The Chris Derrick Interview with tips4running.com
tips4running.com is extremely pleased to have Chris Derrick for an interview. Chris was attended high school in Illinois at Neuqua Valley. He was the Gatorade High School runner of the year for 2007-2008 and he led his cross country team to a state and national championship.
Chris ran extremely well for Stanford in his first collegiate year. At the Cross Country NCAA Championships in 2008 he took 7th place, and Stanford placed 3rd overall. For the Indoor NCAA Track Championships, he placed 4th in the 5K and 5th in the 3K. At the outdoor championships Chris took 3rd in the 5k. He also owns the American Junior Record in the 5K with a time of 13:29. Chris competed in the 2009 Junior World Cross Country Championships after the Indoor Track season and placed 15th out of over 115 international competitors.
David Tiefenthaler – Aside from running, have you enjoyed your first year in college?
Chris Derrick – Yeah its been a lot of fun. I really like my roommates and my teammates a lot so I’ve enjoyed hanging out with them and the atmosphere around Stanford. Don’t ask me what I do though, I realized I am a very boring person and do more or less the same thing everyday.
DT – What is the hardest part about your first year at Stanford?
CD – Getting my roommate Christian to stop talking so I can do my homework.
DT – Let’s focus now on how you first started running. Is anyone in your family a runner, and when did you first start running?
CD – Nobody in my immediate family was a runner. I was playing basketball in the 8th grade on a travel basketball team that I probably didn’t belong on (my neighbor was the coach though). One of the parents (probably recognizing my lack of hops, quicks, or strength) suggested to my parents that I do cross country because the kids and coaches on the team were really nice. My parents (probably fearing that I would not do any activities in high school and thus degenerate into a lazy hoodlum) made me do the cross country summer camp. I thought I liked it and thought I was pretty good. I wasn’t actually very good (I ran 12:10 for 2 miles in my first race and finished the year as the 7th frosh/soph guy with a pr of 18:08 for three miles) but I did like it so I stuck with it.
DT – Did you participate in any other sports besides track and cross country in middle school or high school?
CD – I played basketball and baseball up until 9th grade
DT – Now I imagine you trained pretty hard in high school to run some of those incredibly fast times. When did you really start running some serious mileage in high school?
CD – I don’t really know what you would consider serious mileage. I always just did what my coach told me to do. My freshman year that probably worked out to 30-45mpw and then I probably ran in the 40’s and 50’s as a sophomore. My junior year I maxed out over the summer at 75 and spent most of the cross country season and pretty much all of the track season at 60mpw or under. My senior year I ran mid 70’s over the summer, probably held 65-70 through cross country and then 55-65 in track.
DT – What was the highlight of your high school running career?
CD – Winning Nike Team Nationals and the state championship with my team.
DT – I feel that it is my responsibility as a Wisconsin resident to ask why you didn’t pick a college in the great Midwest, specifically the University of Wisconsin, instead of going to Stanford?
CD – Well UW was never really on the table for me. They didn’t call me until late September of my senior year and I already had my visits set up. Also, I developed a pretty close relationship with Wendel McRaven at the University of Illinois and I really felt like I couldn’t go to another school in the Big 10. If I was going to go to a school in the Midwest it was probably going to be a Big 10 school and if I was going to a Big 10 school it was going to be Illinois. I seriously considered U of I but when it came down to it I just felt like Stanford was the best fit for me.
DT – Palo Alto, CA must be a little different to run in that the flat lands of Illinois. Do you enjoy training in a hillier area?
CD – Well it’s certainly more scenic and less windy, two things I would say are a big plus.
DT – What is the biggest difference in your training now compared to what you did in high school?
CD – The volume has been increased by about 10 miles per week or so and I stay closer to my maximum mileage throughout the year. We also do a great deal more supplemental work like core and hurdle drills. The workouts come from a very similar mindset but in college they are more varied and at a higher volume.
DT – When I ran in college, I have to admit, I liked track better than XC. You have been successful in both cross country and track. Do you prefer one sport over the other?
CD – Each has their benefits. I am more of a rhythm runner so the track does suit me well, but I don’t have great foot-speed so the slower pace in cross country is to my advantage. I’d say that I enjoy both equally.
DT – I read that your PR in the 400 is around 56. I can’t believe that is true. What can you really run a 400 in?
CD – The fastest I have ever run a 400 is 56.high in practice at the beginning of track season this year. We were doing the workout that is commonly known as “The Michigan” and that is what I ran for my last interval. I was tired going into it but I wouldn’t say that my 400 speed fresh is much better than my 400 speed tired so I would say I can run 54.low, maybe 53.high if I spiked up and ran it fresh. My raw speed is something that I really need to work on as my college career progresses.
DT – You placed very high at the Junior World Cross Country Championships on what looked to be an incredibly tough course. What was your strategy there, and exactly how tough was that race.
CD – I just wanted to get out in the top 20 and hang around the lead pack as long as I could. It was an excruciatingly difficult race. I pretty much felt broken at 4k and running the flat the last 2 loops I didn’t see how I wasn’t going to go backward 5 places on the hill.
DT – What was it like racing at the international level?
CD – Well this race at least was crowded at the start and slow enough to make me believe I could be in it, and then the leaders just kind of crushed all my hope with a devastating move that looked entirely effortless.
DT – Now that the outdoor track season is here, do you have an event that you want to focus on?
CD – I’ll probably be focusing on the 5k. I’m not fast enough for the 1500 and Coach Dunn usually doesn’t like to run freshman in the 10k.
DT – I loved track just for the fact of all the different events. My coach let me try pretty much any event, including the steeplechase and the javelin (I pitched for my baseball team in high school). Do you think Coach Dunn would ever let you run the Steeplechase?
CD – Not if he has my safety in mind. I’m one of the least flexible/athletic people I know. I can barely get my trail leg even with mid thigh and I definitely am not good at jumping over things.
DT – I coach high school CC, and am big on setting goals with my runners. Every week I like to focus on small goals to help lead them to their ultimate running goals. I imagine you have some goals you would like to accomplish, but how do you go about setting them, and working towards accomplishing your ultimate goals?
CD – I don’t really have too many definitive goals, more like vague sketches of places that I’d like to be. I just know that I want to be better each season than I was the last and the only way I know is to work consistently day in and day out.
DT – Thanks for your time Chris. I wish you continued success in the future.