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Interview: Amy Yoder Begley

Amy Yoder (Begley) back when she was a star at East Noble (IN) High School.
(Photo courtesy of Amy Yoder Begley)

A fifth-year senior at the University of Arkansas, Amy Yoder Begley is one of the best collegiate distance runners in the country. Though she is done with her collegiate cross country eligibility (after finishing 3rd at Nationals in 1998 and 2nd in 1999), she will finish out her Arkansas career with the 2001 indoor and outdoor track seasons. Yoder Begley recently wed Arkansas teammate, Andrew Begley, just 19 days after competing in the 5,000m at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials.

FW: You're one of those runners who just seems to be on a steady improvement curve from year to year. You've been extremely consistent throughout high school and college. What do you attibute that to?

AYB: I started running when I was 10 years old. I wanted to run when I was 8, but my dad told me to wait. Since then it has been my philosophy and goal to just improve every year. The improvement can come in many forms. It can be in time, place, or just weekly mileage as long as it is improvement from last year. I have slowly moved up my mileage and intensity each year. Some think I have taken too slow of a progression with mileage and training. However, I still have a lot of room to improve after college because I have yet to run more than 70 miles a week. I averaged 60 miles a week in outdoor track last year. This year I hope to move my mileage up again. However, this year I want to make a bigger jump because I will move to the post-collegiate level next summer.

FW: What are you up to this fall in terms of training - will you still train with your Arkansas teammates? Will you do any racing?

AYB: I am taking this fall as my summer base training. Because of the wedding and the trials being so late, I did not take time off till the wedding. I am working my base up this fall. I am training with the team, I am just not doing the hard workouts yet. Coach Lance Harter and I are thinking about a couple of races. I do not have any cross country eligibility left. I might run our home meet in October. I also might run the U.S. National Cross Country in November in Boston. It all depends on my fitness level.

FW: Have you given any thought to how you're going to make the jump to post-collegiate distance running? Do you think you'll stay in Arkansas?

AYB:I need to up my mileage and the workout intensity to be able to compete in the post-collegiate races. I love to race, but Coach Harter and I are working on my workout intensity. I need to learn to push myself more in practice. Andrew and I will stay in Arkansas until my allergies become too much to handle or he decides to stop running and go to Medical school. Which ever comes first we will deal with.

FW: What event(s) do you think you will ultimately focus on? Do you think you'll do any road racing?

AYB: This year I would like to increase my speed. I love the 5k. I want to focus on the 5k for a while. I will move up to the 10k later and make it my focus. I might do road racing. I have not really put much thought into road racing. I would like to do a marathon sometime in my thirties, just to do one. I am not sure I could race it though.

FW: What was it like running in the Olympic Trials? Did anything about the whole experience surprise you?

AYB: Running in the Olympic Trials was a good experience. However, I was a little disapointed in my performance. I was physically in the best shape of my life. Yet, my head and heart were not there. The wedding was only 2 weeks after the trials. I was too preoccupied. I loved being around the athletes and the people I have looked up to for a long time. It made me realize I was at a point in my career that I had dreamed of for a long time. Yet, there is still so much work to do.

FW: A lot of runners out there look up to you. Who do YOU look up to?

AYB: I look up to a lot of people. My parents for always helping me and being there for me even when they sacrifice to do it. Andrew for always overcoming his bad luck and still training harder than any one I know. I look up to Suzy Favor Hamilton. I also use Regina Jacobs as a role model for being able to compete at the level she does for so long. It gives me the hope that I can continue my passion of running as a career for a long time to come.

FW: Congratulations on your recent marriage to Andrew Begley. Did the two of you get to relax a little and go on a honeymoon?

AYB:I waited to take time off until the honeymoon. We went to Hawaii. We loved it. We got to relax. I meant to take time off there, however, it was so pretty I had to run a couple of times on the beach.

FW: And finally, what do you like to do outside of running?

AYB:I have two dogs and two cats at school. They keep me pretty busy. I love animals. I am majoring in Exercise Science/Biomechanics. I love studying anatomy and physiology. I hang out with my brother and my teammates.

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