Going the Distance with Donny Wasinger

Sept. 23, 2010

The junior from Winona, Minn. tackles a bundle of questions ranging from his favorite type of running weather to his future career plans.

How is the season going so far for the team and for you personally?

The season is going well. The team had a great off-season, the summer was great for everyone. We worked a lot harder than we have in previous years and I think it’s showing right now in our fitness, how we’re doing in workouts and in meets.

You took first overall in the men’s 8K race in Columbia, Mo. earlier this month; what part of that accomplishment are you most proud of?

I think the best thing about that was just kind of having a plan before the race and then executing it exactly how I wanted to. We kind of picked out a point in the race where I was going to try and make a move and see what happened. When it came to that spot in the race I just went and was able to complete it and really execute, so that was probably the best part about that.

How are you preparing for your next meet? (10/2 Wisconsin adidas Invitational)

Wisconsin is going to be a lot different than Mizzou and the Bob Timmons (meets) that we’ve run this year because the competition is going to be a lot different. There’s going to be some very legitimate competitors there with one of the nationally-ranked teams there as well, and that’s where we’ll need to be competing at our best.

What is the best part about being a Jayhawk student-athlete?

I think the best part is how well student support takes care of you as far as tutoring and checking in on you. The academic support team really cares about you; they’ll e-mail you or see you in the hallway and talk to you for 10 minutes about how things are going, so I think that’s probably the best part, just being able to have someone there to keep an eye on you and to keep you accountable.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a Jayhawk student-athlete?

There are definitely some sacrifices that you have to make. I mean just the amount of time you have to spend sleeping and studying. It’s just a different lifestyle that you kind of have to accept. You can’t go out and be partying all the time and stuff like that. You have to take care of yourself because with the type of training that we’re doing, you just can’t afford to be up late or getting sick or anything like that.

Who was/is the biggest influence on your running career?

My parents have always been really supportive. They’ve always known what I should be doing performance-wise. Both my parents and my grandparents helped a lot because there were times in high school where I was not running as fast and not competing as well as I should have been at meets and they’d get on me about it.

The toughest race you have ever ran collegiately or in high school was….

Probably last year’s (Big 12) conference race at Missouri because I had a kidney infection going into it. I was pretty medicated and I was not feeling good. I had been really struggling just to even get up for class for the week leading up to it, so I was just worn out. When we went up there, the course was all muddy and nasty and we had a few guys fall and lose time because of the conditions. That was probably the toughest race I’ve ever had to run because of being sick, the poor racing conditions and the level of competition we were up against.

What is the ideal temperature/weather you like to run in?

Temperature would probably have to be about 50-degrees with no wind and sunny. Like a morning when the sun is coming up and the fog is just kind of getting burnt off, the grass is still wet and it’s just kind of a chill in the air and it’s perfect. It’s easy to breathe that way, you don’t feel like you’re over-heating and you can kind of just slice through the air. It feels great.

What does a pre-race meal for you typically consist of?

It changes a little bit but I like Pop-Tarts® the night before. I’ll have a regular dinner with pasta but then I’ll go back to the hotel and I’ll probably have a couple of Pop-Tarts® to snack on before I go to bed. Recently, when I wake up, I haven’t been having a lot (to eat) before I go to meets except for half a bagel or a biscuit with strawberry jelly.

What are you thinking about while you run?

During a race, (you think) about the people around you and how you’re competing with your breathing and your rhythm. Usually I’ll have a song in my head too. At the last meet (at Missouri) in particular, we were running on a Saturday and a good friend of mine had just passed away and the funeral service was that day, so when we were out there running – I was kind of out in front and didn’t really have anybody around – I would kind of think about how easy running that race was compared to what his family was going through.

How many running shoes do you go through in a given year?

It’s about a pair every three months so probably like four or five pairs of running shoes every year. Sometimes it’s more or sometimes it’s less depending on the mileage of the time but we get a lot different shoes. We get regular running shoes and then we get flats which are like a spike without the spikes for training. So, you’re not always running in the same shoes, which always helps.

Do you ever run on a treadmill?

Yes, but not very often. Once a week maybe and it’s only for about four miles and that’s all. The rest of the time it’s outside.

How old were you when you started running long distances?

It was seventh grade track. I went out and started running the mile and the two mile and then eighth grade was my first year of cross country.

Have you ever thought about trying to run a marathon?

Yes, I’ve thought about trying but not until a couple years after I graduate probably because the marathon is a completely different training system. Leading up to and then in the months after the race you have to keep your mileage low and recover for a long time before you get back to your full training, so it’s a full undertaking.

Cross country could be added as an Olympic sport for the 2018 Winter Games. If you were still in shape then, would you try to make the team?

With cross country and long distance runners we don’t really get to the peak of our physical fitness or career until around 26 or 28 years old. You can go into your 30’s if you’re smart about it, so depending on if I’m good enough or if it’s in the cards, I can see myself being interested in it. (Donny will be 28 in 2018).

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully doing some coaching or assistant coaching at a Division I school for cross country or track and still running quite a bit. Possibly if I can get good enough in the next couple of years here then I might look into running for some professional teams.