Pete Julian, Assistant Coach at Nike Oregon Project, in Eight Questions


RunBlogRun Opines: I see Pete Julian with his athletes most of the time. I was heading to Paris in late June, and Pete was heading over with Sifan Hassan. He was quite excited as he had never been able to spend a few days in Paris.

Jeff Benjamin caught up with the Nike Oregon Project coach, and gave him eight good questions. Know this, Pete Julian loves his work and his athletes. His devotion to them is obvious, and his enjoyment of his job, and his career gives him a quiet confidence.

image2.JPGCoach Pete Julian supervising workout with Shannon Rowbury, Sifan Hassan, Post NB Indoor GP, February 2017, photo by Jeff Benjamin

You will find Pete Julian with a watch, on a track, post event, helping his athletes get their workouts in. That is the nature of the game: consistency is key in being an elite athlete. As John Parker, the author of Once a Runner put it, "Trials of Miles and Miles of Trials."

image3.JPGPete Julian, the coach and his watch, Eric Jenkins and Matthew Centrowtiz, photo by Jeff Benjamin

Jeff Benjamin Writes: Peter Julian is a busy guy these days. The Assistant Coach of the Nike Oregon Project, led by head Coach Alberto Salazar, is once again preparing himself and the NOP athletes for Championship time, which starts on August 4th with the IAAF World Championships. Coach Julian's tenacity and dedication will hopefully once again be one of the leading components for NOP athletes reaching the medal podium in London.

But one can not forget his passion.

"I remember sitting in the Hayward Field (1982) stands as an 11 year old kid, watching a stacked men's 5000 at Hayward Field. Some guy named Matt Centrowitz (Sr), who I had never heard of, blazed the last 400 meters, winning the race and breaking the American record. Alberto Salazar was in the same race and he was one of my favorite athletes, so I was completely distraught that he lost. It's so strange and wonderful that here we are some 35 years later and I've been blessed to have gotten to know Matt Sr. and his family as a coach for Alberto's Nike Oregon Project. That family is one of a kind and I love them for it. No matter where I am in the world with the Nike Oregon Project, anytime a Centrowitz enters the room, my spirit can't help but be lifted."-

That spirit has led Julian to run a 28:05 10K PR and also represent team USA in 1997 and 1998 at the World XC Championships. On the administrative side Julian was instrumental in bringing the USA National XC Champs to Boulder in 2007 as well.

Julian is also a cancer survivor, having beaten back intestinal cancer twice in his life.

RBR, # 1) How would you describe the progression up to this point for your athletes prepping for the Worlds in a few weeks?

Pete Julian: Things are going well for the team. I'm here with Shannon Rowbury , Sifan Hassan, Eric Jenkins and Matthew Centrowitz in St. Moritz, so we can't complain.

RBR, # 2) It's always the belief that coaches are always looking to tweek or use elements of a new training theory to see how the athletes are improving- has your coaching philosophies changed over the last few years?

Pete Julian: Definitely. As a collegiate coach, I felt like I was in a philosophical rut in the way I trained my student athletes. Perhaps I didn't have the skills or confidence to try something different and bold. That frustrated me. I knew I needed to become a better coach if I was going to make it in this profession, and more importantly, provide my athletes with something better than I was giving them. My training philosophies shifted dramatically after I left the college system and joined the Nike Oregon Project. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor than Alberto. He has pushed me hard and has challenged me to rethink just about every training concept I brought with me. It's what I needed. But I'm still learning and tweaking things every day, and always will.

RBR, # 3) The Rest/Recovery component in world-class training is often overlooked and many times used incorrectly- what's your philosophy on it?

Pete Julian: I'm not sure if it's overlooked that often in the world-class arena. I think most elite athletes recognize the importance of rest and recovery. The athletes that make it to the world-class level would have had to figure this out years before they made it to the big meets. Otherwise, they wouldn't have made it this far.

RBR, # 4) Alberto has said that he prefers free weight training vs machine use- how do you feel about it?

Pete Julian: I agree with Alberto. Machines lock you into a set range of motion, whereas free weights require more strength and control within a more natural range of motion. Anything closer to the real thing is always going to better.

RBR, # 5) Which NOP athletes are now mostly under your care & direction?

Pete Julian: Jenkins, Rowbury, and Suguri Osako. Craig Engels will be under my care once the summer season is over. That said, Alberto and I work very closely together and we are there to step in and help no matter the athlete. Every NOP athlete gets the entire staff's full support. We are one team.

RBR, # 6) Do YOU miss competing and do you still work out?

Pete Julian: I still try to get some exercise once per day, but if it doesn't happen in the morning, I don't worry about it. I don't miss competing as an athlete, but I would be remiss if I didn't admit to being competitive. I'm not so enlightened as a coach that I can sleep well when our team doesn't perform well. I want our athletes to succeed and it feels great when they do.

RBR, # 7) Describe how you feel working with one of the great programs in the world.

Pete Julian: I try to take a moment each day to remind myself how fortunate I am to perhaps have one of the best coaching jobs in the world. It's something I wish to never take for granted. Then it's back to work, as the expectations within the NOP are very high.

RBR, # 8) What kind of advice can you give to the High School athletes out there trying to excel?

Pete Julian: Put your phone away and be nice to people. You do those two things and you'll go far in life, regardless of how fast you can run the mile.

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