Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brad Hudson talks: "Speed is so overrated."

Great interview, thanks to RoadsMillsLaps!

RML: Within a few weeks, the United States had had two sub-13 minute 5Ks. The last I checked, Bob Kennedy pulled that off 13 years ago. In your opinion is that a coincidence or is that really the harvesting of fruit that’s grown on the vine for a very long time?

Brad Hudson: I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all. I think maybe Teg [Matt Tegenkamp} was motivated after seeing Ritz do it, but I think Teg was very close to it the last few years. A lot of it is getting in the right race and being able to run it at the Olympics and the world championships and being fresh after those races. For sure, I think the U.S. has definitely had a five- or six-year buildup towards this. I think American athletes are training very, very hard; they are running high mileage and are developing a lot quicker in high school, college, and as professionals. So I don’t think it was a coincidence. I think you are going to see quite a few more.

RML: Who else is ready to run a sub-13?

Hudson: [Pauses.] I don’t know who will be the next person. I mean Alan Webb will for sure. I think he can run 12:50 if he has all his fitness there and gets in the right race. I think he could even win a gold medal. As far as younger athletes, I think German Fernandez and [Chris] Derrick as well as a lot of athletes coming up. I think German will be there in two-and-a-half to three years.

RML: What do you think about Galen Rupp? Is he on this list?

Hudson: Oh yeah, for sure. I forgot about that guy. [laughing]

RML: Come on Brad, you’re an Oregon guy, right?

Hudson: Oh yeah, for sure, Rupp’s got a very good chance of breaking 13:00. He had a great year this year and was tired at the world champs. I watched him in a lot of his races and all year. I think he was a little fatigued by the end and had had that injury, so some of it is timing and being fresh for the right races and getting the right conditions. From 5K, to 10K, to the marathon, you really have to have perfect conditions and not-too-fast pacing in order to pull it off.

RML: Both Teg and Ritz pulled this thing off at the end of the track season and in Europe. Why do these sub-13 magical things happen in Europe. What’s going on the U.S. that is preventing this magic from happening here?

Hudson: A couple things: The first would be the quality of the field. Look at how Dathan broke 13. Teg was a little bit slow and ended up kicking at the end. With Dathan’s race, he ran very, very smart. I mean, remember that he was last and kept moving up. A lot of it is the cool temperatures. I mean, we have European-type races here. For sure, Stanford is one of them. But the quality of these European races, I mean it’s all Ethiopians and Kenyans. These guys [Teg and Ritz] are the only white guys in them, so you definitely need the quality of field as well.

RML: Would you ever take Dathan back if he decided to switch coaches again?

Hudson: I’m not interested in working with Dathan. I think we both moved on. I’m glad he’s in a situation where he has everything paid for and taken care of. I really didn’t make much coaching him. It was difficult getting paid. I think I set him up with a great future. I think the training we did was 100% correct. I got a lot of flack moving him to the marathon at a young age from people and older coaches who don’t really have an understanding of what professional running is. Even his sponsor had threatened his contract, because they weren’t happy with the marathon, but I think it shows that the decision to move him to the marathon was ultimately a correct one.

RML: Let’s go to the state of U.S. distance running and let’s be frank. In the 1970s and 1980s things were pretty good--on fire, you could say. And then you get to the 1990s and things turn into a disaster save for [Bob] Kennedy and Todd Williams. Now, the U.S. is kind of coming back. So what happened? What’s going on?

Hudson: I think in the 1990s we were looking for a shortcut or something. I think for sure a lot of athletes are running a lot more now. I think we were doing the quality in the 1990s, but not doing as much. I was running a ton, but people thought I was weird for running 115-120 miles a week as a marathoner. It’s really not that much. For each era, there’s some burnout. You train hard and then injuries happen with some of the older athletes that somehow rubs off and I think in the 90s people were more looking at the quality in workouts and stuff. I think now the balance is back to both. You need the speed and you need the volume; you need the years of volume behind you. Come on, let’s be honest. There wasn’t money in the marathon. My feeling is that Dathan would never have run as fast if he hadn’t gone to the marathon where he build his aerobic system. I think the next few years will tell us more looking at the shorter distances. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. My feeling is that there wasn’t a lot of money in the marathon back then. We were horrible in the marathon and people weren’t running it. They were waiting until they were 28-29 and now you have Ryan Hall.

RML: Hall just won the PDR today.

Hudson: Yep. And so with the internet, it’s changed the local to the global. And with the experience I have, we know how everybody is training. We know how hard the Italian marathoners trained to win medals. We know how hard world-class athletes are training. I think the young kids are seeing that. They are training hard in high school, in college, and after that, because they are seeing what everyone is doing to run these times. And so before I used to think that every country had their own methodology and training and now with the internet, I think it has changed the geographics a little bit. I think people are all training very, very hard. Across the board, athletes are much, much faster.

RML: Interesting. I never thought about it that way. So do you think the globalization side of it has made information related to running more accessible and so that has helped the U.S. since we tend to be a tad insular and are now more of a global country?

Hudson: For sure. I think we are using what we are good at. Some of it has to do with the Prefontaine movie that has generated a lot of interest in the young kids and now with the internet and media coverage, it’s put a higher exposure on running and so I think kids are striving at a younger age than sort of doing it 80%.

RML: You just mentioned the Prefontaine movie, Without Limits. In that movie you played Spanish runner Javier Alvarez. What was that like?

