January 12, 2005 at 1:44 am #2136
By Ricky Quintana
Interviewed on December 17, 2004
It seemed apropos that in the same weekend of Arthur Lydiard’s death,
Ken Cormier of Douglas, AZ(population, 14,000) would be the one in the
hunt for the title in the final 200 meters at the Foot Locker Cross
Country Championships in San Diego, CA on Dec. 11. Cormier, the west region champion,
had taken a page from the Lydiard method putting together three
successive 100+ miles per week during the summer and maintaining high mileage
throughout the cross country season.
Using a potent finish, Cormier powered past a tiring Andrew Bumbalough,
the south champion, to win the race in 15:22; just two seconds up on
Bumbalough. For the second year, an unheralded newcomer had burst on to
the high school distance running scene in a thrilling win.
Cormier’s path to success reads like a made for TV movie. After
finishing a dismal 79th place finish at the West Regional, 1:26 behind the
race winner, last year, Cormier vowed to win the region and the national
title this year. Training in the hills around his isolated Mexican
border town, the home schooled Cormier ran night in day during the summer
reaching a peak of hitting a peak of 120 miles per week late in the
Unchallenged in Arizona during the cross country regular season,
Cormier won the state championship, improving by over one minute over his
junior time. He, then made due on his pledge, winning the West Region on
the hilly and challenging Mt. Sac course and the national title in San
RQ: After finishing 79th last year at the west regional, how do you
feel after reaching your goal of winning Foot Locker Cross Country
Cormier: It’s kind of weird. It’s been like a week. It’s kind of weird
to look back and say ‘ Wow, I did that. I won the national
championship.’ It feels great.
I’ve been on cloud nine all week. I really haven’t done that much. I’ve
been happy all the time no matter what.
RQ: When you were coming back that last 200 or so and you were behind
Andrew Bumbalough, what were you thinking?
Cormier: When I started my kick, 200 meters out, I felt that I was
going to win it. I felt so strong and I was feeling so fast. I just thought
I was going
to win that final 200 meters. I just felt I could out kick him. It was
kind of weird. When you start to run really fast in competition, you
of black out for a while. It started to come to me and I was like ‘
Wow, I won.’ What was going through my mind was ‘ I could do this. It’s
just right there.’
RQ: When you were coming down the final 200m, you kind of drifted over.
Do you and Andrew collide at all?
Cormier: On no. I really felt I was in front of him. You have to veer
off the right to get to the finish line. I really didn’t
feel like running a whole lot of distance. I felt like I was ahead of
him. I saw the tape and I was. I moved to the inside because I knew
it was the shortest distance. I had made that decision the day before
when I was looking at the course. It would almost be a straight line to
RQ: It seems that you didn’t have that much competition during the
course of the year.
Cormier: No, I didn’t here in Arizona. I think my closest race was like
22 seconds. In a
way that was good. It really helped me to build up my confidence. I
would have liked to have run
some faster races in my season. I probably would have run faster at
nationals. It would have been
just a better run. But you know, it’s just something you have to live
RQ: What were you thoughts going into the West regional not having
raced against some of these kids?
Cormier: Going into the West regional, I knew I could qualify. That was
my only goal.
That was undoubtedly the best I ever felt during a race. Ever. When we
hit two miles, I felt like
we were jogging. I was so controlled. I just felt so good.
So that race really really helped my confidence for nationals.
RQ: What were your PR’s in track?
Cormier: 9:20 and 4:18.
RQ: Were those at altitude?
Cormier: No, those were actually at 1,000 feet. I was sick when I ran
those though. I was sick at
my state meet. Actually, my 4:18 came two weeks into the track season.
And then at state, I got really
sick and I had to drop all my races except the 3200m. I ran 9:20.
RQ: I guess there were no post season races for you.
Cormier: No, no post season races.
RQ: What were your cross country PR’s last year?
Cormier: I think I ran 16:18 on basically the same state course. This
year, I ran 15:10. I think
I took off about a minute for 5k from last year.
RQ: Did you have an opportunity to see last year’s race?
Cormier: Friday afternoon, me and a bunch of other guys watched the
tapes from 2000 to last year.
