Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Interview Tuesday: Meet Assistant Coach at Campbellsville University - Dylan Ford

This week I talk to Dylan Ford who I met at a Running Soles weeknight run.  Dylan is part of building a great team at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville Kentucky.  Enjoy getting to know Dylan and follow how the C'ville Tigers do this coming year

Tell us a little about yourself not necessarily related to running: age, where born, education, area you live in, etc…..
My name is Dylan Ford, I am 24 years old and living in Campbellsville, Kentucky (central region).  I was born in Louisville, and lived there for a few years.  However, I have spent a majority of my life living in Campbellsville.  My family moved to Campbellsville when I was younger, and I also attended Campbellsville University.  I was able to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance, along with a Masters of Art in Sports Management with Administration.

What is your profession?
I currently work at Campbellsville University as the Men and Women Assistant Cross Country and Track & Field coach.  Along with this title at Campbellsville University, I have recently become a professor for lower level courses related to health and wellness type majors.  Both of these jobs keep me busy on my feet, and I would not want it any other way!  Having the ability to be a professor, and a coach, is an environment I can truly thrive in.

How has being a coach at Campbellsville University been going?
Coaching at Campbellsville University has been amazing over the past few years.  I love being able to help further the growth of this program, into a top competitive national team.  It also makes the job much more enjoyable when you have athletes who love the sport, and truly want to be there to better themselves.  Recently with Cross Country, we had our Men’s highest national placement in school history, finishing 18th (coming in ranked 26th).  Along with having our first female individual qualifier in several years.  This was an exciting moment for our program, and great step forward in the right direction for both men and women.

How is the team shaping up for this year in Track and next year for Cross-Country?

The team is shaping up to have some great things happen in both track and cross country.  Within the distance realm of track, we’ve returned each member of our school record, and All-American, 4 x 800m relay team.  We’re excited to see what another year with this group can accomplish.  Along with this, we have a whole new look in our long distance group that can make some big moves.  We also have many young female athletes with a lot of potential to break into.  With Cross Country, I am really excited about our women’s program!  It has been a rebuilding phase for a few seasons, but now it’s about to have that turn around momentum we’ve been looking for.  We’re returning some top key athletes, bringing some back from injury reserves, and some incoming top level recruits.  There really isn’t a limit for them next year, I think we’re going to shock a lot of teams in our conference.  With our men’s team, we’re looking to repeat a national team appearance, and better our 18th finish.  We’ve recruited heavily for this to replace some seniors, and already have several great long distance guys joining us next year.

Also as you are an Instructor for KTCCCA Clinics , what do you do in these clinics ?
In the past few years I have been able to receive many different certifications through both USATF and USTFCCCA.  With this, I have been able to grasp a great knowledge background of Cross Country and Track & Field.  Thus, having the ability and qualifications to instruct certain courses.  This was my first year instructing at the KTCCCA Clinic, and I’ve already been scheduled in for the next clinics to come.  At these clinics high school, middle school, elementary, and some college level coaches come together for a time to collaborate and better their knowledge in running.  The biggest focus I bring to my courses is trying to teach the science behind why we do certain training components in running.  If coaches can have a better understanding behind training concepts, it can help further the validity to do them.  Coaching is an art, every athlete and team is different.  With that you can’t do the same thing every year and expect the same results.  Understanding the science behind training concepts, can help these coaches create the program needed for their team.

How did you start running and what prompted you to do so?
As a younger brother I always wanted to be like my older brother  He is several years older than me, and started running cross country in middle school.  So of course, I also had to join the program when I was in fourth grade.  The coach of the program at the time was the famous Coach Rouse.  Coach Rouse quickly began to create the foundation of discipline needed to be a successful runner.  With still being at such a young age, Coach Rouse showed no mercy in ensuring I gave a full honest effort and never slacked.  At the time, I thought Coach rouse was just a tough mean coach.  Looking back, I cannot thank her enough for doing what she did in helping me become the had working adult I am now.

How long have you been running?

With starting in fourth grade I have been running for about 16 years now.

