Friday I had the chance to sit down with Apolo Anton Ohno and his trainer, Todd Rushworth, as a part of a small “Eat and Greet” event through Subway! I had heard a while back that Apolo is training to run the NY Marathon this November. And I was excited to hear he would be in town to run the Chicago Half Marathon as a part of his marathon training. I was excited to meet him and talk about running.
When I got to Subway, I met the other bloggers in attendance and the Subway staff brought out sandwich platters, with both Apolo’s and Todd’s favorite sandwiches. Apolo’s favorite at Subway? Double turkey on honey oat, with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, oil and vinegar. And Todd’s favorite? Turkey and avocado on regular white with lettuce, peppers, sweet peppers, olives, tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar. Both were good!
When Apolo arrived, he was first asked about his view on a sports/ life balance. He said being active is an important key to a good quality of life. Apolo also said that kids playing sports is a good idea. He then talked about his childhood a little bit. When younger, Apolo played a lot of sports for fun, “when I was younger I didn’t make great decisions. I had some questionable friends.”
His father raised him as a single parent and tried to keep him busy, getting him involved in activities, to try and tire Apolo out. With short track speed skating he saw an opportunity for Apolo to find something he liked. He showed raw ability and his father was able to get him a chance to train with the national team. Apolo picked up speed skating fairly quickly. He made his first team at 14 and won his first world championship at 14!
Apolo and I after the ‘Eat & Greet’ at Subway!
When Jared challenged Apolo to run the NY Marathon, he was already working with Todd to train and balance his body. Apolo quickly saw that training to run a marathon is completely different. “It’s a whole new approach.”
As Todd said, most people can find a generic plan online and make it work for them. For Apolo, Todd had to create a plan that not only would get him prepared but also fit into Apolo’s busy schedule. With a rough plan when they started, they’ve adapted along the way to how Apolo has responded.
While he is a unique athlete, starting out Apolo had a lot of soft tissue/ ligament pains; weird pains he wasn’t used to. They had to retrain Apolo’s muscles, “he was was used to racing hunched over, and making only left turns.”
Todd had to retrain Apolo’s body, to work upright and not just make left turns. They did a lot of A-symmetrical training, foam rolling, adductor work and running drills. Todd also is Apolo’s pacer for races and long runs. As competitive as Apolo can be, Todd has been trying to teach Apolo when it’s OK to slow down. They’ve also had to work on recovering. “Apolo not only has natural ability but a great mental make up. There’s no ‘no’ in him. He’s mentally tough.”
At first, Apolo would finish an 8 mile run and want to go back at it. He and Todd have talked about rest and recovery. Apolo said mentally it’s been a challenge to adapt. He was used to racing 20-45 seconds and resting for 20-minutes. His longest event was 2:30…so running obviously is more intense. It’s also different. Todd has Apolo train with out music and at first it was tough. But Apolo says he finds time to think on long runs. Running gives him clarity and he’s come up with some great ideas while running.
Nutrition wise, Apolo eats pretty cleanly while enjoying a wide variety of cuisines. I asked what the big difference nutritionally between speed skating and marathon running is and he joked, “More carbs. Who doesn’t like carbs?” Short track skating he was on a more restricted diet, to cut weight. Apolo said his natural body weight seems to be about 160, when he was skating he was at about 140lbs.
They’re also honing in on his in race nutrition; trying gels, goos, coconut, honey, etc- and finding what works best. Todd talked about carrying water for Apolo and at times, having to make him drink.
As they’ve logged some 400-500 miles together, they have formed a good chemistry. They can get a good read on the other without really needing to say anything. There’s a definite bond between friends who run together, and you could see the chemistry between them during lunch.
Training wise, they’re at about 40 miles a week now, and 160 for the last 4 weeks. His long run to date is 16 miles and he’s at about 20 hours of running a week and 30,000 calories burned. I had seen a couple numbers online as far as a time goal for November, and I asked what his goal was for the NY marathon. He and Todd didn’t want to put a number out yet. They wanted to see how the longer training runs went, including their upcoming 20 miler.
His goal for the Chicago Half, besides finishing, was to clock about an 1:45:00 time. I saw Todd posted a picture on his twitter feed after they finished the Chicago Half…
Apolo’s official time…1:40:59. Awesome! Congratulations to Apolo and Todd on a great race! For that matter, congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!
I had a great time chatting with Apolo and Todd. Thank you to Subway and the Chicago Half Marathon race organizers for giving me an opportunity. And now, something for you, my reader! Leave a comment below about your favorite Subway sandwich and you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift card from Subway! We’ll run the contest for a week, and next Monday I’ll draw one random winner! Good luck!