Luke Landis

Sport: Men’s track, cross country

Age: 22

Year: Senior

Hometown: Norwalk

Major: Finance and economics

 

Question: Let’s start with your profile picture on Twitter: a young man wearing a backpack and a red cap and gazing at some not-so-distant snow-peaked mountains. I’m going to take a stab and say that photo was not taken in Norwalk. Am I right?

Answer: Yes, that’s a picture from me this summer in Colorado, when my best friend, Annie Ubbing, came to visit. We hiked at Rocky Mountain National Park, where she took this picture. These particular mountains are called the Never Summer Mountains, and they, along with the rest of the hike, were breathtaking.

 

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Q: Back to Norwalk, what was the hot topic in town there this summer?

A: I actually didn’t make it to Norwalk this summer. However, the longtime track coach at Norwalk retired this past season, so I guess that was a big deal.

Q: A lot of OSU football fans will know that Norwalk is where famed coach Paul Brown was born, but most probably don’t realize that the norovirus got its name from the city after an outbreak at an elementary school 50 years ago. Is that fact generally discussed in Norwalk?

A: Yes. While I don’t know much about Paul Brown, I definitely heard about the infamous norovirus plenty of times growing up.

Q: Let’s move on to your health. You weren’t able to compete in cross country in 2017. Was that one injury or have you had a string of them?

A: That spring, I had fractured the third and fourth metatarsals on my left foot for the second year in a row. Frustrated, I didn’t take my rehab/recovery process as seriously as I should have (my teammates endearingly refer to me during that time period as Fat Luke). As a consequence, I wasn’t fit enough to compete in the fall.

Q: Besides rest, what can a distance runner do to heal from an injury like that?

A: Time is the main component, but making sure you’re taking the right supplements (calcium, vitamin D), sleeping enough, eating right, and doing your rehab definitely is beneficial. Cross training during time off from running also helps.

Q: What about prevention? I read that you felt like you didn’t physically adjust very well to college life compared with high school. Is that accurate?

A: Coming into college, I definitely didn’t appreciate all of the little things outside of running that it takes to be successful, because I didn’t really need to focus on them in high school. However, I now realize that running is only one or two hours of your day, and finding success in this sport depends heavily on how you spend the other 22-23 hours. If you’re not doing everything right, it will come back to bite you, but if you take training seriously, you’ll reap the rewards.

Q: For example, now that you’re a fifth-year senior, what can you say about your sleep patterns then as opposed to now?

A: Then, I’d often be up until midnight or later working on school stuff, but now that is much different. It helps being in a house with guys on the team to hold me accountable, but now I get at least eight hours of sleep a night. It has also helped me to keep track of how much I’m sleeping, as seeing concrete numbers about when I go to bed/wake up keep me from being delusional about being committed.

Q: What about diet? Do you still eat whatever you want whenever you want it?

A: I’m not super-restrictive about my diet, but I’m conscious about what I put into my body. I try not to eat out too often or eat too much processed food, and am much better about making sure I’m eating enough fruits and vegetables.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat meal?

A: I like pizza or ice cream sparingly, but I'd say my favorite cheat meal would have to be Taco Bell. I’m notorious on the team for loving Taco Bell, though I have it very rarely.

Q: While we’re still on the topic of wellness, on a scale from 1 to 10, what is the value of stretching before a run?

A: It’s important to make sure you’re ready to run, so we do a dynamic stretching routine before every run. It’s also important to take care of your body afterward, so I spend a good amount of time on a foam roller/stretching and in the ice tub. Overall, I’d put it at an 8.

Q: Your OSU bio lists your career-best times in all sorts of distances — 800 meters, 1,500, mile, 3,000, 5k, 6k, 8k, 10k. Do you have a favorite?

A: It has to be the mile. I focused on the 5,000m more in outdoor season and consider that to be my primary event, but being so close to breaking the four-minute (mile) barrier is exciting. That’s definitely one of the goals I have set for myself after this cross country season.

Q: You made the NCAAs in the 5,000 in the spring. What was that experience like?

A: It was very fulfilling and felt like all of the work I’d done was worth it. My coach, Khadevis Robinson, prepared me for the different ways the qualifying race could have gone, and I felt like that was one of the reasons I was able to pull through and qualify. Running against the best athletes in the nation was exciting, but I didn’t give myself enough credit and performed accordingly (he finished 23rd). I’m definitely taking what I learned into my fifth year, hoping to be even more successful.

Q: Right after the NCAAs you started an internship in Denver, right? Who did you work for, what did you do and how did it go?

A: I was at CoBank, the largest bank in the Farm Credit System, as a capital markets intern. I got to work on some of the energy deals the bank was doing, including a few renewable energy projects, which I found interesting. Overall, the internship gave me valuable workplace experience that I’ll be able to take with me as I start a full-time career next year.

Q: Most finance majors I’ve met are so cheap they squeak. Are you in that category, or are you a free spender?

A: I’m definitely in that category — I don’t often spend money on things outside of the essentials. However, I am more of a free spender when it comes to books.

Q: I’ll assume you ran a lot when you were in Colorado. Do all those miles at altitude help or hurt now that you’re back closer to sea level?

A: They help; that’s one of the main reasons seven of us went out there. Less oxygen makes your body more efficient when you get to sea level. The first few weeks of running were noticeably harder, but we got used to it quickly. It was good to have a group out there, as it laid the foundation for the upcoming season. I believe the underclassmen on the team are already talking about going out themselves next year.

Q: And we’ll end where we began: Your Twitter profile includes your name, your handle (@Luke_Landis) and this statement: Almost is my middle name. Please explain.

A: My parents weren’t very conventional when naming me (just kidding). It started as self-deprecating humor in high school. But if you look, I’ve been close to big achievements many times (three-time state runner-up, etc.), so maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. But it was only ever intended to be a joke.

rstein@dispatch.com