The Willy Kaul Interview at tips4running.com – Kaul is a Multiple NCAA D3 Champion.
Hello, this is David Tiefenthaler, and I am proud to welcome Willy Kaul for an interview on tips4running.com. Willy just finished up his senior year at my alma-mater, The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Kaul wrapped up his collegiate career recently at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track Championships by winning the 10K and placing fourth in the 5K. His double helped the Titans win the team title. Kaul also helped UW-Oshkosh win the indoor NCAA title earlier this spring with a victory in the 5K and as the anchor leg of the champion Distance Medley Relay.
During his stay at UW-Oshkosh, Kaul was a 13 time All American, and won three individual national championships. His personal bests are 14:07 in the 5K and 29:38 in the 10K. Before he ran at Oshkosh, Kaul attended high school at Milwaukee Lutheran. As a senior in high school Kaul won the Wisconsin State Cross Country D2 Championship and the 3200 meter title in track.
David Tiefenthaler – Congrats on the individual 10k title and the team championship. You’ve had quite a spring!
Willy Kaul – Yes, I really have been blessed with an injury free and successful indoor and outdoor season. I put in a lot of work during the summer and cross country season and I really feel that that work really brought me to a different level. My indoor season couldn’t have gone any better, it was absolutely flawless. My Outdoor season was great too, just a couple setbacks, but I was able to still do very well!
DT – I find your running history to be quite unique. You are actually quite new to running. When did you first start competing as a distance runner?
WK – Yea, it’s been a popular subject ever since people have been finding out. I honestly never started putting on mileage until the winter before my senior year of high school track. I was always playing basketball and soccer. While competing in sprint events in the spring just to stay in shape for the two other sports. The summer going into my freshman year at Oshkosh was the first time I had ever run during the summer. It was a big jump and a big transition, but I feel that I handled it fairly well.
DT – From what I understand, two people who I ran with at UW-Oshkosh, Todd Irvine and Matt Thull convinced you to start running cross country. How did they get you out on the team?
WK – Haha! Yea, Todd was my head coach, and Matt was brought in for my senior year of track. Todd was really the person that convinced me to do it. I had run some fairly good 800’s and a couple mile races in prior years. So he really felt I could do well in cross country. So I ran cross country along with playing soccer. It was a task, but I made it work.
DT – You ended up winning the state title in your first year out. Were you surprised at how successful you were your senior year of cross country?
WK – Yea, I really was. I remember going into the state meet with absolutely no clue of what I was doing or how well I wanted to do. My cross coach just told me to go out and compete, and that is exactly what I did. It turned out great.
DT – Did your success in cross country your senior year in cross country help you decide to continue with running?
WK – That is the main reason why I decided to quit everything else and concentrate completely on running. I thought that if I could win a state title on no structured training at all, the possibilities were endless if I started running consistently. And, of course, I feel in love with the sport and running in general.
DT – How did you end up running for UW-Oshkosh, and what are the best things you learned about running from Coach Zupanc?
WK – Zup was the only coach that consistently recruited me, and they have a great business and Art school here. So I thought it was a good fit for me. Zup is an awesome coach, and person. I think you would agree with that. He has been and amazing mentor and in a sense a second father to me. Really taking me under his wing in my collegiate career. He has taught me that the anything is possible, always pushing me to try new things and strive to be better. He has taught me to be patient with my training and development being that I am fairly new to the sport. And I look forward to working with him in the years to come.
DT – What sports or activities were you in before you started running?
WK – Everything really, I was a very active kid. But I really love basketball and soccer, playing on club teams all through junior high and high school.
DT – Do you think that part of your toughness and competitive nature is due to your exposure in other sports like soccer and basketball?
WK – Definitely, being that I started competing in sports and such a young age, it’s in my DNA. Everything I do is a competition in a sense. But running has taught me a whole different level of toughness. It’s such a demanding sport, it has to be your life and lifestyle if you want to succeed and be successful.
DT – It sounds like you worked very hard to achieve so many great things. What type of mileage did you do in the off-season and during the season this year?
WK – Yea, I work my butt off, and I enjoy doing it because it feels so much better when you see the benefits. This past summer I was averaging around 100 miles a week, and during my high three week cycle I reached 130. I wanted to lay down the biggest base that I could without trashing myself, and I was able to handle the big weeks. Which is really motivating me for future years.
DT – I understand that you bike a lot in addition to your running. How much do you bike, and when did you start cross training a lot?
WK – Yea, I got into cycling a few years back and invested in a bike. Ever since that I’ve fallen in love with riding too. I think that it is a great compliment to running, taking that pounding off your legs. For me it hurts so much more that running, but I’ve reach a whole different level of toughness ever since I’ve gotten serious with it. This past summer I was putting on 100-125 miles a week with the running.
DT – When I ran in Oshkosh, one thing that I liked, but also disliked at times was how flat it was. What do you like or dislike about training in Oshkosh?
WK – I would agree with you. It’s not running friendly, there are a few trails and parks, but that’s it. Along with that it is always windy…but I have come to like running there. I run the same loop every morning and haven’t gotten sick of it. It seems to be working!
DT – You just finished your college running career. How is your academic career going at UW-Oshkosh? Did you graduate, or are you set to graduate soon?
WK – Yep, I am set to graduate this coming spring with an Art degree and Graphic design emphasis. It’s going great, I’ve had two internships and love the field that I am in.
DT – What plans do you have in your running future?
WK – Well being that I have another year acedamically. I am going to take advantage of that and treat it as though I’m still running on the team. I want to lay and even bigger base down this summer, but really focus on certain races on the track this spring. I am looking to run some big PR’s and hopefully make a team out west. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me in running.
DT – With the cross training that you do, especially with the amount you bike, have you ever thought of competing in a triathlon?
WK – I’ve thought about it. I was a lifeguard in high school, so I have some background in all three. But I don’t think I’ll ever get serious with it. If I ever do one, it most likely will do it for fun. My heart is in running.
DT – What achievement in your running career are you most proud of?
WK – I would say my Indoor track Athlete of the year award. I had a picture perfect nationals and everything felt so good. It was a great honor.
DT – On the other hand, what was your biggest setback?
WK – It’s got to be when I was sidelined for 3 months with my plantar fascia injury. By for the longest I’ve been out with and injury.
DT – Thanks so much Willy for your time. I wish you the best of luck in the future. Keep making former Titans like myself proud.
WK – Thanks a lot Dave! It’s an honor to be chosen for an interview!