Ohio State University grad Rob Myers quietly eased his way into
the upper echelon of American miling this year, starting with a
win in the 1,500 meters at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships
in Boston in March and ending with a 3:53.78 mile in Gateshead,
England, in July the latter race a personal best by almost
five seconds. The indoor victory qualified Myers for the World Indoor
Championships in Budapest, where he missed qualifying for the final
by one place.
between his exploits in Boston and Britain, the Rushville, Ohio,
product just missed making the Olympic Team in the 1,500, taking
third at the U.S. Olympic T&F Trials in a personal-best 3:38.93
after dipping under 3:40.00 for the first time in the semifinals
(3:39.96). Myers, however, fell shy of consideration for the Games
as a result of not having reached an Olympic "A" or "B"
standard mark by the end of the Trials, as had four other American
a prep athlete at Fairfield Union High School, Myers ranked in the
top 10 in the country in both the 800 and 1,600 meters as a senior
in 1999. His decision to attend Ohio State where he was named
to three Academic All-Big Ten teams and racked up four OSU Scholar-Athlete
honors was predicated almost entirely on the presence of
Robert Gary on the Buckeyes coaching staff. Needless to say, the
coach-athlete mix turned out to be a grand one, and Myers, having
moved to Missouri, plans to continue working with Gary indefinitely.
caught up with Myers during an eight-hour drive from Missouri to
Columbus, and gathered his reflections on his whirlwind 2004 indoor-outdoor
MensRacing.com: In a short span, you graduated from OSU,
narrowly missed making the Olympic Team, and dropped your best mile
time from 3:58 to 3:53 in one race. What's next?
Rob Myers: To top my summer off, I also got married after returning
from Europe. I've been back training for about four weeks and I've
already set some high goals for myself. I'd like to repeat my US
indoor championship and be in the top two at the USA Outdoor Championships.
I'm also looking to advance my times to around 3:50 and 3:33.
MR: You finished third at the Trials, and the rules notwithstanding,
a very good case could have been made at that point for your being
put in the pool of potential US Olympians. When you lined up in
Gateshead, were you motivated by such considerations?
RM: No. In Gateshead
I just felt honored to have such a great opportunity. I really felt
fit and couldn't wait to run fast. Gateshead was one of the greatest
experiences I have ever had. The tradition and atmosphere blew my
MR: Other than your self-evident Trials results, what were
some of the indicators of that fitness?
RM: The week of
the Trials, I was doing some quarters and 200s and was able to do
them in around 51 and 24 flat, very relaxed. I think that was one
indication. But overall I just felt fit.
MR: You won the 1,500m at the USA Indoor Championships
in your first season of non-collegiate competition. Do you think
being outside of the NCAA racing sphere at that point was a factor
in this victory, or was it more a matter of just being ready to
RM: Yeah, I'm sure it helped. I only had to race when I wanted
to for preparation, and I was able to train specifically for that
race. It's great racing inside the NCAA sphere, but I was ready
for a chance to run at the next level and that helped me be ready
MR: In Hungary [at the World Indoors], did you find yourself
trying to balance being overwhelmed by the aura with competing to
the best of your ability against competition of a caliber you had
RM: Yes, it was
a completely new experience for me. I wasn't all that sure what
to expect. I was told to watch for elbows. That said, when the gun
went off, I took the hardest elbow I have ever had right to the
stomach. I'm convinced that was part of that guy's game plan. It
took a long time to regain my composure during the race. But now
I know what to expect.
MR: Were you still training with the Buckeye runners over
RM: Yes and no.
I did some training with my teammates and some on my own. It really
just depended on what type of training we were doing and where we
were at as individual athletes in our seasons. Coach [Robert] Gary
is very specific with his training. He doesn't bunch all of us into
one group just to save time he gears workouts toward individuals'
specific needs; some days we'll be divided up into five or six groups
doing different workouts.
MR: You went into the postseason this spring with a recent
3:41.13, then wound up third at the Big Ten Championships and second
at the Mideast Regionals in a pair of slow races, 4:02.16 and 3:50.35
respectively. Did you hit the Oregon Classic meet primarily to get
another quick 1,500m in or was that race part of an advance sharpening
RM: At that point
in the season, I still hadn't done any real speedwork. I was hoping
to get into a really fast race, just to see where I was at and what
I could do at that point. My training this year was geared towards
the Trials. The Oregon Classic was another great opportunity to
sharpen my skills and shoot for a fast time.
