While in law school at the University of Arizona, the 31-year-old Burrell from Colorado Springs, Colo., who is now an attorney, managed to log up to 110 miles a week as he prepared to compete in the marathon. He even got in a 2-mile “walk” the day that his wife, Courtney, informed him that they were expecting the birth of their daughter, Shaylee. He owns a 2:13:26 marathon PR and was the top U.S. finisher at the 2015 IAAF World Championships (25th) last August in Beijing. He came in 13th place as one of the top American contenders at the 120th Boston Marathon on April 18. We caught up with Burrell on marathon training tips, how he manages a work/run life balance, and overcoming setbacks:
What’s your secret to a work-run-life balance?
Get up early. You have to decide what you are going to do for training long in advance. If your alarm goes off at 5 a.m. and it’s cold, you’re going to want to say no to running, but if you don’t give yourself that option you will be surprised what you can push your body through. Make the decision once and everything else will follow.
Who is your running hero?
My dad. He was an All-American at Idaho State. He taught me the importance of getting all you can out of running—but making sure that’s not all you have in your life.
Favorite carbo-loading food?
I will eat everything. I don’t pay too much attention to food because I don’t want to focus too much on being rigid with that aspect of my preparation.
Advice on handling the marathon wall?
Keep pumping your legs and don’t think about anything else. Pick your knees up and move your arms. Break the race up into checkpoints and focus on getting to the next aid station.
What does it feel like to wear a USA singlet?
I definitely get a sense of pride. I also feel a little bit of pressure. When I’m wearing that special singlet, I always go to the well and tear myself inside out because I don’t know how many times I will get that honor.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I just come back to the fact that I love competing more than anything else. What really fuels me is putting a solid training block together and then toeing the line with some of the best runners in the world to see how I stack up. I never know when my opportunity is going to come where I have a race that’s a highlight of my career. I train hoping for such a highlight.