We caught up with Josh Rohatinsky at the San Jose airport after his run with Adam Goucher in the San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon. Josh and Adam are part of the training group coached by Alberto Salazar for Nike.
Josh is putting in the final preparations for the ING New York City Marathon, where he will run his second marathon. HIs first was at the U.S. Olympic Trials, where he ran so well…
1. What was your first experience in track or cross country?
Josh I remember my dad taking my sister and I around to the little USATF cross country and track meets. One of the first things I remember is being excited at the track meets because my dad would always let me eat half a Hershey’s bar ten minutes before the race for “energy,” then the other half right after the race for “recovery!” I’ve luckily adopted new sports nutrition habits since then.
2.What was training like in high school?
Josh Training in high school was really low key for me. I wanted to play basketball but I decided I’d try running out at the high school level since I’d had success earlier on, and I ended up winning state my freshman year, so I decided to stick with it. And I worked hard, but by other good high school runner’s standards I probably did about half of what they did. I ran 30-35 miles a week and our speed sessions were pretty low key. It was all about having fun with my friends on the team.
3.Tell us about your college coach? how did college differ from high school?
Josh Ed Eyestone was the factor that put me over the top in my decision to go to BYU. When it was announced that he’d be the coach, I felt like I’d be stupid not to take that opportunity. He’s very knowledgeable, and he’s been where I wanted to be and had done what I wanted to do, so I could trust him. I’m glad I chose BYU because I think he’s the only coach of that caliber that would also be willing and patient to work with me for long-term development. He understood that my high school training wasn’t a lot, and he really took a conservative approace with me durng my time at BYU, so in that way he was a lot like my high school coach. And we went from a 248th finish at XC nationals my freshman year to a 1st place finish my senior year, so I think that goes to show how he did with me.
4. When did you make a commitment to running?
Josh I’ve had to make that commitment a few different times in my life. It’s nothing I’ve ever taken lightly, and I’ve always told myself that if I’m doing it I’m really going to put everything I have into it. I committed my freshman year of high school after winning state in the fall. I had to make sure it was what I wanted to do after high school. But my toughest commitment came during the end of my college career. I got hurt quite a bit in college, and after missing out on my Junior outdoor track season with a stress fracture I was closer than I’ve ever been to calling it quits. There were times when I knew I’d never run competitively again, but then something told me I still had things to do. I committed to my last season at BYU, made a goal to win an NCAA title, got my title, and have been committed since then.
5. What was college training like?
Josh Like I said, Ed did a good job of gradually bringing me into a more intense system than I was used to in high school. My freshman year I think I topped out at 65 miles, then I went on my mission for two years and when I came back we just kept increasing the volume and intensity year by year. Ed gives his athletes a lot of freedom and personal accountability as far as training goes – he doesn’t micromanage much – and although that doesn’t work for some guys it was the perfect situation for me.
6. What is difference between college and being a professional athlete?
Josh It has its good things and its hard things. Obviously not having classes or another day job is a huge positive because you can recover better and therefore work harder…but the hard part is just that – working harder. I feel like I’ve been lucky having the high school (Phil Olsen), college (Ed Eyestone), and professional (Alberto Salazar) coaches I’ve had because it seems like each one has been the right kind of coach for me at the right time. Alberto was a work-horse when he trained and competed, and unlike Ed he micromanages a lot. I wouldn’t have done good with that in college, but I think it’s the exact thing I need right now to get to the next level.
7. Tell us about the Olympic Trials?
Josh To be honest, it was a good experience. That said, any time you’re that close to an Olympic berth and you don’t get it, you’re going to be disappointed. I think it just came down to a few bad decisions. My last three weeks of preparation leading up to the Trials didn’t go well – we thought we were dealing with calf pain when in reality (we found out after the Trials) we were dealing with a stress fracture. That said, I feel like in early June I was in shape and ready to run with the lead group of three at the Trials and make the team, but that’s not how it turned out. I learned a lot though, and I’ll be better for it next time.
8. You are now training for your second marathon? How has that differed from your 10,000 meter training?
Josh I ran the Olympic Trial marathon last fall and ended up 9th in my debut on a tough course (Central Park), and I’m excited to get out and do one on a course that’s at least a little bit flatter and easier to run even and smooth on. I really think I’m naturally inclined for marathon training. Obviously the hard part is increasing my volume more than I would preparing for a 10k. But as far as specific quality workouts go, I think I respond to and handle marathon training better than other shorter training. Long runs, longer repeats, and 10-20 mile tempo runs sit well with me.
9. New York is a highly competitive and also challenging course? Many city marathon courses are flat and track like. ING New York is more like a championship venue, is there a different approach to training?
Josh Not much. Like I said, I ran the marathon in Central Park last year so I believe the actual NYC marathon course is a step down as far as challenging goes. There’s some hills, but nothing ridiculous or overwhelming. We do hill repeats once a week, and I’ve always tended to do well on hills too so for me I think the course is a good fit.
10. What keeps you sane during training? Fave music? Fave books?
Josh I’m not much of a reader, but I like to listen to all kinds of music on my runs. I make a playlist on my ipod before I go out for a long run, and in the same run it can range from Weezer to anything like Andrea Bocelli.
11. Finally, tell us about your training group? Do you run together every day? Do you run on your own at all anymore?
Josh Our training group is great, and it’s one of the main reasons I came out here. I was tempted to stay in Utah with Ed, which I think also would have been a good decision, but I really wanted to be training with people that would push me. I figured I won’t get any faster unless I’m chasing someone. I actually do a lot of my easy days by myself, just because I don’t really adhere to a strict running schedule – I just go when my body tells me it’s ready to go. We almost always meet to do our hard days together, so it’s nice to be able to have both.
12. One more finally, do you have a fave quote, a fave song, that gives you inspiration? If not, that is fine, just thought of this one during some insomnia.
Josh I do a lot of thinking when I’m out running, and one little saying that I’ve kind of come up with and repeat to myself is: “The key to daily happiness isn’t always doing what you enjoy, but always enjoying what you do.” Being a professional runner is an amazing opportunity, but it’s not a cake walk. Like any other job, there’s days you get up and just don’t feel like you can get out the door and do it. ButI’ve always told myself that I’ll run as long as I’m enjoying it; but when it becomes a burden and a job, that’s when I stop. So that quote helps remind me to keep enjoying it and appreciate the opportunities given to me.
Special thanks to Josh for his time. Special thanks to Alberto Salazar for his assistance.
Runblogrun.com encourages you to check out the sites of Shooting Star Media, inc. (www.shootingstarmediainc.com): American Track & Field (www.american-trackandfield.com), Athletes Only (www.atf-athlete.com), California Track & Running News (www.caltrack.com), MIssouri Runner & Triathlete (www.morunandtri.com), Latinos Corriendo(www.latinoscorriendo.com), Coaching
Athletics Quarterly (www.coachingathleticsq.com), and USATF Fast Forward (www.usatf.org). All of the above magazine websites can be found at RunningNetwork.com (www.runningnetwork.com).