Matt Rand has been a mainstay at in the front of the field at New York road races the last several years. Rand got his start early growing up in a running family and picked up the sport from his parents. After successful high school (where he split time between running and baseball) and college careers (Tufts ‘13), Rand worked and ran in Washington D.C. before moving to New York. Living in Ozone Park, Queens, Rand does many training runs on his own, but still manages to meet up with team member for bigger workouts and training runs. During his time on the Central Park team, Rand has continued to lower his times on the road with some of his top performances coming over the last two years. In May Rand broke the 38 year old team 10 mile record, racing to a 49:32 in the Broad Street 10 miler in Philadelphia. Rands other PRs include 30:47 in the 2018 Healthy Kidney 10k and 1:06:49 at the 2017 Brooklyn Half Marathon. Rand is currently preparing to run the Chicago Marathon this fall along with several other teammates. Check out our interview below to learn more about Rand’s thoughts on training and on life!
Q: You’re prepping for Chicago this fall, how has training been going this summer? What races are you running leading up to the Marathon?
Matt Rand: Training has been going well. My mileage has been consistently high for most of 2018, so I think I’m set up well. I had a solid 20-miler with 8 miles at marathon pace with Eddie (Mulder) and Ryan (Archer) last week. I’ll continue building volume and intensity in the next six weeks.
My primary tune-up for Chicago is the US 20k Championship in New Haven on Labor Day. I’ve never raced that distance before, but I’m well-suited for it and excited to give it a shot. Plenty of legit elites have shown up in prior years, so there should be a lot of fast people to chase. Aside from that race, I plan on running Percy Sutton 5k as a speed workout and Bronx 10 as marathon pace tempo.
Q: You’re prepping for another marathon, but race all type of road distances. What’s your favorite distance to race?
MR: I have the most potential in the marathon if I can continue making strides in training, but right now the half marathon is my favorite distance. It’s right in the sweet spot based on the mileage I’ve been doing. I need to get stronger before I can hit my potential in the marathon.
Q: What’s your favorite marathon training workout?
MR: I’ve always liked race pace interval workouts. Something like 2x10k, 2x5k at goal marathon effort, w/ 1k rest after each interval. I also like the 5-4-3-2-1 mile ladder workout. Both are really miserable, but marathons are miserable, so they’re good prep. This cycle, I’ve been incorporating more fartleks and tempos into the latter portion of long runs, but I still like intervals better.
Q: What training shoe and racing shoe have you been using?
MR: New Balance 880 for normal runs. New Balance Zante or 1400 for workouts, 1400 for racing. Before joining CPTC, I bounced around between brands, but I really like the New Balance shoes, so this is a good fit.
Q: You’ve had some hot and humid weather to train in lately. Are you a cold-weather or warm-weather runner? Morning or evening?
MR: Having grown up in Maine, I’m used to the cold. I like having to put on long sleeves or gloves to stay warm while running. If I’m racing in temps above 60 degrees, I know it’s gonna be a grind.
I prefer mornings, particularly if I’m doing a workout. I don’t want to think about it all day, and worry about what I’m eating. Taco Bell is my go-to lunch spot, and I can’t be pounding quesaritos or doritos locos tacos if I have to work out later in the day.
Q: With your high mileage have you struggled with any injures in the past? What do you do (if anything) to focus on staying healthy besides running?
MR: My only serious injury was runner’s knee during my junior year at Tufts. I missed all of the outdoor track season, and couldn’t train normally for almost five months. I recovered by doing a lot of hip and quad strengthening exercises. Since then it’s just been routine aches and pains, mainly in my knees or Achilles. I do preventative hip and calf/Achilles strengthening exercises once per week. I hardly ever stretch.
Q: Speaking of your time at Tufts, what is it like training post-college / working vs. training in the collegiate environment?
MR: It’s a tough transition. My first two years out of school, I lived and worked in the Washington, DC area. I had two hours of commuting each day, which was draining. I also had to spend time preparing meals for the first time in my life. As a result, shortening runs or skipping them altogether became too common for me. I was on a club down there, but I didn’t live close to any of the guys, so most of my runs were solo, which obviously didn’t help. If I hit 60 miles in a week, I was happy.
When I moved to New York to live with my now-fiancé, I took my job (as a writer for U.S. New & World Report) with me. Working from home has saved me 2 hours per day, and a lot of that time has been spent running, or doing things that benefit my running, like sleeping or eating. I still run alone most of the time because hardly anyone runs in this area of the city. People just stare at me like I’m insane, or yell “Run Forrest, Run!” because Forrest Gump is the only other runner they’ve ever seen.
Q: If you could go back, what would you tell your 18-year-old self (about running or otherwise)?
MR: Run more. My mileage in college was a solid step up from high school, but I could have done more. My training was even more pedestrian during my first couple post-grad years. I always told myself I was just a “low mileage guy.” Now I believe there aren’t low mileage types and high mileage types. There are just people who are willing and able to put in the work and those who aren’t. Over the last couple years or so, I’ve tried to join the former group.
I’d also tell my younger self to not be so results-oriented; to focus more on the process and the preparation rather than the races. Fortunately, I understand that now, but it took me a while to get there.
Q: You mention focusing on the process, what keeps you motivated and running? What do you enjoy about running?
MR: I had a difficult senior year at Tufts. A lung infection ruined the end of my XC season, and mono derailed my track season. I accomplished zero of the individual goals I had set for myself. I started asking myself why I even bother with this sport. At the time, I felt like the effort I was putting in was much greater than the gratification I was getting out. For a period, I didn’t think I’d run competitively after college.
I only lasted about 3 weeks as a non-runner. My mind just sort of naturally reset and moved on to the next running goal, and the one after that, and so on. I’ve discovered that I run to pursue goals, not necessarily to achieve them. I’m definitely competitive, but it’s not victories, PRs, or prize money that keep me going. It’s the pursuit, the process. I always have to be working towards something. Otherwise I just feel bad about myself and a little dispirited. Of all the things I’ve had to work for in life (academically, professionally, personally, etc.) I feel like I have the most control over my running, and I like that. I’ve also learned to relish pushing my body to the limit, and the physical pain that comes with it.
Q: While it might not be about the victories, what has been your most memorable race for CPTC? Can you take us through that race for you?
MR: 2017 Brooklyn Half when our top 5 men ran the fastest combined time in club history. For me individually, it was just one of those rare days where everything clicks, and I came away with a nice PR. At the finish, it was great to see teammates equally pleased with their result and the team’s finish. It seemed like spirits were high all around.
More recently, the 2018 Healthy Kidney 10k was a lot of fun because we beat NYAC. That’s the only time I can remember beating them. Hopefully more to come.
Favorite Pre-Race Meal: Pasta with meat sauce
Favorite Book: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Favorite NY Running Route: Where I live, Forest Park is the only place to go. Fortunately the trails there are really nice and I rarely get sick of it.
Favorite Vacation Spot: I don’t have a regular vacation spot, but the best trip I’ve been on recently was to Greece. My fiancé and I visited Athens and the Pelion region.
Do you ever run with headphones? (What do you listen to?):I’ve never run with headphones. I like to be aware of my surroundings. I have bad music taste anyway, I just listen to top 40 trash.
If you weren’t a runner, what sport would you do:Growing up I would have said baseball. Now my mentality is more suited to individual sports. I’ve always enjoyed tennis, so I’d probably take some lessons and join a league.
Editor’s Note: Phil Falk contributed to this interview