“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.
This episode is brought to you by: New Balance. If I were going away for a couple months and could only take two pair with me, here’s what I’d throw in my bag: The Fresh Foam 1080v10, which is what I’d wear for about 70-80% of my miles, and the Fresh Foam Beacon v3 for faster workouts and uptempo long runs. Learn more about the Fresh Foam 1080v10, available in both women’s and men’s sizes, and the Fresh Foam Beacon v3, also available for women and men.
Music and editing for this episode of the morning shakeout podcast by John Summerford.
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