A 2-minute half marathon PR (1:01:54) at the 2010 US Championships, where he bested the fastest half marathoners in the US to capture his first US Championship.
I couldn’t think of anyone better to help answer your questions about treadmill running and Antonio didn’t disappoint. Here’s a brief recap of what we discussed:
Even if you hate treadmill running as much as I do (I can count the number of miles I’ve run on a treadmill on one hand), you’ll learn a ton from this interview.
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Coach Jeff: Hi, everybody welcome back to Runners Connect, Run to the Top podcast. On today’s show, we have a really special guest. We have Antonio Vega. Antonio runs for Team USA Minnesota and he’s quite the accomplished runner. He has a Half Marathon PR, 1:01:54 and at that time earned him the U.S. Championship at the U.S. Championships in Houston in I believe it was 2010.
One of the reasons that we had Antonio on today is because he does a majority of his running on the treadmill and it was something that I — there was a story that I heard in 2010 after he won that U.S. championship that he did all his training on a treadmill. I thought to myself, “I’ve got to interview this guy because he obviously knows what he’s doing on a treadmill and I know a lot of people have questions about how they can use the treadmill or if they have to use the treadmill, how they can use it,” and I thought, “no better person to ask.”
For people that are interested on this podcast, if you want to look at and need the resources that we mentioned or links, you can visit runnersconnect.net/rc11 and that’s where we’ll put all the resources for this podcast. So without further ado, we welcome Antonio. Antonio, thanks for chatting with us today.
Antonio: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Coach Jeff: Awesome! Well, I did a brief intro mostly what you’re able to do at the Half Marathon Championships in 2010, but give us a little bit of background into when you got started running, what your college career look like and then some of the successes that you had professionally outside that U.S. Championship.
Antonio: Yeah, my running career looks probably a lot different than what most elites are running beginning looks like. I started as a senior in high school. At that time, I was on the soccer team and I was playing football as well and I’ve got convinced to come out cross country in my senior year of high school while I was participating in two other sports. I was only able to compete I think four times that senior year and I managed to take forth that state cross country meet in Minnesota.
From there, really, my career just started taken off. I was recruited by the University of Minnesota where I spent five years there getting in cross country and track and field doing a 5 and 10k. I guess in my opinion, I was very average at college. I wasn’t your guy that was going to win multiple races, but I was consistent. I was probably in the top half of competing that most events.
After I graduated, I was like, “God, I’ve only been doing this for five, six years now. I just feel like I have more.” I didn’t have the time to support that. I was a 14:10 5k guy at 29 flat 10k guy. I was just like, “I’m just going to roll the dice.” Team USA Minnesota is in my backyard. I’ll apply to them. If they accept me, they accept me. If not, then accepted that to go to grad school at that point. I was like, “I’ll just continue with what I was going to do.”
Extremely lucky at that time that they’re willing to take a chance on me and really from there, I’ve got to Team USA and just — things kept progressing as a runner, as an athlete. Next thing I know, 2010 rolls around and I won my first national championship PR-ing by almost like a minute and a half I think in the Half.
Coach Jeff: Wow!
Coach Jeff: We’ll get to that, kind of what led up to that, the training that led into that that happened in the championship, but before we do that, I want to ask you about Team USA Minnesota specifically for those of our audience who don’t know that it is. We hear obviously — I was part of a training group in Hudson so I’m really supportive of all groups that give athletes like you an opportunity who weren’t — [inaudible 00:03:47] out of college give them the opportunity to continue their running. What is Team USA Minnesota and how are you involved with them?
Antonio: Yeah, so kind of like you said, it’s a post collegiate training group. Every group within the country is structured a little bit differently. Ours is — we don’t have a huge sponsor that supports our group. It’s all through different organizations that donate to our group to enable us support the athletes. Typically, we’ll have six guys and six girls on the team and we’re all coached by Dennis Barker who is a coach at Augsburg College, which is a Division III school within Minneapolis there.
Basically, how it works is Dennis is our coach and we meet two to three times a week. We’ll do our hard efforts, our hard workouts together and then everything else is on our own. Depending on where you’re at and everything, some of us will have sponsors. The Shoe Company and others, some of the younger people who just joined the team are trying to figure it out. Most of us have jobs and work and have a life outside of running in addition, but we still have this core group of athletes that meet on a regular basis and train together and compete around the country.
Coach Jeff: That’s awesome. I mean like I said, I kind of know that process, but it’s all like I said, it’s always great when companies and teams can come together to support athletes. For those of us who listen on the podcast, definitely check out Team USA Minnesota. They have a roster, really great athletes and what they’re able to do and their sponsors are really helping out. Antonio, we’ll probably talk about one of those sponsors later when we talk about some of the treadmill stuff.