Did you participate in any other sports over the years?
Before high school I participated in several other sports outside of cross country and track.  Yet, when entering high school my parents wanted me to put my attention towards one sport to increase my chances of scholarship opportunities.  Along with not being spread out so thin among many different obligations.  I choose running, because I thought to myself this is the one sport that truly gives you what you put in it.  There are not short cuts, no teammates to carry you, and very rough weather conditions to train in at times.  I found those elements very appealing, and attractive to the sport I wanted to participate in.

Did you run in grade school, High School or College? If so where?
Throughout running before college, I did all of my years of running through Taylor County.  Some during this time was through Team Kentucky, during the post season races.  With college, I competed at Campbellsville University.  At the time, the men’s program was in a rebuilding phase and had 8 new members of our 12-man roster.  Our team was extremely young, and had little experience in longer distance races.  We were blessed to have great upper classman to show us the ropes, and a coach that believed in us more than we may have at times.  During our time there, we started out as a team that was not really considered competition at our conference.  Into becoming conference champions, and a national ranked program.

Having run in college do you have an advice for aspiring HS runners looking to run in college?
One of the biggest pieces of advice I have to high school level athletes looking for a college to compete in, is to visit as many programs as possible! Don’t settle with just the first few schools you visit, there is so much more out there then you can imagine!  Having the ability to see more and more programs.  You get a better idea of what you do, and do not want in a program.  Finding the best program for your wants and needs is crucial.  Come into every visit with an open mindset, not reflecting on opinions from others.  Everyone is different in their own special way, and there isn’t one place that is perfect for everyone.

So we get an idea of where you have been with running can you share your PR’s for: 5K, 10K marathon and any other distance you may have run in the past.
During college we ran primarily 8k (5 miles) races, my PR in this was 26:46.  Then with track my focus was more with middle distance, my PR in the 1500m was 4:06.  There were a few times during my first two years I was able to compete in the 5k, my PR was 15:52.  After my college years of training and competing I have competed in only one 10k road race so far, my time was 34:50.  I am really excited to better this time greatly, with looking to train for long distance type races.

You did your first Bourbon Chase race in 2018 for Running Soles – how did that go?  Did you like the race - I did the Hood to Coast in 2017 and while the race was fun the jumping in a van after running hard was hard on my legs – how did you stay loose for the next stage?  Are you running again this year?
This past year, with Running Soles, doing the Bourbon Chase was amazing! We placed 2nd overall in this 200mile relay with a finish time of 19h:58m:55s, an average pace of 5:55 per mile.  I cannot thank Will Rivera enough for the support he showed, and gave to the team!  We had many new members entering a race like this, Will was able to give great advice to help us compete the way that we were able to!  I loved the race, and looking forward to be able to do it again!  Having my first year completed now, I already know so many ways to better prepare myself for this race.
With the pace we were going, we didn’t have a ton of down time between our legs.  We had to begin our warm up a few legs in advanced each time we had a break.  Then with the cool down, the same method for a few legs after ours when we had a break.  Once our van was moving onto our next phase of legs, we would try to squeeze in a tiny nap.  We fueled a lot in tiny segments, avoiding anything heavy on our stomach.  Since there wouldn’t be much time to be able to digest it.  We were able to make it all work out and have a very successful experience.

What is your most memorable race or races and share a little about at least one of them?

My most memorable race easily has to be my senior year with Campbellsville University at our Cross Country Conference Championship meet.  This was a race our freshman class had been talking about and training for since we moved in four years prior to.  We were the underdogs coming into this meet, to the 5 year back to back champions Shawnee State University.  I was coming off of a pretty bad injury earlier in the season, and another top 5 member (Joey Hartlage) had recently suffered from some medical issues from a race earlier in the season.  We were definitely bandaged up, and had more going against us than with us.  As the race began, the first few miles looked as if Shawnee State was going to run away with it again.  Going into the last 2 miles of the race, our entire top 5 gained a second wind and took over the race.  Allowing us to finish first over Shawnee State, winning our program’s first over conference championship and first national team appearance.  The joy we had from this race is one I will never forget.  Especially our coach, for we poured an ice cooler on her after the win in the cold!