RQ: Did you have any flashback’s to last year’s race?
Cormier: Yeah, it was kind of like that. Withrow and me weren’t
expected to win so it was kind of the same thing again.
RQ: You’re home schooled and compete for your high school, is that
Cormier: Yes, that correct. Arizona state law says that if my parents
send a letter
to the school district every grading period stating that I’m passing
all my classes,
I can compete for my high school.
RQ: Can you tell me little about your home schooling?
Cormier: You know, this semester, I really haven’t done that much home
because I’ve started taking classes at a community college. It’s
basically, my mom gets the curriculum
from companies and she teaches me. I have to do work on my own and
stuff like that.
RQ: How long have you been home schooled and why did you choose to be
Cormier: I’ve been home schooled all my life. It’s something my mom
with my two older sisters and it just sort of kept going.
RQ: Is there a reason why you chose Douglas? Is it the only school in
Cormier: Yes, it the only high school.
RQ: Where is Douglas, AZ?
Cormier: It’s on the US-Mexican border. It’s sort of by New Mexico. In
RQ: What was it like growing up there?
Cormier: It’s been good growing up here. It’s a pretty nice place.
a good amount of places to run. It’s been good. The community here has
supportive of me and my running.
RQ: Is it mountainous?
Cormier: Douglas is in what we call the Sulfur Springs Valley, but two
from my house, I get some pretty good hills. It’s pretty nice. I get a
RQ: Not at altitude, I guess.
Cormier: We’re at 4,000 feet. It’s in the middle of altitude.
RQ: Is it pretty arid there?
Cormier: Yes, it is. We’re just about two hours away from anything.
RQ: A lot has been said about your training. Can you tell me what your
training was like
last year and what it is this year?
Cormier: I basically did the same this year as I did last, but a lot
more. I know that it’s been getting
a lot of attention. I know they’ve said that I did 120 miles per week.
I only did
that once. I came back from camp in Flagstaff, AZ and I was in really
good shape from being at 7,000 feet. You have a lot of altitude
there. I took three weeks off of work and just ran. Mainly, I ran 115,
then 120, then I ran 115. The
last two weeks, I dropped my average to 105 and 110. That was just to
get my base up so I could attack
my season hard and that was something I was able to do.
RQ: Is that something you came up with yourself or were you getting
Cormier: Actually, during the summer, I trained by myself most of the
time. It was just something I knew I could
do and that could help me. I kind of got a little carried away, but it
was really fun. It was really fun training
three weeks really hard.
RQ: What was the name of the camp and who did you train with in
Cormier: Camp Anastasi. I’ve been going there for three years. Up
there, the guy that runs the camp, David Barney is the coach at
Paradise Valley community college, they actually just won the National
JUCO Div I national cross country championship. A lot of the guys from
and a few guys from Arizona go to that camp.
RQ: How much did your mileage change from last year?
Cormier: I really noticed that I could handle a lot more after going to
camp. One of
our really core workouts is a tempo run. Last track season, I would be
do a six mile tempo run.
After this summer, I could do eight mile tempo runs really easily. I
wasn’t dying. I kept it
around eight miles. I just tried to get faster at eight miles. I
figured that was long enough.
I just noticed that I was able to handle more volume after doing that.
RQ: What was your mileage like when you were a junior?
Cormier: I would say it was 65-75 miles per week.
RQ: That’s a huge jump.
Cormier: Yes, it was. I was lucky enough not to get injured. I just got
carried away and had a lot of fun with it.
RQ: I guess you did that in pretty hot conditions.
Cormier: Some of it. I get up pretty early to run and I run pretty
late. I can stay
out of the heat most of the time. Some of those days, even at 6:30 in
it’s 90 degrees out. It gets pretty hot, but you get used to it after a
RQ: What were some of your influences that prompted you to up your
Cormier: Doing 100 miles was probably the guy who ran the camp. He was
really good. One of the reason I
started running and quit everything else was because of what happened
when I went there my sophomore year. I wasn’t
supposed to go. I was training with the cross country team to stay in
shape for swimming
and soccer. A guy dropped out and coach asked me if I wanted to go. I
went there. I was kind of taken
aback at how much all these people loved Barney. I really liked the
running community there. A little after that,
I went back and started running cross country. So that was a big
Then, this past year, I realized after placing 79th at the West
Regional, I had to work
a lot harder if I wanted to do well. After placing 79th last year, I
was like ‘I want to win this
next year. I want to win West. I want to win nationals.’ So it was a
commitment right there. I was going
to have to give up a lot of things and just train really hard.
