The 2nd annual Maine Coach and Athlete Cross Country Clinic was on August 18th, 2008 at the University of Southern Maine. This is the third part of my reporting on the clinic; the first part was about injury prevention and treatment, the second part was about nutrition basics and fueling, and the third part was about selecting proper footwear. This fourth part will introduce you to the 3 current or former professional runners who made up the athlete’s panel.

The athlete’s panel took over the clinic and comprised a little over half of everything that was said. It was very down to earth and full of practical tips and advice from 3 people whose job it was to run. I will provide a bit of a history on each of the athlete’s here, and in the next article I will provide the answers to the specific questions that they were asked.

Matt Lane

Matt LaneMatt Lane was a graduate of Yarmouth High School in 1996, where he had some measure of success on the track but excelled in cross country. He won the North East Regional Foot Locker Championship as a senior in high school, and started his pattern of 4th place finishes at the national level race.

Matt was recruited to go to Stanford, but wound up choosing to go to William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia for his degree. Right after he arrived, though, the coaches at William & Mary left after the first day. For a short time there were a few interim coaches, but the former Stanford coach Andy Gerard became the permanent coach.

While at William & Mary, Matt won 3 NCAA cross country championships and 8 indoor/outdoor track titles in the 3k and 5k.

In 2000, Matt ran in his first Olympic Trials for the 5000, which he described as just a higher pressure US Championship race. He finished in 4th place, although he was the 3rd place finisher who had already run an Olympic “A” Standard. Nick Rogers managed to run the “A” standard before the Olympics, though, which allowed him to continue on to Sydney and left Matt at home.

Matt graduated from William & Mary in 2001 and went to Stanford where he signed a contract with the Nike Farm Team. In 2004, Matt again finished in 4th place at the Olympic Trials.

At this point, Matt decided to try moving up to the marathon, where he debuted in Chicago with a 2:17:32 and finished in 14th place. He did not really care for the distance, though, and decided to retire. He has since returned to Maine where he is studying for his law degree.

Louie Luchini

Louie LuchiniBeginning his track career as a short and chunky shot putter and discus thrower in Ellsworth, Maine, Louie Luchini moved onto the track as he got skinnier and faster in high school. Both him and his brother were state champs and had respectable showings at the Foot Locker championships.

After graduating high school, Louie went to Stanford where he came into his first season injured and out of shape. Every Summer he would become lazy and arrive at pre-season in less than ideal shape, where he’d do all of his training camp runs with the women instead of the men. (They used to call him Louise.)

Louie considered not training over the Summer the dumbest idea that he ever had, but it did not stop him from becoming an All American 7 times with a 13:25 personal best 5000m time.

After graduation, Louie joined the same farm team as Matt, and now runs for the Oregon farm team. He recently competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials, but did not run as well as he hoped with a 23rd place finish in 29:42.78 in the 10,000m finals.

Lauren Fleshman

Lauren FleshmanThe final runner on the athlete’s panel is not a native Mainer and has never lived out this way. Lauren Fleshman is from Southern California. She was a softball player through junior high, but she moved to cross country and track in high school on the recommendation of her coach. She got sucked into the social aspects of the team, and once she began to become more successful as a runner she began to enjoy the training as well.

Every year since she began running she has set personal bests. Her one overriding goal is to constantly improve, and she has now maintained her PR streak for 13 straight years.

She went to school at Stanford, and instantly went from being a stellar athlete on her high school team to an average runner on her college team. If you can call 15 national titles average. She was All American every time she went to Nationals.

In 2006, she won a national title as a professional, and has competed in 2 world championships. She ran in the 2008 Olympic Trials, and despite a sprained ankle she managed to place 5th in the 5000m finals with a time of 15:23.18.

Now that you have a little background on the 3 athletes on the panel, come back for part 5 where the athletes answer questions such as what they wish they knew in high school that the know now, what they think of the team aspect of cross country, what are some specific workouts, as well as others. It will give you a great insight into the world of professional running as well as offering a lot of good advice that can help an amateur or recreational runner as well. Part 5 will be available at 8:00 am on Friday, August 28th.