20 Questions With Kiel Uhl

Iowa State freshman Kiel Uhl is set to compete at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Find out why Uhl became a runner, why he's an architecture major and why running is a lifestyle.

Running is a Lifestyle: 20 Questions With Kiel Uhl



  1. How did you feel about the race on Saturday?
    1. I was pretty happy with the results I kind of knew that was the way it was going to go.  I've been sort of planning that for a while.  It's a big confidence booster especially for my first year.  It opened my eyes to what I really can do.
  2. Have you been surprised at all with your success at this level?
    1. At first I was surprised especially after the Roy Griak meet.  I was surprised how well I did in that big field but I've kind of come to accept that's where I am right now and I am just going to go with it.  Basically, like coach said, the sky is the limit.  Not very many people are able to reap these benefits this early.
  3. This is a young team.  How do you guys feel about the success of this team over the next four years?
    1. I think a big thing that we all need to keep in perspective is that we are really young.  Because of that we need to be patient and realize that we have four years together, well five because you can redshirt one year.  So we have five years together total.  We need to be patient and realize we are all on different training regimens and each of our success will come at different times.  Just because I might be having success right now doesn't mean the others won't and they know that.  We also know that we are going to do some really good things next year and the years to come because we are so young and training together.


  1. Go through a typical week of practice.
    1. It's all pretty much the same but calibrated for each person depending on what level each person is on.  We usually do two workouts per week and then a long run one day of the weekend.  We lift twice a week and we do drills once a week.  We stretch as a team every night after practice and that's one of the most important things we do. 


  1. Will this week's practice be any different for you?
    1. Yeah, it'll be a little different because not everyone is here.  Everybody is kind of taking an off week.  There are a few that are going to stay and train with me.


  1. What is a typical race-day preparation for you?
    1. Well, it all begins the night before.  I really try not to think about a race until right after dinner.  After we run the course, I know what the course is like and then we have a team meeting.  After that, I talk with coach and find out what he wants.  Then I look at how the course is laid out and decide how I want to run in comparison to other people who are in the race and also according to the course.  Then I basically tell myself not to think about it after that and try to get as much sleep as I can.  A lot of guys think about it at night and don't get very much sleep.  So I think about it for a little bit, think about what I am going to do … kind of like a business trip I guess.  Then I wake up, eat a really light breakfast, put on my headphones and get ready to go.
  2. Will you change that routine at all on Saturday?
    1. No


  1. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up?
    1. My mom.  We've been through a lot together.  She always keeps going.  Especially now that I've gone to college, she's kind of alone and it's a really big inspiration to see her at a race. 



9.  Do you look up to other people?

a.   I don't really idolize people, I do my own thing.  I know everyone is different when it comes to that stuff.


  1. Why did you want to be a runner?
    1. It's funny.  I didn't really want to be a runner, I just wanted something to do in high school.  I tried football in eighth grade and that didn't work because I was too small.  I think I played one play and got hurt.  I actually used to make fun of runners for wearing the short shorts and stuff like that but I decided I wanted to do something and I might as well give it a try.  We ran the mile in eighth grade to see how fast we could do it and I ran pretty fast.  I don't even remember what it was, 5:30 or something like that.  Then some kids from Roosevelt high school came to our gym class and were passing out fliers for cross country.  Everybody was like, "This kid right here needs to run cross country."  So I ran during the summer and trained a little bit and found out I liked it. 


  1. Why did you come to Iowa State?
    1. Because I could see the program going a long ways and I know that a lot of people don't see that.  A lot of kids are overlooking this program and it's kind of too bad because in a couple years they are going to be regretting it.  Coach Ihmels knows exactly where we are going to go.  He's been everywhere we want to go.  He's done everything that all of us could ever hope to do: Seven time All-American, sub-four mile, national champion, conference champion…everything.  I knew that he knew what it would take to get there and I knew that my body was capable of training the way that he would want me to.  I looked at other people's programs too and I felt like coach's was the most individualized and the most conservative, but conservative in a good way.  A lot of programs are so intense that you end up getting hurt at least once a year.  Coach is really smart and really conservative with training and he's a good guy.  Also, my family is close to the university.  They live in Des Moines and I didn't want to be too far away from them.


  1. What is the best thing about being at Iowa State, academically and athletically?
    1. I came here for architecture and design and they have a great program.  Most of our meets are close so my family can come and watch.  I also like the atmosphere here at Iowa State.  I actually visited quite a few places, a lot of Big 12 schools, and none of them are really quite like Iowa State.  I can't really explain it.  It's just the way everyone is here.  Right when I came on my visit, I just knew this was the right place—the right feel.


  1. What is the biggest difference between running at Roosevelt and running at ISU?
    1. There's not much difference in the way that the system works with training and stuff like that.  We do quite a bit more lifting and stretching here, those are the big things.  The workouts are a little more intense but I wouldn't say drastically more intense.  The competition is quite a bit better and the rewards for running well are better.  I think I am still discovering those things.


  1. How do you balance architecture and running?
    1. I think people get the wrong view.  I'm only a first year so maybe I don't know, but a lot of people in our class complain a lot about the time it takes.  If you manage your time well, it's really not that difficult.  Basically, I run and go to school.  I don't really have time for anything else.  So I think it's all in time management, make things quality time instead of quantity time. 


  1. Why do you want to be an architect?
    1. It's something that I think would be really rewarding.  One of the most rewarding careers because you actually get to see the things you create and the things you create are there forever. 


  1. Do you have any advice for kids who are runners now and want to get to the level at a D1 university?—runners in high school who have potential?
    1. Be patient.  Don't push things because your body can run for a long time and you can also push yourself for a long time if you try to do too much too soon.  Just be patient.  If you have the talent and you have the work ethic and you do it right, you can be good.  You just have to wait for the right time to come.  And also realize that everyone is different.  It one of those things that does take quite a bit of talent but it takes quite a bit of hard work too.  Someone can have a whole handful of talent and another person just a pinky and that kid with the pinky can still kick the crap out of the kid who has the whole fist just because he has better work ethic. 
    2. There were a lot of kids in high school who had really fast times and who were being recruited by huge Big 10 schools.  That doesn't mean anything until you get here and you work out.  Just don't let natural talent overshadow hard work.


  1. Do you keep in contact with any other runners/friends from high school?
    1. My friend Jon Thomas (sp?) goes to Oregon.  We were really close in high school.  If he didn't win, I won or if I got second, he won.  We were pretty equal.  He's doing pretty well now.  It's ironic because Coach Ihmels was recruiting him at the same time but he chose to go to Oregon because they have a big legacy there … but their team is not doing as well and he is not doing as well as he'd hoped.  It seems to be that I made the right choice to come here (laughing).


  1. Do you prepare any different for runners at your level or better?
    1. A race is a race.  It matters who is in the race because they have control of it but a race is your own thing.  It's individualized.  I don't go into a race thinking, oh this guy is in the race and I need to change my race because this person is in here.  I just do my own thing.


  1. Is there anything else that you would like people to know about you that they don't know?
    1. Running is a lifestyle; it's not just a sport.  Other sports like football and basketball, they're more of a pure sport.  Cross country is more of a lifestyle where you have to eat right.  You have to go to bed early.  You have to manage your time extremely well.  You have to listen to your body a lot more than in other sports because your body takes so much pounding.  People look at football and say these guys get hit all the time.  That's a different kind of hurt.  Cross country is pushing your body to the limit.  It's more of a mind set than a sport.


  1. Will running be a part of your life for a long time?
    1. It's going to be a part of my life for a long time.  As long as my body can take it, I am going to keep pounding away. 

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