Catching up with Patrick Todd
April 21, 2009
Freshman middle distance runner Patrick Todd has made the transition from Highland Park High School in Dallas to The University of Texas rather smoothly. Although he was a little surprised by the training regimen at the college level, Todd quickly settled in and became a contributor on UT's Big 12 Indoor Championship team.
At the indoor conference meet, Todd posted the second-fastest qualifying time in the prelims of the 1,000 meters with a 2:25.52. He went on to win the event and his first conference crown with a mark of 2:24.52. His 10 points, combined with Logan Gonzales' eight points for a second-place finish, helped the Longhorns take control of the meet that saw them win their fourth consecutive indoor conference title. Earlier in the season, Todd came close to breaking teammate Kyle Miller's school record of 2:23.07 when he clocked a 2:23.38 to win at the Texas A&M Invitational.
Now, Todd is working on another transition. Primarily an 800 runner in high school, Todd will be running the 1,500 meters during the outdoor season. After winning his first ever 1,500 meters at the Texas Relays, Todd posted a regional qualifier of 3:47.25 at last weekend's Texas Twilight.
This weekend, Todd is schedule to run in the distance medley relay at the Penn Relays.
Todd took time out from training to speak with TexasSports.com about his transition to college and how his season has been going so far.
On the transition from high school to college: I remember when I got here, during my first week, we did a tempo run around Town Lake. In high school, that would have been a pretty good run for our school. In my mind, I thought I would at least be able to run with the guys. When we got out there, I think I stuck with the guys for only three-quarters of a mile into a four mile run, before I dropped way in the back. I remember finishing three minutes behind the closest person there. So that was kind of a shock to me and made me realize that this college stuff is on a whole different level from high school. As the year progressed, I found out why, just because of the amount of hours you put in here versus the amount I did in high school. Lifting weights everyday also helped my maturity as a runner. Most importantly, having the opportunity to be around the guys on the team that are hard workers helped a lot. When you're training with guys like Jake Morse, Kyle Miller and the rest of those guys, it definitely helped smooth the transition.
On the difference in training from high school to college: In high school, I got injured a lot during my junior and senior seasons, so I ran maybe seven races combined during those two years. So my mileage during that time was really low. I probably ran about 35 to 40 miles tops in a week, if it ever got that high. On average, we are running about 50 miles every week, sometimes more. At Texas, we have underwater treadmills and ice baths that helps with the recovery, but I only got to use those maybe once a year in high school. Now, I use those once a day, so that helps as well.
On how the older athletes helped his transition into college: You have world record holders in the distance medley relay and national champions on the team, and guys like Jacob Hernandez, Kyle Miller and Jake Morse that are leading things for the middle distance runners. It's the little things they show you. They helped me with stretching in certain ways before races and showed me what I should do for pre-race warm-ups. When you get out to practice, you see their work ethic and how hard they are pushing it and you want to get up there with them.
On how his approach in college his been different: When you're in college, you have so many years you can run, up to five if you are granted a redshirt. So, you have to make running one of your top priorities and you try to maximize your potential. You have to make better choices in college than what you did in high school. That might mean not being able to go out with your friends one night when you have a race coming up in a couple of weeks. You have to put your focus on running first.
On how he likes his life at Texas so far: Oh, I love it. The first week was kind of rough because I was still trying to figure everything out, with the campus being so large and all. I think I have it under control now. The weather here is also great for running, so that has definitely been a plus.
On his academic transition to college: In college, you have the choice to choose more specific classes when compared to high school. For example, I'm taking a class called American Foreign Policy right now, whereas in high school, you would have to take a standard American History or American Government class if you wanted to take a class in that field. I'm also taking a class called Jazz Appreciation instead of a general music class like I would have taken in high school. So, the classes are more specific and the professors know a lot more about the subject here. It makes it a lot of fun.
On his preparation for the Big 12 Championships: Before going into the stadium, Coach Hayes pulled us aside and told us that the jumpers were doing great things and that he needed us to finish first and second to get some points for our team. For me, that was really cool, because we had a really good team in high school, but we never competed for a state championship or anything like that. So, with the team rooting you on and in need of some points, it gives you more of a boost when you get to the line and gets you more focused. In my mind, I knew I had to do it for the rest of the guys out there, because they were working just as hard as I am. It was really nice to have that.
On how he has been able to mentally handle the collegiate pressure: I get pretty nervous right before a big meet. But, once I start warming up and start thinking about the workouts I've done and the planning and the coaching I've received, that all relaxes me. I think about how I know what I can do out there and how I can compete with the rest of the field.
On what goes through his head as he comes down the last stretch of a race: Junior year in high school, I was coming down the straightaway in the state meet, leading. I thought there was no way I was going to lose, but at the very end, a guy passed me and I lost by four-hundredths of a second. That was my first championship event, and I thought I was going to win, but ended up having a guy pass me by. So now, every time I come down the straightaway, I think to myself not to look back and that you haven't won it until you cross the finish line.
On what it felt like to win the Big 12 Championship: It was awesome. That's why you run track. You run to win every time. The miles aren't always fun to put in during practice. Running 800-meter repeats isn't fun at all, but winning makes it all worth it, and being able to turn around and see your teammate take second makes it even better.
On having the opportunity to win a Big 12 Team Championship: That's one of the reasons why I came to Texas. I looked at many other programs, but to be able to come to a school where you can win team championships in the immediate future means a lot. To be able to put on the burnt orange and the Longhorn and go out there and win a team championship is great.
On his transition from running the 800 meters to the 1,500 meters: When I initially came in, I was running a lot of miles, and for a while, I was wondering why I was doing so much since I was only an 800 meter runner. I had 5K and 10K guys out there running with me consistently. Going into the indoor season, the coaches told me they were going to have me run in the 1,000 meters. I thought that was okay, but in the back of my mind, I was still an 800 runner. Later in the year, they told me they were going to run me in the 1,500 meters, and I asked them if I was still going to be able to run the 800. The coaches told me they were going to try me at the 1,500 for this coming year. So, I thought that was okay, since we have such strong runners in the 800 that had previously been national champions and All-Americans. It just made sense to bump one of the 800 guys up to the 1,500 meters.
On how he is enjoying the 1,500 meters so far: At first, I was really frustrated about it because running the 800 meters hurts, but now they wanted me to go twice as far. In my mind, this was not happening and I was going to be a terrible 1,500 runner. I ran my first 1,500 at the Texas Relays, which was really good. The coaches told me to just sit behind the leader and let him do all of the work until the final 200 meters. After that, I could push it as hard as I could. Then last week, I tried to go for a better time. Hopefully, I will keep getting faster and faster.
On how running in the 1,500 meters now will better him for the 800 meters in the future: Running in the 1,500 is building more distance and strength for me. That's the biggest thing I've learned in college so far, to know how important strength is. You only have so much speed and you can improve that a little bit with time, but what it really comes down to is who's the strongest and who has the most miles in their body.
On working with Assistant Coach John Hayes: Coach Hayes has been unbelievable. I'm amazed by his work ethic and with the number of runners he works with. He takes the time to sit down with each runner individually, work out training plans and he's looking at the long run. He's not just sitting down and telling us what we have to do for the next meet, he tells us his outlook for the entire indoor, outdoor and cross country seasons as well as what our plans might be for our entire four years here. He's been there and he has taken guys to the Olympics from their first year in college. He obviously knows how to diagram a four to five year plan to get you running to your maximum potential.