Let’s go into that Half Marathon getting back to that kind of probably breakthrough race for you. What is your training look like being into that race?
Antonio: It was — Kevin, before I went in this — we were going to do this interview, I kind of look back to see what my training log look like and it was a very average couple of months leading into the Half Marathon. I say that, but there was a — probably the worst winter I’ve had in Minnesota since I’ve lived there and I’ve lived there my whole life. We just had so much snow and it was so cold and it was just — it was one of those things where it’s like you really just couldn’t run the paces that you needed to run outside.
A lot of my training was very average, but it was all done on the treadmill. I mean, when I was going into Houston, I was running 120 miles a week and probably about 100 miles about was all on the treadmill. The other 20 came from interval workouts on an indoor track. I really didn’t even step outside at all to go for a run. It’s really —
Coach Jeff: Yeah, so a lot of follow-up questions to that. First, I think it’s a good point that you made that. When you look back to your log, it was kind of average. When you look back on it, I think that’s — how do that — now that you are back on it, the consistency seems like it was probably the most important factor rather than one or two big workouts. Have you found that to be a consistent team throughout your success in your training?
Antonio: Yeah, and for me, I think that’s really when I started to have a lot of success was I wasn’t crashing workouts, but I wasn’t blowing up in workouts either. I think a lot of people assume that an elite athlete just have these like monster workouts where it’s like six by a mile like for 10ks or something like that. I think if anyone were to come and watch me train now or even back then, it’s just like, that’s not an easy workout, but it’s not like I went out there and was setting 5k PRs within a workout or anything like that. It was just very solid, very consistent training day after day. I think that’s what it takes to have these huge breakout performances is to be just consistent.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. For you, it sounds like the treadmill was a huge component of that because otherwise, obviously, it went to [inaudible 00:07:55] your paces, but there’s probably a good chance that something would happen, you would have slipped on ice or come down with a cold from running when it was below zero I’m sure.
Coach Jeff: I’m sure that was a big component for the treadmill. Do you still run on the treadmill? How much of your current mileage is on a treadmill when the weather is pretty nice?
Antonio: When it’s nice out, I don’t really do anything one the treadmill. It’s just when it starts getting really cold, snowy and slippery. Really, before 2010, the year before in 2009, I was doing a lot of training outdoors like I had done in college. I took a wrong step and I slipped on ice and I dislocated my knee and it took me off for almost three or four months. After that, I was like, “I’m not messing around with this anymore.” I get classes to Life Time Fitness, which is a club that sponsors Team USA Minnesota and it’s just like bite the bullet and just get on the treadmill and just do it.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, now, it makes so much sense. Like I said, those are the consistency factor. Yeah, running outside is probably a little bit more enjoyable when the weather is nice or when things work out, but it’s going to cause you to miss three or four months of training every year just because of slipping and falling. I’ve experienced that myself and as well with athletes I coach, some of them in Minnesota who have — couldn’t make it through the winter and not from a training perspective or not from a workout perspective, but just slipping and falling and that kind of thing. It really makes a lot of sense.
When you were — during that build up when you’re doing so much mileage on the treadmill, were you concerned that it wasn’t going to translate into fitness on the road?
Antonio: Not really, I mean, that really never crossed my mind like — yeah, there is some difference from running on a treadmill to running on the road and trying to hit paces and stuff, but running hard is running hard I guess in my opinion. A 430 mile on a treadmill and a 430 mile on the road is very similar so that really never crossed my mind. After I had won the Half Marathon, people were like, “Don’t you think it’s so much easier running on a treadmill and like –,” then I start to think about it, but before that, I was just like, “I mean, it’s running. Running is running regardless of where you’re doing it.”
Coach Jeff: Now, it makes sense. I think it’s a great approach in terms of your mindset going into the race obviously, not necessarily thinking that — not having those negative doubts or thoughts fit in and really being positive all the way through it. Since then, have you looked at any other research and different things of how it may have impacted your performance, how it may be slightly easier, how it may be slightly harder?
Antonio: I really probably haven’t done looked at it. I haven’t looked at any research regarding of running on the treadmill. The one thing I kind of noticed though is that it keeps you honest with your easy days. Even though like some days when you have like an easy five or seven-mile run and you tell yourself, “Okay, I’m not running any faster than — for me, seven-minute pace is my easy days everyday.” If you set that treadmill in a seven-minute pace, there is no doubt that you’re running seven-minute pace. Where I think on the road and I don’t even catch myself now on easy days, I start creeping down to the six-minute pace and getting that grey area where it’s like not really recovering, but I’m not running hard either. I’m just still stressing my legs at this point. It kept me honest as far as my keeping my easy days easy.
