Where Your Dreams Become Reality
- January 23, 2002
INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN BERRYHILL
LetsRun.com spoke with Brian Berryhill as he prepares to make his 2002 debut at the adidas Boston Indoor Games this Sunday in the mile. 2002 will be Berryhill's first full-year as a professional. Berryhill capped a standout collegiate career last year for Colorado State, where he was a 10-time All-American, as he captured both the 2001 NCAA indoor mile and outdoor 1500 meter title - leading wire to wire in both races. After NCAAs, Berryhill ended up a disappointing 7th at USATF in the 1500 meters and missed out of qualifying for his first world championship team.
Berryhill, originally hails from Oregon
where he was an accomplished multi-sport star in high school.
In track, Berryhill was a 400/800 meter runner who was a
3-time state champion in the 400 meters and 2-time state
champion in the 800 meters, despite running a grand total
of 8 miles per week (with his longest run every being 3
miles). He also played basketball and football throughout
high school. As a football wide-receiver, he was recruited
by several Division I schools including Oregon State.
The Brian Berryhill
Interview conducted on January 23, 2002 by Robert Johnson.
we talk about 2002, let's first look back at 2001. You went
two for two at NCAAs winning both the indoor mile and outdoor
1500 meters but then came up short at USATF.
What were your thoughts about the season overall?
BB: I was really happy with the two NCAA races. I thought they went really well. I wasn't happy with the USATF race at all. It didn't just quite work . But overall my main focus was to win the 2 NCAA championships so I had to be pleased. Plus I went to Europe after USATF and I was happy with the way it went over there. I ran 3:35 twice and thought that was pretty good.
satisfying was it to finally get the monkey off your
back and win those NCAA titles after being so close for
so long? I mean way back as a sophomore when you first showed
up in the mile, you were just edged out by Kevin Sullivan
(4:03.54 to 4:03.55 when Berryhill let up at the tape).
LRC: Let's talk a little about the USATF race. What exactly do you think happened there? Obviously you would have liked to get in the top 3 and make your first world championship team.
BB: I don't know -it was one of those things. Two weeks earlier, I ran the NCAA championships and led from start to finish and ran 3:37.05 and that was like a breeze. Then the training went o.k. in between and I get to the USATF race, and come the last 6-700 meters, I knew something just wasn't right. I just didn't have that kick over the last 400 meters and that really cost me. (Ed. Note: At USATF, Berryhill led the field through the first two laps in 58.3 for 400 meters and 1:57.8 for 800, but ended up 7th in 3:38.66.)
me ask you about the front-running style you often employ,
does that come naturally to you
or is that something that maybe your coach (Del Hessel)
has ingrained on you?
LRC: So when you are out front, you don't ever feel like the sacrificial lamb? Most guys are often scared to be out there in the lead.
BB: It depends on the race. There are certain times to do it now and certain times not to do it. For the NCAAs, I felt like it was a good plan. I felt like I was the in the best condition of everyone and felt like I could do that and win. At the USATF race, I went in there sort of second guessing what I should do and you can never do that. There are times though when you are in the lead when you don't know what's going on behind you and that's a little scary. It just depends on the race and who all is in it.
LRC: Can you tell me a little bit about your experience with the collegiate recruiting process. In high school, you were a 400/800 meter runner. What type of schools were recruiting you?
BB: You know I was a 400/800 runner. I talked to a lot of different schools but the first recruiting trip I went on was to Arkansas and after that I was pretty much set on going there. You know John McDonnell the coach there is just awesome as is the program. A couple of weeks before the signing period, I got a call from the head coach here at Colorado State and he wanted me to come out. I came out here and just fell in love with everything out here. I'm a big outdoors guy and just thought for five years of my life, I could live much easier in Colorado than in Arkansas. Arkansas is a nice place, but I'm from the West and Colorado just fit me better.
LRC: You've remained at Colorado State with your coach Del Hessel after graduation. It's not exactly the distance capital of the world. Do you have any training partners to work out with? What made you stay there?
BB: I still train pretty much by myself. When I do intervals, they are pretty much by myself although I do regular runs with some other guys sometimes. There's going to be a time probably when I need to do some intervals with some other guys - whether that's this year, next year or a couple years down the road, I don't know. I'm thinking about maybe going somewhere for a month to get some real quality training in. Being my first year out of school, I just sort of want to play it around and see what works best.
LRC: What's your relationship with your coach (Del Hessel). Do you really like him a lot?
