Missouri has been blessed in recent years with some of the nation's top distance runners. Webb City star Ryan Riddle has been one of those, dazzling everyone who has watched him for the last 4 years. His 8:56.53 3200m this past Friday on his home track was just another thrilling spectacle in a career full of incredible races. That 3200m is currently the 13th fastest in the United States this year, and is 5th All-Time in Missouri. In addition to that, he's also currently ranked 33rd in the nation in the 1600m (4:13.52). One thing that stands out though about Riddle's times is that unlike all those above him, he didn't do it at some big invitational like Arcadia, Mt. Sac, the Eastern Relays, or Palatine. He did it all alone at the Webb City Redbird Relays and Hillcrest Invitational. The amount of focus and determination it takes to run that fast all by yourself cannot be overstated.
With all that being said I had the chance to ask Ryan a few questions, and I'm happy to share his responses with everyone below.
Q: When did you start running? When did you realize you were good at it?
A: 7th grade was my first year of running. I started to realize that I could be pretty good at it in my 7th grade track season when I ran a 5:02 1600 and won by 100 meters. I had an undefeated season that year.
Q: How does it feel to be the 5th fastest 3200m runner in Missouri History? Has it set in yet?
A: It feels great. Being able to see the results from all the hard work put in is exciting. It still hasn't really set in yet; it's crazy to think that I'm the 5th fastest in state history.
Q: Running solo is tough, running fast solo is even harder. How do you prepare mentally to go out and run sub 9:00 when you know you won't have any other runners pushing you?
A: I always tell myself that this is what I work for, all the races that I've taken out hard and led from the start were practice for this moment, to push the pace by myself and reach my goal.
Q: On your last lap did you realize you were on pace for sub 9? Or did you not realize until after?
A: When I went by with one lap to go I looked over at the clock and it said 7:49 so I knew that I could at least run a 1:10 last lap to break 9, but I wanted to push even harder to see what I could do and ended up with the 8:56.
Q: You've signed to continue you athletic and academic career at the University of Tulsa, what stood out to you there that made you decide to be a Golden Hurricane?
A: The relationship between the coaches and athletes was huge for me. They will work with you one on one compared to bigger colleges where you are just pushed into the system and expected to perform well right off. At Tulsa, there's less pressure, which translates to great performances. That's when I knew Tulsa was the prefect place for me.
Q: As a distance runner mileage is obviously an important training factor, what does an average week of workouts look like for you?
A: I typically run 45-50 miles a week. Mondays are usually an interval speed workout such as 10x400 at 60-62 seconds. Then on Wednesdays I run 4-6 mile repeats ranging between 4:25-4:55. The rest of the week I run recovery runs of 7 miles with a 10-13 mile long run on Saturday.
Q: Do you have and idols in the running world that you look up to?
A: Jim Ryun is a big inspiration for me. Not only was he a very humble, respectful runner but also a great person that everyone liked. He knew no limits; anything was possible because he believed it was. I always get pumped when I read his book from his high schools days to his professional career and I strive to be like him.
Q: Who do you look to for inspiration outside of the running world?
A: My family is my inspiration outside of the running world. Their support and encouragement everyday is what keeps me going. They always stay on top of everything to make sure I'm focused and ready to go. I'm very thankful for my family.
Q: What is your go to pre-race meal?
A: I have two different pre-race meals the night before races. Culvers bacon cheeseburgers and an ice cream or a large bacon pizza are my go-to options before every race. Pasta isn't really my thing. In the mornings I have to have a subway sandwich.
Q: What is your favorite song to get you pumped before a race?
A: Superstar by Trip Lee is definitely my favorite pre-race song. It's all about even though all the pictures, autographs, and fame are cool; giving credit to God is the most important thing. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
Q: Do you have any running superstitions/rituals (i.e. always wear the same socks, right shoe on before left shoe, etc.)
A: I like to go off somewhere by myself and read my bible. Reading keeps me relaxed so when I step on the line I'm ready to go. My family also prays with me before every race to be able to run to the best of my ability.
Q: If you could play any sport besides XC/Track what would it be and why?
A: Basketball would be my sport. I have always enjoyed playing basketball whether at home or with my team at practice.
Q: What is your favorite XC Course, and what is your least favorite?
A: Camdenton is my favorite XC course, it's fast and I ran my PR there. My least favorite course is Rim Rock Farm because at that time I'm in the hardest point of my training and that's the toughest course on our schedule.
Q: What is your goal for the end of the season?
A: I have multiple goals for the rest of the season. Improving on all my PRs is one and preforming the best I can at the State meet. I also would like to run some post-season races against some of the best runners in the country to see what I can do.
Q: What advice would you give to underclassmen distance runners?
A: Confidence. After my freshman season I felt like giving up and was going to quit because I had lost all confidence in myself. But, I stayed with it and started believing I could do big things, which has got me to where I am today.
Q: Do you have any shout outs you'd like to give?
A: I would like to thank God, my coaches, my family, friends, and teammates for getting me to where I am today as an athlete and person.