Coach Profile: Andrew Ball

For the Spring Season that has just begun at Fleet Feet Raleigh & Morrisville, we added a new program, the PR Squad, and a new coach, Andrew Ball.  Andrew has been a mentor with the programs for quite a few seasons, and he is now leading this ambitious group, pacing them through some advanced speed workouts on Tuesday nights.  Read on and get to know our newest coach.

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Where are you from?

I was born in Richmond, VA, but grew up in Kill Devil Hills, NC.

Where do you live now?

I live in North Raleigh, not far from Lake Lynn.

What’s your day job?

I stay at home with my three boys, aged 10, 8 & 6.

For how long have you been a runner?

For about 9 years.

Why did you start?

As a way to get exercise, stress relief, and time to myself after I started staying at home.

Why did you start coaching?

Helping people push themselves to reach and surpass goals they set for themselves is special. Also I just love running, reading about running, thinking about running, and talking about running.

What is your favorite race distance?

I love them all! Except the 800m. I haven’t learned to love that one yet.

What is your favorite race?

The Killer Dunes in Nags Head, NC – it’s “just” a two mile race, but is run entirely on the sand and up and down the dunes in Jockey’s Ridge State Park. I love it because it’s a different challenge each year depending on the conditions on race day and the days leading up to it, and because after several consecutive years running it, I was able to finish first in 2018 (with my second-slowest time!).

What is your favorite training run (speedwork, tempo, hills, Totem Pole, long, easy, etc.)? Is it your favorite to run yourself, to coach, or both?

A workout that includes a combination of paces, with some speedy 200m repeats at the beginning and end (after warming up and before cooling down, of course!) and some 800m – 1 mile repeats in the middle. Especially in the middle of marathon training, it can be fun to push the pace a bit, and I often find my final 200m repeats are faster than my earlier ones, which is a big confidence booster. If I still have enough in the tank to cool down at marathon pace, all the better.

What is your running shoe of choice?

I use different shoes for different purposes – right now, for a long run, I love my Brooks Ghosts; for tempo runs, my Brooks Ravennas; and for speedwork, my Saucony Kinvaras.

What is your favorite running accessory–you don’t leave home without it?

My trusty Garmin 235, especially now that I’ve trained myself to just turn it to the watch face and not worry about pace or heart rate during my easy runs.

What is your favorite running weather?

Cool and overcast.

What is your favorite local place to run?

We are so lucky to have a great collection of greenways and sidewalks in Raleigh and the triangle, and these are where I log most of my mileage…

Do you have a favorite place of all places, near or far, to run?

…but Umstead State Park is sacred ground to me. I love the bridle trails, I love the single track, I even love the hills (although maybe not at the time).

What’s your preference for running: solo, with a buddy, pub run, training group?

I’m a strong introvert, but there’s nothing as much fun for me as a easy run (or mutual sufferfest) with a good friend.

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Favorite running experience/memory?

A loosely planned run that took me from Umstead into Schenck Forest and to a stand of sweet-smelling pine trees; it was one of those times when I just had to stop and take it all in.  

The last race you ran?

The Run RDC Marathon – I didn’t get the BQ I hoped for because i was struggling with a cold and hit the wall early (around mile 18), but I was still able to get to a PR.

What was your worst race?

The Killer Dunes in 2017 – there’s nothing more dispiriting than being able to finish marathons and half-marathons, but being unable to keep from walking in a two mile race.

If you could run any race, which would it be?

The Boston Marathon.

How many days a week do you run?

Typically 5-6.

How many miles a week do you run?

Around 40.

What time of day do you like to run?

The late morning, after the kids are on the bus and I’ve cleaned up (some of) the morning chaos.

What is your biggest running accomplishment?

Finishing third in the Second Empire Grand Prix (a local series of races, mostly 5Ks) in 2015 was a really cool experience.

What do you like most about coaching?

Applying my understanding of training theory to bridge the gap between where a person is and where they want to be.

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What has been your funniest or most embarrassing coaching moment to date?

Undoubtedly, one of the many, many times I have managed to get lost (and found!) as a sub-9 mentor.

What has been your proudest coaching moment?

Two spring to mind: coaching my wife to a sub-10:00/mile finish at the Tar Heel 10 Miler, and helping a Fleet Feet runner to his first marathon at Run RDC in a more-than-respectable 3:26 finish.

What has been your biggest obstacle to overcome in running?

Accepting that it’s okay to take the time to run when there are so many other things I could be doing, and understanding that doing so makes me a better, happier person.

What is one thing you are still working on improving upon in running?

Tempo runs. I know they’re good for me. I know I can do them. But I still find myself dragging my feet at the prospect of getting out the door and pushing into that slight discomfort zone for so long.

What are your running goals for this season?

I’m taking the season off from big time goals and am just looking to complete my first 40 miler on my way to finishing the Tough As Trails race series.

What are your favorite non-running hobbies?

Playing board games with my 10 year old, drawing with my 8 year old, crafting with my 6 year old, collapsing on the sofa and watching TV with my wife, and (occasionally) reading for myself.

 

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