Boulder resident Alan Culpepper has run a 3:55 mile and a 27:33 10k, plus he ran 2:09:41 in his marathon debut at Chicago in 2002, tying him with Alberto Salazar for the fastest American debut in history. Meet the man.
ST: Alan, can you tell us about your athletic background?
Alan: My first interest in running came through these standardized fitness tests you do in elementary school. We used to do these and I am not sure if they still do them today. We'd do sit-ups and push-ups and that kind of stuff, plus we'd run a mile run twice a year. So every 6 months I'd do a 1 mile run starting in 4th grade, and that is when I noticed that I have an ability to run and that I enjoyed it and that I was already excelling compared to everyone else. When I was 12 I decided to do a summer track program and that is when I ran every day and started to really learn about training. That is also where I subsequently met my coach who ended up being my coach all through high school and we are still good friends to this day.
ST: It seems your focus this summer would be to qualify in the 10,000m for Beijing. Can you tell us about it?
Alan: I have not yet decided if I'll run the 10,000m or the 5,000m at the Olympic trials.
But I might choose to run the 5,000m this year just because I feel like at this point of my career it is a matter of doing what sounds the best for my body and my mind. Plus that is the one event throughout my career in which I feel I haven't fulfilled my potential.
ST: What else is on your schedule in terms of racing for 2008?
Alan: Probably not too much. As you know I ran the marathon Olympic trials in November and I put a lot of work and emphasis into that event. Then of course it didn't go well and that really beat me physically and mentally. I took a good nice break and this spring I don’t think I'll do much, plus we'll have another baby in May anyway. I am basically going to play it by ear and see how my fitness comes around and go from there.
ST: During marathon season, what workload do you have during a typical training week?
Alan: When I first did marathons a typical week would be 125 miles and that was here in Boulder. I would do one kind of 10k type session a week with either mile repeats or 1k or 2k or 3k repeats, kind of a 10k stimulus. The other was more marathon type race pace.
ST: You and your equally athletic gifted wife Shayne already have two kids and we are curious how you juggle your individual athletic careers, parenthood and family life?
Alan: It is all we have always known and we are getting to be pretty proficient with it. We are actually quite good now with scheduling, coordinating our routines, and staggering what we need to do. It is just a balancing act, honestly. Not only what we need to do for and with the kids, but also what we need to do in terms of running and resting.
We have been married now for 10 years and we pretty much got it dialed in now. ☺
ST: How are you typically spending the off-season?
Alan: You know honestly, we go back to the kid thing. That is our off-season and that is kind of ongoing. We always have something going on with swim lessons, or basketball or just chasing the kids around and we are really enjoying that. Also enjoying a little less stress of performing. We are pretty basic honestly. I am all about cutting the grass and washing the cars and I also enjoy playing music.
ST: What race result do you cherish the most and why?
Alan: Oh gosh, there are a handful of things that stick out and that I am actually proud of. For example some time things I have achieved where I might not have won races or set the world on fire. I am pretty proud to have run a 3:55 mile, and 27:33 in a 10k and of course the 2:09 in my first marathon was very gratifying.
In terms of achievements of winning races or placing high I would have to say winning the Olympic trials in the marathon was one of the most satisfying and exciting races. And getting 12th in the Olympics all things considered I was really happy with that performance. At the end of the day your hope is that you run to your potential at any given day and I did that on that day. Plus to finish in the top 5 in the Boston Marathon twice, I was really proud about that.
ST: Do you have a favorite marathon course and if so, can you tell us why?
Alan: I don’t know if I have a favorite. In terms of the style for my running I really like the Chicago style course where I can really concentrate on rhythm and effort and not have to think about where I was on the course and what is coming ahead. I can really just focus on my effort level. But I do enjoy the Boston course in terms of all that goes with Boston, the spectators, the energy, the excitement and going down into that finish area. That course is really fun to run and to run well on.
ST: How close together would you run 2 marathons?
Alan: For me I did 2 a year for 3 years, basically one every 6 months. But even that started to get to be a bit much and I was ready to step back a little bit and get back to my track roots. It takes so much out of you physically and emotionally to run a good one and so one every 6 months seems to be the most and I think I even pushed it too much.
ST: What is going for you in terms of sponsorships?
Alan: I have always been fortunate and been very blessed to have very supportive sponsors. I have been with Nike now going on 4 years, and I also work with Gatorade and this stretching device/injury prevention device called the Strassburg Sock.
ST: Do you do any cross training such as cycling and swimming?
Alan: No, none, I am notoriously bad about everything but running. I always just focused on running and that is how I was wired. If I could run more I would run more, and if I was injured I would just take time off. I was rarely injured though fortunately.
ST: Can you share with us some of your food likes and dislikes?
Alan: We are both pretty good making sure getting in what we need. The more tuned in you are into it the more you can tell if you are getting enough carbs, enough protein, iron or fats. It is just balanced and I don't have this impeccable diet by any means. But I definitely know if I have a session coming up or if I did a long run I am really good about the timing of my eating. Where I am getting it in at the right time. But I definitely eat my fair share of party pizzas, Pringles and ice cream, that's for sure.
ST: What about music? What do you listen to?
Alan: Kind of a variety of things. I really like the Los Lonely Boys out of Austin, Texas and the Red Hot Chilly Peppers. Those are kind of my main two, but I also like old stuff from when I was younger.
ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Alan: I still would see myself involved with the sport. Not necessarily on the competitive end but still active and giving back to the sport. Whether it is coaching or on the industry side of things such as marketing is still to be determined. I have been involved in this since I have been 15 years old and I know a lot about the industry, events and coaching. It'll be something along those lines.
ST: I there anything else we should know about you?
Alan: I think sometimes there is a misconception about elite athletes that they are consumed by their sport and that they are defined by it. I am very proud that we have accomplished a lot in the sport but also that we have a life and a family and balance it both. I am not one of these anomalies that live a freakish lifestyle that no one can relate too.
Alan Culpepper data:
Birth date: 09-15-1972
College: University of Colorado
Career Highlights: 2004 Olympic Trials marathon champion; 12th at 2004 Olympic marathon; 2002 U.S. 5,000m champ; 1999 & 2003 U.S. 10,000 champ; Runner-up, 2000 Olympic Trials 10,000m; 1996 NCAA Outdoor 5,000 champion; 1999, & 2003 U.S. 12 km cross country champ