The Phong Chieng Interview

The Phong Chieng Interview with

Hello, this is David Tiefenthaler, and today I welcome runner and blogger Phong Chieng for an interview on Phong’s weblog is titled The Trail Running Blog. It details his return to running. Phong is leading the group in the picture below.

David Tiefenthaler – Thanks for the interview. What motivated you to start a blog about running?

Phong Chieng – My high school cross country coach suggested that we keep a journal of our runs and workouts. Not just logging the miles and times, but things like how we felt during the run and if anything significant happened. I’ve kept that journal for over 5 years and finally decided to share those entries to other runners by blogging. But by starting the blog, I got into reading other runner’s blogs and that really motivated me to not just retell stories about running, but to also start doing it too.

DT – How is your training going right now?

PC – Because I am still at the beginning stages of my training, it feels like when I first started running in high school. I only have about 30 minutes to an hour to get in a run in the mornings before work. But on Saturdays, I try to vary my workouts by either running long, doing intervals, and recently I tried my first brick workout.

DT – What are some of the races you have run recently and how did they go?

PC – I’ve only ran 3 races since I got back to running, but they all went very well, in my opinion. The first race was a hilly 5K, but I was very surprised when I hit 20:19. The second race was also a 5K but I ran the first mile too fast. I still improved from the previous race by hitting 20:05.The most recent race I ran was a 10K, which I was worried about because the most I ran in high school was 3 miles and the previous 2 races were 5K. I needed to make sure I didn’t start too fast so that I would have enough energy to complete the whole race. So I took that race more like a hard workout and finished well at 42:29.

DT – So you ran Cross Country and Track in high school, but stopped soon there after. Why did you stop your training after high school was over?

PC – I just had nothing to train for, really. I wasn’t fast enough to compete in college and to be honest, I just wanted to take a break from running for a while. I’m still amazed at how I was able to run 6-7 times a week all year long and race almost every Thursday and Saturday during the season. I went to college with two former runners and we got together every now and then for a run around campus, but I didn’t compete in any races for years after high school.

DT – What were some of your best races and times in high school in either track or cross country?

PC – I have been in so many races where know I could have done better. I fainted on my first cross country race. In another, I tried to hang with our top runners only to hit a wall and get passed by teammates that I would have beaten if I ran my own race. During the mile, I didn’t hear my teammates yelling at me that the runner behind me was catching up and then got beat for the last medal. At league finals during my first year, I was also one spot away from medaling. These are just a few of the many failures I have had while running cross country and track.

Despite all of the bad races, I never regret joining cross country and track, not even for a second. It’s all of the memories that I gained from training, hanging out with my teammates and competing in races that I will always have with me.

Going back to the original question, my PR for 3 miles is: 17:30, 1 mile: 4:54, and 800m: 2:05. I have a couple of “best” races I’d like to mention. In a league meet, I was the last person to finish the race on our Varsity team, but outkicked the opponent’s #1 runner (getting the best score in an XC race: 15-50). In the mile, my teammate was leading for the first 3 laps while I drafted around 4th-5th and I kicked at the last lap passing my teammate to end up getting 2nd place. My coach said I ran very smart in that race. The last race I ran in high school XC at league finals, I won the race getting JV MVP.

DT – I love the statistics you post on your website such as your heart rate during a race and the calories burned. What do you use to record this information?

PC – I have a Timex Ironman Heart Rate Monitor Watch compliments of who else, but Timex. It’s a great watch (sans-gps) that tracks my time, splits, heart rate (average and peak). I log all that data to which I visit often; it’s a great way to talk to a community of other dedicated runners. I highly recommend.

DT – How many miles have you run so far in 2009, and when did you start up running again in 2009?

PC – DailyMile says Day 1 was March 3, 2009 and since then I have logged over 275 miles.

DT – What is your favorite part about running now?

PC – My favorite part about running now is definitely racing and seeing myself continually improving. I feel like an old athlete that came out of retirement just to see if they still have what it takes to compete with the younger people out there. That’s not really the case, since I just turned 24 and have the rest of my life to race and compete. But it feels great to know that I will always be a runner, no matter how old I am.

DT – What is your favorite part about writing about your running?

PC – My favorite part about writing about my running is definitely just being able to share it with others. I may not necessarily want to write about every run I have, but there are certain workouts where I would really like to talk about it. Especially races; I love having a place where I can just describe all the little details that happened. Everything from waking up at 5:30 in the morning to get ready to passing that last runner while sprinting to the finish line. And knowing that there is at least one other person reading what I have to say, makes it worth all the time and effort.

DT – Do you have an ultimate goal for racing or your training?

PC – Time-wise, not really, I just want to keep improving from race to race. As far as types of races go, I am trying to work my way up to my first marathon. I have already completed a 10K, next will probably be a half-marathon and maybe next year I will be able to do the marathon. In addition to that goal, I recently considered doing a Triathlon as well. Although that may be a very long-term goal, unless swimming the dog paddle is an efficient strategy for swimming in a Tri.

DT – Thanks again for the interview. Keep on writing about your experiences, and good luck in the future.

PC – Thank you for reaching out and asking me for the interview. I hope that your readers will be able to get something out of this and be inspired to do something big in their lives, whether or not it involves running.

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