Canadian High School Spotlight
Interview with Nathan Brannen
by Mark MacDonald
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
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
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
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.
Head Coach/General Manager
Sarnia Athletics Southwest TC