Running is a solitary sport. If you hit the wall, you push past it alone, and making it across the finish is completely up to you.
But, for the professional runners of Jerry Schumacher’s Bowerman Track Club, this is not the case. By living and training together every day, these athletes have recreated the true team atmosphere of high school and college cross country — and the approach is working. This year, the Bowerman Track Club saw 10 of its runners qualify to race on the world’s biggest stage.
Eastbay sat down with three of BTC’s runners: Ryan Hill (5,000m), Evan Jager (steeplechase), and Colleen Quigley (steeplechase) to find out how they are dominating distance running, and what it means to them to be surrounded by the support and motivation of teammates.
Eastbay: When you started running professionally, why was finding a training team so important to you?
Ryan Hill: Back in college, you had the team aspect, which really helped motivate you. But it’s just you
now, so it’s easy to sometimes feel like you’re alone on an island. There are a lot of ups and downs in training and being an athlete. It’s always easier to go through those ups and downs with someone.
Eastbay: What made you choose The Bowerman Track Club?
Evan Jager: It feels like a college team. Everyone is extremely good, everyone works really hard. I love the Bowerman Track Club because we’ve got great coaches, we have a great support system. I think it’s one of the best, if not the best, groups in the States. To be around that team mentality and that really true team feel and also work really hard at the same time and be successful.
Eastbay: What is it like to be a member of The Bowerman Track Club?
Colleen Quigley: We build of each other’s performances and each other’s momentum. The best part of having teammates around is that if you’re having maybe a not so good day and you really need to rely on someone to pull you through a workout, chances are two of them or three of them are having a good day. You’re tucking in the back and holding on for dear life and hoping that three days from now, for the next workout, you’re feeling great and you can help more with the leading of the pace or help push someone else who’s having a bad day. You just trade off that mental load.
Evan: It keeps me honest and it keeps me motivated to get out and train every single day. The most mentally or emotionally helpful a team can be is when things are not going well. If you get a little injury or you hit a little dip in training when things are not going the way you want them to, it’s easy to think negatively on your own and just kind of zero in and focus too much on why things are going poorly. When you have a lot of people who you’re good friends with surrounding you, there’s always someone there to pick up.
Ryan: I think it’s important to look at your teammates – whatever level – as your friends and your family. It’s going to go so much more beyond athletics. These people could be your friends and family for the rest of your life. It’s important to always keep that in mind. It’s not just about competition — winning and losing — it’s about your relationship with your teammates and your friends.