Coach Jeff: But what about the flipside where one of the reasons that I always thought maybe the treadmill might be a disadvantage is that for you, Half Marathon pace is probably in the 445 range. Where on a treadmill, you’re pretty much if you’re doing a workout, you set it at 445 and you just — all your focus is on is kind of not falling off the back of the treadmill.
Coach Jeff: Whereas in a race or outside, there’s a little bit — you have to monitor your effort a little bit more because if you start to slack off, there’s not that immediate like — you don’t feel yourself sliding off the back of the treadmill. Have you felt that’s been something that you’ve struggled with or something that you had to adapt to?
Antonio: A little bit and for me what I like to do is when I’m running a hard effort, I’ll go ahead and throw in a 3% incline on there where it simulates a hill. It’s like, “Okay, now I need to focus on driving my legs and really keeping myself nice and relaxed because I’m going up a hill.” By doing something like that, you really develop this huge strength pace that you wouldn’t necessarily get from just running flat on the treadmill. I found by doing that that kept me mentally focused, not just staying on the treadmill, but like kind of almost like a race kind of mentality where it’s just like, “Okay, now, it’s getting harder so now you need to relax and focus.” Then once you get to that nice even level plain, you kind of can relax again so it almost simulates like a surge on a race track.
Coach Jeff: That makes a lot of sense. Actually, I really thought about that that’s a great strategy to come out that fact that you can get scale and just kind of lock into a pace and forget about it. Where if you’re throwing in a surge everything here and there, it is kind of like a race when you have good spots and bad spots and more undulating training that kind of thing. You brought up the 3% when you thrown some of the surges. Do you ever — do you set your treadmill at any percent like for any — basically, what I’m trying to say is a lot of the research that I’ve seen has shown that 1% on the treadmill incline is roughly equivalent to or rules out the fact that there is no wind resistance and that the ground is moving under you. You’re not moving over it. Do you set to 1% when you run?
Antonio: It depends today. If I’m struggling and I feel like confidence wise, I just need to have a good workout, let me throw a negative incline on that so like I’m on a downhill. It’ just like, “Okay, well –,” granted, it’s aided, but at least I’m doing the workout. I do try to set it at least like a 0.5% grade on there usually, but like I said, if I just need to have a day where it’s just like, “Okay, that went well. I will do whatever it takes to stay on that damn machine sometimes.”
Coach Jeff: Now, I mean, that’s another great strategy and I think a lot of people can learn from is that if you’re having a bad day, maybe incentives slowing to pace down or instead of doing something else, you can just decline it, lower the incline and now you’re running the same pace and maybe it’s a little bit easier, but 0.5%, 1%, it’s still hard effort. You’re still running hard on a treadmill like you kind of mentioned.
Coach Jeff: Obviously, the question everybody wants to know like, do you get bored when you run on the treadmill?
Antonio: Yeah, that’s the hardest part. I’ve done as long as 26 miles on a treadmill.
Coach Jeff: Wow!
Antonio: This is like — when you’re on there for two plus hours, its like, “What can I do, what can I take my attention off when I’m doing to break up the monotony of just training on there?”
Coach Jeff: What do you do? What are some of the things that you do?
Antonio: There are so many tricks. Infomercials are phenomenal for just like taking your mind off what you’re doing. Like, I remember just sitting there watching the Magic Bullet and just feeling, “Wow! That’s amazing.” The next thing you know, seven, eight miles have gone by and you’re just like, “Okay.” You’re in here.
Coach Jeff: Do you have a Magic Bullet now?
Antonio: I do, yeah— sold me on it.
Coach Jeff: See, it works.
Antonio: I even do like — for me, Life Time Fitness like I mentioned is a big sponsor of Team USA Minnesota and they have 15 clubs around the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. I would even go to — I had a rotation of clubs that I would go to just to break up the scenery or I would do 10 miles on one treadmill, get on the other side of the club on a different treadmill just to have a different view of what was going on. That for me broke it up and I guess once you start wrapping your head around the fact that you’re going to be on this thing for two plus hours, it gets a little easier. I always found the five-mile that were just like a half an hour run were the ones that drag down forever because I felt like, it was like, “Oh, this should go by in seconds.” The next thing you know, I’m just like, “Mile in only, huh.”
Coach Jeff: Well, that’s funny. I mean, just for some reason, I kind of expected you telling me and saying like, “Oh, I don’t get bored,” just because you’ve done so much of it, but I mean obviously, I came running more than a couple of miles on treadmill. I’m going like, “This is it. I’m done.”
Antonio: Yeah, it’s tough. Yeah, that’s — probably the biggest battle is just doing it.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, do you ever feel like that’s an advantage in races or otherwise where you have maybe the ability to kind of zone out maybe a little bit more or push yourself like when you’re running outside, it’s obviously a lot easier mentally. Do you feel like that’s an advantage to you sometimes?
