This past NCAA indoor season, Montana State University's Pat Casey became the first freshman in school history to garner All-American honors with his third-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Casey finished the mile behind Lee Emanuel and Mac Fleet, running four minutes, 1.87 seconds. The recent sub-four minute miler is leaning towards redshirting this upcoming outdoor season with a team championship in consideration for next year. Casey not only has an exceptional last name, but also a great future ahead of him.
Today is a Sunday, did you get your long run in?
Yeah, I just finished it up a couple of hours ago.
You go late, rather than early on those?
We don't meet as a team on Sunday, so that's optional. I like to sleep in and get it done whenever I want usually.
What did you do?
It depends on my weekly miles. We go like 20%. I think that's the rule. Today I went about an hour and 45 minutes, I think.
What's your typical weekly mileage?
Usually 70-75 miles. I don't know if that's exact miles, but it's something like that?
Since NCAAs what have you been doing?
I've been keeping it pretty low-key with easy runs. I took a really easy after nationals and just did a week of light and easy runs. I hit about 63-65 miles this week.
You're going to be redshirting this outdoor season?
Yeah, I think so. I think I'm going to redshirt.
I'm curious as to why you're choosing to do that? Did part of you want to keep things rolling after such a successful NCAA indoor season?
I did, but some of things I looked at was, like, the team aspect of things and winning the Big Sky Conference Meet. We have a lot of our best athletes redshirting this season and we might try to make a run at winning the Big Sky Conference next season. Another reason that played a part in it was that we were thinking about redshirting me next season. I decided that I'd rather run when our team had a strong chance in winning the Big Sky.
Are you still planning on running unattached at Mt. SAC and the Oregon meet?
We're still kind of looking at that. It looks like I'm going to be doing easy runs until the week of Mt. SAC and I don't know if I'll be ready for Mt. SAC. I'm definitely looking at Oregon. Maybe the Oregon Relays at the end of April. I think it's only a week or two after Mt. SAC, but I think having a couple of workouts under me will help build my confidence up.
Will those be 1,500s that you run?
Definitely the 1,500. My best 5K is only about 14:40 or so. That's something that I want to improve on this season. I'll probably do some unattached races in Bozeman and see if I can maybe knock off a good 5K or something. We have a couple of small dual meets and stuff. It won't be extremely competitive.
Where was the 14:40 5K?
Oh, that's an altitude adjusted 15-minute 5K from here in Bozeman.
Did it feel pretty easy?
That was last season and it didn't feel very easy. I was working hard. I'm still not figuring out this longer distance stuff. I like the short stuff. I haven't figured out the three-mile and up thing. I think I could eventually get there. In the mile, everything happens fast and I can mentally keep it together that whole time. I'm built for the mile. In cross, it's like I'm just out there running around. It's hard to explain. I can't feel the finish line.
What about the 800? Are you going to race any of those?
Maybe. The half mile is a weird race. I never really take it as seriously. If I can get in a couple, I'd enjoy it. I've never considered myself a half-miler, but when I do it...it's an experience for me.
What do you for long-term goals in running?
Since I've broken four, yeah, it's a big accomplishment, but I don't want to be completely satisfied with that. I want to up my goals and make them serious and see if I can just keep improving. Maybe low 3:50s in the mile. I know that's pretty fast, but I want to keep improving on that time. And definitely a national championship outdoor in the 1,500...maybe next year? And the Olympic Trials and hopefully—if I keep improving—getting through the Olympic Trials and keep improving toward the Olympics. There's a lot of people with that dream out there...but it's definitely a dream for me too.
A lot of people broke four minutes this year. What do you think about that?
I think it's crazy. I think it's cool that everyone's been putting it down. There's been a lot of improvement as a country. I don't know if other people see it like that. How many people was it? 22? In the long run, it will make everyone better if everyone is running this fast. It's a good thing.
As a student-athlete, your schedule is often packed, but when you get free time, what do you do for fun?
We're in Montana, so skiing, hiking, camping, climbing mountains...basic outdoor stuff. Folf...frisbee golf.
Do I hear some of your teammates in the background? What are you guys doing?
