NAU Freshman Drew Bosley On Altitude, Donuts & XC Goals

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By Parker Navarro - MileSplit

As the National Letter of Intent period for the Class of 2020 slowly approaches on November 13, last year's class is underway with their first collegiate workouts and races.

Over the course of the fall semester, MileSplit will be checking in with some of the fastest NCAA freshmen and last year's stars from the Class of 2019.

This week, we're speaking with Northern Arizona University freshman Drew Bosley, a graduate of Homestead (WI) High School. 

Drew's impressive high school distance career — including two top-10 Foot Locker Nationals finishes and a 2017 Nike Heartland Regional title — earned him a coveted scholarship and roster spot on the three-time NCAA Cross Country Championship title-winning Lumberjacks.

Running unattached in his collegiate debut, Bosley was impressive in a 4.5-mile race on September 7, finishing fourth overall in 22:21.1; he would have been the second finisher for the Lumberjacks on the day. 

We caught up with Drew to find out more about his first collegiate season and talked about training, what the team is like at NAU, donuts, and Bachelor In Paradise.

You opened up your season with NAU unattached — which isn't surprising, considering you're a first-year runner on the three-time defending national champion team. Many talented freshmen take redshirt years to get acclimated to collegiate running. But after that debut, it seems like you're already ready. What's the plan for you this fall? Will we see you in a Lumberjack uniform officially?

Bosley: This next month my coach and I are going to play it by ear and see how I react to the training. We want to see where school is at and how college is treating me so far. We're going to decide around the Nuttycombe Invitational. It will be a collective decision. The good thing about that is the coaches are super supportive in whatever decision I want to make, so there's no wrong answer to it. 

For right now, I definitely want to focus on the things I can control. That's being consistent in training, how I react with the team, and the positive energy I put out for others. In a month, if I'm ready to race with the guys, I will be ready to go with all the things I've done so far. The training I have done this month will heavily influence that as well. I will not be racing John McNichols this weekend but I will be traveling with the team and doing a workout there.

Were there any new workouts or mileage adjustments that were a bit of a shock to the system at first? What was high mileage for you in Wisconsin? What's high mileage here? 

So far the training with NAU has been manageable and hasn't been overwhelming. Coach Smith has been slowly moving me forward with training. I'm realizing now that my dad definitely under-trained me — this is the first time I am ever doubling, running consistent weeks around 60 miles a week. In high school, I never stretched or did core. I'm doing a lot of this now, which has been super helpful. 

In Wisconsin, I probably would average about 45-50 miles week, no doubles, two to three workouts a week, and maybe a long run. The recovery days I did with the guys on my team were nothing crazy, averaging about five to six miles. I absolutely never ran every day in a week. On Sundays, I ate donuts and watched Packers games. Like, I would eat four donuts every Sunday.

What is your favorite donut?

I'm just a classic, Long John chocolate guy. I like to keep it simple. These days, I try and keep it to about one donut a week. My nutrition has definitely improved.

What else are you doing training-wise that's new?

I am consistently doing doubles here throughout the week. Mondays and Thursdays I double, and even with that and the increase in mileage, my legs feel good and refreshed. I'm also throwing in new, smaller things like different stretching and mobility drills I've never done before. Adding in all of those things as I increase my mileage is really helping me. 

The one thing I have been carrying over from my high school training is the one-percent rule that my dad taught me. If I'm increasing something by one percent, I have to increase everything else by one percent. If I ate three donuts at this mileage, I have to eat only two at this mileage. In all seriousness, I have zoned in on getting great sleep and doing my homework during the day so that I'm not up late. I eat food that's good for me and stray from the dining hall specials. I make sure that I stay consistent with my stretching and my core. There are lots of firsts, to say the least.

Any firsts that stand out to you?

I got my first massage yesterday! It was really refreshing. I flushed junk out, and it was pretty cool. I had no idea I would have an opportunity to do that type of stuff. Like I said, there are just a lot of things that I wasn't doing in high school that I'm doing now. It's easier to get in a routine of good habits here because everyone is doing it, and we all hold each other accountable. That helps me stay focused. 


