Catching Up With Penn State's Cas Loxsom
Penn State Cas Loxsom is off to one heck of a start in 2013. After a frustrating and challenging 2012 season, Loxsom is off to a blazing start, running the US#2 all-time mark over 600m with his 1:15.79 effort. Additionally, Loxsom leads the American indoor charts over 800m with a 1:46.98 mark, which he ran in mid-January. Loxsom is one to watch in 2013, as he looks to lay his claim as being one of the top two-lappers in the United States.
We caught up with Loxsom this week, discussing his 2012 struggles, his early 2013 success and what he and his teammates hope to accomplish this weekend as they compete in the Millrose Games' 4x800m relay.
Scott Bush (SB): Cas, you've had a great start to your season, running ridiculous times for both 600m and 800m. How do you feel about the start of your 2013 track season, thus far?
Cas Loxsom (CL): It’s a really great feeling, there’s a huge confidence component of being successful in track and field that you can really only get by “getting on a roll” so to speak. Getting my 800 qualifier out of the way so early has really eliminated any stress about qualifying for NCAA’s and has allowed me to get some really good training in, and be able to run some fun races like that 600.
SB: Your US#2 all-time 600m performance turned a lot of heads. Heading into that race, did you feel primed and ready to run the time you did?
CL: First of all, I LOVE the 600. New England is big on the 6 so I’ve had a little background in it and it’s really fun for me. Going into that meet though I was tired… it had been a hard few weeks of training and we didn’t really back off at all for it so to be honest I was feeling a little flat. That being said I kind of had an idea that kind of time was possible. Just contrasting how I felt running 1:16.66 last year, I knew I was in much better shape comparatively.
SB: With so much success already, what are your goals for both the rest of the indoor season, as well as the outdoor season?
CL: I think the main focus right now is on executing on the post season indoors and taking my best shot at winning NCAA’s, then getting back to work with the real focus for the year on the outdoor post season. I’d really like to win a fourth Big Ten title in the 800 that would really mean a lot to me.
SB: You had an up and down 2012 season. Can you talk through the season a bit?
CL: 2012 was a very frustrating year in my life. In essence, pretty much everything that could go wrong did. I came into the fall with a lot of new autonomy with Owen really focused on cross country and Ryan just on a different training cycle getting ready for Australian national championships in March. I was in an upperclassman leadership position with the rest of the mid-d guys for the first time, and frankly, I didn’t do a very good job of it.
The training was lacking and we just didn’t really put in the work. It was really easy to think long term into the following summer with the success I had the year before and I lost sight of the dedication it takes to put the work in year round to even get back to where I was in June/July 2011. Distance runs started getting really frustrating but once I got my attitude and work ethic together, things still weren’t going well.
I got my iron checked the week after Penn Relays and found out my ferritin levels were down at 6. Once I got back on the iron I felt immediately better and I think just the drastic change in how I felt accounted for preforming well at Big Ten’s and running my season best. The lack of good training caught up to me though and I was just not physically prepared and very mentally frustrated. It was a good learning experience though and I truly believe it was a blessing in disguise.
SB: The middle distance group at Penn State is truly something else, with so many extremely talented individuals. What's it like to be part of such a strong training group?
CL: There’s really nothing like it. Everyone brings such a unique range of personalities and strengths to the table, and each of us benefit from one another. Ricky, Robby and Kidder always challenge us on the distance side of things, while I make everyone work on shorter faster intervals.
Ryan Brennan is the core police and I don’t think any of us would dare to try and miss a day, it’s core o’clock on his watch 24/7.
The freshmen are dedicated and take advice from the upperclassmen, and we learn from them, too. The only real challenge is making sure we take the recovery we need, it’s easy for a recovery day to get out of hand with the competitive personalities in the mix, but it’s also really easy to work hard. Above all, we genuinely like each other, and the daily grind of miles is a lot easier when you can have a laugh and joke around. The best group of guys I’ve ever trained with.
SB: People know about Penn State's middle distance success, but don't know much about the program. What are one or two of the core philosophies of the program?
CL: I’d basically say that our secret is that there isn’t any secret! I guess the main motto is “consistency.” I was running about 70 miles a week in the fall, and since January I’ve been a shade over 60. Some of the guys are a little lower and some are a little higher, but not much. We’re big on running harder distance runs days before our two workouts of the week and lift twice a week with weekends consisting of a long day and a “swing day” of just a short run and good stretching.
Personally I focus on mostly body weight stuff for upper body (dips, pullups) and I really like to squat. I’ll usually squat up to about 300 lbs., it helps me keep be explosive enough to run the 400 for the relay without sacrificing too much mileage to do speed work.
SB: In 2010, you finished second at the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships. What did having such a high level of success in a world competition teach you about yourself?
CL: World Juniors was amazing. USA teams have been one of my best experiences with track and field. It gave me a taste of what it’s like to race the best people my age in the world and wear the uniform doing it. It makes you hungry to make another, and it certainly helps me get myself composed for lower key races knowing some of the stages I’ve been blessed to race on.
SB: The Millrose Games are this weekend and Penn State has a 4x8 entered. Dreaming big, what does the squad hope to achieve and how pumped are you to compete at the Millrose Games?
CL: I’ve never competed at Millrose, and I am pumped. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever race to home in college, and I know Za’Von is excited to race on essentially his home track where he won the Millrose high school mile last year.
We’re all aware that the collegiate record is 7:17.45, and we’re also aware that the world record is 7:13.94, and that our season bests add up to 7:13.10.
It’s not really a stacked event though so that would certainly take all of us doing something special from the front that day. We just want to go out, enjoy the experience and have fun with a little tune up for the post season.
SB: Favorite workout?
CL: 10X300 in 41-43 with 90 seconds rest; 8 minutes rest; 3x200 with 200 jog rest in 26/24/22
SB: Spikes you race in?
CL: Nike Victory’s, but I’d sure love a pair of Elites (hint hint coach)
SB: Favorite post-race meal?
CL: Pollock Dining Commons with the boys
SB: Best band?
CL: I love Death Cab and J. Cole
SB: College major?
CL: Communication Arts and Science
SB: Favorite meet you've raced in?
CL: World University Games 2011