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The Little Rock Roadrunners Club
Running Little Rock Since 1977

November Q&A

Posted by: Brian S-ski

Ten Questions with Gary Taylor

Part Five of our Q&A Series features another new LRRC Board Member, Gary Taylor.  Gary grew up in England (the country, not the town in Arkansas), was a star runner for the Razorbacks, and is now proprietor of Go! Running. Recently, the RunAround sat down with Gary for a wide-ranging interview.

Gary Taylor has been running for 40 years

Gary Taylor has been running for 40 years

The RunAround: How did you first start running?

Gary Taylor: I began in competitive swimming at the age of 9.  I started getting pretty good and at 12 years old my coach told me that I needed to do cross training in order to get better.  He took my team out for a run one day, I finished way ahead of everyone else, and the coach was having a hard time keeping up!!

A short time later we had a cross country race at my high school. I was a freshman but finished 2nd overall and the teachers thought I’d cheated!!

I swam for awhile more but soon transitioned over to running as I started having more success with it. That was when I was 13, so next year I will have been running and racing for 40 years!!

RA: What brought you from England to the University of Arkansas?
I really had no intention of ever coming to the States.  I had many scholarship offers but I had a great set up in England, with sponsors, coaching, etc.  Then an injury when I was 18 made me take a look at life and a friend of mine who had just finished his first year at Arkansas suggested I try it for a year or two.

So in 1982 I came to Arkansas with intention of staying for a max of two years then heading back to the UK.  I’m obviously bad at planning because 33 years later I’m still here!!  I got caught up in the team spirit, loved the people, met Erin, and never looked back.

RA: What was training like under John McDonnell as a Razorback?
Looking back at it now it was an honor, but at the time we just knew he was an incredible driver, motivator, and a great father figure for all of us.    There were no secret or special workouts, no magic race plans, and certainly no cheating of any kind - it was just lots of very hard, honest work.

John’s philosophy was that the fastest guy at the end of a race was the strongest guy so we worked to be strong; uphill mile repeats, 20×400’s with every other one uphill, Sunday 14-18 mile runs, 80-100 mile weeks.  The joke was that John’s magic race strategy was “go out hard, pick it up in the middle, and run the last mile all out”!!

RA: Jumping ahead to present day, what is a typical training week like for you now?

GT: Well I’m 52, so while I can still move along ok I just can’t recover like I used to, either energy wise or physically.  That means I usually don’t run more than 3 days in a row and around 5 days week.

I try to let how I feel dictate my pace unless I’m training for something specific.  So my regular runs are between 5-10 miles, pace ranging from 6:30 to 7:30, and about 35-40 miles a week.

I also walk a lot, almost every day, mainly walking our dogs on the Ouachita Trail or other road trail somewhere.  I incorporate this as part of my training and use it as a long cool down after a run or as a substitute for a run if my legs don’t feel right that day.  I really believe that walking is great injury prevention (because most of us runners only run or drive!!!).

RA: Do you have a favorite running route in the Little Rock area?
I usually end up starting at Two Rivers Bridge and running to and around Two Rivers Park.  We are so lucky to have that place to run.  However, I spend a lot of time off the black top and run the horse trails in the park - especially when Cami, my dog, is with me!

When I have the time, I love running the roads and trails out by Sylvia and Winona for long runs in the winter.

RA: Looking back from your early days up to the present, what would you
consider your best race? How about your favorite race, if different?
I think one of my best track races was at the Cork City Sports meet in Ireland in 1988.  I wanted a fast time in the Mile because there were some big names in the race but we came through the bell in 3:01.  I got mad, took the lead, and went for it. I held on until the end but got passed by Steve Spivey and finished in 3:57.1 which ultimately was one of my fastest times.

My favorite race was going home in 1992 to run the London Marathon.  It was like a homecoming as I still knew a lot of the Elite guys in the race and I heard a ton of people I knew cheering.  I also set my marathon PR there, 2:28:19, and it was the last time my mother got to see me run.  Great memories.

RA: What is one quick tip you have for beginning runners?

GT: Learn to love running, don’t just slog away trying to do more and go faster.

So, just take it easy, walk-run at first to avoid injuries and to prevent getting burned out.  Then run with others and go to some cool running places and just enjoy the experience.

RA: What advice do you have for long time runners looking to get faster?

GT: Change things up.  We all get locked into our patterns and routines.  Too many long time runners just throw more distance at a goal and hope to get faster.  Instead, mix it up with faster intervals, uphill intervals for strength and better running form, race-pace tempo runs, and learn to insert appropriate rest and recovery into your plan (oh yes, have a plan!!!).  In short, mix it up and balance quality versus quantity.

RA: Imari Dellimore turned 40 years old on October 30th. In your opinion, should this cause Mark Ferguson to worry that his Go! Mile Masters Record of 4:46 is in jeopardy in 2016?

GT: Wow nothing like putting me on the spot!! Well we haven’t seen Imari at the mile for a few years (dig, dig) so in that respect it’s safe!!! Hopefully Imari will come out to the mile this year and show us how fast he really is!

RA: Speaking of the Go! Mile, is there any information you have to share to start the buzz building towards the race’s 6th running in June 2016?

GT: We’ll be at the Clinton Library again for sure. I hope we can get more teams to attend like LRRC did with their tents and build on that Team Village atmosphere. The kids’ race will be more exciting as we hope to make their experience more like the other races.

I can’t give all our secrets away, but rest assured we’ll do everything we can to make it a first class, fun event for the whole family and participants of ALL abilities!!

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