Profile of Team Mizuno's Josh Moen
by Bob "Wish" Wischnia on April 28, 2011
Typically with national-class road runners, the accepted pathway to marathon success is through the half marathon. But Josh Moen of Team Mizuno/Minnesota is not your typical marathoner. Although he trains upward of 110 miles a week and has outstanding credentials at the sub-marathon distances with personal bests of 13:35 and 28:26 (5-K/10-K), 62:50 for the half and owns the fourth fastest 10-mile time in the US (46:38), Moen is by his own admission, “Not very good in the marathon.” That's a huge problem in the upcoming Olympic year when the US Olympic Marathon Trials in January are the focus for every road runner. The 28-year-old who lives in Minneapolis has more DNF's than completed marathons. Even so, the only marathon Moen has finished was in 2008 and was a desultory 2:23 in 2008. (Moen has qualified for the Marathon Trials on the basis of his half-marathon time.) But Moen isn't quite ready to bail on the marathon. Not just yet.
“I don't know what it is,” says Moen who manages Twin Cities Running Company, “but I don't like the event. My engine seems to burn really hot and I just can't seem to string together the miles at the end of the race. I burn through energy really fast and that costs me. It's a mystery to me, but I have to figure it out.” And soon. With the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston looming just over the horizon, time is short for Moen who won't run another marathon before January.
A graduate of Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa where he was a 10-time D-3 All American, Moen has had encouraging success at the shorter distance and with his large training volume, endurance base and speed, should have what it takes to do well in the marathon. Even though he hasn't nailed a 26-miler yet and professes no great love for it, Moen actually enjoys the voluminous training a marathon entails.
“That's the funny thing,” says Moen who trains with Antonio Vega, “ I really love the type of training it takes for the marathon. I like focusing on that one single race; I just don't like racing them.” To correct that glaring problem, Moen is trying a slightly different approach as he gets ready for the Olympic Trials. He's boosting his mileage to the 140-miles a week range, but he's taking his long runs slower than he has in the past and is considering adding a few long runs of up to 30 miles.
“I think I train too fast and need to slow down and learn to burn fat. Whatever I've been doing, I have to do things differently in training if I want to do well in the Olympic Trials,” says Moen, “because nothing has worked for me in the marathon.”
One thing Moen won't do is abandon Minneapolis this winter to get ready for the Houston trials. Unlike Vega who logs hundreds of miles every winter on a treadmill in Minneapolis, Moen doesn't. He trains outdoors all winter-long and the only time he ventures inside to run, is to an indoor track for speed workouts.
“I think training through the winter here,” says Moen who did one run last year when it was -16, “makes me tougher. It has to. All the cold and snow we get up here also means you can't overtrain. A lot of the guys who live in California or Texas have a tendency to work too hard all year—just because they can. We can't. The cold weather is something you just get used to. You adapt to it pretty quickly. All you really need to do is put on an extra layer of clothes when it gets really cold—below zero. But I'll tell you our Breath Thermo gear works great here. If you can seal out the cold, you'll be fine. The big variable though is the wind. When you get a cold, windy day, that's a killer.”
Moen isn't making any bold promises how he'll fare at the Olympic Trials in Houston, but he does promise one thing: “I'm not giving up on the marathon. Ultimately, it may prove that it's not my best event but I'm not ready to concede that. Obviously, I haven't put it together in the marathon yet. If I can, there's no telling what I can run. That's what keeps me going.”