In summer, you have to travel great distances to see Mark Husted run 800s, but he was a frequent sight at close-to-Colorado indoor meets this last winter. Colorado Track XC file photo by Alan Versaw.
Coming out of high school, Northglenn High School graduate Mark Husted boasted only a 2:04 PR in the 800m, yet today he lines up and competes with the likes of Nick Symmonds and Duane Solomon. Needless to say, Mark did not take the traditional route to becoming a professional runner. Walking on to what was then a mediocre DII track team, Mark worked hard and gave himself a chance. Mark helped take the Colorado School of Mines to the national power they are today in middle distance and distance running. After his collegiate career, where he earned a MS and BS in engineering, he turned pro, signing with Brooks. Recently he returned from Europe and was able to sit down and talk with Colorado Track XC about his journey.
Colorado Track XC: Your high school background probably isn't a typical one for a professional runner. What made you want to walk on in college?
Husted: I talked to the Mines track coach at the time, Scott Van Sickle, during the last couple of races during my senior year of high school and he seemed super unimpressed with my times. I felt like there was no chance of me running in college, and I ended my high school career on a little sour note. I did not qualify for the state meet and thought my running days were over. I was unfamiliar with how the college system worked, but Scott signed me up as a walk-on to the Mines team. I wanted to walk on because I knew I had a lot more potential that was not utilized during high school, and I really wanted to break the two minute barrier.
Colorado Track XC: I know when I got to college I discovered it was a whole new level, did you have a moment like that? What gave you the drive to continue?
Husted: I took college running in little steps, and I was not used to running year round. I found that by setting little short-term goals I was able to stay motivated and taste little successes even during the off season. Also, running with a team and working out with friends always helps.
Colorado Track XC: What key factor(s) allowed you to turn the corner in college, from solid high school runner to elite collegiate athlete?
Husted: For me just getting older, bigger, and training during off season. In high school I never ran a step outside of the two month long seasons. Also, I had not fully matured in high school. I entered college as a 5"4' skinny boy. I grew an inch every year of college and that really helped my stride.
Colorado Track XC: Being at an elite academic school during college, how did you balance school and running? Is there anything you would change about that?
Husted: I found the Colorado School of Mines to be the perfect school for me. I excelled in the math and science fields and enjoyed the technical classes. In order to balance school and running I would set aside a couple of hours after all workouts to decompress and recover before I started school work.
Colorado Track XC: When you race athletes like Nick Symmonds or Duane Solomon, how do you focus on the task at hand and not let their star status intimidate you?
Husted: It is always exciting to race against some of the best in the world. When it comes to last 100m it does not matter what you have done in the past, it is who can prove them self this time, right here, right now. I have raced both of these guys and I had a moment where I thought I could make a move around them, but they are the top guys for a reason. Giving yourself a chance is all you can ask for.
Colorado Track XC: Any other advice you have for high school athletes?
Husted: Give yourself a chance, and make sure you get your sleep. Enjoy every successful workout and every new PR.
And, I want to thank Brooks for all the support they have given me. Brooks has helped me chase new PRs and allowed me to race all over the world. You can follow me on twitter and instagram @markahusted.