RQ: That’s pretty amazing that you thought you could still win
nationals after placing 79th at the West regional.
Cormier: Yeah, I was really disappointed in myself after that race. I
really didn’t know what to expect. You go
from running in a race that has 100 people to one that has almost 300.
And everyone goes out so fast. I thin
this year, we hit the first 400 meters in 62 seconds which is just
insane. Last year, I didn’t start
out that fast and I got so far behind, I couldn’t do anything.
RQ: You talked about sacrifices you had to make. What type of
sacrifices did you make?
Cormier: That’s one of those things. For myself, I don’t consider them
sacrifices. I just consider them
trade-offs. I consider trading off not going out with my friends so I
can get up early and do a hard workout
Saturday morning. I look at a lot of things as trade-offs. I’m trading
off having fun for having
fun at something else. Winning a national championship is probably the
most fun thing I’ve ever had. It
was all worth it.
RQ: You must have had a long run in there. What is the furthest you ran
during your build-up?
Cormier: During my three weeks, I think I had one 19 miler every week.
During my season, every two weeks, I try to do
an 18 to 19 mile run. About 2 hours, 2 hours and 10 minutes.
RQ: What was your training like during the season?
Cormier: As the season progressed, I went from 105 to 110 at the
beginning to 90 during the middle. My intervals
started. The hard mile intervals. Stuff like that where you can’t
really keep up that mileage. You have to keep the quality miles.
So, I’ll say I averaged about 90 and then Foot Locker came and dwindled
down a little more to 85. And then the, week before
Foot Locker and the week before nationals, it was 35-45. I really cut
RQ: Did you feel reinvigorated?
Cormier: Yes, I did. I had three really easy weeks of running except
for two really hard races. I’m really looking forward
to tomorrow morning when I can start running again. I want to do
something in track. I’m really looking forward to that. I just want
to go run right now.
RQ: What kind of training regimen did you follow?
Cormier: During the summer, I’m going to have to say that I followed
the Lydiard method. Build up a good base in a very
Lydiard style of training. During the year, my coach sort of goes with
a mix of a lot of different programs. We do
hill work throughout the year because Arizona has a lot of hills in
it’s courses. Our team needs that. We use some Lydiard and then there
is Jack Farell, a coach from California who had a program. We sort of
follow that a little bit. My coach kind of moves around and tweaks
a little bit. But, I’d like to think of it as a Lydiard program. Not a
real strict one, but sort of.
RQ: Give me a typical training week for you.
Cormier: A typical week during cross country with a meet on Wednesday
would go something like this. Monday, I would hit 10 miles
in the morning and then I would do an eight mile tempo run in the
afternoon. Then, Tuesday morning, I’d hit 10 miles again and then
a six mile tempo run in the afternoon. Wednesday, I would do 13 miles
in the morning and then I’d run my meet. I try to run that really hard.
Thursday, I would
run 10 miles in the morning and then I would do an interval workout or
something. Repeat miles or 800’s. On Friday, I would do 10 miles
in the morning and then in the afternoon, I’d do hills or a surge
workout. Then, Saturday, if we didn’t do hills on Friday, we would do hills.
Then, Sunday, I would take off. If I was really sore, I would do a
really light four mile run.
RQ: So that would add up to 90 miles per week.
Cormier: I’m not saying that I do that every week, but about 90, I
RQ: So you are doing 90 on six days a week?
Cormier: Yeah about.
RQ: What pace do you run your tempo runs at?
Cormier: I try to run them one minute slower than my 5k pace. I try to
run them at about 5:40 to 5:50 per mile.
RQ: On mostly dirt trails?
Cormier: Yeah, on mostly dirt or hard surfaces. It doesn’t feel soft at
all. We don’t run on the pavement.
RQ: I assume you’re 10 milers are done a 6:30-7:15 pace.
