Q&A with TN No. 2 Carter Coughlin

We caught up with Webb School of Knoxville's Carter Coughlin days after his personal best at the KIL Championships.

He told us about his sub-15 performance to win the KIL Meet, as well as his an update on his season. Here's what he had to say.

How do you feel the season is going so far?

My season is going great so far. It started off really well with a PR at the first meet of the season (Cherokee Classic), and my legs have felt fresh every since. My mileage increased a lot this year, and I've been running about 50-55 miles for the past 9 weeks. It was a little difficult at first, but I'm definitely used to it now, and it has definitely helped with my endurance. I can tell the biggest difference during the second mile of my races. I now have much more energy to drive during that middle mile than before, and I think this is due to the increased mileage. Additionally, I've been focusing on hills this year, which I think has helped me strengthen my legs for the hillier courses, which are my favorite. 

You were able to run 14:57 over the weekend at KIL.What was the key to setting that PR?

The key to running sub-15 this past weekend was definitely pushing the pace during the second mile. This is normally where people slack a little bit and tend to slow down, but I focused on pushing during that mile this weekend, and it paid off. Another key aspect of my sub-15 time was just trusting myself. I knew that I was going to be tired after the first two quick miles, but I had to commit to maintaining the pace the last mile of the 3.1-mile race. The adrenaline definitely kicks in at this point, but it can be mentally challenging to push all the way through to the finish line. 

That makes three straight KIL championships for you - where do you feel like you've improved the most since last year's first place finish?

I couldn't be more honored. I was not expecting to win the race my sophomore year, and junior year ended up being even tougher, but I was super excited about the prospect of this year. Jake Renfree from Catholic has been finishing close to me all this season, and he even edged me at the line at the Cherokee Farms race, so I knew he was going to be close. My strategy going in all three years was to pick up the pace dramatically at the start of the second loop, so at about 1.5 miles. This throws people off because normally people kick with one mile left. I knew that it would be tough to keep up the faster pace for the whole second half, but I had to trust my body. I've definitely improved on my raw speed since last year, and this helped me kick with 1.5 left. I was able to pick up the pace mid-race, and my endurance training helped me keep up that speed throughout the rest of the course. 

What do your workouts look like right now?

My workouts are pretty similar week-by-week. I normally start the week on Monday morning at 6 AM with 800s, 1,000s, or mile repeats at a quick pace with minimal rest. This is definitely a difficult workout, but it has greatly helped my endurance. Tuesdays and Thursdays are typically easy days, which consist of 7 miles at about 6:20-6:30 pace, followed by strides, jumping rope, weights, and an ice bath. Wednesday is typically an easier workout, either 200s or hills, at a controlled pace with a longer rest. Fridays, we have 6 AM practice again, and that is normally a short, easy run before we race on Saturday.

What's been the hardest workout you've done this season?

The hardest workout I have done this year was a 6x800 progression workout I did before I raced at the Louisville Classic. I started the workout running 2:24, and my last 800 was 2:14. The workout was definitely one of the tougher ones, and I also had to race that same weekend, so I was a little sore. Since I'm training for footlocker, which occurs so late in the year, I have to keep up the high mileage and hard workouts throughout some of the earlier races. 

What are your goals for the rest of the season?

My goals for the rest of the season include winning state and placing top 10 at Footlocker South so that I can punch my ticket to San Diego for nationals. I have wanted to go to Footlocker nationals since sophomore year, and I believe I can make it this year.

Behind the Scenes

Favorite Runner? 

My favorite runner is definitely Galen Rupp 

Favorite sport outside of running?

My favorite sport outside of running is probably wrestling. I wrestled all throughout middle school and the first two years of high school in the 106 weight class, but I had to stop so that I could run indoor track. I got third at state my sophomore year, but I had to stop wrestling after that so that I could focus on running.

Favorite movie?

My favorite movie is Forrest Gump. I cry every time. I'm also a huge fan of Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Favorite moment of your cross country career?

My favorite moment of my cross country carrier was honestly probably breaking 15 this year at KIL.

What's your favorite kind of workout?

My favorite workout is a hill workout we do in the woods next to campus. We run on a trail and sprint up all the hills while jogging the downhills and flat portions of the trail. I normally do 4 out-and-backs on the trail, which comes out to about 48 hill sprints in total. It's a killer workout, but it's definitely one of my favorites.