At Austin Fit, we strive to know all the athletes among us in our community. David Fuentes is an elite distance runner and a member of the USATF Mountain Running Team. He was a part of of the team that won gold at the 2016 World Championships, and is currently training for the World Championships in Andorra taking place on September 16. We caught up with him to hear more about what mountain running training looks like in our wonderful city of Austin.
Can you give a little background about how you got involved in
I grew up playing soccer over the course of my younger years and dabbled in running a little bit as well. My first real race was in the third grade at the Christmas Jingle Bell Jog where I took third overall, but I really didn’t get back to running seriously until the summer of my junior year at Boerne High School. We had a great team, with some talented runners, and it was under my high school coach Dave Fulkerson, that we won a couple of state titles in cross country. At the time I didn’t realize it, but now I know my high school coach, and teammates were a huge part of developing the discipline necessary to further my running career.
How does one train for the sport of mountain running in Austin? What does that look like?
To train for mountain running, you have to find the biggest, baddest hills in the city and surrounding areas, and just aim for doing repeats on them. You can’t realistically climb more than 500-800 feet at a time, in a half a mile distance, and at an elevation of only 1,000 feet above sea level. So I have to substitute by adding in long tempos through hilly sections. That will help build a strong aerobic base while utilizing climbing as well.
Do you also have train elsewhere to prepare for the low air density and high elevation, or can it all be done in Austin?
It’s pretty hard to mimic altitude training here in Austin, but luckily we have humidity. Humidity has similar effects that altitude does. The more moisture in the air, the less oxygen, the harder to breathe. I have made a couple of trips out to Colorado, but you really need to spend a couple of months to see any real benefit of altitude training.
How many miles a week on average do you run/train? How quickly do you cycle through shoes?
When I am running short distance races, I typically keep my miles fairly conservative at 70-85 per week. But once I start building for a fall or winter marathon, I build my mileage up to about 75-110 miles per week. I typically rotate shoes out around 300-500 miles. I go through shoes fairly quickly when building for marathons.
What does rest and recovery look like?
I work full time, so I typically don’t get the rest and recovery that I would like to get. I am up pretty early to get my run in before work, get a full day in at work, head home and spend time with my darlin’, and also try to squeeze some time working on some of my vintage vehicles.
How do you fuel for training and races and also during races?
I like to live by the 90/10 rule. Ninety percent of the time you are eating well, ten percent of the time, it’s whatever. I also like to keep it as simple as possible and think of food as fuel—unless it’s tortilla chips or cookies. My diet typically consists of getting as many calories as I can. Good beer, good food, and good tacos is what I typically eat. The longer the race, I will typically take in more hydration and/or gels. Before a race I will usually have some sort of simple meal like oatmeal, or rice and eggs.
What’s your favorite part about competing?
My favorite part about competing is trying to get your body into that deep dark place that you couldn’t put yourself in during training. To really push your limits, to see what you can do. Sometimes you come up short, but there is always the next one.
What does it mean to be able to represent the U.S. in this sport?
Representing the U.S. was my first goal after I finished college. To be able to compete in the red, white, and blue is something you dream about as a young runner, and I wear that jersey with pride.
What has been the most rewarding thing about being on the team?
Winning gold at the World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria in 2016 has been the most rewarding thing thus far. It has been equally rewarding meeting new friends on the team, and from other countries.
What specifically are you looking forward to the most about the upcoming championships in Andorra?
I am looking forward to competing for another gold with my teammates. Running is such an individual sport, to be able to work with a team for a common goal is something that really excites me.
Last but not least, what is your favorite thing about living in Austin and what do you like to do for fun here?
I love the running community in this town, the tacos, and the spirit of Austin. I run for fun, rebuild classic vehicles and rent them out, and spend time with the people I love! I am a Texan through and through, and I love this city.