Cormier: Yeah, probably. It depends on what time of year it is. If it’s
in the winter, I’d have to out on a lot of clothes so that would be
7 minutes. In the summer, when I can just go out and run, it’s probably
RQ: In the summer, when you are doing that kind of mileage, do you hold
back on the pace?
Cormier: In the mornings, I run how I feel. If I really good, I might
run a little faster. If I’m feeling pretty tired, I really
don’t push and kill myself tot he point that I won’t be able to run in
the afternoon. I really have to be careful that
I don’t overwork myself in the morning. I just like to get in good
mileage and good base. And it really loosens me up for the night run.
RQ: In your training, I don’t see much intervals in there. Is that
Cormier: I do a lot more speed intervals during my track season. I’ll
do about two track workouts per week. For cross country,
I’ve always felt if I could run hard most of the time, I’ll be fine. In
track, you definitely need speed. For cross country,
I’ve always gone with the idea if I can run a hard pace for a really
long time, I won’t have any problems. Actually, now,
I’ve started to do a lot of speed work. Towards the end of my season,
two or three weeks before Foot Locker, I dropped my Tuesday
tempo run and did speed work that day. Three weeks before, I dropped
all my tempo runs. I did hills Monday to get ready for Mt. Sac. A light
workout, followed by a hard speed workout, hills on Friday and then a
long run on Saturday just to get ready for the really fast stuff to
RQ: What’s a speed workout for you?
Cormier: I have four that I run pretty consistently. One, is twelve
400’s at 62 with two minutes rest in between. It isn’t really fast, but
I really like it. We have another one where we run 300’s really fast.
Like 45. Jog 200, and then sprint another 300. We’ll do six
repetitions of that. Then we run 600’s at like 1:33 pace if it’s really
fast. That’s probably my hardest workout. It’s probably my
favorite. I’ll do four repetitions and then two steady 800’s after
that. And then, we’ll do a breakdown where we start at a mile
in 4:40 and then we’ll do a 1200 at 4:400 pace and then we’ll drop down
to an 800 at 2:15 and then we end with a 400 at 60 seconds. That’s
a pretty easy workout. It’s one of my easier days.
RQ: That transition from all that distance to speed work, doesn’t seem
to have affected your speed.
Cormier: No, no. I’ve always had pretty good speed. I did have a lot of
achilles problems when I did go down to a lot that speed. I really
had to be careful because i knew it could end up hurting me a little
bit. I’ve always had good speed and been a pretty fast kid. I felt that
if I could get my distance up there, I could take a hard pace and my
speed would always be there.
RQ: How long are your hill repeats?
Cormier: We do a couple. We have this one which we call odds and evens
up a 1,000 meter hill. We run up 200m, walk down, 100, then run 200m.
We do that
all the way to the top which is about 10 repetitions which is pretty
Then, we’ll do a loop where we do this one hill. It’s about a mile. The
hill is about 300meters. We’ll do singles or doubles where we run
RQ: Before you started running, you said you did a lot of swimming and
another sport. What was the other sport?
Cormier: I played soccer. I was a pretty good soccer player. I started
on varsity my freshman year. I think of myself as being a pretty
good soccer player[laughing].
RQ: How good a swimmer were you?
Cormier: My freshman year was actually the first year we had a swimming
program. I still hold three school records there. It’s kind
of funny. I was a pretty decent swimmer. I didn’t make my state
tournament or anything, but I wasn’t bad.
RQ: Did you have any running experience before you took it up?
Cormier: Not really other than just soccer. I had a lot of problems
with Osgood Schallater’s disease in my knee. All through
my younger years, from when I was twelve to fifteen. I had a lot of
problems running. It gave me a lot of pain when I ran so I did
a lot of things that didn’t involve any running.
RQ: I guess you much have been growing fast. You’re a pretty tall guy.
Cormier: Yes, I did. I grew very fast. That’s what sort of made it
RQ: Was it hard to leave soccer?