We're going to eat at a Buffalo Wild Wings here pretty soon. Eating out on Sunday nights is the secret! Going out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings. (Laughs)
How many grizzly bears have you seen?
Quite a few. I'm going to be honest. I've never had any dangerous encounters though. It's usually from a distance or in Yellowstone. I've seen several in my lifetime. It's not super-common. But, if you get out there and you're looking for them...out in the wilderness, there's a good chance that you'll see one eventually. That's how it's been for me. Especially if you get down to Yellowstone. If you go there, you'll have a great chance of seeing one.
What are we talking? 50 yards...100 yards? How close have you been?
I've seen grizzly bears from maybe...100 feet from our vehicle. Never in the wilderness, up close. Nothing too intense.
I'm picturing a really rural setting out there. Can you just long run for forever out there on soft trails or dirt roads?
The problem with Bozeman is that it snows quite a bit here. After October, it's tough to get in the mountains and get a really cool run in. There's a lot of good trails. It's awesome in the summer when you can get out and run and see some pretty sweet things...running on the trails. There are some really scenic runs in Bozeman, but it is a bummer when it snows a lot and you can't get out there anymore?
Is that a big part of your recruiting process?
We have a kid from Wisconsin and I think that's a reason he came. He likes the mountains and he likes skiing. Definitely, the whole thing about getting out in the mountains and going for runs and seeing places really helps. That definitely did it for me. I grew up in Montana and I didn't want to leave it behind and go somewhere for a big city. I like the whole rural vibe.
I plugged it into Google Maps. What is it? 120ish miles from your house?
Yeah! Just an hour and 45 minutes. A nice distance. I don't have to go home every weekend...but if I want to, it's there.
If you're going to be racing in Bozeman, your family and friends can just pop over there and watch you.
They see me run a lot because we have a lot of indoor meets. That's another positive.
Were you looking at other schools initially?
My times in high school were good, but they weren't anything outstanding. I didn't have a lot of big options. It was like Colorado State, University of Montana and Missoula—MSU's rival. I went for what was comfortable and a good fit for me.
What do you attribute your running improvements to from high school to college?
In high school, I always thought I could run faster than I did. I was a 4:20 miler. I didn't have a lot of competition. So, mentally, coming into college, I was looking to improve a lot and quickly. My freshman year, it kind of picked up and I just put in the miles and hammered out the workouts and mentally believed I could run faster. And it happened! A lot of it was me staying positive and mentally thinking I was capable of running a lot faster.
Did you come across any injuries along the way?
I've never had an injury that's taken me out for more than a couple of days. Knock on wood! I'm pretty happy about that right now.
What was your mileage like in high school?
(Laughs) That's kind of a joke. Probably 15-25 miles a week in high school. Maybe not. Some days, there was like...slim to no miles at all. We did some hill workouts and 400s and stuff. I didn't even know what a tempo workout—or a long run—until I got to college.
Do you remember your first killer college workout?
I'm trying to think here. We had a hill-tempo mix kind of workout and I had to do it by myself because I had a class conflict. It was really hot out and it just rocked my world. It was rough!
Are you used to them yet or do they still rock your world?
They are obviously still really tough, but at this point, you're just used to getting destroyed by workouts on occasion. I just hang in there.
If you could have one meal, prepared by anyone, what would you have and who would make it?
My go-to meal after a race...and this sounds bad...but, it's usually McDonald's. (Laughs, with teammates). But, post-race that's where it's at. Honestly, McDonald's. It's worth it...and Perkins for breakfast. I'd go with prime rib for a classy meal...and I don't know who would prepared it. That's my classy pick.
Can you give me a crazy running-related story?
My junior year in high school, we went down to Colorado for this relay race thing. It's about 195 miles and you have 8-10 team members. Me and my teammate were rivals. On the last day, there was another 25 miles to go in the race and we just decided to all run the last leg to see if we could do it. We went for it. This is on no miles! It's was a 25-mile haul down this mountain pass. My friend didn't even finish it. I kind of got lost and ended up in this town, just running around for forever. It took me about two and half hours and I just couldn't walk for three days afterward. My friend was miserable. That's probably the worst running experience I've ever had.
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