Catching Up With Luke Puskedra
Former University of Oregon distance running standout Luke Puskedra has had an interesting 2012. Back in January, Puskedra shocked the running community, jumping in the Houston Half Marathon and debuting at the distance in a tremendous 61:36. After completing his final collegiate track and field season, Puskedra finished a respectable eighth at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in the 10k.
After the Trials, he turned back to the roads, finishing a strong second at the U.S. 20k Championships. All of that leads to this weekend's World Half Marathon Championships in Bulgaria, where Puskedra will get a chance to square off against some of the best distance running talent in the world over a distance he's shown he can be quite successful at.
We caught up with Puskedra this week and had a chance to talk with him about his expectations heading into this weekend, what he learned at his time at Oregon and much more.
Scott Bush (SB): You've had quite an interesting 2012 racing season, debuting in the half marathon in Houston in 61:36, then coming back to run your collegiate track season, the U.S. Olympic Trials, then jumping back on the roads to run the U.S. 20k Championships and now the World Half Marathon Championships. What have you learned from this long 2012 racing season?
Luke Puskedra (LP): Coming into this year I was too uptight about the things I could not control. I dug myself into a hole by obsessing about the training instead of looking at it for what it was for: training to race. I’ve learned this last year to take everything as it goes and to work day to day to improve in the long run.
SB: Just to clarify, you are still in Eugene finishing up your degree, correct? What is your training situation like?
LP: Yes, I’m still in Eugene finishing my final two semesters. I am fortunate to be coached by Andy Powell (my college coach). I do most of the training by myself but get some runs in with guys I was on the team with.
SB: You've had some big successes on the roads already. Do you see yourself transitioning to the roads full-time sooner rather than later?
LP: I would still like to hit some good running on the track with the 10k and 5k. But at the end of the day I enjoy the training and racing for the longer road races. I would like to transition to the marathon when the time comes.
SB: Collegiate distance running can be brutal on an athlete, competing all through the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track seasons. How were you able to keep healthy and consistent through all four years at Oregon?
LP: Patience. It is easy to overanalyze little things for example just because you are tired in a workout doesn’t mean you are out of shape. Maybe taking a recovery day instead of trying to “make it up” on the next days run is best. I’ve had many ups and downs during my years of running but at the end of the day I enjoy what I am doing and that’s what matters.
SB: What are your expectations heading into this weekend's race?
LP: I decided to gear my season to peak at this race because I’d like to see what I can do against some of the best in the business. My preparations have gone about as smoothly as they could of. I’m just hoping to go out and run hard, the times and placing will come.
SB: At the U.S. 20k Championships, you led for a nice portion of the race, then Matt Tegenkamp came up to challenge you and eventually pulled away. What did you take away from that race that will help you down the road?
LP: Yeah that was an experience. After I went through 10k I saw the time and kind of freaked out. I learned that I can go out hard and hang on. The beauty of road racing is that you can test yourself every race. With that being said, you gain great respect for others in the race that you battle because you see how tough they are.
Fast Four (four quick questions, four quick answers)
SB: What's your major?
LP: Sports Business
SB: Favorite band?
LP: Counting Crows
SB: Favorite movie?
LP: Training Day
SB: Shoes you train in?
LP: Depends on the month (In the process of finding a sponsor)