Meet the Athlete: Craig Christians

Name: Craig Christians

Age: 57

Hometown: Willmar, MN

Current residence: Bellevue

Occupation/Degree you are working towards: After 30 years in public works as a civil engineer (now retired), I am head XC/Track Coach @ Bellevue University. Also coached at Bellevue West and Platteview HS for 25 years.

High School – Willmar, MN

College (major/minor) BS Civil Engineering @ SDSU

MS Municipal Engineering @ ISU

What is your running background? Ran track at Fremont Jr. High as a freshman which got me interested in running distance. Moved to Willmar, MN and went out for cross country. Forty-three years later, still grinding.

Favorite distance to run? I’ve run nearly 800 races (road/xc/track) from one mile to the marathon. If I had to pick today, I’d say I really enjoy a road mile the most. It’s over in a hurry and I still have enough speed to be competitive against my peers.

What are your future running goals? Just keep going. I love to compete so I guess my goal is to stay healthy and fit enough to do that.

I can’t run without…? A watch. Even pre-GPS, I needed to know how long/far I went. Have every mile I’ve ever run documented in a running log of some kind. The engineering nerd in me.

Do you do anything to stay injury free? For being a coach, I have the worst personal injury prevention possible. It’s always been just go out the door and go. Now, my first mile is slow so that’s my warmup.

Do you have a favorite running book/podcast/movie/athlete? Dick Beardsley is a guy I admire for his attitude about life and overcoming adversity (and also being a fellow Minnesotan).

What is your favorite race you have competed in the past? I enjoy the Living History Farms race (20 years in a row). It always feels like a bit of hell but I guess there is something about that feeling I enjoy.

What is your number one bucket list race you would like to do in the future? Can’t say that I have one.

Do you have any advice to other runners? Des Linden has been quoted as saying “Keep showing up.” To me, that’s just getting out there every day. Make it a habit. Consistency is the best path to improving.

What are your PRs? A long, long time ago I ran 15:30 for 5K, 32:00 for 10K and 2:36:xx for a marathon. I enjoy age-grading my times now to see how close I can get to those times.

How long have you been an LRC-Nebraska member? About 5-1/2 years.

What excites you the most about being an LRC-Nebraska athlete? I’ve really enjoyed the group Masters events like the Tulsa 15K and Market to Market. It’s been a lot of fun to put on the uniform and line up next to your teammates, now nearly 40 years out of high school. I’ve seen the 75 and 80 year old teams of guys at national events and I really want that to be me some day.

What does a typical training week look like for you?  Walk us through your daily routine (training related and otherwise): My goal is to run every day. Just run. Nothing too systematic. If I feel good, I go faster. If I feel like crap, I run slow.

We all approach training and racing differently, so tell us what your short-term and long-term goals are with running: I’ve never been a big goal guy. Stay healthy, have fun, kick people’s asses when possible.

Where are your 3 favorite places to do long runs at the moment? I enjoy the MoPac and Wabash Trace trails if I am going to go a little longer but otherwise, my local routes near my home are my favorites.

After a solid race or long run, what is your favorite meal to demolish and replenish those calories?  Please use details and give recommendations! Just like the stretching question, I set a poor example for the athletes I coach. My diet is better than it was 20 years ago but I still eat a lot of bowls of cereal (Fruit Loops is still No. 1). If the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn.

Share a crazy training or racing story, or simply an interesting moment in time: I have a lifetime of good memories related to running. It’s a part of who I am. Someone said, in an earlier “Get to Know” piece, that running made them unique. Now, as a guy who is into his fifth decade of doing it, I feel like I’m in a smaller subset of that group and proud of that fact. Proud for not only doing it for that long, but doing it competitively, too. I’ve been blessed.

What book are you currently reading or TV show are you binge watching? I’m not much of a reader. “The Science of Distance Running” by Steve Magness is the last thing I’ve read and in my opinion, it gets two thumbs up (if you like that sort of thing). I’ll watch the “Andy Griffith Show” if it’s on but for something in this century, how about “Brooklyn 9-9.”

You’re the star of a running movie, and the opening scene is you running on a winding dirt road, with a beautiful sunrise.  What song is playing in the background? “Freebird” by Lynryd Skynyrd. When I was in high school, I’d throw it on the turntable before a race and visualize a nice slow start and then a frenetic finish (long guitar solo). Lasts about as long as it took me to run 2 miles, too.

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