Casimir (Cas) Loxsom has been blazing a fast track to success in 2015. The 24-year-old middle-distance runner, who finished third in the 800 meters at the U.S. Outdoor Championships in June and set an American record (1:15.33) in winning the 600 meters at the national indoor championships on March 1, will represent the U.S. at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing on Saturday when he lines up for the qualifying heats of the 800 meters.
The Seattle-based Loxsom, who trains as a member of the Brooks Beasts Track Club with six-time national 800m champion Nick Symmonds and 2015 U.S. indoor 600m runner-up Mark Wieczorek under the watchful eye of Beasts coach Danny Mackey, is hoping he can carry his momentum all the way through the Aug. 23 semifinals and eventually into the finals on Aug. 25.
We caught up with Loxsom and Mackey this week to see how he’s been preparing for the most important event of his life. Take their excellent advice to heart as you get ready for your own big races later this summer or fall.
1. He has a clearly defined training goal every day.
“Be intentional each day with a goal,” Mackey preaches in regard to training.
Loxsom usually does two traditional speed workouts a week, Mackey says, and during the meat of middle-distance training, time trials and fast 300- and 400-meter repetitions are commonplace.
“Six-hundred meter time trials and 3 x 400m are two really good indicator [workouts] for me,” says Loxsom, who ran collegiately for Penn State and finished second in the 800 at the 2013 NCAA outdoor championships. “If I can run in the 1:14 range or be able to complete 3 x 400 somewhere around 51, 50 and 49 [seconds], I’m in a good spot.”
A typical easy day for Loxsom consists of a 60-minute run on soft surfaces, usually at 6:50-7:15 per mile pace—or even slower if he’s feeling a little rough around the edges.
“I don’t get baited into fast runs too often,” Loxsom admits, “but if I’m feeling especially tired, I’ll often opt to run with the women’s team on easy days.
Mackey says he’ll also have Loxsom do “something fast”—but not a full workout—three times a week in addition to his easy runs so he’s never too far removed from the high-speed demands of world class middle-distance running.
“If it the goal for Cas is to recover, he recovers,” Mackey says. “If the goal is to run all out until he pukes, he’s done that too.”
2. He’s kept up with strength training and form drills.
Even while peaking for his biggest races of the season, Loxsom has kept up with his strength training program and regularly works on his running form.
“Lifting is a staple of my training. Improving my base strength in the weight room and dynamic explosiveness are assets for the power aspect of sprinting,” Loxsom says. “I’m always the most confident when I haven’t left anything undone. It’s easier said than done, but knowing I put the work in does wonders for confidence.”
Mackey says Loxsom hits the weight room twice a week throughout the season and completes a full-body routine consisting of Olympic lifts, multi-direction runner-specific lifts, core work and plyometrics. He also pays works on his running form multiple times a week, regularly doing a series of drills and short sprints on the track in addition to his more traditional speed workouts.
3. He keeps calm and works on his confidence.
Loxsom is a big believer in maintaining a consistent routine in the days leading up to a big race, which he says helps him stay calm and confident while preventing him from overthinking the task at hand.
“I try not to overthink big meets too much,” Loxsom says. “I lead each day as close to normal as I can and keep my mind off the race. If I stress out about it too early in the week, that can spell trouble.”
Mackey likes to weave mental training into Loxsom’s key speed workouts and has him visualize the various scenarios he might face in a high stakes situation. In a race that doesn’t even last for 2 minutes, being able to instinctually and confidently respond to a slow start, erratic pacing or unfortunate positioning is crucial to achieving your desired outcome.
“Sometimes I give simple cues to visualize an aspect of the race while he is running or right before a repeat,” Mackey says. “Yesterday, he did pace changes and was made aware of how he felt. Cas prefers to have one plan that is the focus—via splits at certain points in the race—and from there be aware and prepared since anything can happen.”