Antonio: Sometimes, I think every runner kind of draws strength from different areas of their training and for me, just the ability to zone out and especially when I’m doing a hard long tempo run and kind of disassociate from the pain and just walk in on this pace, definitely like. Everyone has that time when they’re running where things start to hurt and the option of slowing down and not continuing that pace always seems so much better, but in the end, you know you’re going to be disappointed if you do that so yeah, definitely.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, interesting. Now, with the workouts that Dennis Barker was assigning you. How did you adapt them this and to build up to the U.S. Half Marathon Championships, how did you adapt them from what you might have been doing outside to what you had to do on a treadmill? Was there anything that you need to change?
Antonio: Dennis is a very interesting coach where he’ll never give you a pace he wants you to hit for a workout. A lot of our conversations we need into a workout is well, what do you think you could run this in kind of thing. That’s then changed the fact that we were on a treadmill, which is like, “Well, do what you think you can do and this is the type of effort that you want to be having in this.” Having that going in, it was all of of how I felt so staying within myself within that workout.
The biggest issue that we have while training on the treadmill is that sometimes, the treadmills don’t go any faster than 445-pace. There’s only a few treadmills out there that will actually get down to that four-minute pace so then you’re dealing with incline like going up 2% or 3% will increase your speed by X amount kind of thing. That’s what I found I was having to do a lot of is — if I wanted to get down on that 420-pace, the next thing you know, I’m running 445-pace with 4.5% grade kind of thing. You had to adjust stuff of that, but at that time, I was just going up a feel. Like this felt like an anaerobic type effort type thing so that’s how I did it.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, so digging into that that kind of increasing the incline to increase the effort or roughly the pace, did you guys have a chart that you use to roughly setting Jack Daniels has a chart that roughly creates grade effort. Did you guys have a chart that you use or was it just kind of based on how you felt?
Antonio: I had a chart at home and I always would mean to bring it with me when I went for a workout, but I would just forget it. I always forgot it and I was just like, “Well, whatever, I’ll just — I’ll do what I can do.” I’ve seen the chart, I never used it. I’ve obviously looked at it and no — so no, I never use the chart or anything like that.
Coach Jeff: I actually think in some ways that’s probably a better approach just from the fact that you’re able to listen to your body a little bit more and you understand that there is an equation. I should say a relevance to what the effort is going to be when you increase the incline and so you just kind of listen to your body and said, “I’m running really hard. This is probably what running 420-pace on a track would be effort wise,” and that’s pretty much where you’re at. You’re kind of more listening to what your body was saying.
Antonio: Yeah, definitely.
Coach Jeff: Cool. In terms of some of the other workouts, one of the things that I have a hard time when I have to assign athlete’s workouts that are on the treadmill is doing anything. Like for example you’re talking 420-pace, it’s hardly go from stopping to 420-pace, standing to 420-pace and then how do you safely navigate those types of speed workouts?
Antonio: Man, I’m pretty reckless when I get on that treadmill so I don’t know if I’m the best to ask about this, but gees, I tried to grab on the best I can to do anything while I try to slow that pace out. For me, I found it too hard to jump off the treadmill and then slow it down so I would always try to grab on and then try to hit the buttons to slow down a little bit. There have been times where I almost fell off. Especially the times when I — one time I missed at the grade and it went up to like 10% grade when I was on like I don’t know, like 445-pace kind of thing. As it was going, I kept reaching to try to grab the bar to slow it down and I kept missing it. When I got it, I didn’t fall off, but yeah, there was some panic going on with that one.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, well, the basic question, have you ever fallen off?
Antonio: No, I’ve never fallen off. There’s been close. There have been a couple of times of like, “Phew!” But no, never fell off.
Coach Jeff: Yeah. So just for people to — I guess so I can picture it as well. Basically, what you’re doing is you’re trying to press the buttons and slow down as much as you can at the same time.
Coach Jeff: Okay, and then what about starting back into the interval. For example, if you wanted you’re hitting — for example, if you’re on the treadmill that goes 400-pace and you want to be at 420-pace, do you just jump right on at 420-pace or do you try to increase it a certain point?
Antonio: Yes, so before like if I had 20 seconds to go in my recovery, I’ll start increasing that pace up just a little bit to a six-minute pace and then slowly work my way down. Once I started getting into like under five, I’ll hit my time for the interval type of thing. It might not be 420-pace for the entire mile or whatever, but by the time I get there and relax in other pace, it’s pretty close.
Coach Jeff: Okay, yeah. I mean again, I think that is a good indication of how you approach your training from an effort relax standpoint where you’re not like, “I needed to be at 420-pace for exactly 1.0 miles and it was 0.95 because I had the ease into it.” You kind of just say, “Hey, I’m on the treadmill, I’m running hard, it counts.”
