Go! Mile Wednesday – Meet A Runner (Part 5) – Ron Mitchell

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gomile-box_animated_13June 15th is drawing near, and as the temps are heating up, so is the competition! While the Go! Mile takes great pride in being the perfect race for beginners, it also attracts some of the fastest feet around with the elite heat. We recently had a chance to chat with Ron Mitchell, the 2nd overall masters finisher at last years Go! Mile. His time, a very impressive 5:08! Here’s what he had to say about his training, racing, and his strategy for race day.

Ron Mitchell and running partner, Kate, at the Big Dam Bridge.
Ron Mitchell and running partner, Kate, at the Big Dam Bridge.

[Leah] Are you getting excited for this year’s Go! Mile? Tell me about your plans/goals for this year’s race?

[Ron] I am really looking forward to the Go! Mile this year.  I ran a personal best last year so I would be very happy to knock a few more seconds off that time.  Last year I ran the first half too fast and ended up slowing in the second half.  This year I plan to start out a little fast, settle into a more even pace, and then speed up the last quarter mile for a strong finish.

My four year old daughter Kate is also getting very excited about running her third Go! Mini-Mile. She loves that there is a kid’s race just for her at this event. At every race my wife and I have run since the Go! Mini-Mile last year, Kate asks “Is there a race for me? When do I get to run?”  Kate loves to run the Big Dam Bridge and “train” for “her race”, the Go! Mini-Mile.  Kate also saw you, Leah, break the ribbon as the “first girl” in the Easter Seals 5K race last summer and Kate is hoping she will break the ribbon at this race and be the first girl finisher.  At four, she has some lofty running goals but it is exciting as a parent to see your child be enthusiastic about exercise and think of it as fun.

[Leah] We recently learned that Todd Hink, the only male masters runner to finish ahead of you last year, will not be running this year. How does it feel to be going into the race as the fastest returning master?

[Ron] I started running at age 40, back when my wife and I first met, as a way to stay in shape and for us to do something fun together.  For the past 10 years, I have continued to improve my times.  For the most part I set a time goal for my races and work to achieve that goal.  But there are times, like in the Go! Mile last year, when you just run as hard as you can and forget about your goal time. These are the races that I perform my best and have the most fun. I’m always a little surprised when I win an award. This year I believe the masters division will be even more competitive, so being the fastest returning master will not be enough to guarantee a good placement. It may well come down to who is the best prepared and who wants it the most.

[Leah] We are anticipating a pretty competitive field this year with the race being both a state and regional championship. Who would you say are some other masters runners to watch out for this year?

[Ron] I would say the guy to watch is Mark Ferguson since he moved up to a masters runner this year and went under 5 minutes at the Go! Mile last year.  I would also watch Karl Lenser and Seth Irwin who both ran excellent times last year.  Karl is one of the best grand masters runners in the area and Seth won the Go! Mile masters division in 2011.

[Leah] In December, you completed a marathon in a very impressive time of 3:10.06. (Congratulations by the way!) Did your training change a lot in the past year as you prepared to run the marathon?

[Ron] This was my first marathon in about five years so in a way it was like starting over. The last marathon I ran was in 3:43:44, so I originally wanted to break 3:30. But as my training progressed I felt I could beat that time and Boston qualify, which I did. The biggest changes I made for this marathon were more long runs, more speed work and better nutrition before and during the race. Caleb Ault, who trains with us at the track and at the Go! Running Thursday night run suggested some improvements to my nutrition and training that made all the difference. We ran the last ten miles of that December Marathon together and both had a great race. Running a marathon is a lot more fun when you feel good the last three or four miles.

[Leah] Do you feel that the speed training you have done for short races like the Go! Mile helped you with your marathon? And vice versa, do you feel that the strength training you have done for your marathons has helped you compete in the shorter events?

[Ron] The speed training on Tuesday nights with the running group and coach Bill Torrey has helped me improve my times on both the shorter races and the marathon.  The strength training has helped me prevent injuries and given me the confidence to push harder on my runs.  I run three or four days a week and strength train two days a week.  I focus on speed training one day a week and a long run one day a week. This schedule has worked well for me.

The support of family and friends is also important to success in running.  My wife Stacy is a runner so she understands and supports my running goals. My wife helps me find the time to do the necessary training. This is especially important if you have children. My daughter Kate likes to cheer me on at my races and I find that very motivating.

[Leah] I’m used to seeing you duke it out with some of the fast boys at our Thursday night runs, any trash talking or bets going amongst you guys about who will beat who this year?

Mullet Run - Northwoods Trails - Hot Springs

[Ron] It’s been fun running with the guys at Go! Running on Thursday nights.  I know everybody really appreciates Gary and Erin Taylor sponsoring these events.  The talk is there will likely be multiple course records broken this year.  I predict the overall female winning time will be close to 5 minutes and the male masters winning time will go under 5 minutes.  I would like to see a local runner push the overall male winning time under 4:15. That would certainly make for an exciting race.

(What? You’re not registered yet, go ahead and get signed up for the Go! Mile. Also enjoy an evening of running with friends every Thursday night at the Go! Running Shop.)

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