Where’s that work ethic come from? “For sure my grandmother, and I think growing up without a mom and a dad. You know, nothing was ever handed [to me], we had to work for everything. Also just seeing that’s what’s needed to survive in this world is the art of working hard. I don’t expect anything—I just want to work hard. I just take pride with having the magic in things, you know. I just want things to always go well. I know things will not always go well but I think my grandmother and growing up definitely with that chip on my shoulder and just having to work hard.”
Marquis Bowden is a 31-year-old runner based in Los Angeles and he first came on my radar several weeks ago when I saw him featured in a film from Tracksmith called Race Day is (still) Sacred. I then started hearing him pop up in my podcast feed, which then sent me down the rabbit hole and landed me on articles about him in both Tempo Journal and Runner’s World, and I just knew we had to have a conversation.
A former college basketball player who says that running found him a few years ago, Marquis has big goals in the sport. He ran a two-minute personal best of 2:39 last month for his virtual Boston Marathon, and while he has a long way to go on paper to achieve his goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials, Marquis has the tools, the drive, and the guidance to take him to some pretty incredible places.
His humble, hard-working nature, and the pride he has for his family and community, is also admirable and all of that really comes out in this conversation. We talked about his journey in the sport, how his training has evolved, and all that, but we got deeper into his story: about growing up in the inner city of Compton and Carson, California, and being raised by his grandmother because his parents were out of the picture. Marquis told me about reuniting with his dad just a few years ago and how that missing puzzle piece fit back into his life. We also talked his lack of self-belief as a kid and how he grew his confidence, his work ethic and having a chip on his shoulder, patience and playing the long game, as well as the importance of living each day with gratitude and love. We also discussed what it means to be a black male in running today, how we can increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sport, and a lot more.
Running long this week/weekend? Those miles are going to be a sizable chunk of your total weekly volume. Don’t waste ’em! Avoid a sloppy slog and help the time pass a little quicker by throwing in a 30-60 second surge at the end of every mile. Here are the details:(more…)
“What we do on the daily basis to have success in our sport sets you up so well for what you’re going to be doing in the real world. But just the pursuit of success in our sport does so much for success in the real world, I feel like. If you can train as hard we do for a 10K, say, and then go out there and just squeeze every bit of yourself out of yourself for 25 laps and mentally stay engaged that whole way and talk yourself through all the tough points of the race, I mean, you can do anything. Like, I have yard projects that are just daunting sometimes and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got this, you know?’ and it’s all because of my running background. So I feel like, you know, just what we do as runners goes a long way.”
Gary Towne is one of the most underrated and under-appreciated collegiate coaches in the United States.
Gary has coached cross-country and track at Chico State since 1996 and his Wildcats have been one of the top NCAA Division II programs in the country for over 20 years. Last fall, his men’s team finished third at the national cross-country meet while the women’s squad placed seventh—it was the 23rd top-10 team finish for the men, and 18th top-10 placing for the women. In his nearly three decades at Chico State, Gary’s teams have won dozens of conference titles, he’s coached over 100 All-Americans, and guided three individual national champions. He’s also won numerous coach of the year awards himself, but what he’s most proud of, however, is his teams’ academic success and the fact that nearly 100 percent of his student-athletes have graduated from college.
We covered some really good ground in this conversation and I think you’re going to take a lot away from it. Gary told me how he’s kept his athletes excited and motivated in recent months after this year’s cross-country season was cancelled due to the pandemic. He also described the toll it’s taken on him as a coach. Gary shared his thoughts on collegiate track programs getting cut around the country and what can be done to prevent more of them from getting axed moving forward. We also talked about creating support systems within his teams as well as developing and maintaining a strong culture. He also told me how his training philosophy has evolved over the years, whether or not he coaches the men and women differently, what success means for him as a coach, and a lot more.
Not only does this workout share its name with one of my favorite covers of all-time, it also happens to be one of my favorite sessions to assign my athletes. In fact, if I were only allowed to use one interval—but could manipulate the intensity, recovery, and number of reps to suit my needs and desires—it’d be 3-minute repetitions. What makes them magic? Three-minute reps are short enough to keep your attention, long enough that you can’t fake your way through a set of them, and versatile enough to achieve different objectives depending on the day. Let me explain.(more…)
I first wrote about this hill workout several years ago for Competitor (now PodiumRunner) and you can dig into its background and some of its variations here. I use some version of this short-medium-long format for all of my athletes depending on who they are, what they’re training for, and where they are in a training block. This session is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one and there’s probably a place for it in your program. Here are the key details:(more…)
“Yeah, I’ve had moments of like, ‘Wow, this is really happening.’ And so that’s pretty cool because I think it’s really important to enjoy those moments. I feel like people are always looking to the next thing and the next goal and that’s a huge part of the sport but I also think it’s really important to sit back and be like, ‘Wow, this is happening right now.’ I think just taking it one step at a time and just enjoying where you are is really important.”
Elle Purrier runs professionally for New Balance Boston. The 25-year-old represented the United States at the 2019 world championships in Doha, where she finished 11th in the 5000m with a personal best of 14:58.17. Indoors this past winter, she broke the American record in the mile at the Millrose Games, running 4:16.85 in one of the most exciting races I’ve watched in quite some time.
We covered some good ground in this conversation. Elle told me how she’s gone about her business during the pandemic and after the Olympics were postponed; we talked about how her training has evolved in her first few years as a professional, why underemphasizing mileage in HS and college has helped her stay healthy and perform at a high level as a professional, and the workouts that let her know when she’s ready to rip on race day. We also discussed what it was like growing up on a dairy farm in Vermont, the parallels between farming and running, racing some of her childhood idols as a pro, and a lot more.