Legion Profile: Sean Duncan

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This profile of Sean Duncan first appeared in our March/April 2013 issue.

Sean Duncan offers us some insights and some wit.  We asked him 10 essay questions and 10 short answer questions.  His responses are below.  Brace yourself.

10 “Essay” Questions

1.Who are you?  How did you get started in running?

I’m Sean Duncan. I started running at around 11 when my parents signed me up for a kids’ fun run at a local 5k my friends were all running.  I was always pretty athletic and I was an extremely hyperactive kid, so when I asked my mom, “How do I run this?” she jokingly said, “Just stick behind the leader until you see the finish line then out sprint him.” So that’s exactly what I did and I ended up setting the record, getting a trophy, and figured this running thing was something I could probably be pretty good at.

2.You are a member of the Western Mass Distance Project, which recently won the USATF-NE Club of the Year award (along with Whirlaway).  How has your involvement with WMDP helped your running?

Sean Duncan at the Falmouth Road Race. Photo by Joe Navas.

I think WMDP has helped with keeping me focused on what’s important and connected with people I genuinely care about. After graduating the daily routine changes a lot and some people really do get lost not knowing what to do anymore, thinking that’s the end of the road for their running career. WMDP keeps us in touch with the guys we spent 90% of our time with the past 4-5 years, and I think that helps to keep us all grounded as we move on with the next chapter of our lives. Not to mention it keeps me in great shape for the ladies.

3.The WMDP slogan is “Respect the Process.” Can you define that axiom? What does “respecting the process” look like on a daily basis?

I think the best person to accurately describe that axiom would be Andrew “Mulvs-Skrilla” Mulvaney, but I’ll try and do my best! I think for many of us it’s in line with the idea that it really is the little things that matter and dedicating yourself to the process or the journey is what eventually defines the outcome and the success of any endeavor. Everyone always sees the outcome of all the hard work and sacrifice, but to truly appreciate it you have to respect the process. If you don’t respect the process, you’ll never know success!

4.Rivalries are a major part of competitive club running. Those in the underground know you have a bit of a rivalry with Eric Ashe of the BAA.  What has this rivalry done for your running?  How do you think rivalries in general contribute to our sport?

Ahhh the “Bronzed Statue” himself! The rivalry between Eric and I (he wins 90% of the time) has been a fun and healthy thing for us because it’s always known that I’m gunning for him, and he doesn’t want to lose to a scrub like me. It makes us both better.  I’m like the annoying little gnat that keeps flying around his ear, but when he tries to whack me aside he just ends up hitting himself in the head. I think friendly rivalries like ours are an essential driving force behind our sport. It’s a lot easier for me to go out and run in freezing sleety rain when I know Eric is sitting inside doing bicep curls and applying fake suntan lotion.

5.What do you think is the hardest thing about the sport of running?

I think the hardest thing about the sport of running is combating the negativity that comes with getting out the door every day. Runners constantly wake up and complain about the weather, their workout, their loop, or whatever. Then they get 3 steps out the door and instantly realize why they love doing it all over again. Its one of those things that only fellow runners understand.  It’s also one of those things when a nonrunner asks, “Why do you run so much?”  you just think to yourself that he’ll never fully understand this thing that we do.

6.Describe your best performance and proudest accomplishment.

I would have to say my best performance was probably my senior year of high school at the Central Mass XC Championships. I had been battling back from an injury for over a year and really wasn’t on anybody’s radar going into the race, but my grandfather who had a large impact on my running died of cancer the week before and I dedicated the race to him, ran above and beyond any expectations, and ended up getting second.  That race is what ultimately set me up with the opportunity to run at UMass Amherst and was the catalyst to where I am now.

My proudest accomplishment probably had to be running 4 years under Coach O’Brien at UMass Amherst. A bunch of us were kicked off the roster after our freshman XC season and we all just worked our butts off that winter and ultimately got back on the team that spring and became the major contributors (distance-wise) to the team for the next few years. And many of that same group helped form WMDP. It’s all about respecting the process, and that’s a big lesson I think we all learned from our time at UMass.

7.What’s your “go to” workout?

My “go to” general workout is a pretty basic feel good workout: 4 x 200m @ 30sec w/ 200m jog in-between. Short and sweet but always leaves you feeling good! But when I want to get ready for a big steeple my favorite workout to do is 1 x 2k over hurdles @ goal pace, followed by 4 x 200m @ 30sec w/ 200m jog in-between. I use it as a confidence builder and sharpener.  I also  visualize how the race is going to feel. When you know you have 2/3 of a race down it makes handling that last 1/3 that much easier.

8.How do you know you’re ready to race?

When I’ve respected the process. No one in their right mind would train just to train.  Training is hard work, and I train to race. The reality is I don’t think there is ever a specific time or thing that I do when I feel I’m ready to race; I just prepare the best I can and then get excited to take advantage of any opportunity to see what I can do!

9.Do you run doubles?

I am a BIG fan of doubles! The most important part of training is recovery so that you can get the benefit of all that hard work. Doubles allow the body to recover from training workloads while constantly introducing training stimulus throughout the day. The one down side to doubles is that your whole day basically revolves around them. When I get the chance and have the opportunity I am definitely a fan of breaking workloads into manageable and quality pieces throughout the day. Though I have been known to get the occasional long run in…

10.What type of ancillary activities do you do to support your running ?

Drills, core work, general strength and conditioning, stretching, etc… My ancillary strength routine focuses a lot around hip strength and mobility, core stability, biomechanics, and efficiency.  I was fortunate to be taught these things at a young age and made plenty of mistakes along the way so that I was able to realize the importance of them. Now it’s my job to try and apply this stuff to the people and athletes with whom I work.  As an athlete there’s one guarantee you have if you’re training at a high level and that is that you will get injured at some point in time. Doing the daily things that will help minimize the severity and frequency of those injuries is what makes all the difference.

Duncan (center) racing w/ teammates Naranjo (left) and Ayr at the Amherst 10 Miler. Photo by Ben Kimball.

1o Short Answers from Sean Duncan

1.Height and Weight?
6’ or 6’1” 145-50lbs. Depends what part of the season!

2.Nick/Code Name?
Popular ones include: Phillup, Cheese, or any creative variation of Dunc or Duncan.

3.Favorite Athlete?
Sebastian Coe

4.Best Book You’ve Ever Read?
That’s tough, there are lots of good ones out there and I love to read. I do enjoy a good fiction novel from time to time. Tie between 50 Shades of Grey & Pride and Prejudice.

5.Favorite Band/Song?
Changes all the time, depends on my mood. Basically a mix between DMB and Skrillex, sprinkled with a little Metallica and Mozart, topped off with some Biggie and Dixie chicks.

6.Favorite Movie?
Forrest Gump obviously

7.Favorite Food?
Anything from Franklin Dining Hall

8.Local Running Role Model?
Tim Ritchie, Nate Jenkins, Michael Banks, Jon Korhonen, etc… CMass guys who tear/tore it up and made me believe I could too.

9.Running Site most Frequented?
Level Renner of course

10.Other Hobbies?
Mid calf socks, laxing it up with the bros, tossing the disk, rocking pinnies, pastels, and snapbacks. Moonlight walks on the beach, candle lit dinners, a warm fire, the smell of fresh cut grass, cuddling, romance novels, a good glass of wine, and chocolate.


To read more the March/April 2013 issue, click here.

To read more from our current issue, click here.

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