Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meet Athletic Republic, My Official Sponsor

After years of running on teams, I entered the post-collegiate world, and for the first time in my life I was without some entity giving me clothing and support to continue running. Until I encountered Athletic Republic.

The story behind this relationship is that I have a coaching job at the University of Dubuque, and the head cross country and track and field coach was the former majority owner of Athletic Republic Madison. Now he is a minority owner and when I told him tales of my running exploits he was sufficiently impressed to provide me with an assortment of clothing and gear. With any sponsorship, the more I do for the company, the more reward there is for me, and not just by running faster. Doing clinics, providing personal coaching, writing blog posts, and other things that relate my experience to Athletic Republic customers and potential customers.

Athletic Republic's target audience has been those people interested in performance training. For the most part that means sports with short sprints like football, track sprinters, basketball, hockey, baseball, and other high strength for short duration sports. The idea is that working on your form will allow you to get more power out of each step or throw. Distance runners traditionally shy away from this type of training because it is so far away from race pace that it seems irrelevant. However, even Renato Canova suggests short hill sprints of 8 to 12 seconds at a high speed for marathoners. He also has his runners do "diagonals" which involve sprinting across a soccer field. The point is, even marathoners can benefit from short sprints at a high intensity. Additionally improving your form can improve your efficiency by reducing the amount of oxygen required per step. For example, tensing your shoulders drives blood flow to your upper back and away from your legs. If you tense your shoulders enough, eventually on long runs you will have a sore back and shoulders. I used to have that happen to me regularly.

The reason they are sponsoring me is that they wish to expand their business to distance runners and I am a poster child for a balanced training program including sprinting and weight training. Additionally, I have years of competitive running experience which has given me a coaching perspective that your typical athletic trainer does not have.

I am excited to see where this sponsorship leads. I think there is a lot of untapped opportunity in this market for a distance runner.

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