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10 Questions with Brennan Benkert
(A distance runner at Missouri Southern State University)

1. At what age did you start running competitively?
I began running in 7th grade on the track team. I was not very fast (1600 pr going into high school was 5:46!)

2. Why did you start running?
Both my parents were runners, as well as my father's parents. It was a family thing. My parents never pushed me into running, though. They were afraid to start me too early. They didn't want me to burn out on it. So I never ran any AAU or USATF races as a younger kid. I simply decided to try out for track in jr. high because it was cool. I ended up loving it!

3. How many miles do you typically run in a week?
When I first started out, I was running maybe 20 miles. During my freshman high school track season, a new coach took over the distance group, and by the end of senior year we were averaging 60-70 per week. From the beginning of college to the present, the average is about 70-75. The most I have done in a single week is 106.

4. What is your favorite brand of running shoes?
I loved Nike while in high school. I think I wore out about 15 of the same style- Air Zoom Elite. I tried to continue this into college, but the styling changed too much. Now I'm an Adidas/Asics guy. I like a good lightweight trainer with a little bit of stability.

5. Do you listen to music when you run? If so what do you listen to?
No music while running. I prefer to listen to what is happening around me and to listen to my breathing and my feet hitting the ground. To get pumped up for races I usually listen to rock or alternative, and a little bit of rap.

6. Where is your favorite place to run?
My favorite place to run is a quiet country road. There is little distraction. I can get in the zone and crank out some fast runs in that setting. I also love trails, and occasionally exploring a new city. I like a variety of places because that's the best way to train. I try to keep the monotony to a minimum.

7. What is the farthest distance that you have ran?
The longest single run was an 18 mile long run with my college team. It was our longest Sunday run during cross country season.

8. Have you had any injuries related to running?
I have, but none serious. During my senior track season in high school my knees hurt me all the time. For a while it was constant. It even hurt just to walk. I tried new shoes, strengthening, cross training. Nothing worked, but after state (and then some time off) I was fine and I've never experienced the same thing since. I missed a couple weeks of running my freshman college track season because of a tight muscle in my hip. I have since become very good at listening to my body and sensing when a day or two of rest is needed.

9. What has been your most memorable running experience?
This is such a hard question, and it inevitably shows up on any interview about running! There are so many experiences to choose from, I don't think I could pick just one. There are some good, like going to XC nationals in Florida as a freshman at MO Southern, or breaking the conference record in the 1500 at conference outdoor track. And there are some not so good, such as being passed by 6-7 runners in the last 200 meters at state XC as a sophomore in high school, and then being told you were 26th, the first non-all state finisher. Running is a journey. There are new experiences to be had all the time. Every single run is a new experience.

10. What advice would you give to beginning runners?
The best advice I could give is listen to your body. Don't be afraid to take a day or two off, or switch up your training schedule to get more rest. A training plan is just that- a plan- and plans change from time to time. Variety is the spice of life. This will help prevent injuries, and you will be better prepared, both physically and mentally, for racing. Running is much more enjoyable when you don't have to worry about pain that shouldn't be there.

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