Team Member Matt Kruger is getting ready to run the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis this weekend. Here are some of his responses to questions about training and racing.
University City, MO
Original Hometown: Omaha, NE
Running Shoe: Asics Nimbus for training, Nike Lunaracer for racing
Preferred Race Distance: Marathon (2:25:45) or 3000m Steeplechase (9:33)
Q: You’re running the Monumental Marathon this weekend. Can you give us an overview of your training from this last segment?
Kruger: This has been the longest training block of my life, since I started this segment five months ago. I got my mileage up to 100 miles per week and had plenty of weeks of 90 miles or more. I’ve run six races so far this segment ranging from 5k to 15k, so the marathon will by far be longest race of the training block. I’ve been pleased with the results by setting new 10k and 15k road PRs. I’ve gotten in a few good long runs of over 20 miles, which I tried to finish the last few miles in sub-6 minute mile pace.
Q: Are there any particular workouts or races that you use to get a good sense of what shape you’re in and what your time goals should be?
Kruger: For each marathon training cycle, I have a few go-to workouts that I use to gauge my fitness. About three weeks out from my marathon, I like to get in a 10-12 mile tempo at a little faster than marathon pace. I also like to do 2x5k and 3×2 miles on the track to help me with my speed. All of these workouts have gone well, so I feel good about where my fitness level is heading into the marathon.
Q: What are your goals for this weekend?
Kruger: My primary goals are to compete and to enjoy the experience. I’ve put in a lot of time and effort into my training, so I want to do my best to make the most of the marathon in Indianapolis. As far as a time goal goes, I would love to run a PR, but I will be ecstatic with anything under 2:30.
Q: What is your perfect marathoning weather?
Kruger: My perfect weather for a marathon would be cool temperatures in the upper 40’s with little to no wind and some cloud cover. The forecast for this weekend is looking great with race-time temperatures in the upper 40’s and best of all, no rain!
Q: When is the most difficult part of training for a marathon?
Kruger: The hardest part of marathon training for me is months out from the race and I’m grinding through high mileage day after day, week after week. The delayed gratification is always worth it, though!
Q: You’ve been running competitively for over a decade now. You weren’t the fastest when you started in high school (5:49 for the 1600 freshman year of high school, 22:25 first high school 5k), but have had continual sustained advancement and seem to get better every year. What are some of the keys to continuing to improve year after year?
Kruger: The biggest key to my continued improvement has been consistency. I’ve been able to put in year after year of solid training, while avoiding injuries. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been extremely fortunate with how few injuries I’ve had to battle throughout the years. Other big keys to my success have been the ability to keep running fun and to enjoy my training, as well as finding great people to train with and to push me in workouts and long runs.
Q: You’re engaged to another runner. Do you think it’s helpful to have a significant other that goes through the same kind of training and running schedule as yourself?
Kruger: I definitely think it’s helpful to be engaged to a fellow runner. Sarah understands my competitive drive and the commitment and dedication it takes to train at a high level. Moreover, she’s my biggest cheerleader and supporter. Sarah also makes for a great training partner for runs when it’s best for me to just relax and enjoy great company.
Q: Pick one race from High School, College, and post-college that you really enjoyed and tell us a little about those races.
Kruger: A memorable race from my high school days was the Omaha Metro Conference Meet my senior year. Not only did my team win the meet, but I placed 12th by running my second fastest high school 5k on my favorite cross country course. That team went on to win our district and place 3rd in Class A at the Nebraska State XC Meet.
A race that still really sticks with me from my time as a collegiate runner at Washington University is the last one I ran. I finished up my college career on the track with a 5 second PR in the steeplechase. It was a perfect night to run fast with cool temperatures and absolutely no wind. I had the support of so many of my teammates as they ran from one corner of the track to the next to cheer me on, as they knew that it was probably my final college race. It meant a lot to go out with a good one with my friends and teammates there alongside of me.
My favorite post-collegiate race to date has been the 2013 Chicago Marathon. My training had gone really well, and I knew I had the chance to run a great race. All of the cards fell into place on race day. The weather was beautiful, I went out at a great pace, and ran almost the entire race alongside fellow Big River Racing team member Matt Lawder. Having Matt there with me gave me the confidence that I could maintain PR pace and that I wasn’t out there on my own. Having my fiancée Sarah’s cheering support throughout the course also gave me a huge boost! All told, I ended up with a 5-minute marathon PR!
Q: What do you find most beneficial about training with the Big River Racing team?
Kruger: The comradery and friendships that I’ve built have been the most beneficial thing about training with the Big River Racing team. It’s so much easier to wake up at 5:30 am knowing that I’m going to meet up with great people that have similar aspirations. Moreover, training with guys on the team keeps running fun. Rarely does a run go by where someone isn’t laughing hysterically about something absurd.
Q: If you could pick any marathon in the world to win, which one would you pick and why?
Kruger: I debated between picking the Olympic Marathon and the Boston Marathon, but I’m going to go with the Boston Marathon. As amazing as it would be to take home a gold medal, I have to go with Boston. I’ve run the Boston Marathon twice, including in 2013 when I witnessed the marathon bombings. I have never experienced such a bittersweet day as that day in ’13. I ran a huge marathon PR with the best crowd support I’ve ever experienced and was having a great time with former college teammates when the unthinkable happened. My life changed forever on that day when I heard those bombs go off and experience utter chaos and terror. While that day was tragic, it also showed me how much good there is in the world, as I saw the city of Boston and the running community grow stronger in the following months. I now feel such an affinity for the Boston Marathon and what it stands for. Winning the Boston Marathon would be nothing less than a dream come true.
Q: And finally, what has happened to Nebraska this year? GBR! (Editor’s note:Being an Omaha native, Matt has been a Cornhuskers fan from birth. If you need know anything about the teams national title runs in the 90’s, he would be happy to tell you about them)
Kruger: Well, I could go into the injuries to the linebacking core or the fact that Mike Riley is in his first year as head coach of my beloved Huskers. I could also discuss the defensive secondary’s inability to defend this innovative thing opposing teams are throwing at them this year called the “forward pass”. It seems likely that they had never heard of passing before this season with how ineffective they are at stopping it. I could also delve into Nebraska’s inability to protect the ball and force turnovers. I could also point out how terrible Nebraska has been at closing out games with a narrow lead in the fourth quarter. The Huskers have lost four games this season on the opposing team’s final offensive play. However, I won’t discuss any of those things. I just realized I haven’t been wearing my lucky socks on Saturdays! I need to start wearing those socks. GBR! :/