OCR.

Spartan Pro Team: Interview with Veejay Jones

 

At the beginning of arguably one of the most competitive Spartan Race seasons to date emerges a new face and a surprisingly young one. Veejay Jones, 18, is newest and youngest member of the Spartan Pro TeamΒ ever, and has taken first leg of the Spartan Race circuit by storm, podiuming in every race he has competed in and winning three.Β Soft-spoken and kind-hearted Jones lets his ego loose on the course, where he runs with the confidence of a veteran racer, and moves across monkey bars and multi-rigs like a pro. The obstacle course he has setup in his backyard surely helps, but his positive attitude and humble nature are sure to make Jones excel in all facets of the sport. FPH got an inside look at his training regimen, career and life goals, and what we can expect from him in the next 5 years:

Tucker: What’s a typical training week look like for you?

Veejay Jones: I typically train 6 days a week with Sunday being my sacred day that I always rest. Lately, I’ve been doing two long runs a week, which I’m slowly bumping up in distance. I’m doing speed workouts, hills, and everything in between, so I don’t want to add too much distance too fast, because my body is still growing and it’s not bulletproof yet. Right now I’m at 12 miles for my long runs, and I’ll be 18 by the end of the year. My training intensity is pretty high, currently.

T: So I take it that the slow building of mileage is to reduce the risk of injury?

V: Definitely. There’s different ways to go about it. If you’re going for distance and only distance, you can add mileage a lot faster. But since I’m incorporating so much strength training, I need to build slower. I’ve had a couple roadblocks here and there in terms of injuries, but everything is looking good right now, minus my distance not being where it needs to be. But all that means is that later along in the year I’ll still have a lot of energy. That’s when I’ll do my best.

T: Do you have a better grasp on how to train in preparation for this year, as opposed to last year?

V: I have a much more strategic approach. I was in track season until May and June of last year and my longest race was 300 meters, on a track. I was definitely not distance oriented. After graduating I took some time off. Then it came time to where the World Championships were around the corner and I wasn’t prepared distance-wise. I was running in 35th place until mile 11, when my hip gave out and I had to get driven down the mountain. It was really embarrassing. This year I’m committed to making sure my distance is where it needs to be in the second half of the season, especially for Tahoe. And less burpees this year. It’s amazing how much burpees can affect your whole race, and how much they tire you out.

T: What do you feel your strengths are on the course?

V: I love when theres a lot of technical trail and lots of elevation gain. That’s where I really excel. Im really excited for this year, especially the NBC races because some of these courses are very steep. One thing is for sure: I can go faster on that kind of terrain than most other runners.

I’ve had a couple roadblocks here and there, but everything is looking good right now

T: How do you get so good at technical running?

V: I’ve always been off-road oriented, between mountain bike racing and trail running. 80% of my training is off-road, I grew up in the dirt. It’s where I excel, and what I know best.

T: You must work a lot of ankle stability to prevent snags on the trails, right?

V: My ankle and leg strength sort of developed as I started running trails, but lately I’ve been doing everything I can like plyos and mobility to prevent any injury and make sure that I can have a strong season.

I do want to train hard and put in a lot of miles but I know that If I’m patient, 8 years from now, I’ll be at my best physically.Β 

T: How do you feel like your youth plays to your benefit?

V: Since I’m so young, I have a long time until I peak physically. I do want to train super hard and put a lot of miles in so that I can perform, but I know I have to be patient. And if I’m patient, 8 years from now I’ll be at my best physically. At least that’s what I’m hoping for. I just want to keep improving all the way up to that point.

T: How did it feel when you got the call from the Spartan Pro Team?

V: Well, it was in the back of my mind for a while. But, I never thought it would happen this quickly. It was something I didn’t see coming at all. Robert Coble called me actually. It blew me away. I was so excited, since now I can travel and compete in all the races. It was really a dream come true.

I’ve always been off-road oriented, between mountain bike racing and trail running. 80% of my training is off-road, I grew up in the dirt. It’s where I excel, and what I know best.

T: What is your favorite thing about OCR in general?

V: For the sport itself, it’s really one of the best balances between strength, speed and endurance. Someone who’s solely a very fast runner is going to do well, but not going to win. Just like if you have someone who’s a crossfitter, who’s amazingly strong, they aren’t going to do as well, either. It’s the balance of fitness that makes this sport so amazing. It’s a true test of athleticism. Also, I love the community. For how big it is, it’s amazingly tight-knit. We all stick together. Even if there’s a rivalry, no one is mean about it. Everyone’s so friendly.

It’s the balance of fitness that makes this sport so amazing. It’s a true test of athleticism.

T: I completely agree. The best all-around athlete will win.

T: What’s a circuit or workout that you feel has benefitted you a lot?

V: I have one that I’ve developed. At my house I have a bunch of obstacles. A rope climb, a rig, a spear throw, and a tire. So, I found a course near my house that’s exactly a mile. I’ll run a mile, then right after, I’ll do the rig, then the rope, then flip the tire a couple times, then throw the spear. If I miss, I’ll do 30 burpees, if I make it, I’ll do 10. Depending on what I’m training for, I’ll do it a minimum of 5 times. It’s really difficult, but you get good results from it. But lately, I’ve been falling back on my running, so for the last two weeks that’s been my focus, since the longer races are coming up.

T: What’s your pre-race ritual?

V: The morning of the race I’m usually very relaxed. A lot of people like to be super social, but I like to keep to myself. I’ll also run a little of the course as a warmup to get a feel for it. Warm-up and stay calm. After the race is when I like to go talk to people and socialize.

T: What is your biggest goal this year?

V: My racing goal is to earn my stripes. I know I’m not going to be able to win every race, but I want to slowly build my reputation and secure a top 10 at all the NBC races. Basically, put in my time and gain experience. When it comes to life goals, I want to keep expanding my knowledge of the sport, but also get some certifications from NASM and work towards a future career. My long term goal is to build a good name for myself in this sport, and start my own training facility where pros could come to teach. I think that every year I’m slowly getting closer to that.

Good luck to VJ this season! Keep up with his training and racing here.

 


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