Coach Jeff: Okay, cool. I see you got your dog there.
Antonio: I got the dog there. [Inaudible 00:22:48] just rollover. She is not happy.
Coach Jeff: Another question that — I’m actually going to working to some of the questions that some of the — our social media people had asked you or wanted to ask you. You mentioned that you’re at Life Time Fitness, what kind of treadmills do you use at Life Time?
Antonio: They used to have these WOODWAY treadmills. I don’t know if you’re familiar with those where like you have like the wood slots. Those things are awesome because they would go — I think they would go about 440-pace, but it was just such a smooth run on it where you didn’t have the big — the deck, where the other one the belt treadmills use where you get that big jump on it, but they’re starting to fade some out of the clubs so they’re super hard to find. So now, I just have to use a belt treadmill.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, and these wood ones are soft or aren’t they?
Antonio: Yeah, definitely.
Coach Jeff: Cool, yeah. I know a lot of people just — when they had their treadmill, it’s like once they find the one that they really like, it’s hard to get away from it.
Antonio: Yeah, and even like after like the Houston Half, I was like, “God, if WOODWAY would throw me a treadmill my way, I would love that.” All the training I’m doing on there, but —
Coach Jeff: Yeah, we’ll have to shoot in this interview and kind of sneak it in and say, “Hey, look.” So getting into a little bit of your training since that Half Marathon and looking at it now, we spoke a little bit before this interview about some of the — that you’re dealing with some injuries. Talk about what you’re dealing with and how that’s impacted your training.
Antonio: Yeah, how long do we have to go over the list of injuries here? So right after 2010 like into the summer of August of 2010, I injured my hip and I wasn’t exactly sure to the extent that I injured it. For the longest time, I was like, “Ah, it’s a cold muscle. It’s a strain.” I didn’t think it was anything too big. I finally ran, I kept running, kept running, I was going to run New York in November of 2010. I just had to pull out. It’s just things weren’t coming around. Only to be diagnosed with a hernia. Get the hernia fixed. December rolls around, still having issues with my hip. Finally, they said, “Oh, you have a stress fracture now, too.” So I had fractured my pelvis. That took almost like six months to recover from.
Bottom-line, the underlying issue was that I had a hip impingement. So basically, the ball and socket is the hip joint. The ball on my hip was scraping against the socket of the hip and I tore the cartilage and I was having this sharp shooting pain. Unfortunately, it took almost a year for them to diagnose that. So I got the surgery, start to come back, started training again and in the middle of a run, I got this stabbing pain in my other hip and at that time, I knew I had torn my cartilage on my labrum on my other hip. I didn’t want to believe it at that time. I was like, “No.” I was like, “That can’t –,” I’ve never wished for a stress fracture anymore than that time. I was like, “Oh, previous stress fracture.” It doesn’t cost money. I can just do it, heal on its own. Unfortunately, I had torn my other labrum on the other hip.
Coach Jeff: Wow!
Antonio: So that was — I had surgery in October of 2011 and the one torn in January of 2012, finally got figured out in April, had surgery, just started running again this past August. Now, I’m getting back into it. I ran two races. I did the Twin Cities 10 Mile and the Des Moines Half Marathon.
Coach Jeff: You’re pretty well if I recall.
Antonio: Yeah, you know it went well.
Coach Jeff: Or couldn’t get (cross talking).
Antonio: Considering what I’ve been through and having such a long hiatus from the sport, it went decent definitely.
Coach Jeff: Now, did you guys ever look at what the — I mean tearing two labrums like that, I mean, that’s pretty significant. Did you guys ever look into why that might have happened?
Antonio: So the way I understand is that it’s a genetic thing to have this kind of impingement and the doctor told me that a lot of people have it. The only difference is that I was trying to run a 120, 140 miles a week back to back kind of thing. So generally, when people have this type of injury, they’re in their 60s, 70s and it make sense to just have a full hip replacement. So obviously with me being I was 27 at that time, I was like, “That doesn’t make sense.” So they had to go on and do this different type of surgery. Apparently, when you tear one, you’re like 90% likely to tear the other one within a year.
Coach Jeff: Wow! I didn’t know that.
Antonio: Yeah, I didn’t either and so like when I tore the other one, I was just like, was like, “Am I going crazy? Is this all in my head that I’m having this hip pain?” But I wished I would have known that, it would have saved me some stress a little bit, whatever.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, so do you — is there any type of hip strengthening work that you do now to kind of help everything out?
Antonio: Yeah, so the way with this kind of hip surgery works is that it will take close to three to four years before you feel 100% with it.
Coach Jeff: Wow!
