Running Interview With Ahrlin Bauman: Speedster, Hilarity, Pacer, Big Mac Destroyer– This runner’s been taking names across the greater North-West

Chance are that if you live anywhere in the greater Portland or Eugene area, you’re a runner, and you like to race you’ve probably lined up next to Ahrlin Bauman. Just as likely you’ve gotten your tush beaten by him, though in all fairness his fellow Bowerman Athletic Club (BAC) teammates give him a run for his money and have beaten you too. :)

I first had the pleasure of meeting Bauman back in 2004 when he’d do a girl a favor, slow down, and do some pacing duties for the Nike Oregon Project. Pacing can be a tricky duty, but Ahrlin is not only a human metronome when it comes to splits he’s even better company. He’d have us laughing on the warm-ups, even a bit on those early mid-interval recovery jogs (before we were too tired to laugh back, he’d still be quick with the quips!), and be just as gregarious on the cool-downs. Pacing duties aside, he’s one heck of a competitor, has remarkable range from the 1500 to the half-marathon (he just finished last weekend’s Eugene Half in 1:08:20, placing 4th), and hasn’t been sidelined with an injury in years. What’s more, is that he balances all of his training with a job working for the USPS; trust me that job entails crazy hours and all of them on your feet. Yet he still retains a social life and is married to another stand-out runner, Annie Kawasaki. He’s the got the legs and the personality and plenty of wisdom to share, so without further adieu…Ahrlin Bauman.

Recent Races of Note:

(Track) Linfield Icebreaker 10000 meters: 4th place 31:19.55
(Roads) Race for the Roses 10K: 1st place 32:16.80
(Roads) Corvallis½ Marathon: 4th place 68:32
(Track) Pacific Relays 3000 meters: 1st place 8:51.05
(Track) Mt.Hood Open 1500 meters: 4th place 4:04.24
(Roads) Red Lizard 5 miler: 3rd place 25:43.3 (Oregon 5 mile Road Championships)

1) How did you get started in running and can you share a little about some of your running highlights? Your twin brother, Oscar, is also a runner; did you both start at the same time and did you/do you have a brother rivalry at all?
I was very active as a young kid, and in the 3rd grade we got silver stars for running a ¼ mile loop around the school yard. I thought that was pretty cool, and would show up before school and run 4 or 5 laps in the morning, that’s really how I got into running. It wasn’t until my Junior year in High School that I actually went out for Cross country and Track because everyone thought I was a decent runner in gym class. I immediately got a stress fracture though, and my whole year was done. Over the next summer my brother and I ran a little more then usual, and my senior year I was decent, but not great. Never went to state as an individual, but managed to go as a team in cross country. My brother was definitely better than me at the time, and it made me work harder to get as good as him. We were great training partners.

In college I didn’t think the school I went to;Portland State, even had a track team, so I never bothered competing. My brother on the other hand was at Clackamas Community College, and was running well. I transferred there the next year, as Portland State just wasn’t my favorite place to go because as a freshman, I couldn’t get any classes I needed, and wound up getting a bunch of worthless high priced credits. I transferred to Clackamas the following year, but also started working full time at the Post Office, so it was a lot of work to balance school, running, and a full time job; 10-12 hour days back then. I managed to be an All American in the 5000 and 10000, as well as won the Oregon Cross Country Champs. I thought my times were pretty solid for what I had been in high school, and managed to crack the top ten times at Clackamas with a 14:47 5000 #8 all time and a 30:58 10000 # 2 all time my sophomore year.

Some schools had shown interest in me after that, but I had just bought a house in Washington, and liked my job, so going away to school for something I really didn’t need kept me in the NW for good. Saved me a lot of money.

I volunteered at CCC the next year to help some runners I had started with, and wound up finding various training partners for the next 15 years. I hit most of my personal bests when I was 32. 3:52 1500—8:17 3000—14:17 5000—29:48 10000, kind of a late bloomer. Then I sort of evened out, and just maintained my fitness. It was hard trying to train at such a high level for so many years. I could never dedicate myself enough to really get to the next level, which was fine, as I thought I got to a level I was happy with.

I’m still very satisfied with how long I’ve been running so well for. I can’t win everything, but I am still quite competitive, even with the college kids. I finally managed to get better then my brother, and that’s kept him motivated to keep training. Sibling rivalry at its best.

2) I met you because you were a pacer for quite a number of years for Alberto Salazar and his Nike Oregon Project athletes; you’re one of those metronome type runners and came in to help with workouts. How did that come about?
In 2004, my college coach bumped into Alberto and was asked if he had any athletes that wouldn’t mind pacing some of his athletes. I was available, and was in great shape, so I said sure. Kara Goucher was the first elite athlete to train with, and she had a lot of success. We hit it off really well, so I was happy that I could help and get her back to the level she needed to be at. She ran amazing those years. More athletes came on board, and Julius Achon and I took turns helping many of Alberto’s group through their workouts. Julius was very fit as well, and could help the guys a lot more then I could. Aside from Kara, whom I trained with the most, I also helped her husband Adam Goucher, Galen Rupp (high school through college and post college), Josh Rohatinsky (post college), Amy Yoder Begley (post college), Alan Webb (comeback), You, Ari Lambie, Dathan Ritzinhein, and some of his current crop of ladies (Alvina Begay).

