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Cross Country 1999

Canadian High School Spotlight

Interview with Nathan Brannen

by Mark MacDonald

Nathan Brannen
Age- 17
Preston High School/Gr. 12
Residence- Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Events- Middle Distances, Cross Country
Personal Bests- 400m-49.5, 800m-1:54.8, 1500m-3:50.82, 3000m-8:35.7
International Competitive Experience- 1999 Pan Am Junior Championships- 1500m

MM: When did you start running? Can you give me an overview of
your progression from when you first started to where you at now?

NB: I started running in grade 3 but I didn't get serious until grade 
9. At that point I started training with with my present coach, Peter 
Grinbergs [multi- Canadian national team coach]. I didn't experience 
success immediately; I have had to work hard to get to where I am now. In 
my first season of running I didn't even make the OFSAA (Ontario High 
School) cross country championships in the midget (grade 9) division. I 
came back the next fall to finish second. In grade 9, my personal bests 
where: 800m-2:05.6, 1500m-4:15.42, and 3000m-9:15. This past year, in 
grade 11, my personal bests have improved to 1:54, 3:50.82, and 8:35.7. 
This past summer I placed second at the Canadian Junior Championsips in the 
1500m. This qualified me for the Pam Am Juniors in Tampa where I placed 
forth. I have also been an alternate for the Canadian World Junior Cross 
Country team the past two years.

MM: Based on what you know about American high school distance running, 
how do you think you compare? What are your thoughts on the sub four 
minute high school mile?

NB: I try to follow the USA distance runners, I think I am just as good
as the top guys there. Of course, there are some guys there that are 
faster than me but I feel I would be a good match. I also really want
to run a mile this year. In Canada there are not many chances to run miles 
but hopefully, before I graduate high school, I can go under the four 
minute mile. If I can't do this then I want to be the top miler in North 

MM: Can you describe what your training and racing will be like during the 
indoor season?

NB: We do the 3 week training program where the workouts gradually get 
harder each week. The third week is the hardest then the fourth week is 
like the first week. My coach doesn't like me running too many indoor 
races, we like to save it for the outdoor season.

MM: What is a typical week of training for you?

NB: A normal week of training involves 3 hard workouts on Tuesday, 
Thursday and Saturday with my club, Tri-City Track Club. Mondays, Wednesdays and 
Fridays are easy recovery runs around 7-10km. On Sundays we usually do a 5 
or 10km timed run. I average around 75-80km (47-50 miles) of running per week.

MM: What types of workouts are your favourites and contribute to your performances?

NB: The workouts that I feel are the key to my success are when we are 
doing fast stuff like 1km repeats. We usually do 8 with 1 minute recovery. 
I average about 2:50 for each. My favorite workout is 400m repeats on 
the track, we usually do 4 sets of 4.

MM: Any plans of modifying your training program in the coming year?

NB: I don't think I am going to do anything different in terms of my
training. I feel what I am dong now is working so there is no sense in
changing anything. I will just increase the intensity of the workouts but
continue to do what has got me to the level I am presently at.

MM: The majority of Ontario high school students do an OAC year after grade 
12; however, recently more are graduating directly out of grade 12. What 
are your plans for next year?

NB: I didn't really consider graduating after this year because I
would like another year to train and get that much stronger and faster. I
really haven't been thinking about American universities yet. I really 
would like to visit Michigan, Stanford, and Arkansas.

MM: What will you be looking for in an university and their track and field program?

NB: I am looking for a coach that will be at the school
for a long time and will not leave me half way through my schooling. I am
also looking for a strong team and a school that can offer me a good
academic program. I really feel that because I am Canadian that it will be
hard for me to get the exposure that I am looking for. I hope it doesn't
limit my options just because I am a Canadian.

MM: What are your goals for 2000? What have you learned from your previous
international racing experience (Pan Ams)?

NB: My goal for 2000 is to make the World Junior Track & Field 
Championships in the 1500m. I am looking for a medal at nationals junior 
track next year as well. I have learned that International races are not 
where you run fast, but instead just get you the racing experience you need 
for the future. My tactics at Pan Ams were to just run
with the leaders. I chose this tactic because I had never competed 
against most of the guys before so it was mostly a sit and kick strategy. My
last 400m in that race was very fast--54 seconds. I really wasn't 
satisfied with this race because my initial goal was to run a PB. My goal 
for next year's cross country season is to make the Canadian World 
cross country team and be one of the top cross country runners on the 
Canadian team at Worlds.

MM: Who are you major influences and role models?

NB: One person I look up to is Kevin Sullivan [Canadian 3:34 1500m 
runner]. I look up to him because he is a canadian distance runner that 
proves that Canadians can run just as fast as anyone else out there. 
Seeing another Canadian like him run that fast encourages me to continue to 
be all that I can be.

MM: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

NB: In the future I would really love to run in the 1500m at the Olympic 
Games. University wise, I really haven't made up my mind about where I 
want to go. Since I am a Canadian, I really haven't been contacted by many 
universities at this time. After I have completed school I would like to 
go into either the Sports Medicine or Business field.

Mark MacDonald

Head Coach/General Manager
Sarnia Athletics Southwest TC
(519) 332-6736

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