Hudson: It was a lot of fun. I got to meet Donald Sutherland and the director, Robert Towne who did part of Chinatown and part of the Godfather. Tom Cruise came on the set. It was pretty boring, actually. You film for five hours and get 30 seconds of film. It was interesting, because they filmed in very small increments, so most of the extras in the Olympic scene I was in were runners. Billy Cudrup who was playing Pre actually got the rhythm down at the 5K. I thought he did a pretty good job. It was a lot of fun. I think the movie was really good for the youth at the time. It inspired a lot of people to run. The movie came from Fire on the Track. I think they did a great job. I think the kids in the U.S. are responding to this. When you look at the European countries, they just don’t have any athletes.

RML: I just talked with Teg who won the CVS 5K today. I kind of thought he had a chance to break the U.S. road record today. But I think it was a tactical race.

Hudson: Yeah, I felt that as well.

RML: I’m just wondering how he thinks U.S. college coaches are now focusing with certain, high-caliber athletes, on getting them to run professionally and how that’s a new thing. Do you agree? Is that a new factor?

Hudson: I think some coaches more than others do that. Look at CU, they always run great after college. Some coaches are less that way. There are athletes who do well in college and could have done well as a professional if they had been developing for the future, but I think in the U.S. there is definitely a trend towards developing the kids for after-college running. But I won’t say it is evey single coach out there.

RML: Everybody talks about Hudson as the coach, but I know you have been starting to run again. Tell me about Hudson the runner. Where do you want to go with your own goals?

Hudson: Just not be fat. I wouldn’t say I am back running; I would say I am back moving. I’m pathetically slow and there is zero chance I will ever race again. But to be honest, I wasn’t very talented. I ran 2:13, but that was after training very, very hard. I think that was part of the problem in the 1990s: People thought over 100 miles-a-week was crazy. I’m barely faster than the women. I didn’t have much talent, but I trained very, very hard at a young age. I was successful in my age group. I was successful in high school and college and I was able to run as a professional---not super successful--but I think I ran in every genre there is except masters. I think I learned a lot about how these various groups developed.

RML: You like to run at night, right?

Hudson: Yeah, I run at midnight.

RML: I read on your Facebook wall that someone recently threw a Big Gulp (TM) at you recently when you were out running, correct?

Hudson: Yep. I get all kinds of stuff thrown at me.

RML: What flavor Big Gulp (TM) was it?

Hudson: You know, I honestly couldn’t tell. There was a lot of ice in there. It kind of hurt. I know it was some kind of cola. When I was in high school, kids used to throw stuff at me. and they are still throwing stuff at me, so I think that’s just one of the differences with our culture.

RML: I know the deal. I’ve had stuff thrown at me too and have been called a “faggot” a million times.

Hudson: Yep. It’s usually where I’m running and what time I am running. Normally in Eugene, it’s pretty runner-friendly. But even here, they are chucking stuff at you.

RML: Why do you run at night?

Hudson: Because I have so many miles on my body. I feel so much better in the evening as far as energy and movement. The temperatures allow me to move my body much better. I also run so slow. My depth perception is not so great and so it seems like I am actually really running. You can’t see so far and so you feel like you are running faster.

RML: You are now a published author. What was it like writing a book?

Hudson: I didn’t actually do much of the writing. Matt Fitzgerald put it all together. It was all my information talking over the phone to him and him sending me chapters while I read it over. He did an amazing job putting it together. I am happy with that. We only put in 10% of what we know in the book. There is always room for more training books, but I think it has been very well received. I hope it helps anyone regardless of ability.

RML: You said you only got 10% in there. So will there be a second edition?

Hudson: It’s selling pretty well. It’s only been six months. I don’t know. There’s no nutrition in there; there’s no cross-training or shoes either.

RML: So there’s room for more?

Hudson: Definitely. I think we can expand on it with a women’s issue---a book geared towards women since there are so many women getting into running.

RML: Yeah, an under-covered section indeed. The U.S. women seem to be stepping it up in the world.

Hudson: Definitely. The men are doing great, but the women are doing ridiculously well.

RML: Back to Ritz, he had been doing mostly marathon-specific training this year. Do you think he ran so fast because of his enormous aerobic base?

Hudson: For sure, here’s the big thing: I think a lot of people are focused on speed and plyometrics. But the quickest way for U.S. athletes to get good is that they have to run a lot. They have to run aerobically at high intensity and have quite a lot of accumulated mileage. That is the only way we are going to catch up to the Africans, because they are so far ahead of us. So it’s got to be large volume, but not just that; it has to be long, hard stuff that raises threshold. Look, it’s no secret that in the fall Teg runs 140-mile weeks. So you can say that I am a huge proponent of developing that aerobic system. We are behind everyone in the world. Most American runners, a lot of the naturally fast guys don’t realize how aerobically fit they have to be. Look at Kenenisa Bekele, he runs 11.6 seconds for his last 100m in the final, but you have to understand he runs 150 miles a week as well. You have to have everything. For 18 months, Dathan did no speed work--zero--other than some drills and strides. He couldn’t do it because of a calf problem. I thought he was in 27:25 shape before the marathon--maybe even better. And that’s with zero speed. I think speed is so overrated. Yeah you need it at the end, yeah you got to sharpen up. I watch all these people periodize and they are so far behind on their aerobics that it never works, because they don’t have a base to bring it in. You don’t periodize as much, because we are behind aerobically. A younger athlete is so much better off working on higher threshold in order to get that good base underneath them.