Michael Crouch makes new strides

Sarah Porter and Michael Crouch | Courtesy of Michael Crouch 

 

Hailing from the desert of Yucca Valley, California, Michael Crouch has always been determined about his running and studies. Crouch never missed a practice and spent countless hours outside of practice working on small things such as his form.
Crouch is a perfectionist. If he has to run 10 miles, he will run exactly 10 miles, not one step more or less. With school, Crouch always has been on top of things, sacrificing a large part of his social life.
All of that hard work has paid off for him in a big way. Upon graduating from Queens last spring, Crouch has now gone on to run professionally for Zap Fitness, a nonprofit training center for post-collegiate, Olympic hopeful distance runners, based in Blowing Rock, N.C.
There are currently 12 members on the club’s roster, eight men and four women. Zap Fitness is one of only around 30 elite post-collegiate running clubs in the nation.
At Zap Fitness, Crouch receives a $500 monthly stipend, free housing, food, healthcare, travel, gear – and  access to free massage therapy. Since it becomes quite cold in the mountains of North Carolina in the winter, the team migrates south to train in Tallahassee, Fla., and Greenville, S.C., where he is currently.
Crouch transferred to Queens in the fall of 2008 from CSU San Marcos and posted a record that established him as one of Queens’ most successful athletes. Among his accomplishments: 2009 NCAA Division II Indoor Track Champion in the 5k, 2009 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track champion in the 1,500 meters and a 2010 NCAA Division II Cross Country individual National Championship. He also owns the school record in the 5k with a time of 13:40.
After graduation, he wanted to take his running career to the next level.
One of Crouch’s options was to train in Colorado under former Queens Coach Scott Simmons, who resigned in January to coach at the American Distance Project in Colorado Springs. Crouch said Simmons approached him last spring with the idea. Crouch turned down the offer, and instead contacted former USA Track & Field President Bill Roe to see what he could do for him. Crouch’s fiancé; Sarah Porter, who herself is a National Champion runner, had been in contact with Roe as well. Roe put Crouch and Porter in contact with Pete Rea, the head coach and coordinator of Zap Fitness.
Crouch and Porter officially signed with the group in August.
“I enjoy it (Zap Fitness) more than I thought I would,” said Crouch. “No financial problems takes a lot of stress off of me, which leads to a better career.”
The training at Zap fitness is less structured than at Queens. “(Coach) Simmons had the same weekly plan that we would always follow,” said Crouch. For example, Tuesdays were speed interval workout days, Fridays were tempo-run days (running a specified amount of miles fast) and Sundays were long run days.
The training at Zap is different every week. Most of Crouch’s workouts consist of “fartleks.” A fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, involves running at a given pace for a specified amount of time. Fartleks can be as short as 30 seconds to as long as 30 minutes.
The training, according to Crouch, has him in the best shape of his life. A few weeks ago, Crouch traveled with Porter and a few of their Zap teammates for a 5k road race in Armagh, Northern Ireland, and a 6k cross country race in HEirann (note to editors: the “E” is capitalized on purpose), Ireland.
The road race went better than expected for Crouch, who clocked in a time of 13:55, a new personal record on the roads for him. The cross country race did not go as well as he had planned. Right off the start, one of Crouch’s teammates spiked him in his left foot, which caused him to bleed immediately. Crouch debated dropping out, but decided to keep going.
“I felt like I was going to throw up,” said Crouch. He not only completed the race, but finished in 6th place.
Crouch spent the rest of his time in Europe sightseeing with his teammates. This was the first time Crouch had traveled outside of the U.S. “It was interesting to see how they (Irish) operate differently,” said Crouch. “Their sausages taste weird.”
Crouch has a busy schedule of racing on the track this spring and summer. His races will include:
  • The Raleigh Relays (5k)
  • Mt. Sac Invitational (5k)
  • Stanford Payton Jordan Invitational (10k)
  • USA Olympic Trials (5k and 10k)
  • Possibly a few races in Europe

Aside from running, Crouch plans to marry Porter in either the upcoming fall or winter in her home state of Washington.

 

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.