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Profiles of coaches and student athletes

Student-Athlete Profile: Chris Marshall '10

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What is it about the sport you play at Carleton that you enjoy most?
Of course I love the training and the competition, but my favorite thing about the cross country and track teams at Carleton is the camaraderie.  We have a really great group of guys, and I love training every day with some of my best friends in the world.  It makes coming to practice and working hard so much more enjoyable when you share it with good people.  A lot of people improperly characterize Track and Field as an individual sport.  To some extent it is, but I really value the team component, and at Carleton that is where the emphasis has always been.  When we go to the starting line, we go together, as a team. Nothing inspires me for a race like having CARLETON on your chest. 

Why did you decide to come to Carleton?
As a high school senior, I knew I wanted to run in college but my decision to come to Carleton was purely academic.  I knew that Carleton was a place where I could be on the cross country and track teams--I liked the coaching staff, the teams and the facilities--but as a Division III student-athlete academics came first.  As soon as I set foot on campus, the atmosphere felt just right for me.  Carleton has a rare balance of high-caliber academics and a more laid-back atmosphere that discourages competition in the classroom in favor of simply learning.  I knew Carleton was a place where I could prioritize academics without sacrificing the rest of my life, and it has more than lived up to my expectations in my three years here.

What have been some of the differences between college and high school sports?
I have enjoyed college athletics a lot more than high school.  The training is certainly more intense, and there is a greater expectation for off-season training but the rewards are great. One thing I have enjoyed about running in college is that everybody on the team is serious about competing even though there is a big range in ability level. The team is also a lot more close-knit because we not only train together but we live together and eat together every day.

Specifically regarding running, we tend to run a lot more mileage in college than in high school.  I had never run more than 45 miles per week or so in high school, and as a junior I have run 90 miles per week at Carleton.  Again, some people run more an others run less--last year, the weekly mileages on our team ranged from about 45 to over 120 per week. Our race distance in cross country is 8k rather than 5k, so there is much more incentive to work on building a strong aerobic base, and doing more work at aerobic threshold pace. The coaches at Carleton care about everyone on the team and devote a great deal of their time to tuning the workouts so that everyone gets the maximum benefit. 

Can you think of any surprising/favorite moments from your time in competition or at practice?
One of my favorite moments came during a workout we did the week before the NCAA Central Region Championships cross country meet.  It had snowed a couple of inches that day, and we were doing some faster 1200-meter repeats at the Northfield Golf Club.  I ran the workout with seniors Tom Brenner and Pete Samuels, and snow would collect on our feet and then kick up into our faces as we ran.  It was a nasty day to run, and we were all cold, tired, covered with snow and ice, and wet from a combination of sweat and melted snow.  Right before our last repeat we looked at each other and smiled.  I said, "Let's do this," and we ran off into the snow once more.  Those are the days that make you a better runner--you are out there battling the conditions and battling yourself.  To do that workout with two of my best friends made it that much more fun.

How do you maintain a balance between sports and other activities at Carleton? What else are you involved in?
Balance is of utmost importance at Carleton.  One of Dave Ricks' biggest strengths as a coach is his ability to relate to his athletes entire lives--not just their lives at the track.  He is very understanding of all sorts of academic conflicts, from a tough problem set to a talk you really want to go to that happens to conflict with practice.  I think the fact that he was himself a student-athlete at another great academic school, Union College, makes him that much better at fitting running into our lives as student-athletes.  Running has never prevented me from being a good student at Carleton.  While this is a very tough school and a typical student's schedule is busy, there is free time.  I have chosen to use a lot of my free time to run cross country and track, so I do not have time to play video games after class every day but I have time to run.  I think the kind of discipline that is required to become a successful collegiate runner is similar to the discipline required to be a successful Carleton student, so our program goes hand-in-hand with the academics.