Do you have a favorite workout you do?
In track season we have this traditional workout we would always do once a year.  It may not be my most favorite, but it’s one the team always got excited for! The workout is 20 x 200’s, with increase speed and decrease rest.  The 200’s are broken up into four sets of five.  As you progress in each set your speed slowly increases from mile pace down to 800m pace.  While the pace is increasing, the rest would decrease down 15 seconds each set between the reps.  Beginning at one minute of rest between reps, and working your way down to 15 seconds of rest.  With about 2-minute rest between the sets.

The first half of the workout is pretty easy; it didn’t bother us much.  However, entering into the second half of the workout begins to get very difficult!  Sometimes our coach would surprise us with an extra interval at the end, between 300m – 600m.  You could imagine the level of excitement we had when we would find this out after the workout…..

How about a favorite route you like to run?
I don’t think I can consider this a route, since I have only run it once.  However, one of my most memorable runs though would be when Joey and I traveled to Colorado.  One route we did was on Magnolia Road.  This route is famous to many local runners, top elite college athletes, and professional runners to do long runs or tempos on.  For this route is at a very high elevation in Boulder, Colorado (around 8,000ft elevation).  This route was extremely scenic and beautiful to run on.  The drive up the mountain was a very narrow and curvy one to get to the start of the run!

What is your favorite distance to run and race?
In college I loved the cross country aspect of racing an 8k.  Having the longer distance made it much more strategic in racing tactics.  This was not a race you could start off too fast the first two miles, and hope to hang on the last 3 miles.  That just could not happen in a race like this.  In high school you could get away with that in a 5k, but certainly not in college with an 8k.  Now having a couple years out of college, I have ran a lot of different races more on the shorter end.  I am wanting to explore longer races soon, potentially mini-marathons, and see how that goes for me.

What shoes do you run in and what do you like about them?
Currently my most favorite shoe to run in is the Saucony Freedom.  I have really sensitive arches, so a shoe that gives me the right feel and support for them is crucial for me.  Currently these are the shoes that do just that for me.  I also like the lighter weight of the shoe to give me more of an upbeat feeling during my runs.  However, after a couple pair of shoes I try to explore new brands and shoes to mix it up a little.

Do you have any long-range plans?
My long-range plans are still being figured out and settled in really.  I am happy with where I am at in my career currently, but looking to continue to further develop it.  With running, this is definitely an activity and sport I plan on participating in for a long duration.  I want to explore longer races and training programs that meet the needs of those races.  Along with figuring out how to keep my body healthier and injury free.

What do you like best about living and running in KY?
I love being able to see the running population continue to grow and develop in Kentucky.  Along with being able to be a part of that process.  With my job, I see more and more high school level athletes in running hitting faster times and enjoying the sport more.  Then within different communities, seeing running groups develop more and more.  In Campbellsville, Joey Hartlage has done a great job in starting a running group in town that is open to any level of runner.   His Facebook page from this group can be found at - Campbellsville Running Club Accountability Group.  Definitely give it a try, even if it is your first day of running!!

Anywhere else you would like to visit to run?
Recently I have been able to visit both Colorado and Oregon with running.  I think the next two places I would really like to travel out to with running would be California and Arizona.  I see so many different post and routes to run out there that look amazing!

What do you struggle with most with regards to running?
Honestly, staying injury free.  My ankles are literally as fragile as a toothpick.  I end up rolling and spraining my ankles all the time.  Currently my training has suffered the past two months due to an ankle injury.  So looking in ways to keep my ankles healthy are a top priority for me with running right now.

What do you see as a trend in running?
A trend that I am beginning to see with running in Kentucky, is coaches reaching out ways to further educate themselves.  When I taught at the KTCCCA Clinic, there was a huge attendance with all different level of cross country/track coaches.  With the course I taught, the seats were filled and coaches attending had to result to standing on the sides or in the back.  Seeing a turn out like this, is great to see that coaches are wanting to take in as much knowledge as possible to better their athletes.  Thus, helping Kentucky to become a more competitive state with cross country/track.

If you had one, well maybe two or three, things to say those that are running to encourage them what would it be?
One of my biggest advice to runners is to go find a training partner or accountability group to train with.  Being able to run with someone, or a group, every once in a while makes running so much more enjoyable.  Along with helping to make the different goals you may have easier to achieve.  Even if the group you meet up with are at different paces than you, having that accountability and support can go such a long way!

Do you have a website or other social media site you would like to share?

********You can see past interviews here********

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