“(I want Hunter to run) with those collegiate runners, most of them in the 7:50s to low 8:00s. If he does that and runs successfully, then he’ll probably break the record.”
“Number one, he isn’t overtrained during the cross country season. I don’t overtrain him so he’s not mentally or physically overtrained, nor emotionally. He’s eager to win and train because he’s not overtarined. I don’t give nearly as him as many hard workouts as most coaches.”
By Jonathan Gault
January 29, 2016
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Drew Hunter‘s coach, Tom Schwartz, believes that his star pupil is capable of breaking Edward Cheserek‘s US high school indoor 3,000-meter record when he toes the line at Saturday’s Camel City Elite Races at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem. The Kenyan Cheserek set the mark, 8:05.46, en route to an 8:39.15 two-mile at the Millrose Games in 2013. The best mark by an American high schooler indoors is 8:06.3 by Gerry Lindgren in 1964; outdoors, German Fernandez has the U.S. HS record at 7:59.83 from 2008.
Though the record will be on spectators’ minds on Saturday (Runnerspace +plus members can watch the race live at 2:35 p.m. ET), Schwartz made it clear today that it is not Hunter’s primary focus. Schwartz said his goal for Hunter is to have him “run successfully.”
“For him, that means running with those collegiate runners, most of them in the 7:50s to low 8:00s,” Schwartz, also known as “Tinman” on the LetsRun messageboards (as explained here and here), said today to me on the phone. “If he does that and runs successfully, then he’ll probably break the record.”
Given what Schwartz said, it’s possible that Hunter could run the fastest 3000/2 mile in US high school history, indoors or out. The outdoor American HS 2 mile mark belongs to German Fernandez at 8:34.40, which is equivalent to 7:56.24 according to LetsRun.com/John Kellogg conversion, and the U.S. high school record belongs to the Lithuanian Lukas Verzbicas at 8:29.46, which equates to 7:51.67.
More than anything, though, Schwartz wants Hunter, a senior at Loudoun Valley (Va.) High School, to get used to a higher level of competition.
“The record is secondary,” Schwartz said. “Go out there and compete. Learn to compete. Run with the big boys. Learn to relax in the crowd. Learn to relax in a group. Learn to be alert and make moves if necessary. Learn to be a competitive racer. This is all buildup for the future. I’m building him up to be a great collegiate and post-collegiate runner.”
Hunter will have plenty of competition. Though top pros Garrett Heath and Lawi Lalang are out of his league, there are seven athletes in the field with pbs between 7:54 and 8:07, and it is those runners who Schwartz wants Hunter to compete with.
Challenging a high school record set by Edward Cheserek in January, a month when most runners are just beginning their track season — on a flat track, no less — is no small task, but Hunter is uniquely poised to take advantage of the situation. He ran 8:42.51 for two miles last spring (equivalent to 8:03.75 for 3k) and looked to be in even better shape last fall, setting the course record at Foot Locker South (14:26 5k) despite the course being lengthened and crushing the field in a dominant 14:55 win at Foot Locker finals on December 12.
And that fitness should carry over to Saturday as Schwartz revealed that Hunter took just three days off after his victory in San Diego. Hunter hasn’t been crushing mileage and workouts since then. He ran roughly 44 miles in his first week after Foot Locker and has taken a few days off when necessary. And he only ran 51 miles last week after battling the flu early in the week and then the winter storm Jonas dumped snow on the Mid-Atlantic, forcing him to run on the treadmill and skip his long run. But he has done several weeks in the 70s, and Schwart thinks he’s fit and should challenge the record on Saturday.
Most coaches would balk at Schwartz’s approach. Three days off after the cross country season? Schwartz knows this, but he is resolute in his approach.
“Number one, he isn’t overtrained during the cross country season,” Schwartz said. “I don’t overtrain him so he’s not mentally or physically overtrained, nor emotionally. He’s eager to win and train because he’s not overtrained. I don’t give nearly as him as many hard workouts as most coaches. See that’s their big mistake. That’s why they have to have their athletes take a couple weeks off, because they burn them out, probably more emotionally than anything.”
Schwartz, who owns a master’s in exercise science and is pursuing his Ph. D in health and human performance, also believes that time off would force Hunter to take an unnecessary step back in his training.
“[If you] take off a week, it takes him four weeks, research shows, to build [fitness] back to where you were,” Schwartz said. “My gosh! That’s just insane! … [Instead, I] use a lower volume after the season, gradually build up and keep momentum because even a lower volume, research shows, will sustain a lot of the mitochondrial enzymes … The lower volume still gives him a break mentally — although he doesn’t really need one. The whole key to success is what I’ve always said: keep the ball rolling! It’s momentum!”
We have a lot more insight from Schwartz later (most likely next week before Hunter tries to break 4:00 in the mile at the Armory) and will be at the track this afternoon to try to speak to Hunter.
Talk about the Camel City elite meet on our fan forum:
- MB: Andrew Hunter Over/Under 8:05.46 this Saturday?
- MB: Official 2016 Camel City Elite Discussion Thread
Editor’s note: The meet organizers have paid for most of Jonathan Gault’s travel and housing to the Camel City Elite meet in North Carolina.