Perhaps the most surprising thing about Adam Wollant is that despite his third place finish at at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship – and first place in the 20-24 age group – he still isn’t sure that he’s a national caliber runner.
Wollant ran for the University of Montana while pursuing a business degree but admits that he didn’t feel that he had good traction in the NCAA running scene.
“After outdoor track ended, I thought that doing a half marathon on the trails would be something different to break up the routine. I thought that attacking it from a different angle would be a good perspective.”
For the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship in Ogden, Utah on September 17th, Wollant trained much like he would have for any half marathon. Once a week, he did a 10-mile tempo run – either continuous, or broken up into segments. On the weekends, he commenced a hammerfest consisting of an interval workout on Saturday and a tough long run with decreasing pace or an uphill tempo run on Sunday.
“I like to get a dense chunk of mileage on the weekends of at least 40 miles,” said Wollant.
He takes two days of rest after the weekend and the tempo run, but just to be clear, the “rest” is a 10-mile run.
“Or, if I’m really tired, I’ll do six miles in the morning and four miles in the evening,” he added.
All of this comes out to 110-mile weeks, which is typical of elite marathoners and which lines up with Wollant’s goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trails in the marathon.
“I want to see how fast I can get on the roads while I’m young, but the trails are where I want to go eventually.”
At the XTERRA Trail Run National Championships, what Wollant noticed was the quiet, which you don’t get on the roads.
“I knew there were good guys at the race so I let them go up the first hill,” said Wollant about his race at Utah. “I started in fifth, and by the top of the first hill, I was third. On the next downhill, I got within 10 or 20 seconds from Anthony (Costales), but then I lost him in the trees.
To keep himself motivated, Wollant played a bit of a head game.
“I kept telling myself that Anthony and Brett (Hales) were around the next turn. And that the fourth and fifth runners were just behind me.”
The finish was spread out with Brett Hales coming in at 1:17:45, Costales behind him in 1:19 flat, and Wollant coming through in 1:20:50, about a minute and a half in front of Nathan Peters.
For a first run on the trails, third place among established trail and mountain runners isn’t too shabby.
“Before XTERRA, I wasn’t a good hill runner. But now I’m stronger and more confident.”
Next up for Wollant is the New York City Half Marathon in March, which already has a talent-packed roster.
In the meantime, you can join Wollant in one of his favorite workouts:
Find your 10K or half marathon race pace. Do a 4-mile tempo run at race pace followed by a 4-minute walk/jog for recovery. Then, do a 3-mile tempo run at the same pace followed by a 3-minute recovery. Next, do a 2-mile tempo run with a 2-minute recovery and finish with a 1-mile tempo run.
“You get a great 10-mile workout in,” said Wollant. “The short distances keep me focused, but this is a great workout to build confidence for the half marathon, either on or off the trails.”
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