BB: Yeah I do. We get along really well. It's worked before and I'm going to stick with this for now. If I find it's not working or go somewhere else for a month to train and realize that it was a huge help, then maybe I'll change my mind as far as going somewhere else.
you tell me a little bit about your training in general.
Also now that you've been a miler for several years, what
type of changes do you make, if any, from year to year in
LRC:Do you have a favorite workout or perhaps a staple workout that really tells you how things are going?
BB: A little later in the year,
coach always throws 20 x 400s at me. I've always done that
since my sophomore year although I do them faster now. By
doing that workout, it kind of tells me where I am. If I'm
doing them when I'm doing them well, I'll do am anywhere
from 58-59 with about 1:30-2 minute rest (at altitude).
Right now we're doing more 1000 or 800 meter repeats.
LRC: O.k., let's look ahead to 2002 and specifically your first race of the season this weekend in the mile at the adidas Boston Indoor Games. Do you have any expectations heading into the meet? It seems like from your training you might know better than most what to expect in the first race.
BB: I don't know where I am right now because last year I really tried to peak for NCAAs. But by the time I got to Europe, I was just holding on for dear life so this year coach and I want to push everything back a little bit as most professional runners do. As a professional, indoors isn't as big of a deal as it is say in college. So I'm not sure what to expect. I've done some real hard training but it's not what I'd do in the past. It's almost what I used to do in November/December - late cross-country type of training.
LRC: What about the race itself? Are you excited. It seems like they've got a pretty good field assembled?
BB: I'm excited to go... (chuckles). But can you tell me who all is in the field. I haven't seen it.
LRC: Sullivan, Lagat, Zedeye - an Olympic finalist from Ethiopia, Pyrah. Ibrahim Aden. Graffin from the U.K who I think has run 3:35ish.
BB: That should be pretty good. I didn't really know who was running.
LRC: Looking at the rest of 2002, what is your main focus for the year since there aren't any major championships?
BB: My main focus is to see if the training philosophy we are using for this year works. I'd like to run around 3:32 for 1500 meters and I'd to run 1:44 for 800. I'll going more for some time goals since there aren't any major championships. If I can hit those times, I'll be real pleased with that.
LRC: Last year, you got your first real dose of racing on the European circuit. How big of a difference is there between racing over there and here in the States or at NCAAs?
BB: It's a major difference. The main thing is that you're never worrying about leading a race over there. Your just worrying about holding on for your dear life. If you do that, you'll end up running a pretty good time. The weird thing is you feel like you're getting your ass kicked and yet you'll run a p.r. by one second. It's a lot different. There's not pressure whatsoever. For if you're in one of the big meets, you're not really worried about winning or anything - at least not yet. Someday, I'd obviously like to have to worry about it but now I just get over there, relax and let my legs go as fast as they can go.
LRC:Do you have a long time career plan laid out or do you take it more to year?
BB: I take it year to year. Obviously every runners dream is to make it to the Olympics, but other than that I sort of go year to year with time goals. The main long-term goal of course is the Olympics.
that you're no longer in college and are pretty much a full-time
professional runner (sponsored by adidas), I was wondering
how you fill your days. Do you enjoy not having to worry
type of mileage do you do in your training? Do you plan
on getting any higher.
LRC: When you look at the 1500 US picture, what do you see? It's seems a little muddled to us with a bunch of young guys all looking to break-out but there's no clear-cut standout in the past when there was someone like Steve Holman who ruled at least on the European scene.
BB: There definitely are a lot of other younger guys with a lot of potential. You know Lassiter, Webb, myself and of course Jennings, although I'm not sure what he's going to do, but he definitely has the potential. The older one is of course Paul McMullen - not that he's really old - I think he's going to have another good year. He's hanging in there. But there's definitely a younger group that a lot can happen with.
of Webb, I've got to ask you about the Prefontaine meet
last year. What were your feelings about the race? You ran
what at the time was a p.r. in the mile - 3:55 - and yet
got beat by a high schooler. What were your feelings after
LRC: A goal
of ours is to ask every runner we interview at least one
question about as we're tired of seeing the sport ruined
by the dark evil cloud of illegal drug use. What's your take
on the drug scene?
LRC: We're thinking about setting up a web-site where all athletes send the results of their drug tests so that the secrecy of the whole process can be removed and so any cover-ups/lack of testing will be exposed. Also maybe if track and field started doing things right, then the media would turn it's attention to what a joke testing is in leagues like the NFL. What do you think of this idea?
BB: I think that would be a good idea. It would let people know. It would be obvious who they are and aren't testing or why certain people aren't being randomly tested. It would show you how random everything truly is.