Playback: Interview with Division IV #1 runner, SLO's Callum Bolger

1) How did you get your start in running? What other sports have you played aside from XC and TF?
I began running in eighth grade for my middle school cross country team, but my "real" running career didn't start until the summer before my freshman year of high school.  My brother, who is two years older than me, ran cross country and invited me out to practices before the season started.  After only a few runs, I could tell that I loved it and had potential to excel.  I played competitive soccer throughout middle school, but when I started running, I decided to quit soccer because running was more important to me.

2) Highlights from your freshman season in both sports?
In cross country, I really had no idea of what times I would be able to run, so every race seemed to be a highlight.  I would say that running as my team's fourth man and actually getting to score for our team was a huge achievement as a freshman.  Although we barely missed the state meet that year, it was great to contribute and help our seniors advance as far as possible.  In track, I was stoked to have run a 9:48 3200 m after committing to training over the winter.

3) Did you do anything different over the summer as you prepared for your sophomore season in XC?
Our team always goes to the Sequoia National Park towards the end of the summer to train for a week on the trails, but other than that, my training was pretty consistent.  A huge contributing factor to my improvement was being able to train with William Ernst, who was a senior my sophomore year.  He was faster than me so on most runs, I would just try to hang onto him as long as possible.  Through the summer and into my sophomore year, both of our times continued to steadily drop.

4) What race stands out for you during your first two years in high school where you feel like it gave you the confidence that you can run with some of the best runners in CA?
At Footlocker West Regionals of my sophomore year, I placed 15th so, although I was not a part of the lead pack, it showed me that I could do well in a high level race.  This also set me up to be the 2nd fastest returner to Footlocker West Regionals of my junior year, but unfortunately I was tripped in this race and did not qualify for the national race, as I had hoped.

5) What do you feel were your best races this past XC season? Proudest accomplishments?
I felt like one of my best races was the CIF State Championship meet because I was able to cope with a fast start by staying calm and sticking to my own race plan.  Because this fast start spread out the lead pack, I was not able to work with the other runners of my level to run my 5k PR at the meet, I was still very happy to get second in the state for Division 3 as runner-up to Austin Tamagno.

6) What does a typical week look like for you training wise? Any morning runs? Weights? Typical weekly mileage? Distance of long run? Any workouts that you repeat throughout the season? Anything else that you do that you feel is also important to your success as a runner?
Mondays, our school has a "late start" at 9:30 so our team gets a long run in before school.  On this run, we usually hit a mile of uphill hard midway through and then I do a 6 mile progressive tempo towards the end.  All of this adds up to be about 80-90 minutes (our team goes by time).  After school on Mondays, we run about 20-30 minutes as an easy shakeout.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are our medium effort runs of 50-60 minutes.  On these, we usually start out at an easy pace as a warm-up and then gradually built up to a medium effort.  Wednesdays, I do an easier run before school and then some sort of track workout later.  I also run twice on Fridays, but generally Fridays and Sundays are easy days.  Finally, Saturday is a race day.  Although we don't use weights, we vary core exercises 3 times a week.  The mileage usually adds up to a little over 65 miles per week.  Usually, as the season progresses, we change our workouts depending on what we need to practice, like if we want to improve our speed, we will do something shorter or if we want to improve strength, we may do something a little longer.  I ice bathe every day of the week as well.  My health and the overall consistency of the training from week to week both play a key role in my improvements.

7) Can you tell us a bit about your coach and how he has helped you develop into the runner you are today? How long has he coached at San Luis Obispo?
From day one, I have put all my faith as a runner in Steve Boaz.  Because he has coached cross country since the late 1980s, he has had a lot of experience dealing with hundreds of athletes.  I believe that this allows him to perfect a training system individualized for each team year-to-year.  Therefore, whatever he tells me to do, I try to do it to the best of my ability.  I know he is invested in my development and will explain exactly how to maximize my improvement without compromising my health.  I trust him so deeply that I often think I would jump of a cliff if he told me to.

8) How familiar are you with the success of past distance runners at your school? Who are some of the runners/teams that you have heard about during your time at the school? 
There is a large sense of historical appreciation of past distance runners among our team members.  Some of the best runners include James Menon, who graduated in 1991 after placing 9th at Footlocker Nationals in 1990; Avery Blackwell, who graduated in 1997 after placing third at the cross country state meet of 1996; Dan Nunn, who graduated in 2004 after individually winning the 2003 cross country state meet and leading his team to win there as well; Brian Medigovich, who graduated in 2005 after playing a key role in the team's state win of 2003 and going on to place seventh at the cross country state meet in 2004; and William Ernst, my training partner and good friend who placed second at the cross country state meet in 2014, leading our team to 5th place there.

9) Favorite XC course? Favorite XC invite? Favorite XC workout? Favorite long run? Favorite TF Invite? Favorite TF distance? Favorite TF workout? 
My favorite cross country course is probably the Mt. SAC course because our team trains on hills quite a bit so it is usually our fastest course when it is the slowest for other teams.  I really like the Clovis Invite because we get to run on the state meet course and there is usually good competition there.  My favorite XC workout is probably mile loop repeats around an agricultural area because it tests my strength to try and run faster in each progressive loop.  My favorite long run is on a trail that goes into Poly Canyon, a very hilly area near Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo.  My favorite track and field invite is the adidas Meet of Champions at Azusa Pacific because it is a distance-only meet that has great competition.  My favorite track distance is the 3200m, and my favorite track workout is 400m repeats.

10) This past Saturday, you ran 8:57.88 in the 3200 at the Atascadero Invite. What was your plan going into the race and did you have a time you were shooting for before your race? Were you surprised with your time?
I knew that I would most likely be running alone, so I wanted to get out fast then settle in until there was around 800 m left, and then really go for a fast time.  I didn't really know how fast I could run because it was my first 3200 m race of the season and my original goal was to break 9:10, so I was happily surprised during the race when I saw that I was on track to run faster than that.

11) What races are you most looking forward to the rest of the season? 
I am looking forward to the mile at the adidas Meet of Champions at Azusa Pacific because I will be running in a race with many elite runners so hopefully I can use them to run a fast time.  Also, I am excited to race at the Arcadia Invitational because, again, I will be able to compete in a high level race and be able to run fast.  However, most importantly, I am looking forward to May when the CIF racing begins so hopefully I can peak at just the right time to excel in CIF.