Now that Alberto’s group has grown a bunch, my pacing duties aren’t need as much, which helps my legs stay nice and fresh. But it will always be a great memory training with such great athletes and seeing them have success. Kara won a bronze medal under Alberto, Dathan set an American record in the 5000, Galen came into his own on the collegiate level and post college level, Amy made the Olympics. Alan had a nice comeback as well before leaving.

I think one of the reasons I fit so well with each of those athletes, was that I put my ego aside, and did what was asked. I never felt like crushing a workout, even though I only had to do about half, but rather being as close to pace as possible. It also helped that I could train early in the morning when most people were working.

3) You’re racing and training with the BAC; how do you plan your own training? How often do you get to meet with the other BAC guys?
As for as my own training, it is based on what has worked for me in the past. I tried high mileage, and it worked to some extent, but I was always sore. I started thinking about what worked best for me. 45-60 miles kept me fresh. I was open to workouts that fit my training, so I never set anything in stone. That way I can jump into workouts with anyone and adjust it to my training. If I need a day off, I take one. I haven’t been injured in 20 years, so I’ve developed a lot of base. I figure I don’t need to over due the heavy miles to stay in shape. Two workouts a week, a race and nice fluffy miles in between. It seems to be working.

My diet is horrendous though. I eat healthy stuff, but supplement it all with tons of junk food and soda. I drink way too much Mt.Dew, and always have a sugary candy bar some place close. People marvel at how much I eat, and why I never seem to get fat. That’s easy though; I’m hyper, and always busy. I don’t watch a lot of TV, work in the evenings, so during the day I’m outside most of the time. I wouldn’t recommend my diet to anyone but myself. Thankfully I haven’t seen any rolls developing around my gut.

4) You’ve proven to have great range; I know you’ve got some speedster wheels and not always such a fan of the longer runs and races, but you’ve just run a 1:08:31 half [4/15-Corvallis Half-Marathon] so you can’t say you aren’t good at them. What’s your favorite distance, or what you consider your forte, and how do you approach distances you’re not always so fond of?

I consider myself to have decent range as far as racing. In fact, this week I ran 1:08:32 for a ½ marathon (4th place)… Then raced a 1500 5 days later in 4:07.10 (2nd place)…Then a 5 miler the next day 25:43 (3rd place)…Then a 400 later that morning 56.60 (2nd place). I guess I just don’t think about it, but for each of those races after the ½ marathon, I figured it was a good workout to get some speed in my legs, so I didn’t think of it as a race. Sometimes you just run for fun, and don’t care about the place, although I think I placed pretty well in all of those races. They all came down to a kick. I lost.

Ahrlin Bauman

Bauman (far left) at the Eugene 1/2

5) Let’s talk training…can you give me an example of what a typical week looks like for you running-wise? What are your favorite workouts? What do you dread the most?
A typical week for me begins on Monday. Usually its an easy 7 miles at about 6:30-7:00 pace, nothing too exciting.
Tuesdays are workout days. I tend to go with stuff I can manage on my own just in case no one wants to workout with me. This will be something like 3000-1600-800-400 (9:00 or faster) (4:35 or faster) (2:10 or faster) (60 or faster) I give myself a full recovery after each. Or if that seems a bit out of reach I’ll do 200-400’s with equal recovery, usually around 29 and 63.
Wednesday is either no running or an easy 7. Just depends on the time of year.
Thursday is a group workout day because it is my day off and I can workout with my brother in the evenings. We usually do longer strength oriented stuff like 8 X 1600 at 5:00 or faster or 6-8 X 800 repeats uphill.
Friday is another easy 7 mile day.
Saturday is either a race or 7-9 mile tempo effort every other week.
Sunday is a long run between 12-15 miles. So around 55 miles.

Now the workout days change with what I’m trying to accomplish. If it’s a base phase, there will generally be no speed workouts, just lots of strength stuff. Near the end of a taper session workouts are more speed oriented. Even on easy days, I’ll throw in 30 second surges to keep sharp.

If I’m really motivated I’ll lift weights too. Generally that entails bench press, push-ups, bar dips, pull-ups, and curls. Rarely do I do any leg work. I can’t stretch to save my life, so I usually never attempt any sort of stretching. Believe me, I’ve tried, and have never come close to touching my toes, so I just threw in the towel. If I’m sore or stiff, I’ll usually shake out a little, but nothing elaborate. I have no routine I go through to warm up; just some strides and a proper 10-15 minute warm-up jog.