Cormier: I really felt I needed to. My freshman year, I had a different
coach than I do now. The other coach got into some trouble so my dad
to take an interim coaching position. After my sophomore year, I
decided to quit soccer. My dad was coach at the time. It was kind
of hard, but I realized I wanted to be a really good runner. I saw how
much I needed to work after Foot Locker. I was like ‘ I can’t do this
and that too.’ So I had to give up something. It was tough to walk away
from it, but I felt it was a necessary thing.
RQ: Did you run Foot Locker your sophomore year?
Cormier: No, I sort of knew about it, but I didn’t run it. After my
junior year, Foot Locker was a month into soccer season so
I decided then that I was not going to play soccer.
RQ: I guess your phone has been ringing off the hook.
Cormier: Yeah, it’s been getting kind of crazy and now I’m getting a
lot of e-mails from coaches asking me to call them because
they can’t get through. Monday, I’ll be making a lot of calls.
RQ: I guess you want to make a career out of this.
Cormier: Yes, that is really what I’m looking for. I want to have a
great collegiate and post collegiate career.
RQ: How big is Douglas?
Cormier: It’s about 12,000. It’s a really small town. Everybody knows
me here. They’ve been really supportive. It’s a really nice town.
RQ: What is the nearest big city?
Cormier: Tucson, where we have to go for all of our track and cross
country meets is two hours away. I’m on the bus
quite a bit for high school cross country and track.
RQ: You’re pretty isolated there.
Cormier: Yes, we’re pretty isolated. We’re pretty far from anything.
RQ: What do your parents do there?
Cormier: My dad teaches at the high school and my mom is a stay at home
RQ: How did they end up in Douglas?
Cormier: I think they wanted to raise their family in a small town. I
think they actually thought Douglas was closer too Tucson
than it was. I think they thought it was an hour away, not two hours
away. They moved out here when my two sisters were young
and I was just born. We’ve lived here ever since.
RQ: Is it a quaint little town?
Cormier: For the most part it’s pretty quaint. There’s a good amount of
stuff going on. We have the most illegals coming across
in the nation or something like that. So there is a lot of border
control and stuff. It’s a nice little town, but there are some bad things.
RQ: Besides being known for the most illegals coming through, what else
is Douglas known for?
Cormier: Uhhhhh, drugs[laughing]. We really aren’t known for anything.
We have a lot of illegals and drugs. For the most part, it’s
a nice little town. Nothing crazy happens here.
RQ: It’s not like the drugs are prevalent.
Cormier: It stays out of the light. If you came here, you’d never know.
It’s nice in that way. You would have to go looking for it if you
really wanted to get into it. It leaves you alone, if you leave it
RQ: How close is the community college that you attend?
Cormier: It’s about five miles out of town. it’s really close.
RQ: Nutrition wise, how do you maintain? That’s a lot of calories you
must be burning. Can you give some insight into your nutrition and the
that you do?
Cormier: I really pay a lot of attention to my nutrition. Usually,
after my morning runs, I eat really soon afterwards. I usually have
a protein shake. Depending on what I did the day before or what I’m
going to be doing another day, I usually have a protein shake
two or three times a week. I eat hot cereal to get a lot of carbs. My
mom is good about helping me out. If I tell her that I need a lot of
today, she’ll have pasta or something like that. If I need protein
after a lot of hills and a lot of base because I don’t want to get
too worn down, she’ll help me out with that. In that way, it’s not
really that hard to stay on top of things.
RQ: What do you do about hydration?
Cormier: I drink a lot. I drink a lot of Gatorade. There’s this one
little store about a mile away from my house. Everybody knows
me because I’m always going there and getting Gatorade or something. I
really try to stay on top of hydration. One time last summer,
I got a little bit dehydrated. I had to take a day off because of it.
After that, I realized I really had to stay on top of it.
RQ: How tall are you and how much do you weigh?
Cormier: I’m about 6’1″ and weigh 155.
RQ: Did you cut a lot of weight during the summer?
Cormier: Actually, no. I was really careful not to cut any. I don’t
have much to cut. I think I did my body fat percentage
at the beginning of summer and I was 7% so I really wanted to keep it
at that. 7% is really good. I didn’t want to lose anything
because I didn’t want to get into problems where you don’t have enough
stores of anything if things go wrong and start eating away
muscle. I watch my weight, but not trying to lose any.
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