What have been your biggest stressors?

The biggest thing I'm trying to keep up on is sleep — not every night, but at least six out of the seven nights a week I should be getting eight hours so I can recover. It's tough, but it's important.

You had run at altitude with your eventual teammates on your visit at NAU. But that was a small sample size. Were you apprehensive about a full season running at altitude — or were you stoked to get going? 

On my official visit my senior year I did a 14-mile long run at a pretty quick pace with the guys. I didn't feel any lasting effects, but nobody feels anything after only 48 hours. I was here for two weeks during the summer, and so far I've been here for a month for school. There have been a couple of days, maybe one day every two weeks, where you feel like you are running with a plastic bag over your head. Usually on an easy day or a double. In terms of actual workouts or the race at Buffalo Park, I didn't feel as strained as I thought I would. The altitude is not as big of a fear anymore. Before I came, I was wondering how my body would react. I was scared it would be destroyed, but it hasn't been too terrible. 

Was it intimidating at first to hop on to a team that has won the last three NCAA Championships?

There was definitely a slight intimidation factor at first, but running and getting to know everyone is awesome. Social hierarchy is out the window with this group. We aren't thinking about beating each other. That's not how we treat each other or interact and that's awesome for me. We are trying to make each other better every day and try to have positive energy, always.

Do you think that has an influence on NAU's success?

One hundred percent. How much we care about each other and the program and the history funnel into it. The 2003 NCAA Championship third-place team coached by Ron Mann came by and talked to us when they all had a reunion in Flagstaff. They got inducted into the NAU Sports Hall of Fame, so they were here. They came over to chat with us to tell us what they would've told themselves in college. It was super special to see those guys and hear about how they were in college. The way this team treats each other goes back to the past.

How would you describe Mike Smith as a coach? 

He's a character. I love being around him. He is such a good storyteller. Aside from the coaching aspect, he jokes around and doesn't try to be serious all the time. There are definitely times when he can be serious, but I love spending time with him. He is a fun personality. It's great to have that as a coach. He knows how to transition people to the altitude and training. He knows his stuff. Every so once in a while, I drop a Drake a quote on him or something from Shakespeare to keep him on his toes. I think he's planning to start using them when he talks to us. I can see it in his eyes [laughs]. I'm so grateful to have him as my coach. 


What has been your favorite moment with your new team so far?

If I had to pick one, it would be this past weekend. We did a run-up "Snowball," which is a 6.3-mile run that's just straight up. Okay, not actually "straight up" — you get it. That was the hardest run I've had up here so far, just because I never had hill workouts in Wisconsin. There's no other way to get through it other than hard work. I ran up the mountain with George Beamish and he was keeping me accountable the whole way up. He helped me so much up there. It was a really special moment when we finally made it to the top. We had recruits when we did it and had a pizza and sunset dinner at the top when we were done, too. I thought it was so special, and I got some great aesthetic pictures.

Are you going to be posting those on your Instagram anytime soon?

No, no, I'm more of a VSCO guy. I remember sometime last year [2018], after I ran my best cross country time which was a 14:51 nation-leading 5K at the time from the Midwest Invitational — MileSplit posted a picture on Instagram. Someone threw shade at me about how I was a total VSCO guy, and you clapped back with, "Yeah, but he also has the fastest 5K time in the country right now, sooo.." and it was so awesome. I loved that.

"Take all of the visits. Take as many as you can, or as many as you think you can handle. Enjoy the visits and getting to know programs and the schools that are interested in you. Soak that part in. But at the same time, as much as you are enjoying that, it's still your senior cross country season. I could've done a way better job last year enjoying the fall season with my teammates. I got too trapped in worrying too much about the future and not focusing on the moments. I was worrying about what other people thought about my decisions. Soak up the moments that are going to be special to you later; it's your last year of high school."

Both your father and mother both ran collegiately. What advice did each of them give you before you went off to Flagstaff? 

