Clint Verran - World Marathon Champs
Clint Verran - World Marathon Champs
Rochester Hills, MI
Clint Verran has always been a good runner at all levels of competition. In high school he was the state champion in cross country, While in college, Clint was an eight time MAC conference champion. Since graduation, Clint has recorded the highest finish ever by a US runner at the World Half Marathon Championships. Clint has also turned into Mr. Consistency in the marathon distance by running in the 2:14 - 2:16 range several times. In 2003 Clint made the Team USA marathon squad for the World Championships in Paris. Once again, Clint will be on the marathon squad sporting the USA jersey. His qualification for the 2005 World Team came from a strong 5th place finish at the 2004 Olympic Trials. Read more to see what Clint has been up to.
RunMichigan: Congratulations on your selection to the USA World Championship Marathon Team. This is not your first world marathon team, does it feel any better to be on this team and are you more excited to go to Finland than France?
CV: Thanks. It does feel better. I think this time I really appreciate it more. I am beginning to see for myself that our professional running careers don’t last forever. Lately, I’ve been trying to just enjoy my running more than ever. Opportunities like this one don’t come around every day.
Runmichigan: How does it feel to be going with two of your good friends to Finland to race as members of Team USA? Do you feel that it adds any more excitement to the trip and race? Why?
CV: Good friends? Whom might that be? No, just kidding. I am so proud of Brian and Trent. I get to see what they go through on a daily basis. They are like brothers to me. I am excited for them. Paris in 2003 was such an unbelievable experience. I am happy for these guys to get the chance to experience what I’ve experienced.
Runmichigan: You qualified to the world team by your 5th place finish at the Olympic Trials last year. How has your training and racing been the last 14 months? Do you feel that you have made gains since the trials and have you been able to stay injury free?
CV: I definitely feel as though I’ve grown as a runner since the Trials. I’ve completed two marathon training blocks that where harder and faster than anything I’d done before. The problem is that I really haven’t had that breakthrough race to show for it. Popping off a good time in a marathon requires that a number of variables come together at the same moment. Great preparation, weather, fast course, staying healthy…you need all of these at the same time to run fast.
Runmichigan: With the race less than two months away, how good do you feel in your training right now? Would you say you are feeling better than you were at this point in your Olympic Trials phase or worse? Why?
CV: Physically, it’s hard to say. You’re always a little tired or sore during a marathon build-up. Mentally, I feel much stronger. I put a lot of pressure on myself leading up to the Trials. I knew I had a legitimate shot at making the team. I also knew I had to be perfect on the day. I think Trent was perfect on the day. I needed his kind of performance to make the Olympic team. Those performances are elusive to say the least. Now, I feel confident in my ability to get to the starting line well-trained, fresh legged and highly motivated. Then it’s just a matter of executing the race plan over the first 20 miles and then racing super tough for the last 10K.
Runmichigan: How much does being part of other world teams help you prepare yourself for Finland?
CV: It’s huge. Especially being part of the World Champs in Paris two years ago. It removes so much of the unknown. I feel like I can really enjoy it more now. A big part is just having raced the race in Paris. It’s a different animal than racing a LaSalle Bank Marathon. It’s basically a race of about 100 guys. The East Africans all think they can win the thing and go out like crazy. The Japanese guys are good and run hard and smart. My race plan is to try to estimate what my best possible performance would be, calculate that out into 1K splits. Then I try to make sure I hit those splits over the first half of the race. If everything goes perfect I nail those splits all the way and run a great race. More importantly, hitting those 1K splits ensures that I’m running with the right guys. After halfway, I focus on racing and beating those guys.
Runmichigan: Going into Paris two summers ago, they were having temperatures over 100 degrees with reports of people dying throughout the city and country. Luckily for all who raced and lived there, the temps came down into the 80's around race time. With the temps looking to be in the mid 70's in Helsinki, how much more inviting does the race sound than in Paris?
CV: This summer, I’m not worried about the temperature in Helsinki. We’ve had a lot of hot and humid days here in Rochester. I feel well prepared for racing in the heat. The 70’s is still way too hot to run super fast. I actually am hoping for a heat wave. I don’t think you can be better prepared for hot weather than we are. Racing in those kind of conditions favors smart, tough runners. I’ve always placed higher in races where the conditions were less than ideal.
Runmichigan: The marathon summit was just held in Rochester Hills. How much did you learn from the summit and do you think it is a worthwhile venture to have?
CV: I’ve been to several of these summits. I learn something from them every time. Dr. Dave Martin does a great job of detailing the course for us. That definitely helps. Another thing I took away this time is the idea of gastroc emptying. The idea is like priming a pump with water. You need to start out with fluids in your stomach to help absorb the fluids you take in during the race. We’ve been really focusing on fluid intake during this training block and I think that’s going to help us in Helsinki.
Runmichigan: What advice would you give for someone striving to reach your level of running?
CV: Have patience. Becoming a good distance runner takes time. You will have setbacks. Injuries, illness, poor performances and frustration are part of the sport. The guys I’ve seen that are successful handle the bad times the best. It’s easy to stay at it when you’re running PR’s and beating people. You need to enjoy the process; the daily up and downs. If you only enjoy your running when you run a great race, you won’t last long in the sport and won’t actualize your potential.
Runmichigan: What do you like to do when you need a break from things? Is there something that you do or somewhere you like to go?
CV: When I need to get away from the running scene, I hang out with my wife, Christie. Although she runs almost everyday, she doesn’t consider herself a runner. She keeps me grounded. She is happy for me when my running is going well, but if I told her tomorrow I was done running she would support my decision either way. We like working on projects around our house or entertaining guests at our place. She helps me stay connected with my non-running friends and family. She helps to remind me that not everyone is running 140 miles a week.
Runmichigan: Will Clint Verran be running competitively or leisurely after 2008?
CV: 2008 will be a big year for me. It will be my 3rd Olympic Marathon Trials race. I finished 11th in 2000, 5th in 2004. I hope to improve on my 5th place finish in 2008. I will turn 33 years old as well. I feel like 2008 will be my best shot at making the Olympic team. Christie and I really want to start a family. We’ve agreed that my focus needs to be on my training over the next three years. Once we have children, that will be my main focus. I think it will be tough to come home from work and leave right away for my second run of the day. Maybe that means I’ll have to cut my training back to one-a-days…like those guys at Colorado. I can’t see myself completely walking away from competitive running. I’d like to try to show these young guys I can still do it through 2012 and beyond, that is, if Kevin and Keith don’t kick me off the team for old-age.
Thanks for the great interview! (Interview conducted by Nick Cordes)