Antonio: So I still have some pretty significant hip pain, not nearly as bad as what it was. I can function on, I can run, I can train that kind of stuff. But the rehab protocol is never ending. It’s this side one, just regular one, just glut strength that’s just like strengthening all the muscles around it that you just have to continually do. Every time I start to get lazy about doing that kind of strength work, it flares up again. It’s just like, “Okay, don’t be stupid about this. Keep doing it.” Yeah, it takes me almost an hour and a half, two hours to do it everyday.
Coach Jeff: Wow!
Antonio: It’s a long process.
Coach Jeff: Gees, I mean, kudos to you for continuing to do it and none like to fight through being off and being injured for that long, but even now, to continue to run at the level that you are having to put in so much time and effort into things that are outside just running. I mean, that’s hard to do.
Antonio: Yeah, it’s just weird because it’s like, you don’t get any — there are no benefits from it. It’s not like you’re getting like a six-pack abs or anything like that. Like you’re doing these very light small exercises that look ridiculous, but it’s the only thing that keeps you healthier really.
Coach Jeff: Right. When you start to coming back after that long time off, how long did it take you roughly to start feeling somewhat normal again that your fitness level was approaching where it was prior to injury?
Antonio: Silly, it’s really weird because I just started training in August. So like August was the first like workout that I had, the first week of like 50 miles or whatever and I had done a lot of cross training like I was doing four or five hours on a bike. I was shocked when I was coming back and I was able to hang with Andrew Carlson and Jon Peterson and Chris Rombough, the other guys on my team and I was just like, “Well, this is weird. I haven’t been able to train in almost two years running wise, but aerobically, I was very fit.” It really didn’t take long at all. Like two weeks after getting back into things, I was feeling pretty good and I was hitting times that I was hitting back in 2010 when I was in a really good shape.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, I mean I think that’s pretty common. I experienced the same thing. I took off about eight months for plantar fascia issue and when I came back, it really only took a couple of months before I was running roughly equivalent times to what I would have pretty injury and I was really surprised at how quickly it came back. I think so many people that get injured, they’re so worried about how much fitness they’re going to lose, but it really come — if you’ve have a pretty decent aerobic base like we obviously did, I mean a lot of people do, then it does come back pretty quick, which is something that I see really, really often in a lot of people.
Antonio: Yeah, definitely.
Coach Jeff: Speaking with the injury theme, did you ever find that running on the treadmill when you are going up — leading into the Half Marathon Championships, did you find that you had a lot of maybe a little repetitive injuries because you are — it’s pretty much the same motion for most of the efforts that you were doing?
Antonio: Yeah. I guess nothing more than I would usually have. Maybe as you know when we were training in Rochester, Michigan like running on that ice sometimes leads you a little bit more prone to like Achilles issues when — as you’re getting that slip and you don’t have that good footing. So I started to avoid those kinds of injuries. A lot of my training, I try to focus on doing something a little bit more laterally because running is so straightforward that every now and again just doing something like agility drills, which isn’t necessarily something that we do in our sport is really beneficial to keeping yourself healthy.
Coach Jeff: Now, I agree with [inaudible 00:32:19] and I always tell the story to people when I was in college and I was probably some 40-minute 5k shape and I remember playing wiffle ball with my cousin and the next day, I woke up and I was — I couldn’t even move. I was like, “This is ridiculous.” Like I can run a 120 miles a week and I can run some 40 minutes for 5k, which is pretty decent and I can’t play wiffle ball without getting torn and that’s really when it come down to.
Antonio: Yeah, definitely.
Coach Jeff: So going back to some of the treadmill workouts, we have some more questions that people ask. Are there any sort of workouts that you found to be more effective on the treadmill than there were outside that they were either easier to do or — that you felt like you’ve got more benefit out of them?
Antonio: We do a lot of like progressive tempo runs and those always seem to go a little bit better on the treadmill than they did outside. I’m sure a lot of that had to do was starting at a pace that was a little bit easier and then working myself up into a pace that was more where I should have ended at. I think outside, you have the tendency to think that you’re going too slow too often when you’re trying to do something like that. So you would start at a pace that maybe wasn’t doable the entire time while you’re working out.
Coach Jeff: Now actually, that’s a great example. I see that with a lot of the athletes that I coach is, we do a lot of cut down runs and it’s always the first couple of miles you feel great and then you end up running little fast and you don’t think it’s going to come back to bite you. And then the last mile, you can’t do it because you’ve ran too hard and obviously on the treadmill, you can completely control it so it makes a lot of sense. I’m on the same line, what’s your favorite workout to do on a treadmill if you — I know nobody’s favorite workout is the treadmill, but —
Antonio: Right, we do a workout. It’s a 15, 10, 10, 5, so 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes. Five minute recovery between all those sets and it’s basically just as fast that you can do each interval so that it’s not even — you’re not even trying to maintain threshold pace or anything like that. It’s like as fast as you can run for 15 minutes, as fast as you can run for 10 minutes kind of thing. I hate that workout when I have to do it outside because it always goes terrible, but when I do that on the treadmill, I always have a really strong workout with that one.
