Monday, October 10, 2011

Olympic Hopeful: Paul Petersen

As was mentioned earlier, I'm heading to Houston in January to watch the Olympic Trial Marathon.   I'm excited.  I'm also excited to do a little research to know some stuff about the hopefuls that have qualified.  From now until then, I plan to do a little bit of research on a few of the athletes and post what I find here.

First on this list is Paul Petersen.  The reason I chose Paul is because he's a Utahn.  I hail from the great state of Utah, and as of today, he's the only Utahn to qualify.  Ironically, I've since learned that Paul, a self-employed GIS contractor who lives in Smithfield, is now moving to Colorado.  Bummer.  We're losing our Utahn.

Most of the information I found was taken from an interview from  Paul, 31, and a graduate of Michigan's Calvin College, had a "decent college career" which included a one-time All-American title in cross country.  Petersen's top mileage is in the high 90s to low 100s, and believes the key to running well is consistency.  He says, "People talk about mileage or doing special workouts, and we all read runners’ magazines and we all read Daniel’s Running Formula and Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning. Those are great things. That’s where you get a lot of ideas. But there’s no substitute for consistency and you can get away with having not so great workouts and not so great science behind your running, just if you get out and do it."

Paul Petersen qualified for the Olympic Trials in April by running 2:17:35.  He was the 17th male and 3rd American.  He attributes his success to nine years of training, where one year builds upon the next.  He says, "Boston, you talk about a training cycle; when we think of a training cycle we think of the six months leading up to a marathon, or four months leading up to a marathon. Really, this was eight or nine years leading up to Boston, learning how to run a marathon and learning how to train for a marathon."

Petersen also says that a little luck had a great deal to do with his success at Boston.  Temperatures were mild and there was a substantial tail wind.  He says, "The training was there and my work was there. Now it was a matter of you have to get a bit lucky. That means things like weather."

I concur.  Weather has everything to do with a marathon.  That's the trouble with marathoning; everything can be stacked up perfectly, but if you wake to foul weather, or are generally feeling "off," the day might not go well.  And the other trouble with marathoning is that you can't give it a go again the next week.  There's no bluffing, there's no room for being conservative.  Runners who are serious about marathoning must go "all in" at first hand.

As Paul says, "Not every race is going to be great. You’ll lay an egg here and there. I just had a tough race in Moab, physically I just wasn’t able to respond. It was a hard race for me. But you just have to shake it off, figure out if there’s something that you did wrong, maybe you learn from it and move on and forget it. Don’t dwell on it. Learn what you can from it. Then leave it behind you."

And as serious as he is, Paul tries to keep his life in check. "I’m constantly balancing training with family and other things, so I want to keep my life in balance and a healthy balance, make sure my priorities are right. That’s my main priority, to keep my family and my work and things like that ahead of running. Running needs to be just a hobby. Sometimes it becomes more than that, so I’m always balancing that out."

Wanna know what I'd ask Paul if'n I ever got the chance to ask him something?  "Don't you get tired of wearing the same outfit for each race?"  Sponsorship has some serious drawbacks....





You can read what Paul Petersen is up to by reading his blog or you can review his workout details by going to


radracer said...

Did you notice the serious quad definition in those first two photos?

More than makes up for wearing the same outfit.

rabidrunner said...

This makes me ponder... Would I take a 2:17, if it meant that I had to wear the same outfit....? Prolly not.

Paul Petersen said...

Saw the ping on my blog...thanks for the nice article. In answer to your question, no I do not mind wearing the same outfit every race. However, I should point out that I'm wearing different shorts and different socks between your first two photos. (it was a subtle, but energizing change). And I occasionally wear a grimace.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

I wear the same outfit for every race. Some of my racer friends don't recognize me in street clothes because they are so accustomed to that outfit. It can make for awkward social gatherings.

rabidrunner said...

Paul! Nice to meet you! And thanks for playing! And thanks for being such a good sport! I'll be at the trials and will holler like mad for you. Best of luck!

(For the record, it's gonna take more than outfits to get a 2:17, but we all knew that, right?)

And Junkie, because of your same outfit, you Evolution people all look alike. In fact, I saw one in St George a two weekends back. It wasn't you though.

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