6) Do you do anything outside of running for training, things like core, weights, plyo’s, stretching?
As far as things I do outside of running to keep me fit, I used to bike a lot. I guess about 25 miles a day. At work a do a lot of pushing and pulling of heavy equipment, that probably keeps my core strength in great shape. I wrestle my dogs too, but I doubt that helps my fitness any.

7) What’s your diet like; now I know you’re one of those lucky guys who actually has trouble keeping on the pounds and you’ve done some pretty incredible food feats of strength, if you will, how many Big Mac’s was it in a sitting? But for nutrition, what is your approach, and do you try and get in as much healthy things as you can or do you not really think too much about it?
Don’t ask about my diet…it’s utterly awful. Lots of Mt.Dew, candy bars, fast food, and peanut butter sandwiches when I’m too lazy too cook. I’m embarrassed to admit how sad my diet is…thankfully I’ve weighed the same since Freshman year of college. Usually I range from 129-134lbs…never more never less.

8) What advice would you give to runners who are really competitive and want to race at a high level but still have a ‘real life’ where running isn’t their job?
The best advice I’d give someone trying to be competitive is that nothing happens overnight. Training will suck sometimes, and workouts might not be indicative of how you race. There are lots of people who run well in workouts and bomb in races. Take your training in stride, and always remember that your going to have some disappoints. Weather never cooperates with your fitness. I can be in great shape, and on race day the weather is awful, there goes all that training. Instead of making your goal a certain time all of the time, how about place. Forget about time and just race. We tend to rely on splits and whether we’re on pace. Sometimes you just have to forget about plans, and take a chance on how you feel. Some of my best races I never looked at my watch, because I was afraid I’d be disappointed with the split. The times will eventually come, but you have to learn how to race sometimes.

9) What about someone who wants to take their running to the next level; what do you feel were/are some of the key things that you’ve done to continue improving and PR’ing?
The most important thing about getting to the next level is don’t get injured. That will set you back every time. Some people think getting to the next level means training like a mad man. The steps to getting better involve a slow progression, and staying injury free throughout the long haul will reap the rewards. If you’re injured, it doesn’t make any sense to come back early because you might lose fitness. You’ll just injure yourself again, and there will be no fitness at all eventually.

10) Mental toughness…what’s something that works for you in battling the pain of running and racing?
The thing that helps me most with mental toughness, is picking some of my favorite runs and thinking about them while I race and where I am at on my favorite run while I’m racing. It makes a lot of lonely miles disappear. I also like to break up a race into something like; as soon as I start feeling a little wore down, I’ll concentrate on the next distance I want to make it through, and try and forget what I’ve been through. For example; in my last half marathon, we went out pretty fast (5:02 pace) I only looked at my watch the first mile because I didn’t want to panic about the pace. At mile 5 I looked at it again. We had just run up a long hill and the mile was 5:18. I thought, well that was a pretty hard mile and 5:18 isn’t bad. I didn’t look at my watch again until mile 10. It too was a long uphill and I was at 5:18 for it as well. I was tired then, and thought that the next 3 miles would be pretty rough. So I just thought, well at the worst its only 17 minutes of running left. Next thing I know I have a mile to go and I’m not hurting anymore. You just need to find things to keep your mind off the pain long enough to forget about it.

11) Looking forward, what’s coming up next for you and what are some of your goals?
As for what’s coming up:
Eugene ½-Marathon April 29 [editor's note, post-interview finish: 4th place, time: 1:08:20]
Oregon Road Mile Champs May 28
Portland Track Festival 5K June 14
Bowerman 5K July 14
Hood to Coast August 24-25
Cross Country !!!

I’m taking a two week break after Eugene to recharge.
Hoping to run under 4:20 for the road mile
Hope to run under 14:50 on the track and on the road for 5K
Have fun at Hood to Coast
And get a solid competitive team of BACers for Cross country.

Thanks to Ahrlin Bauman for taking the time to answer my questions and let’s all cheer for him and his fellow BAC teammates to keep kicking some butt! :)

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4 thoughts on “Running Interview With Ahrlin Bauman: Speedster, Hilarity, Pacer, Big Mac Destroyer– This runner’s been taking names across the greater North-West

  1. Nice interview, very good questions and answers.

    Ahrlin and Oscar have been friends of mine since high school. Ahrlin isn’t lying about his diet, either. He has been knows as “The Grocer” because he always seems to have a bag of candy and Mountain Dew somewhere close.

    He is also meticulous about journals — he has EVERYTHING down on paper, so he has reference points and notes like you wouldn’t believe. Plus, he has an incredible memory.

    Ahrlin is also an fantastic artist. He probably could have been a professional cartoonist, but running and a real job probably got in the way.

    • Thanks for sharing even more, Chris, and Ahrlin is awesome! I’m sure his brother is too, I just haven’t had the pleasure to meet him. :P I seriously can’t believe how much that guy puts away either, he really should be should be studied. I didn’t know he’s an artist though, I must check out some of this cartoonage you speak of! :)

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