Coach Jeff: Why do you think that is? Do you think it has to do something again with the ability to control pace?
Antonio: I don’t really know because I start at a pretty aggressive pace right from the start and there’s a pretty steep incline on it in order to keep that pace that I want to hit. I don’t really know if there’s a reason. I think maybe it’s just a mental thing for me like whatever reason that one, it’s just like that mental piece that I have that I just for whatever reason can have a successful day when I’m on the road so I don’t know.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, and you know what’s funny, I think we all have those mental workout sometimes where mine was actually the cut down run, which is for the Hudson to be you said your 10 mile starting at six-minute pace and getting down to 450, 440, which — and really wasn’t — it’s not a hard workout.
Coach Jeff: But for whatever reason, I bomb it every time and I couldn’t tell you what it was and it was one of the easiest workouts that we would do and I don’t know why. But I do think that sometimes, we just have this mental block to certain workouts and nothing you can do about it.
Antonio: Right, yeah, just one of those things.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, so going back to leading into Houston again, did you guys do anything before Houston to transition yourself from — I mean, personally, I would have been like — there’s no way I could have flown to Houston and said like, “I hadn’t run outside in months or at least a month and now I’m going to race.” I don’t think I could mentally done it. Maybe you did, but was there anything that you guys did transition wise?
Antonio: No, I mean and I don’t know why this is, but for me, running on the treadmill that much didn’t seem that weird. It was until like after the fact that this came out that people knew that that’s how everybody trained that they’re like, “How did you do that?”
Coach Jeff: Right, yeah, you’ve got a lot of press for it.
Antonio: Right, exactly. I was just like, “You know, you come live up in Minnesota if you don’t understand why I had to do that.” For me, I mean, I didn’t think it was weird at all. I was just like, “Whatever, this is how I have to train in and sometimes to be successful. You have to do things that you wouldn’t necessarily want to do.” For me, this is one of them and so mentally, I didn’t think it was a big deal at all.
Coach Jeff: Again, that goes back to your approach to training in general, which I think is really refreshing and something that a lot of people can learn from and that you just roll with the punches. I mean, whether it be workout is not going to plan or just having to run on the treadmill, whatever it is. You seemed to have a really good ability to roll with the punches. Do you find that that works for you in the same thing race wise like do you feel like you can adapt really well in races to things not maybe going your way?
Antonio: Yeah. Now, I’m glad that I’m coming off as laid back as I am because if my wife is here right now, she’d be laughing at that. Yes and no like, I mean, running is such a weird sport because you can do the same thing day after day, year after year and have completely different results kind of thing. A big part is and this is what I’ve learned from Dennis as my coach is that he is very even keel and he never gets too excited, he never gets too down, he’s just very — that’s just who he is.
A big part of that is has worn off of me like there’s days when I will go into a workout and running five-minute paces the hardest effort I could possibly do and he’ll be like, “You know, that’s not bad,” kind of thing and you do kind of start to realize that. When it comes into races, you can’t control all the variables, you can’t control how your legs are going to feel on that day. You try your best, but there are going to be days where you’re just off and you can’t do it.
I mean I think just kind of relaxing and let the race come to you is kind of my philosophy. It’s like, if it’s there, I’m going to have a good day. If it’s not, you try to salvage it the best you can, but you just got to get the hard effort in and you’ll race again next month and hope for the best.
Coach Jeff: I mean, I think that’s a great lesson to learn. I hope people that are listening really can try to start applying that to their training when you have that days shake it off. I know I had a hard time with that for a long time and it took to like probably without the Hudson’s actually that I kind of just rolled it off seeing guys like Brian so I have bad days too and just being like, “Hey, it happens to everybody.” I know you haven’t been actually running for that long, but if you could go back five or 10 years and kind of give yourself one piece of advice, what would that be and why?
Antonio: I think patience is probably the biggest thing that you have to learn as a runner. This isn’t something that you have immediate success at it. What you do today might not necessarily benefit you next week or three months on the road, but two years down the road, this might be the workout that really sets you up to have a big day. I always tell people that when they asked me when I had a good performance, “What you do two months ago? How did you get there?” I say, “I didn’t start two months ago. This started when I was a senior in high school when I first started running and I made that decision to go up with the cross country team. It’s those sacrificing those Friday nights to get up early Saturday morning to go for a long run and those are the things that really benefit you.” The more patience and the more dedicated you are to this sport, sooner or later, you’re going to have success in it. That’s just kind of the way it is.
