be sure to look for her there and let her know we "met" through your blog.