As the sun peaks, it’s blazing hot rays over the Sandia Mountain Range where a group of gleaming runners complete another long run. This group spends their Sundays running on a historic 600 year-old path along the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, New Mexico – once named the Duke City after the Duke of Albuquerque. Drawing from the city’s history, this team of runners calls itself the The name “Dukes Track Club” doesn’t necessarily mean they are exclusive to the track. In fact, the team participates in a variety of events including road races, cross country events, ultras, and mountain races - basically the whole gambit of running events.
Some were shocked to learn that there were no post-collegiate teams in the Albuquerque area. The Dukes Track Club was assembled in 2009 by a few post-colligate runners looking to maintain a team running atmosphere and improve their times. That first year, the team solidified itself as a running powerhouse when they took second place at the men’s USA Cross Country Championships. This attracted the interest of several runners, and set the team’s growth in motion. In 2010, one member qualified for the 10,000m USA Track and Field Championships, and got to toe the line with great runners like Galen Rupp. The following year, that same runner qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon.
Currently, some of team’s accolades include: an 8:58 steeplechaser, a 2008 Olympic steeplechase female from Japan, marathoners in their 50’s running sub 3 hours, masters competitors in all age divisions, women running sub 18:00 in the 5k, a handful of sub 2:20 male marathoners, women running under 3 hours in the marathon, a 50k trail champion, and a slew of milers and speedsters looking for that elusive sub 4 minute mile barrier.
Tips From our Elites
One of the most important components of training for the Dukes Track Club is recovery. Since nearly everyone on the team enjoys grinding out the miles, we take recovery very seriously. A major aspect of recovery is cell recovery and flushing out the muscles properly. The Zensah Compression Socks are worn daily by the team’s athletes, and have become a crucial part of the recovery process. Nutrition is the most obvious form of recovery, but isn’t so obvious to many. Marathoners will strategically place bottles on their long runs to replenish their fluids halfway through. Calorie intake is huge when training for any distance longer than 10 miles. For this reason, gels are a must! (we are lucky and honored to have the support from Honey Stinger) Our team’s mentality is, “If I can have more fuel in my run, then I can run faster during my workout!” It’s a simple concept, but some runners choose not to fuel during a run, or replenish immediately after a run.
Along with recovery, being goal oriented and aware of your fitness level are key aspects of training. All too often, an athlete will train at goal race pace, instead of training at their current fitness level. Your fitness will naturally improve with consistency and proper recovery. If you push yourself too much, you might develop injuries or other problems. It’s more effective and beneficial to acknowledge your current fitness level, and slowly push the envelope from there. Working down from a high goal creates a risk of over-training, along with the possible disappointment from not achieving that goal.
Another helpful tip to improve your training is to find a group of awesome runners within your community, like the Dukes Track Club. On a team, you are able to train, recover, and share in the journey of running with other people working towards their goals!