Fort Collins’ Aaron Braun is a runner you may not have heard much of before, but he epitomizes the working post-collegiate runners trying to make a living at the sport, and he has some range. This past May the Adams State alum competed in his 5th BolderBoulder International Team Challenge finishing 11th overall and 4th American. Two weeks later Aaron headed out to St. Louis to run in the Festival of Miles looking to break 4 minutes, last year he ran 4:01.3. He has also run a 2:12:54 marathon and after the FOM will refocus again on running the marathon in the Olympic Trials Marathon in L.A. next February.
My interest while talking with him immediately was in his incredible range and his courage to continue to race the Mile while also taking on other distances as the 10k and marathon while many post-collegiate/pro-athletes tend to focus on one end of the spectrum or another.
This year Aaron ran a gutsy race at the Festival of Miles and was second into the bell lap and through the back straight, but the pace caught up to him, his legs went flat and he again narrowly missed the elusive mark. Although he didn’t achieve what he set out to do, the night was highlighted by Grant Fisher running 3:59.38 in that same event to become the 7th high schooler to best the mark.
I caught up with Aaron after the race to talk about his interest in the mile, his background and what’s next.
Fantastic race out there at the #FOM, sorry you didn’t make your goal of breaking 4. Looks like you were right on pace and leading with 400/200 to go. Take us through that.
Thanks, ya it was disappointing to not break 4. I felt great the first three laps, I got a terrible start the first 200 again, was in dead last. I did a good job of working my way back near the front over the next couple laps, and when I heard the bell and saw 2:59/3:00 there was no doubt in my mind I was going to break 4 that night. But then 25-50 meters later I went from feeling great to terrible. I think I was able to hold it together OK until 200 to go, when my form really started breaking down, and instead of being able to kick it in, I probably slowed down and cost myself the sub 4 all in that last 200. Very frustrating for sure, I think going from last to first, even though I did it slowly, was just enough to burn out my legs for the last 200.
Were you a miler/1500m guy at Adams State?
I was a miler throughout my career at Adams State, I won two outdoor 1500 national championships, two in the indoor mile, and two more on the dmr (once running the lead 1200 leg, the other time on the anchor 1600 leg).
What is it that you like about racing the mile?
I like the speed and aggressive nature of the mile. Longer races require more patience, whereas the mile I feel like I can be a lot more aggressive because it is over so much quicker. I also believe it is a race that tactics are of the utmost importance.
What is your favorite workout to do and at what time during your training period would you do this workout?
For the mile, the hardest workout (not necessarily my favorite, but what I feel prepared me best for the race) was a 4×400 workout. We’d usually do this a few weeks before a big mile race, and tried to make sure it wasn’t too close to any other race, as it does take quite a bit out of your legs. Basically your first 400 is about 90-95% of all out, then you try to get faster on each one, running as fast as you can for the 4th and final quarter. Being at such a high altitude in Alamosa, we would take 8-10 minutes recovery in between each one, and by the last rep, your body is swimming in lactic acid, teaching your body how to push through that feeling and keep running fast!
You’ve got quite a range from the Mile to the Marathon, how long would you say you spend training specifically for those distances, or do you just focus several weeks on that distance and rely on your overall base fitness?
I try to set up my season with races that will work well with each other, so while I’ll never say never, I probably wouldn’t race the mile and the marathon (with hopes of doing well in both) in the same season. Since I’m focusing on track this season, specifically the 10k; I am doing some shorter races like the mile and 5k to help with my speed, and so that when I get in that 10k, the pace feels slow compared to the other races I’ve run. Therefore during this season I have done the majority of my workouts with the 10k in mind, but some faster workouts as well so I will be prepared to run under 60 second laps for the mile.
You were working with Greg McMillan in AZ after college, is his still your coach?
I’m no longer working with Greg as my coach, I went back to my college coach, Damon Martin, 2 years ago when we moved back to Colorado. I still appreciate my time with Greg, as he helped me transition from college to professional running, and I improved a lot in my 3 years training under him. Annika [my wife] still works for him as a coach for McMillan Running.
Whats next for you? Any more attempts at breaking 4 this year?
I’m not sure when (or even if) I’ll get another chance to break 4. For now, I am starting to work on putting in some big mileage for some longer road races the rest of this summer and early fall. Then after that I’ll take a break and prepare for the Marathon Trials in February where my goal will be to finish top 3 and make the Olympic team, to do that I know I will have to run faster than my current PR of 2:12.
So if I’m going to take another crack at breaking 4, it probably won’t be until late spring or early summer next year.