Doug Robinson: Doug Robinson: SUU's Levins runs large number of miles to reach lofty goals

Published: Wednesday, May 16 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

"I thought I'd experiment with it," he says. "I thought I had to make another jump (in improvement) for my final season. Mileage was one of the only things I could do to make the jump I wanted to. I knew the Kenyans had done it. I'd heard of athletes in the '70s who did it. I thought it was the way to compete with the Africans. Some say (Kenyans excel) because of genetics, but I think it's a matter of understanding how hard they're working and how much they are running."

He bumped up his mileage from 15 a day to 20 a day leading up to his junior year and liked the results: a 3:59 mile and a qualifying berth in the NCAA championships, where he finished last in the trials. Last summer he decided to bump up his mileage again, this time to 30 a day. Again, the results were good: a 3:57.16 mile in the Millrose Games, third- and fourth-place finishes in the indoor NCAA championships at 3,000 and 5,000 meters, respectively, followed by the outdoor performances at Mt. SAC and Stanford.

Levins usually runs three times a day, totaling 25 to 30 miles four days a week, 20 miles two days a week, and 10 miles one day a week. That means he spends four to five hours a day on the run. It's an exhausting routine and one that requires him to take naps during the day.

"I seem to be holding together doing this kind of mileage," he says, "but I do have to be really careful and listen to my body. Running 30 miles in a day once isn't hard, but it was a while before I could string them together."

Looking ahead to the London Games, he says, "Like any young athlete, I dreamed of going to the Olympics. I felt like I was a long ways from it. It was the end goal and suddenly I'm almost there."

While wary of Levins' training methods, Eyestone says, "Cam is the real deal. He has all the tools to make it at the elite level. He has something that I would have loved to have had — the ability to change gears and sprint well at the end of a hard grinding race. Half the battle is making it to the starting line healthy. If Cam can continue to rack up the mileage without getting sidelined with tendonitis, stress fractures or a half-dozen other overuse injuries that are always waiting in the wings, he will be a force at the international level."

Email: drob@desnews.com

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