Name: Mitchell Ammons
Occupation: Nursing Student
Hometown: Austin, TX
Current Residence: Austin, TX
1. You’re very open about your past struggles with addiction to Heroin and other drugs. What drew you to running and how did it help you on your path to recovery?
Yes, I'm definitely very open about my past. I figure if I reach and inspire even just one other person that is struggling it makes it all worth it. I was about two years sober, and on the way to changing everything about myself. I had quit smoking cigarettes, started to eat healthier and started exercising a little bit. I had always thought that I wanted to be a runner some day. I ran a little bit in high school and knew I would like it as an adult. I was also seeking the friends and the community that I knew came with the sport.
2. How do you hold yourself accountable so that you don’t risk going back to old, destructive habits?
There are a number of things I do to keep myself accountable: I like to call them my daily disciplines. Some of it involves journaling and sort of keeping tabs on what bothers me, what I enjoy, and what I'm afraid of. I also never forget where I came from; that is always a good reminder of what I can go back to. I also make sure to do what makes me happy. If that's running and exercising, I make sure that is part of my routine.
3. What’s your favorite part about the running community in Texas?
My favorite part about the running community in Texas is definitely the friends I've made. These are people that I see every day; we know everything about each other from all the hours we have spent running together. Also, the friendly competition is great too.
4. What’s it like having a world class runner like Allie Kieffer as your coach? How would you describe her coaching style and the dynamic between the two of you?
I know she's a very accomplished runner and all, but I've realized that just because someone is fast, doesn't mean they know how to coach. I was skeptical of her training at first, it was very different from everything I had known - but I can't argue with results! I started to really trust her as a coach when there was a workout that seemed impossible, but she believed in me and told me I could do it, and time and time again I completed the workout even faster than the assigned paces!
Also, in 2020 since she has been coaching me, I have set a PR in almost every distance. I went from a mile in 4:48 to 4:15, 5k in 15:30 to 14:4, and I have a 10k coming up shortly. My current PR from 2019 is 32:20 and I'll be shooting for under 30 min!
5. Congrats on your recent PR of 14:40 in the 5k! What’s your favorite distance to race?
Thank you! I had a lot of fun training for some of the shorter stuff. I had practically trained for a marathon since the first day I started running. My favorite distance to race is for sure the half marathon. The training isn't as lengthy and taxing as a full marathon and the actual race is over pretty quick.
6. Do you ever run trails?
I run on the trails whenever I get the chance. We don't really have too many proper trails like there are in Flagstaff. I spent last summer in Flag and getting to run on the trails might have been my favorite part about it. It's so nice to be able to look around and just see nature, not having to worry about pace and focus on one foot in front of the other.
I also have to sort of focus on not falling on my face, but I think that's part of it! In Austin we do have some trails but we also have a 10 mile loop of crushed rock around the lake that is completely uninterrupted by traffic lights or cross walks. I do most of my easy runs there.
7. Do you have any unusual pre-race rituals or superstitions?
I'm definitely weird about what I eat. I've never had any GI problems, but I just know the one time I don't eat plain white rice for lunch and dinner the day before and the morning of a race - something real bad is going to happen. I've also worn the same pair of socks for every race since I started running (I do wash between uses). Overall, no unusual superstitions here.
8. It seems like you’re making up for lots of lost time with regards to your running goals. You just missed qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Trials in the marathon. What are you currently working towards amidst an uncertain race calendar?
In my last marathon I tried to force the fitness a little bit because I had come to the end of the time window to qualify for the trial. I did miss it, but what’s up 2024?! Since the beginning of the year we have focused on speed. I started with 5k training, then to mile training, then back to 5k/10k training. The shorter stuff was ideal because time trials are much more practical in the heat and without racing opportunities.
I think working on speed is going to help me a lot in the marathon and the half marathon. Constant training at sub 5 minute pace makes anything I need to run for a longer race seem not so bad. I also jumped into a half marathon in February in the middle of a 5k training block, I was able to set a 30 second PR of 1:07:08. I guess that's another one I can add to Coach Allie’s accolades!