Blog #8 – February 17, 2015 – On Twitter @AtwoodWrites
This past weekend, 46-year old John Trautmann ran one mile in 4 minutes and 12.33 seconds at Boston University. This was not his all-time fastest career mile but it was a 45+ World Record shattering the old mark of 4:16.84 run by Brad Barton. Trautmann started making his name in U.S. Track and Field at age 17 when he broke Steve Prefontaine’s 3000 meter record with an 8:05 run at the Penn Relays in 1986. The record stood for 18-years until Galen Rupp broke it in 2004. Trautmann later went to Georgetown University, where he regularly won Big East titles, twice doubling in the mile and 5000 meters. I was a few years behind John when I ran for Boston College but witnessed his fantastic races at the Big East Championships at Syracuse and Villanova as running far behind him during X-C races at Van Cortland Park in New York.
To describe him on the track, he was an animal, relentless, running as equally as hard if he had a big lead as he did going head-to-head with WR holder, Said Aquita or Bob Kennedy in the Olympic Trials 5000 in 1992. If it wasn’t for a toe injury in 1992 that kept him out of the Olympic Finals, Trautmann may have realized his potential and gone on to do other things in his track career. A few years later, he looked down at the scale and saw he weighted 210 lbs, well beyond his 135 lb. racing weight. Now in his forties, he caught up with his college coach, Frank “Gags” Gagliano and started to slowly start running again. His first workout was 90 second quarters as he struggled around the track. By 2014, he was back down to 4:17 in the mile and in the 150 lb. range. Two weeks ago, he ran a 4:18.72 to win the New Balance Grand Prix Master’s Mile then came back up to Boston to finish his mission.
1) Congrats on your World Record this past Saturday at Boston University, John. Can you take us through the day and the race itself?
The day started off pretty typical for me. I woke up around 8:00 a.m., had some breakfast and then planned on relaxing in my room until 1:30 p.m. or so. At 12:30, I got a text from one of my NJNY teammates telling me they were running 30 minutes ahead of schedule and then another one 15 minutes later telling me they were an hour ahead. I was now getting a little nervous and scrambled to get my stuff together and head over to the meet. On my way over, I got a phone call from Coach Gags (Former Georgetown coach, Frank Gagliano) telling me to get my ass over there they may be as far as an hour and half ahead. So, when I arrived, my adrenalin was already pumping pretty strong! As it turned out, I had plenty of time to warm up and with me being in the 6th heat I ran only about 30 minutes earlier than scheduled. As far as my actual race, I went out in 64 for my first quarter in dead last and had to work my way through the pack during the race. I think my splits were 64, 2:06, 3:09, 4:12.33 so fairly even. At the 1200 meters, I knew I had the record as long as I didn’t fall and thought I had a shot at 4:10 but the lactic acid caught up with me the last 200 meters and I ended up at 4:12.33. To be honest watching some of the earlier heats pumped me up a bit. Both Georgetown and NJNY put four guys under four minutes that day which really added to the excitement of the afternoon.
2) How many miles per week do you run during your a) Base / Aerobic Phase b) Speed Phase c) Peak Phase or do you and Gags break it up differently?
This year I was putting in 80-90 miles a week during late summer and fall. I hit 100 miles a few times but I think that was a little too much for me to handle. Now, during race season I am running 50-60 although before this last Boston race I ran only 40. My typical week is one long run of around 13 miles, one tempo run of 3-5 miles. Once in a while I’ll do 2 x 2 mile type stuff. I do a lot of that on the treadmill. I try to get on the track 2 other days a week with the NJNY Track Club. On the faster stuff, I usually run with the women and during the longer repeats. I will run with the men although I will take more rest or run slightly shorter distances.
3) Do you think you could break a 4-minute mile again before you hit 50 years old?
Ha! I don’t think so…..I would love to break 4:10 though. I will take a stab at it March 10th in the Armory.
4) What are some cross-training things that you do to compliment your running?
I use the Arc trainer. Actually before this year my easy days were all cross training on the Arc trainer and my only running was on my hard days. I would do an hour in the morning and an hour after work. Back when I was first starting to lose weight, I would also go to spin classes a few times a week.
5) I know you stopped running due to a foot injury after your Olympic years. How old were you? How did you get out of shape and what prompted your comeback?
I was first injured in 1992. I wore away the cartilage in the first metatarsal of my left foot (Hallux rigidus). It forced me to drop out of the Olympic 5000 meters after winning the US trials. I had three surgeries between 1992 and 1996 but none seemed to help so I hung up the spikes when my Adidas contract ran out in 1996. In 2007, I had ballooned up to around 210 lbs. and was feeling pretty awful. At about the same time, Gags moved back east and I went up to Rye to visit with him and watch him put Erin Donohue through a workout. I had worn some old running shoes that day and Gags had me out on the track “running” some 90 second 400s. I decided to come back every week to do small workouts and it just built from there
6) What do you do for a living in New York? How did your hours affect you after the injury? How do you get good workouts in these days?
I have been working on Wall Street since 1998 as a fixed income credit trader (bond trader). For the last few years, I have been getting up before 5:00 am to cross-train an hour before work and then either ran or cross-trained again after work. In July, my firm decided to shut down our desk and I decided to take some time and really train to get the mile record. I bumped my mileage up from 45-55 miles per week last year to 80-90 during the summer and fall now that I had the time.
7) What’s your diet like? How does it compare to what you ate in college and as an elite?
I need to watch my diet a lot more closely than when I was younger. During the past 3 months especially, as I have cut my mileage back a bit during racing season. I have cut out most junk food and soda and eat mostly fruit for dessert. My metabolism is much slower than it once was and if I’m not careful I can put on 5 lbs. very easily.
8) Financially, do you have any sponsorship these days? Or do you support your travel and entries yourself?
I pay my way to all the meets. I think if I asked Gags he would probably help out but our club is about the younger athletes trying to make Olympic trials and Olympic teams. I don’t want to take any money away from them. Our club survives on donations since we are not sponsored by any shoe company. This is the link to donate: https://friendraising.donorpro.com/campaigns/31
9) When you were at Georgetown, I was at Boston College, a few years behind you. I recall a few mile and 5K double-wins at Big East. Do you have any inspirations of moving up and chasing longer track distance world records? What’s the connection with milers and the 5K?
At this point the mile has really been my only goal. I favor hurting for only 4 minutes rather that 14-15 minutes! We’ll see though, I may take a stab at a 5k outdoors if I hold up for that long
10) What words of wisdom do you have for us 40-something former collegiate runners who want to lose weight and comeback…at least health-wise?
Set small goals and be consistent. It took me six years to get back to where I am now.
Coach Atwood is currently at work on his untitled book project on coaching distance runners. He has also published a short story collection, HiStory of Santa Monica: Stories available at http://www.historyofsantamonica.com, and Amazon.com. For ideas on distance training, check out CoachAtwood.com. He is the head indoor track and field coach at Middleborough High School, mentors the Wampanoag Road Runners, and has helped many high school runners realize their success with individual coaching. Have an idea for a blog post? Feel free to send him a note at CoachMikeAtwood@Me.com . He Tweets @AtwoodWrites.