Brazier Adapting Well To Being A Pro
by Jeff Hollobaugh
Ever since Donavan Brazier blazed a Collegiate/American Junior Record 1:43.55 to win the NCAA as a frosh and then flamed out in the first round of the Olympic Trials last year, he has been one of the most talked-about young stars in the sport.
Much of the speculation has hinged on his decision to leave the college ranks while remaining with Coach Alleyne Francique at Texas A&M. Would he make a successful transition to the pro ranks while still just a teenager?
A decent but not spectacular indoor season presaged a 1:46.11 runner-up finish at the Texas Relays, followed a week later by a spectacular 1:44.63, the fastest U.S. time ever run so early in the season, at the Sun Angel Classic.
He shared with us what that kind of progress means for his season plans:
T&FN: What does 1:44 this early mean to you?
Brazier: It’s really just part of the plan. Coach Francique wanted me to open up at the Texas Relays just to get a race under me because he knew that, this being my first year running professionally, I haven’t run as many races. And I can see it myself. I haven’t been as sharp as I was prepared to be last year. So he just wanted me to get one decent race in in Texas and then try to hammer it in Arizona. And that’s what we did. We set up a rabbit to come through in 50. I figured if I came through in 50 I had a good shot of running 1:44. I was a little nervous before the race because the conditions weren’t necessarily the best. But I knew there was a good chance of me running 1:44 if everything was set up right. From my workouts that I’ve been doing, 1:44 is just part of the plan. It’s not trying to peak right now, it’s just trying to get better at this point.
T&FN: What’s your next race?
Brazier: Probably Baylor. I wanted to make the World Relay team but I didn’t get selected.
T&FN: What’s your training setup now?
Brazier: I still run with the A&M guys. I train at Texas A&M under Coach Henry and Coach Francique.
T&FN: Has it been a tough transition to the pro lifestyle?
Brazier: It’s been tough, but I think it’s working well. It has started to come together more. It was just tough in the beginning. When I ran my first year in college I was with the team everywhere. When I raced, I was with the team every single time. We traveled together and we would go eat lunch together. We were roommates and we always did our homework together and stuff like that. But when you are a professional and you have a college coach a lot of times you don’t have the same resources that you had in college. The adjustment is getting better and I’m starting to get used to it more and more.
T&FN: Are you still taking classes?
Brazier: Yes. That’s the perfect set up so I didn’t have to transfer anywhere.
T&FN: Is your training the same as last year or have you adjusted some things?
Brazier: It’s hard to tell because I always want to do the same workouts I did last year just so I can tell where I’m at, gauge-wise. I would say we do the same stuff, just a different variety of it. Not necessarily harder or easier, but a different variety. Kind of like the same thing at the same time, but not exactly the same workouts.
T&FN: Is the mileage about the same?
Brazier: The mileage is about the same. I don’t think that’s anything… I don’t know, a lot of people ask that and it’s just a weird question. I think it’s an irrelevant question, the mileage someone does.
T&FN: It’s relevant if you’re thinking about trying the 1500…
Brazier: It goes back to my favorite Muhammad Ali quote. They asked him how many situps he did, and he said, “I don’t know how many situps I do. I only start counting when they start to hurt.” That’s kind of my thing on mileage. I don’t really count my mileage but I know that the mileage that I do, it’s ‘hurts mileage.’ It’s not lollygagging mileage. I don’t do a 3-mile warmup and a 3-mile cooldown at 8:00 or 9:00-minute pace. My mileage is hard and it hurts.
T&FN: What are your goals for the year?
Brazier: My goal is the same as every elite runner. Just trying to make the Worlds team for the U.S. That’s really my main mission right now. I wanted to get on the World Relay team, but after a not very successful indoor season, they didn’t pick me.
T&FN: Do you have any extra motivation for the USA nationals this year after how the Trials went last year?
Brazier: Yeah. I try not to have those kind of races stuck in my mind. I’m just trying to forget about it at this point. I can’t totally forget about it though, because you’ve got to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes. But I’m just trying to make sure I don’t think about that because I’m going be running more this year than last year and I will have a lot more experience. I think I’ll be more sharp this year, ready to go.
T&FN: What do you have to say to your fans who want to see you try the 1500?
Brazier: They’re not my real fans if they want me to try the 1500 because I don’t want to do a 1500 [laughs]. But trying the 1500? I don’t know. Maybe sometime in my future. I don’t know, I think you’re right about the mileage thing. I might have to up the mileage a bit more and do lighter mileage and longer volume. But right now, I’m going to stay away from that. I don’t know what kind of mile shape I’m in. I always wanted to chase that 4:00 barrier and break that, and I think I might be in shape to do that now, but I haven’t really thought about doing it competitively.
T&FN: You’re turning 20 in a few days – do you feel any extra pressure having achieved so much so young?
Brazier: Not really. It came quick, but I was able to handle it properly just because I had the right mentors in my life. Coach Francique gives me the right mindset going into these meets. Last year I had Hector Hernandez, he was always a good role model for me. I just had good role models to look after that helped me get into that light and just try to control myself once I started getting good.
April 11, 2017