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TF360: Ajee' Wilson's Learning on the Job

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   on Mar 27 2014, 08:11 PM

Disappointing Indoor Finish Leads to Big Expectations Outdoors

By Scott Bush - Click Here for all TF360 Archives

After running the world's fastest indoor 800m time, Ajee' Wilson entered the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships as the odds-on-favorite to win the women's 800m title. Only 19, Wilson showed poise and plenty of speed all indoor season, but when it came to the prelims in Sopot, Wilson faltered, failing to make the final. It would have been easy for Wilson to hang her head, but what happened is quite the contrary. The adidas runner is back, excited and ready to take on the 2014 outdoor season and shared plenty of insight with us in this latest TF365 interview.

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Scott Bush (SB): After such a phenomenal 2014 indoor season, you unfortunately didn't advance to the 800m final in Sopot. Reflecting back, what did you need to do differently to position yourself to make the final?

Ajee’ Wilson (AW): Quite simply: follow instructions. My coach called the race to a tee but I let the race lead me instead of sticking to the plan. Definitely should've gotten out more aggressively right behind Natoya Goule, and stuck with the pace and instead of drifting back and banking on having an opportunity to make up distance. 

SB: You accomplished a lot during indoors still. You have to be relatively pleased with how your 2014 season started, right?

AW: For sure! Overall indoors went really well and I'm glad I was able to start the year off with a PR and a couple of wins under my belt, especially considering the challenges this crazy weather brought. From a training standpoint, I'm much stronger and faster than I was last year around this time so I'm super excited to see how the rest of the year plays out.

SB: The outdoor season is officially here. What are your goals for the season ahead and might we see you challenge an event other than 800m this spring considering it's a non-championship season?

AW: My main goal is to just win races and run fast.  My top placing last year was 4th, so it'd be awesome if I could achieve these goals by winning a Diamond League race. 

SB: A little training talk now...being a pure middle distance runner, what type of mileage do you tend to put in this time of year and how does that change during the heart of the outdoor season?

AW: Right now I'm running anywhere between 30-35 miles a week, and that doesn't really change much come the heart of the season. What changes is the type of workouts we do, but I remain pretty low mileage year round.

SB: Do you consider yourself more of a speed or strength 800m racer?

AW: Hmm, I consider myself a mix of the two. I don't feel I'm completely one or the other because I'm no Alysia Montano or Brenda Martinez, but I kind of fit in right between the two.

SB: Your training base is in Philadelphia, which has a strong history of track and field, but there aren't too many athletes based there. What type of resources do you have at your disposal in Philly?

AW: The great thing about where I live is that there are so many different places to train all without 5-10 miles. We've got both dirt and regular tracks, hills, and trails all within 5-10 miles so we switch it up between these places. Is really nice to not have to do be at the same place every day, which can get kind of boring.  The only issue we really have is that since we don't have access to any indoor facilities, besides the make shift weight room in the basement, it gets a little rough in the winter when the weather gets bad. As long as I've got my ear warmers and gloves on though, it's manageable and really not all that bad. 

SB: Do you have any primary training partners or do you do the majority of your work on your own?

AW: I've been fortunate enough to have a solid group of training partners so I don't have to be on my own too often. I still train with my club team from high school, Juventus Track Club, but in particular my main training partners as of late are guys aged 11, 15, and 22. David, Aaron, and Terrence are the best and really help me get the most out of every workout session!!

SB: You initially were set to attend Florida State, decided to take a season to just focus on running fast, then chose to go pro. How hard was it to make such a decision and what advice would you give any athlete in a similar situation?

AW: Initially, it was an incredibly hard decision to make, but what made it much easier was thinking about where and who I wanted to be in the future. Running professionally was a long-term aspiration so when the opportunity arose, and after talking about it over with my parents and coach, I decided to just go for it. My advice to any athlete in a similar situation would be to think things through and then ultimately make a decision that is right for and best fits you.

SB: While you bypassed collegiate running, you're enrolled at Temple. What type of classes are you taking? What's your major?

AW: I'm majoring in Kinesiology and right now I'm taking a lighter load of Gen Ed and intro courses as the spring semester is when training gets more intense. Right now I'm taking Intro to Kinesiology, Statistics, Mosaics I, and Aikido, a Japanese martial art, since my major requires taking 5 exercise if fitness classes. Fun fact, I just got my yellow belt last week, so go me!

SB: You have to be one of the youngest athletes on the pro track and field circuit. What's it like being around so many athletes you've looked up to and now you're toeing the line with them or Team USA teammates?

AW: Being able to race against and meet athletes I've looked up to over the years has easily become one of my favorite things about running professionally.  It's really so incredible, and overwhelming at times, as a lot of these athletes are the same people my teammates and I used to pretend to be in practice in HS to get through hard reps!

Click Here for all TF360 Archives

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