June 18, 2013 by conteconfidential
Boston College graduate student Tyler King has run a lot over the past few years. Cranking out mileage at an astounding rate since middle school, he closed out his collegiate career last month with a trip to the NCAA Division I Track and Field East Regional meet. He ran a career-best time of 8:58:48 in the 3000m steeplechase at the New England Track & Field Championships in mid-May, earning him a ticket to Regionals in Greensboro, N.C. and one more chance to race as an Eagle. King talked to Conte Confidential about the meet and his thoughts of putting running on the backburner for awhile to enjoy the summer and other aspects of life.
1) For our readers who may not be familiar with track and field events, can you give a quick description of steeplechase?
It’s actually originally a horse race that was adapted for humans. It’s 3000m (just shy of two miles) and every lap there are four dry barriers (basically hurdles that don’t move if you hit them) and one water jump. The only exposure most people have to the steeplechase is YouTube videos of people falling into the water. Luckily, I’ve never had that misfortune.
2) What is your favorite part of this event? Least favorite?
My favorite part is that it feels a little more “raw” than normal distance races. There’s an added requirement of general athleticism, and the barriers break up some of the monotony a bit. My least favorite is that we go over the barriers as a pack, and some of the other people are usually pretty bad hurdlers. It can be a bit nerve-wracking not knowing whether the person in front of you will make it over the barrier cleanly or if they might screw up and cause you to fall.
3) When did you find out that your run at the New England Championships put you in the top three fastest times in BC history for the 3000m steeplechase? What was the first thought that came to mind upon hearing the news?
I found out later that night. Truthfully, I didn’t consider that particularly important. I was more concerned with determining what kind of performance I would have to put up at the regional meet to advance to nationals.
4 Can you walk us through a typical mid-season workout?
First, we would warm up with about a 20-minute jog, followed by drills and strides (100m runs at roughly our mile pace). A common workout would then be what we call a ladder. It starts with a mile and ends with a 200, cutting down 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400, 300, 200. As the reps get shorter, the pace gets faster and the rest get shorter. We would run a mile a little faster than 5:00 and get 4:00 rest after it, all the way down to 45 seconds of rest between the 300 and 200, which we would run at a sub-4:00 mile pace. After all that, we would cool down with another 20-minute jog.
Tyler King (leaping hurdle) posted the third fastest time in BC history in the 3000m steeplechase at the New England Track & Field Championships (photo credit: Jayme King)
5) Will you continue to train throughout the summer?
No. After five years of college running, I’m unsure whether I want to continue running seriously in the real world. I’m going on a service trip to Vietnam for the month of July, and I’m not planning to run while I’m there. We’ll see if the itch comes back after I get back.
6) What was it like to travel down to Greensboro for the East Regional?
The trip to Greensboro was a lot of fun. It’s a much different atmosphere than our regular-season meets, and it was a good opportunity to see a lot of my friends who run for other teams and hang out with the women’s team.
7) How long have you been a runner? How did you start?
I’ve been a runner ever since I joined cross country in seventh grade to get in shape for basketball. It’s definitely in my blood though: my mom ran in the Olympic trials twice in the ’80s.
8) Did any of your teammates or family members travel with you to the Regional meet?
My family had just come out to Boston from Minnesota to watch the New England Championships so they didn’t make the trip out for regionals. None of my male teammates were there with me, but five members of the women’s team qualified as well, and I actually traveled down with them because the men’s coach was sick.
9) Looking back on the 2012-13 season, is there any particular moment that stands out to you or that you’re most proud of?
Definitely winning the steeple at New Englands. It’s always a great feeling to win a race, but, with a lap to go, I knew my time was going to qualify me for regionals. Not only did that extend my collegiate career for at least another two weeks, but it also meant I would get a chance to qualify for nationals, which had been my goal all year.
10) Do you listen to music when you run? If so, do you have a favorite artist, song or genre that you always like to hear? If not, what are some ways you keep focused (or distracted) during tough runs?
I don’t listen to music when I run outside, which constitutes 99.9% of my runs. Every once in awhile I’ll run on a treadmill, and I have to listen to music to make it mentally bearable. I usually listen to pop-punk on the treadmill, which is definitely not what I normally listen to in my daily life. In normal runs, I usually stay entertained by talking to my teammates or even just getting lost in my own thoughts. I’m very comfortable in my own head.
11) What is your favorite summer activity?
Now that I can do it again without having to worry about the risk of injury, I’m looking forward to playing a lot of basketball. I also really love barbecuing; I’m a bit of a grill master.
12) Have you ever done any distance running (marathons, half marathons, 10K, etc.) either competitively or for fun?
I’ve raced a couple of 10Ks either on the roads or in cross country. I’ll probably take a shot at the longer races at some point my life. It’s just a question of whether I’ll be 24 and trying to break 2:30 or 42 and trying to break three hours.
13) What is your favorite professional sport to watch? Any favorite teams?
Football is by far my favorite sport to watch on TV, or in person for that matter. I’m a big Packers fan and am actually a stockholder in Green Bay Packers, Inc.
Interview by Lizzy Bayoff