My mom said, "If you don't keep in touch with me, I will beat you up," which any loving mother should say. She was concerned with me leaving the house because no one will watch The Bachelorette with her. I watch Bachelor In Paradise sometimes with the girls on the team to be social. But then I felt weird, being the only guy, so I haven't watched it the last few weeks.

Do you still try and keep up with The Bachelor and Bachelorette franchises in college?

I did in high school to watch with my mom, and then I fell off of it a little bit. Once I started talking to Cory (Mull) a lot more and interviewing with him, I hopped back on it. I had to watch it so I could gossip with him. I will get back into it even still, in college, just for Cory.

Your dad famously finished his high school career with one of the fastest times in the country in a distance event — and learned about it on Track & Field News when he was in college. You finished your high school career with the fourth-fastest 3200m time in the country. You have the house record now, at least based on time. Who's got bragging rights? 

I definitely have them! I am the better-looking one too so I can hold that against him. 

He was a great coach. He balanced the father and coach dynamic perfectly. He trained me well but I think he did under-train me, so I have a lot of things I can work on. There are a lot of things that are untapped. Still, I would say I have the bragging rights even though he was my coach, so I give him some of the credit. I had the fastest times. Now he rabbits my mom for her 10K races. My dad is the slowest in the family. I have one younger brother, he's a freshman at Homestead; he ran like 16:49 in one of his first cross country race in high school. He's really dedicated and enjoying it, too, which is awesome to see.

What's your favorite part about college outside of athletics so far?

The independence. Just hanging out with the guys on the team. Yes, they're my teammates, but they're also my best friends out here. The freshmen have the [dining hall] swipes and the older classmates don't so that's the only upper hand we have on them. So when the upperclassmen are being nice or compliment me then I'll swipe them into the dining hall. That type of stuff and having real authentic interactions is the most special thing for me outside of running. It's then a ripple effect into running. It's different than home. My friends at home I had known since pre-K, best friends for 16 years. But here, I'm forming new relationships, and it's great. 

My roommate situation is great, too. My roommate, Corey Gorgas, is from Michigan. And Caleb Easton, also from Wisconsin, lives in our suite; I have known him for forever. Having those Midwest guys in the dorm with me is great. Our other roommate, Jake Tucker, is a thrower from Oregon, and he is such a teddy bear. He's the nicest guy ever, but if someone ever messed with me, I could just stand behind Jake and not even feel scared.

What do you plan to major in? We know you're a talented writer. I heard you're taking journalism courses. Are we going to see you in our office interning in a few years or what? 

If I have the opportunity to come hang out with you guys, I will definitely take the chance. I would love that! I will add some cool content ideas. I plan on majoring in journalism. I am taking the prerequisites for it and I am taking my first English class. Tyler Day on the team is also a journalism major. I am taking 16 credits. The academic advisors really help a lot at NAU. I have a meeting every Wednesday at 1:30 to go over how my week was and any upcoming stuff that I have on the radar. They check my planner, my grades, and ask how everything is going overall. I know every Wednesday they will check in, so I stay on top of my stuff. I have really enjoyed my classes this semester. I was never a math- or science-type of guy, always more of a writer. I want to develop my skills and people are looking out and helping me. School has been a smoother adjustment than I thought.

Do you have any advice for any distance runners out there trying to juggle their senior cross country season as well as recruiting visits?

Take all of the visits. Take as many as you can, or as many as you think you can handle. Enjoy the visits and getting to know programs and the schools that are interested in you. Soak that part in. But at the same time, as much as you are enjoying that, it's still your senior cross country season. I could've done a way better job last year enjoying the fall season with my teammates. I got too trapped in worrying too much about the future and not focusing on the moments. I was worrying about what other people thought about my decisions. Soak up the moments that are going to be special to you later; it's your last year of high school. You don't want to make the recruiting process what it's not. Look for the right things, and enjoy it all.

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If you're a recent graduate of 2019 and want to do a check-in interview similar to this, you can contact MileSplit Correspondent Parker Navarro on Twitter or email her at parker.navarro@flosports.tv.

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