LMU alumnus Jack Polerecky ('18) will compete in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia on Feb. 29. Polerecky, who ran cross country and track during his time at LMU, qualified for the event after running 2:18:25 at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Nov. 9, 2019. The Nebraska native has trained professionally since his graduation from LMU in winter of 2018. Asst. Sports Editor Jameson O'Neil talked to Polerecky about his transition to professional running.
Jameson O'Neil (J.O.).: After your graduation from LMU, where did you go and what were your post-collegiate plans?
Jack Polerecky (J.P.): After I graduated I moved to Flagstaff, Arizona ... It’s in the mountains, it's at 7,000 feet [and] it's the hub of distance running. And so I moved there, and I kind of really didn't have a plan when I moved there. I was just like "Okay, I want to run." I had a restaurant job set up, and I was doing that, but over time, I found a coach [and] I got a job coaching other people, and I've been training for the past year and a half or so.
J.O.: When during your time at LMU did you realize you wanted to run professionally, or at least semi-professionally?
J.P.: It was kind of a slow journey to that realization. I was a [biochemistry] major and I thought I would be doing either medical school or [physical therapy] school afterwards. Towards the end [of my time at LMU], I knew I just wanted to take a break from school [and] focus more on running, because I'll have my brain forever, but my legs will only really last me throughout my 20's and whatnot. And so pretty much [during] my last semester, I knew that my running journey wasn't over and that I wanted to keep pursuing it at some level post-college. I didn't know if that would just be a year, but now I'm realizing that I'll probably be running for a quite a while.
J.O.: When it came to which event to focus on professionally, how did you know you were going to focus on the marathon?
J.P.: I knew that the longer the distance, the better [for me]. I didn't know I wanted to do the marathon until right when I graduated. The [indicators] for that were that the [Marathon] Olympic Trials are only every four years. It felt like a cool challenge to see if I could do it, and over the course of a year, transition from a 6.2 mile race to a 26.2 mile race. It was tough, but I knew it would be within my wheelhouse.
J.O.: What has training been like and what is your goal for the Trials?
J.P.: For the buildup of the trials I was running 100 to 110 miles a week. But [due to injury], within the past month or two, I haven't been able to do the big workouts necessary to really train as I did for Indianapolis. My goal for the trials is get to the trials feeling healthy, and have that leg be back to 100%, and just enjoy lining up with the best in the nation.
J.O.: How do you think your time at LMU shaped your professional career?
J.P.: My time at LMU really helped me fall in love with the sport. I was surrounded by some guys that encouraged and pushed me, [and] a coach that did the same. It was cool running at a school that wasn't necessarily a powerhouse. They cared more about the individuals and everybody kind of had a chip on their shoulder. Entering the post-collegiate life, I still have that kind of chip on my shoulder and I feel like I have a lot to prove.