Today I have the opportunity to introduce the JHPRunning audience to Gabriel Rodriguez. Gabe has been a close friend and mentor to me since meeting him in 2002. Our friendship has spanned the last 15+ years and during that time Gabe has played everything from coach to adviser to sounding board to co-founder and gear/equipment supplier for the Greater Texas Track Club.
This interview with Gabe is very good and gives great insight into one of the top trail/mountain runners in the country, who also works full-time as an executive for Under Armour and has a wife and three beautiful daughters.
1. When and how did you start running?
I started running the summer before my Freshman Year in high school. I was playing multiple sports, with a focus on Basketball, but Hurricane Andrew hit Miami and all sports were basically cancelled except for Cross Country. My older brother said the coach was awesome and suggested that I try out for the team, as I was the All Catholic Conference 800m and 1600m Champion as a 5th grader (without ever training and never running again).
2. What are your current PRs for the road distances (5k, 10k, half, full)?
My road PRs are 14:50, 31:04, 1:09:05, 2:31:18
3. What are your goals for 2018?
I become a Master in March of 2018, which means I turn 40 and that opens up a whole new world of competitive opportunities against a new peer group. So my goal for my Masters running is to compete to win multiple championships, with a focus on Mountain/Trail and Cross Country Championships.
4. What are your major goal races for 2018?
My major goal races for 2018 are the WMRA/World Masters Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia on June 2nd, the USATF Mountain Championships on July 8th in New Hampshire, and the Under Armour Mountain Series races (www.uamountainrunning.com). I also want to gather points for the OCC race at UTMB in 2019.
5. What have you learned about yourself from running over the past few years?
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past few years in regards to my running. For starters, I’ve learned that my priorities have shifted. Balancing a family with three girls in travel soccer, a supportive and extremely talented wife that is also a competitive runner, and a career as an executive at Under Armour with a two-plus hour commute, things like doubles are no longer part of my vocabulary.
I’ve learned to maximize my running and weekends. I’ve learned I don’t recover as well as I used to (back to back hard days are not happening). I’ve learned to operate at 40-60 miles per week. But most importantly, I’ve learned that all the hard work I did from 14-30 years of age have not left me. I really am representative of Toby Keith’s lyric, “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good ONCE as I always was.” Meaning, I’ve always been a hell of a racer, but, somehow, with my limited training, I can call upon all my experience and miles of trials to beat guys I have no business beating. Guys that are running 100+ mpw, Olympic Trials caliber, and doing some amazing workouts I can somehow take down on race day. I thrive on competition and have learned I love racing as opposed to training.
I’ve also learned I make the same stupid mistakes over and over again and can pinpoint every single setback to a bad decision.
6. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is looking to take the next step in their running, training, and racing?
There is no secret other than consistency. Get in the work. If you can only run 30 miles per week, make it the best 30 miles per week possible. Work on stimulus – meaning if you are not stimulating your body in a new way, it is not growing. Don’t get better at doing the same workout. Push yourself to try new workouts either in intensity, volume, or duration. And don’t forget to run fast. Winning is about running fast. But bottom line, be passionate about your craft and get a coach to help you succeed.
RAPID FIRE RESPONSES
1. What is your favorite running shoe?
Under Armour HOVR Velociti 2
2. What is your favorite workout?
Any long, hard climbs, be it road or trail, but preferably on a mountain aiming for a summit.
3. What is the one piece of running equipment, not counting your shoes, that you cannot live without?
4. What runner are you most inspired by?
I have to say it’s Jim Walmsley. I live vicariously through these guys that hammer 120+ miles per week in the mountains and just have some amazing experiences and efforts.
5. What is your favorite post-marathon (or ultra or mountain race) meal?
It would have to be an amazingly juicy steak with a phenomenal red wine with my wife.