Today on A Week With The Best we have Keith Laverty! Keith is a Northwest native and Mountain/Ultra/Trail (+road!) runner for Seattle Running Club-Brooks team, Team 7 Hills, and Hüma Gel. Every single time I show up to a race thinking I may have a chance to win it and spot Keith in the distance warming up, my new goal becomes to hang with him as long as I can before he drops me. No joke. This recently happened at Beacon Rock 25K where he took the course record and put 7 minutes on me throughout the race!
Keith has won over 45 trail races in the Pacific Northwest (WA, OR, BC) including the competitive Gorge Waterfalls 50k. Recent highlights include 8th at 2015 U.S. Trail Half Championships, 11th at 2016 Lake Sonoma 50-miler in 7:13, 9th at 2017 Chuckanut 50k in 4:03, and 2nd at 2017 Mt. Hood 50k in a blistering 3:22. On the roads, he’s run 32:13 for 10k and 1:11:09 for the Half-Marathon. He’s also a former walk-on runner at University of Oregon, but ask him what it’s like to be a pro and he’ll respond with “I’m certainly not a true pro runner.” There are only a few things that outshine his race results: his genuine, down to earth attitude, his love for his family, and his humble demeanor.
Thanks for joining us, Keith!
How did you start running?
My parents convinced me to check out the track team during my sophomore year at Woodinville High School, after I had run the school’s fastest 1.5-mile course for P.E. At the time, I had convinced myself that soccer was my best sport but alas, here we are!
What has been your biggest obstacle as a runner?
Lately, my biggest challenges have been: 1. Learning to reign back my racing schedule for career longevity, and 2. Prioritizing/balancing my training regimen while still being a new father, husband, and supporting my family. Being there for my family comes first and foremost, before my training wants/desires, so both my wife and I have really learned how to balance our lifestyles to still pursue our running goals while at the same time, being there for our families and our new little mountain baby, little Luke.
As far as my racing schedule, I pretty much want to do everything under the sun including trail and road events. These days, there’s just too many great opportunities to choose from, but it’s also key to maintain a stable racing schedule (in both # of events and volume of those events) as my longest term goal is to stay competitive well into my Masters division years.
You’re a pro, but do you work work as well? If so, what do you do for a living?
Ironically, as someone who spends a lot of my spare time being outside and running, I work in the gaming industry as a QA Project Lead, to help publish and maintain gaming apps on iOS and Android platforms for EA (Electronic Arts). I have found this has struck a good balance however and my job allows me to keep a consistent training schedule in addition to being a run commuter. Yes, my office does have a shower and locker room, so this makes life much easier! I technically have 4 different run sessions on a typical weekday – 3 commuter runs and 1 main training run/workout.
What is your favorite workout?
A hilly fartlek consisting of 5,4,3,2,1,4,3,2,1,3,2,1,2,1,1 minutes on with usually 1 minute jog rest in between. I like that it is broken up into so many chunks, varying between a tempo pace or to 1 minute speedy interval. This workout encompasses a lot of different systems of tempo work, hills, speed, and strength.
The Brooks Mazama 2 (releasing this December). Crazy grippy, lightweight and comfortable. They feel FAST.
Dogs or Cats?
I grew up with several dogs and cats at the same time – tough one! Dogs can be great running companions but with cats being mostly self-sufficient at home, that can make things logistically easier.
Describe and days general diet for you:
I love just about all food and always willing to try new ones.
Breakfast – Oatmeal w/ peanut butter, berries and honey. Cereal. Latte or americano.
Lunch – Turkey and avocado sandwiches, chicken teriyaki or leftovers.
Late afternoon snack (this one is key, otherwise my afternoon/night session will suffer!) – Trail mix, tangerines, Huma Gel or bars.
Dinner – Usually whatever my amazing wife cooks up. Lately, it’s been Mexi bowls with black beans, rice, onions, mushrooms, avocado and chicken or tofu.
Dessert / Midnight Snacks, if baby Luke wakes us up – Rice Krispies with berries or Pop Tarts.
An example of a week from your training log from the past few months:
(Two weeks before Mt. Hood 50k)
Mon – 4 miles easy/recovery day after a high volume weekend
Tue – 6 miles bike commuting
7 mile hilly training run with baby stroller + strides
Wed – 6 miles run commuting
Wednesday Workout: 3 long hill repeats + 2 x 1000, 2 x 800, 2 x 400, 2 x 200 on the track (7 miles total)
Thu – 3 miles run commuting
7-8 mile training run
Fri – 7 miles easy; typically my 2nd easiest day of the week
Sat – 16 mile hilly long run (mix of trail/road) with last mile cutdown in under 6 minutes
Sun – 7.5 mile road training run with a few pick-ups / strides
Do you have any tips for new runners or runner striving to reach bigger goals?
Remember to keep it fun! Even when you’re in the middle of a big training block, or during a race, remember why you love running in the first place. For example, I like to incorporate one group run each week (Bainbridge Island Weekly Beer Run!) even during big training blocks to keep things relaxed and fun. Or during tough sections of a race, I’ll remind myself to smile and being thankful for being healthy, injury-free and able to explore the trails that I’m on.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of self-care. Go to those PT appointments, get chiropractic adjustments, get occasional massages, and use a foam roller regularly.
Thanks for your insight, Keith! Keep kicking ass!
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