Victoria's health and fitness site

From musician to elite runner, Seattle’s Shaun Frandsen has done well.   Shaun has had a successful musical career and has decided to turn his efforts to running after many years.  Since he has started running again last year, he consistently places in the top ranks.  In the May 2011 issue of Northwest Runner Magazine, he is ranked #4 on the Best Times List for both the 5k (15:56) and Half Marathon (1:12:43) – (30-34 division).  I’m proud of his success and impressed by how well he has done in such a short period of time.  I’ve asked him a few questions and here’s what he has to say:

You were a runner in high school.  What made you decide to go back to running?

It started out as a resolution to get back into shape around the time I turned 30. I’m a physically restless type of person, and I need some way to get that anxiety out of me before it builds up and weighs me down.  Music and touring around the world was an active outlet for me, but buying in to that lifestyle wasn’t contributing to a healthy existence. Running has always been good therapy. There’s nothing subjective about it. You get out of it what you put in, simple as that. The personal rewards are far greater, in my opinion.

What are your running methods or techniques (long slow distance, interval, etc.)?

A typical week for me would include one long run on a Saturday or Sunday, and interval training (preferably on a track) on Wednesday. You naturally get a lot of hill training running around the Seattle area, which is great. 

How many miles a week do you run? Do you take regular breaks from running and how long do they last?

Depending on what I am training for, it varies. Right now I run between 50-80 miles a week. I might break it down by running 80 miles the first week of the month, then 75 miles, 65 miles, and 50 miles. I listen to my body when its time to take a break. Going for that total number isn’t worth it in the end. No matter where I‘m at in my training… If I feel something begin to strain, I’ll pull back and take a break. Taking a day off is a lot shorter and safer than a month or two of nursing a negligent injury.

Training can sometimes get monotonous.  How do you stay motivated?

I like to vary my running routes. Sometimes running the same loop the opposite way works. I try to vary my weekly training as much as possible… Hitting it hard one week with double days and interval training, then taking a week to concentrate on tempo running and distances… throw in a race every other weekend and it never gets dull for me. Having a new pair of training shoes or a new piece of gear can get me motivated to run too.

Do you do any core strength work or cross training and if so what?

Not enough. I would say my core strength is my weakest element right now. It’s the most vulnerable area to be weak because it leaves you susceptible to injury, but I’m working on it. I like to hike and swim when I have the chance.

I’ve found that a lot of people who want to take up running get defeated because they think they are not fast or strong enough.  What’s the best advice you can give someone who wants to start running?

I find that running, as a whole, is not as biased as “who’s the fastest runner.” There will always be someone physically superior out there unless you are in the small % of elite world-class runners who live in training compounds and get paid to be coached everyday. When you let go of your limitations, the personal rewards are endless. Buy a Nike+ watch and track your mileage. Share it with your friends online. Do a local 5k run/walk and dress up with your friends and family for a St. Paddy’s Day race. Seriously, I think the advent of Facebook and other social-media has caused the running community to boom in recent years. I see more and more organized events now than I‘ve seen in my life. There’s something for everyone out there: Age divisions, themed-races, ultras, mud runs, Beer belly divisions…  My advice to someone who’s just starting out running is to concentrate only on yourself and achieving your personal goals. Don’t worry about the people around you. Set a goal like: I want to lose 5 pounds in 3 weeks…. Or, I want to be able to run 4 days out of 7 in a week. I mentioned earlier, you get out of it what you put in. It’s one of the rare things in life where you can do that. If you keep at it and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you will grow stronger, guaranteed… and who knows? You could be the next Yuki Kawauchi.      

What is your inspiration?  How do you gear up for a race?

I have faith that when race time comes, I have put in the work it requires to have a successful race. Like the great Steve Prefontaine once said: “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” I go to a race feeling relaxed and look at it as the “dessert” or reward for my hard work and training. It’s like playing a concert for me. You spend hours making music, or training… then you get to rip it up and have a blast onstage. 

You’ve just won the 5k at the Seahawks race this month with a 16:17 time.  You came in 3rd in the Mercer Island Half Marathon in March with a 1:12 time.  Do you plan on running a marathon in the near future?  If so, how will you prepare?

Yes. I’m planning on running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon. It will be my first full marathon. I won’t do anything too dramatic in my regular 5k-10k-Half Marathon training. I see a lot of runners bump up their mileage to the 100’s and get hurt right away.  I’ll gradually build up my long run from 12 miles to 22 miles, and I’ll keep doing fast-twitch speed workouts every week, which I think is very important.   [Fast twitch refers to the muscle groups in charge of speed.  Slow twitch muscle groups are in charge of strength and endurance.  Mid and long distance runners work on their ability to speed train.  There are various workouts you can do like track workouts at short distances (200 meters, 400 meters).]

What’s your overall diet like?  What do you eat pre and post runs?

I have the best wife ever and she has trained me to become a “Jedi” in the realm of eating a healthy diet.  She has some food allergies, so we cautiously have to stay away from a lot of unhealthy foods when it comes to cooking meals.  I go for a lot of natural anti-inflammatory foods.  The main things I avoid are corn syrup, refined sugars/carbs, and processed foods. Golden rule would be: If I don’t know where it came from, I don’t eat it.  My wife and I also buy locally grown organic vegetables (Full Circle Farm).  I’ve pretty much stopped drinking alcohol too, except on traditional occasions. There will be plenty of beer when I’m too old to run.  Pre and Post running meals: many people believe the myth of “carbo-loading” before the race and overdose on pasta.  For a pre-race dinner I’ll just stick with my normal diet:  a chicken curry with vegetables works well for me.  Post-race I’ll carbo-load and stuff myself silly with meat lover’s pizza. Y our body needs protein and carbohydrates more than ever after the race.

What’s your philosophy on sports related injuries?  How do you care for them?

Flexibility. If you don’t stretch you will not prosper.  If you can’t touch your toes you shouldn’t be running.  I always used to think my coaches were cold when I would get hurt, but I later learned that most of the time it was because I did not stretch properly at some point, or I wasn’t doing my core exercises.  Defiance against nature is unforgiving. Look at animals… what’s the first thing your dog or cat does when they get up from a nap? There’s a lot to be learned from your pet! Also, Yoga-laties!

Do you have any favorite books about running?

“Once a Runner” by John L. Parker Jr. is a good one.

What’s your favorite running shoe?

Right now, I train in Nike Zoom Structure Triax 14+ and Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11. I race in the Nike LunaRacer+ which is an awesome shoe for any distance from the 5k to the Marathon. The Brooks Racer ST 5 has been with me for some great PR times this year on the road, and it looks pretty sweet too. 

Not running related but still an important question: who is your favorite band at the moment and why?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Oasis.  I love their attitude and their homage to good old fashioned rock ‘n roll.  Nothing gets me going like listening to “D’You Know What I Mean?” while driving up to a mountain to do some trail-running.  Liam Gallagher’s new project Beady Eyehas a great new album out.  Noel is working on his solo, which I am READLLY looking forward too…

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Comments on: "Interview with Shaun Frandsen: Musician and Local Elite Runner" (1)

  1. Good luck to Shaun at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

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