MR: By the time NCAAs rolled around, you held a 2004 national
title in your event but had more recently finished out of the top
couple of spots. Where were you from a confidence standpoint when
you reached Austin?
RM: I wasn't 100%
confident yet. Deep down, I knew my training was geared towards
the Trials final, which was over four weeks away. I was in good
enough shape to do well; I was just lacking that mental edge.
MR: This isn't the most creative question, but were you
happy with fourth?
RM: I'm only happy
with fourth when I know it was the very best I could have done.
It's always an honor to place well in a national meet, but I don't
feel that I gave my very best that day.
MR: Not that these are mutually exclusive goals, but did
you head to NCAA's aiming to win or were the Olympic Trials your
RM: I aim to win
every race I'm in, no matter what it is. While I was at NCAAs, I
tried to think of it as my last race, not as a segue to the Olympic
MR: Do you feel at this point that multiple rounds work
to your advantage they seemed to in Sacramento or is this an area
in which you figure you'll improve with age?
RM: I feel that
I can compete just as well in a single-round race, but Coach Gary's
training philosophy allows me to have the strength to perform at
a high level over multiple rounds as well. So yes, I do feel they
work to my advantage at times.
MR: Cross country hasn't been your specialty, but you seemed
to make a notable jump in your final year at OSU. To what do you
RM: The success
in my last year of cross country at OSU can be attributed to training
consistently without injury or any other setbacks. Coach started
me on a light lifting program geared toward keeping me healthy.
So far it has worked fairly well.
MR: In April you ran a 5K at Mt. SAC in 14:10. Was this
all part of a plan geared toward being in top shape at the Trials?
RM: Yes, it was
definitely part of the big picture. At that time, I was just getting
back into running after Worlds, and we were still working on strength.
We thought it'd be a good idea to see where I was at for a 5K. I
was actually having some Achilles problems at the time and wasn't
even sure if I was going to be able to run once I got there.
MR: Many milers are often urged to move up even when they're
both successful and young. Do you see the mile as your long-term
event of primary focus?
RM: I will enjoy
the chance to run other events but I plan to keep my main focus
on the mile/1,500.
MR: Given how close you came to going to Athens, are the
next Olympics already on your mind?
Beijing is my next ultimate goal. Its something that I constantly
MR: Post-collegiately, a lot of athletes struggle to plug
themselves in to programs that prove a good fit. Is Robert Gary
still coaching you? Do you train in a group?
RM: I am still training
under Coach Gary; I feel that we work really well together and I
have no thoughts of training under anyone else. I am currently living
in Chesterfield, Missouri, and training by myself. I will be traveling
back to OSU at times to train with some of my former teammates,
but I do feel that I train well on my own. Eventually, I will be
moving back to OSU to train, and that is where I will likely find
myself until my running career is over.
MR: You're not the first to sing Coach Gary's praises,
but a certain Chad Myers is also on the OSU coaching staff. Did
you feel it was especially helpful having your big brother around?
RM: Yes. He was
my high school coach, so I knew that he knows his stuff. He's the
only other person that I would ever trust to coach me. It was great
to have my brother around for support and friendship. He was always
there to talk to, but he would never tell me something different
than Coach Gary; he understands the trust that must be established
between coaches and their athletes.
MR: Who were you idols when you started running?
RM: A major idol
of mine while I was growing up was Pre [Steve Prefontaine]. I always
loved his passion and the way he wasn't afraid of hard work. I feel
that passion and the willingness to work hard are two qualities
that are often overlooked.
MR: What were your significant early experiences in the
sport? Was there a turning point at which you realized you could
run with the best?
I've always had a lot of great experiences because my family has always
been so involved. I have had tons of support and companionship, and
this helped shape my career at an early stage.
think the first time I realized I could be a good runner was at
the age of four or five. I was helping my dad give some medical
shots to a baby calf, when out of nowhere its mother started to
chase me. That was the first time I really learned to open up into
a full sprint. I think I might have been able to beat Michael Johnson
on that particular day.
a more serious note, I think that I grow more each year with every
race. I was telling my wife just the other day that my 3:53.7 mile
opened my eyes to a whole new competitive level. I find myself thinking
about goals that I'd never considered before.
MR: Your major agriculture business seems to suggest
clearly focused ideas regarding where you'll eventually go from
a vocational standpoint.
RM: Yes, I was raised
on a farm and have always been involved with agriculture. I'm still
not sure what I want to do after my running career, but going back
to the family farm has always been on my mind.
conducted 10/9/2004, and posted 10/25/2004.)