Coach Jeff: Now, I mean I think that’s a great advice and I think it goes into the thing that we first talked about back in the first part of the interview about the consistency in your training. And that when you look back at your training leading up to Houston, it wasn’t that there are any knock them dead phenomenal workouts. It was just good run after good run and getting them all in, probably goes back to the same idea.
Antonio: Yeah, definitely.
Coach Jeff: Cool! So what are your plans now in moving forward? What kind of distances are you looking to do, stay on the track, do some roads, marathon maybe?
Antonio: Yeah, I guess I’m kind of going month by month at this point. At this moment, I’m planning on running Houston Half Marathon here in January. Right now, we’re trying to decide when is the best time to get back into the marathon kind of back in the training. I’ve realized after coming back from that three surgeries in the last year and a half or so that my training needs to change just a little bit. Right now, I guess that’s what I’m trying to figure out whether that means taking one day off a week to just cross train and get the body sometime to recover or is it — bringing the mileage down or switching workouts throughout.
Right now, I’m kind of in this learning process where it’s like, “Okay, what’s the next best move for me? Is it going to be wait until next fall to run a marathon and really figure out and nail it there or am I going to be ready to go by spring or late summer,” kind of thing. We’re just going to kind of see how it goes.
Coach Jeff: Yeah, well I think that actually goes back again to the patience thing that you talked about where you’re not trying to force it and not trying to push things and I think that’s something that our audience can learn from in that. Yeah, I know you may — for example, speaking to the audience here, yeah, I know you may want to do a marathon in the spring, but sometimes, you need to look at yourself and say, it’s just the best decision for me short-term and long-term. It sounds like you’re doing a really good job with that really trying to wait and figure out what your body is telling you, how it needs to train and then once you figured that out, then you can start making plans about what works best for you?
Antonio: Yeah, definitely.
Coach Jeff: You mentioned obviously — we’ve obviously talked about Team USA Minnesota, which is a huge supporter of you and then one of those big sponsors is Life Time Fitness, which they give you guys’ access to their fitness centers, which is obviously hugely helpful for you. What are some of the — who are some of the other sponsors that Team USA Minnesota and for yourself?
Antonio: I’m sponsored by Mizuno right now and —
Coach Jeff: What shoe are you running? I know everybody is going to want to know.
Antonio: I run in the Wave Inspire and the Wave Elixir are like my two go-to shoes so yeah, great product and they’ve been phenomenal. I can’t thank them enough for being as understanding with me as they have been. It’s like ever since 2010, I’ve had less than ideal situations, but they’ve been with me 100%, which — it says a lot about the company and the people that work there.
Coach Jeff: I couldn’t agree more and not to interrupt your other sponsors too, but obviously, sponsorship and elite athletes is something that’s a hot topic or a big topic amongst elite athletes and obviously something that I’m opinionated about. I think it’s awesome when companies like Mizuno support athletes like you and continue to support them when they go through rough periods and then just say — don’t call you up in 2011 and say, “Hey, you’ve got her. You’re done. We’re not sponsoring anymore.” They stop by you and they know that there’s — they know that you have a lot more to bring to the sport and I think that’s phenomenal.
Antonio: Yeah, any time you had people who know running, they get it. It’s the people who don’t get running who don’t understand that — working hard. There is a reason why you get injured is because you are pushing yourself that hard. It’s not like I was playing basketball and torn my ACL or something. It’s completely different.
Coach Jeff: Right.
Antonio: Mizuno has been great, Team USA Minnesota has been great, their primary sponsors are Twin Cities Marathon, which — I mean, they put on a great event every October and have so many fun events throughout the city of the Minneapolis in Saint Paul and they just really support the whole running community within Minnesota that’s — that’s great people to be around.
Coach Jeff: Awesome! Well, Antonio, I really appreciate you taking the time of your day. I mean I learned a lot and I think our audience will learn a lot about you and about training and obviously using the treadmill and things like that and a lot of lessons learned. So I really, really appreciate you taking the time out. It’s a — for those of you who don’t know, we recorded this on a Saturday. So Antonio, I really appreciate it and we want to wish you the best of luck and how can people follow along if they want to kind of follow your progress the next year or so as you kind of get back — bounce back from injury?
Antonio: Yeah, so I have a blog on Mizuno website so you can just go to the athlete’s section and click on the blog. I try to update that about every month or so.
Coach Jeff: Okay, what we’ll do is — for those that are listening. Again, if you visit runnersconnect.net/rc11, we’ll throw out a link to Antonio’s blog and to some relevant articles that we’ve kind of talked about and topics that we talked about here as well. So if you want to follow along, visit us there and we’ll definitely throw up a link. So awesome, thank you so much for your time Antonio, I really, really appreciate it.
Antonio: Yeah, thanks for having me. It was great.
Coach Jeff: No problem.