An Interview with Jeff Miller (JM) after getting the ATR50K Grand Masters course record in 2018 – Interview conducted by Kevin Langton (KL)
KL: Jeff, congratulations on another grand masters win and the grand masters course record at Afton. First, can you tell us about the pushups? How have they impacted your running?
JM: I don’t actually recall who suggested such a crazy challenge but both Cheryl Zwarkowski (the woman I paced in Badwater) and I got involved in challenging others to do 100 pushups a day for the entire year. Both Cheryl and I are athletes that want to help others see that age is not a reason to abandon or quit dreaming, in fact, it is quite the opposite. I know that the pushups have helped with both core and upper body strength which are areas that most runners don’t pay enough attention to. As we age, (I’m 53), we lose muscle mass if we don’t increase the strength training. A bonus is that Amy really likes the way I have filled out with the pushups.
KL: You’ve been chasing this record for a few years. Besides the pushups, is there anything different you did in preparation this year that made a difference?
JM: I spent 4 months doing Crossfit this past winter which helped me to really focus on strength training. I have wanted to learn/understand Olympic Lifting for some time now and the Crossfit coaches at our box were really fantastic at guiding me with safe movement and helping me stay focused on strength for running and not trying to lift too heavy of weights for my experience.
Also, I was heat training so I could crew and pace Cheryl at Badwater 135, and I found that to be beneficial.
KL: How did the race play out for you and how did it match up to your plans?
JM: The race went pretty much as I had planned. I started conservatively by referencing my heart rate instead of the pace or other competitors. Right from the first aid station I stopped and poured water on myself to keep my core temperature down as low and for as long as I could. I followed my own coaching advice. Too often I go out too hard and “race” right from the gun. This year I made myself follow the coach’s plan the entire way. My job has been pretty stressful this year so I haven’t had as many miles in my legs as in the past, so I was training smarter rather than training harder.
KL: What’s something non-running that helped you at Afton?
JM: I am running with more gratitude right now. I have at times forgotten how blessed I am. I am able to do what I love, my wife Amy is insanely supportive, and I am able to coach a few other runners along the way. I really believe that God wants me to run and share it with others. My head is in a good place right now and I need that with my current job stress.
KL: Did you have any low points during the race? If so, what helped you through it/them?
JM: I really don’t recall any low points. I kept myself in the correct heart rate window which helped me to avoid any real ugly points physically or mentally.
KL: Bonus question: Please make your own question (and answer) that reveals something you think we should know about.
JM: With such a stressful job and long hours, how do you find the time to work in enough miles of running and time for the strength training?
It’s my wife Amy that makes it possible for me to train as much as I do. She really holds me together and keeps me grounded. She helps with my diet and sleep, both of which I have allowed to suffer in the past. I also have been running frequently with my son Max and dog Kaia who both run a little slower than I would normally by myself, which has also helped me to run easy runs easy.