Cruz Culpepper not only has a name that sounds fast, he is in fact, fast.
Until this past year, Culpepper may have been better known as the son of US distance stars Alan and Shayne Culpepper. But the Niwot junior (then a sophomore) made a name for himself during the 2018 outdoor season at the Texas Relays when he ran 4:11.54 and took down his father's junior year personal best.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg for Culpepper.
He's got a 1:54.05, 4:11.54, and 15:23 personal bests to his name. Additionally, he's run 4:12.01 here in Colorado, at altitude.
He was one of the favorites for a state title in the 800 this year, but a tumble just after the first lap derailed what was to be one of the most anticipated races at state. Additionally, he finished third in the 1,600.
And he's just entering his junior year.
While he's quickly been adding up a laundry list of accolades, mostly in his second year of high school, or more specifically the second half of his second year of high school, it's important to note where he started.
As a freshman Culpepper held modest PRs of 4:32 in the 1,600 (he opened his season at 4:54), 10:11 in the 3,200, and 16:35.
Long story short, he's made as massive, massive leap in such a short time. Clearly, he found his stride, or, his optimal cruising speed...
Fortunately, Culpepper has shared some of his tip for improvement in this week's edition of Tips From The Top!
Cruz Culpepper's Tips From The Top:
1. The first and most important is a mental strategy my dad taught me. I'm sure all runners can say they have gone into that race mindset before they have even toed the line. Many times days before, basically where you are getting super hyped about the race and you get that tingly feeling. This is not good to do. It is essentially draining your adrenaline and your mental will power. One week before your race, lay down and Visualize Your Race and how you want it to play out. Then from there until you start warming up for your race try not to go to that place.
2. Consistency in your training. No "ehh, I'll just take a couple days off since I'm on vacation." Or missing more than one of day of training per week. Depending on what your coach says, of course. I don't train a lot of miles but I train hard and with purpose. Go into every day knowing what you need out of that particular day.
3. Hydration and nutrition. I drink around 80 or 90 oz a day. The amount you drink varies with weight. Then eat as much red meat as possible. You are breaking down the iron in your blood when you run, so it's important to replenish that iron by eating red meat. I also take iron supplements to further increase my iron intake. I learned about iron deficiency the hard way my freshman year and into my sophomore year of cross country. Also make sure you are getting as many calories in as possible. Running is very demanding and you want to always refuel fully.