Multiview 12: Coston Perkins

4 Apr

The Florida Running Company store popped up in the Grove while I was away last summer. I was psyched to find it upon my return because I’d just started training for my first half marathon and FRC was offering a bunch of group runs and training support. I only went to one of those runs before I got sucked into Alien Endurance but it was on that run that I met Coston for the first time. Since then, we can’t seem to stop bumping into each other. I see him out in the Grove pacing groups all the time. I see him and his lovely girlfriend at every local single race. Now, whenever I go into the store, he’s the one working and helping me out. Coston is all about the run. He’s got enviable form and is extremely generous with both his time and his knowledge. Here is Coston’s story:

Name: Coston Perkins
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, AL
Current Town: Miami, FL
Sport(s) of Choice: Running, cycling, and triathlon
Longest Distance Covered and on what (feet/bike/skis/snowshoes/etc…): Marathon (running,) Century (cycling,) and olympic triathlon
Occupation: Manager @ Florida Running Company

How long have you been into athletics and specifically running? Did you participate in any other sports as a kid?

I played baseball and football as a kid, but never had any competitive ambitions. I really fell in love with running in 2007 after I ran my first race ever: the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, AL. It was a rough day. I used to build Mercedes-Benz cars back in Alabama, so I had a free entry. Now I don’t know how I even trained for it. I remember specific short runs around the block, followed by passing out on my apartment floor, but I couldn’t tell you if I even ran over an 8 miler. In the race I made it all the way to mile 19, and that’s when I hit the steepest wall of my life. I ended up finishing the race with an eighty year old man running his one hundredth marathon. His posse revived me with gummy candies and motivation. I ran a 5:41:42 at that one. One year later I improved it to 3:29:15.

You work at my favorite running store (Florida Running Company) and are very active in the local running scene. Is it all running all the time for you? How do you balance your own training with the group stuff?

It feels like running all the time for me. The group runs are great. I’m very against the egotistical, “I’ve gotta get my own training in” idea. Group runs are for fun. It doesn’t really matter to me if I’m running at my general pace or running really slowly, group runs give you time on your feet, form work, and good time. I can usually plan how I want to run with the groups based on what I have to do that week. It’s still about planning. I like to use the group runs as ‘shake out’ runs on quality days. The staff at work tend to want to do the runs as much as me, so we kind of have a rotation as to who gets to run at work.

What do you eat?

I was vegan for several years. Now I favor veggies, but enjoy eating meat and seafood on occasion. For breakfast I usually have a mug of granola and soy milk, followed by a whole 8 cup french press of coffee. Post-workouts I’ll drink Pacific Labs Chocolate Endurox, First Endurance Cappuccino Ultragen, or lots of soy milk. A typical lunch is usually burrito oriented. If I’m at work I can usually get the staff all worked up and mouths watering over Lokal burgers, so we order out. We like that place. Finally, for dinner my girlfriend Ali and I cook a lot of simple meals. Staple foods are homemade pizza, butternut squash ravioli, and Gardein meat-less products.

You mentioned that you recently got back into triathlon. How is that going? How has your training changed? How are you preparing for upcoming races?

I love triathlon. It can be obscene how much money is usually involved compared to running, but it feels so good mixing the training up. I was running 70-88 mpw for the past 6 months; now I’m spending almost half of my total time on the bike, 30% running and 20% in the water and strength. I can’t wait to actually race tri again this summer. Life is much different from when I was in college. I used to skip out on swim training a lot, therefore I sucked at it. I’m much more comfortable in the pool these days, and I hope to have my first decent performance in the water this summer. I’m also looking to do some cycling racing down here. I’m a Cat 4 racer on the bike, and I’d love to be a 3.

Can you recall a particularly challenging moment in training or racing? How did you deal with it?

At the 2009 Collegiate Nationals Triathlon my foot was squelching out blood by the second mile of the 10k. The insoles of my Lunaracers were tearing up my arch. I had the most painful race of my life. I’m proud that I didn’t quit. The shoes were so gross and covered with thick blood at the end. I hardened up a lot that day, but couldn’t walk too well for a couple of weeks. I’ve also gotten into transition to find an air pressure tire explosion flat waiting for me after the swim. I think it’s really important to be able to change a tube quickly. At the Hickory Knob Triathlon in South Carolina, I had the fastest tube changing experience of my life.

Above-referenced bloody shoes.

Any interesting/funny/inspiring stories you want to share from training or racing?

I credited the 2nd place finish at my first cycling race ever to the dogs I would always have to sprint from near my house in AL. Three mean dogs used to chase me up a hill almost every day because I commuted by bike, and it was kind of country. I had lots of power in the cannon back then. I carried noise makers, bb guns, and rocks, but they chased me for several years. While running it was pretty nerve-racking, but on the bike getting chased by dogs has the consequences of crashing out, road rash, getting mauled, and then being run over by the eighteen wheelers that frequently sped through that area. Nonetheless, I became a better cyclist.

Talk to me about equipment/product. What do you wear? What do you ride? What gels do you like?

I love Nike racing flats. The Streak XC will forever be my favorite racing flats. Right now I prefer to train in the Newton Distance. The Cannondale Caad has always been my steadfast steed. I bought a Caad9 with Shimano 105/Ultegra in 2007, and it has been so good to me. I used to use ITU style short aero bars for triathlon. Today the Caad9 is called War Machine, as its clear coat has been beat to hell after five years of training and commuting. My girlfriend and I just got matching black Caad10s with Rival/Force components.

I used to use the Nike T-Speed triathlon shoes, but after I went cycling specific for a while, I prefer Mavic Zxelliums. GU gels carry well while running; Pro bars, GU chomps, PB&Js eat well on the bike, and I drink lots of Nuun. The greatest purchase I ever made, of things I don’t really need, is the Garmin Forerunner 305. Being able to really gauge your effort based on pace and heart rate makes a big difference. Now I have the Forerunner 610 for running, the Edge 500 for my bike, and an FR60 for swimming and strength data. I really want a 910xt, but I have to prove my commitment to the water if I’m going to get one.

Any advice for the “noobs” out there?

Get your gait and form analyzed for running, pay for the professional bike fitting, and master’s swim coaching is the jam. Getting on a training plan is so important. Whether it be downloading a cookie cutter plan from the internet, or hiring a private coach, following a well periodized training plan is the ideal path to healthy running without injury, or even stress from trying to decide what you’ll do that day! I suggest that everyone take the time to understand the training theories of their sport. Read the works of Jack Daniels, Joe Friel, Steve Magness, and others. Maybe take a coaching certification course. It’ll give you insight as to why you’re doing certain workouts, or even why some just aren’t working out. I feel that I’m pretty well equipped to develop my own plan now, but I treat myself almost as a client. I plan my workouts weeks, sometime months, ahead in Training Peaks, and then stick to the plan. If I have hiccups, I adjust, but I adjust with the same principles that I’ve learned for the theories that I’ve studied. Most of all I think having an outside coach is the simplest way to success and planning. I’ve had a couple of amazing, smart coaches before, but now I’m taking a moment to explore what event I want to really focus on long term, and later hire a coach based on that decision.

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself or your sports life?

If you’re not active in some sort of athletics, start. It has completely changed my life. I used to be only interested in brainy things. When I found my passion in running, I gained a new sense of self, and quality of living definitely went up. I have more energy now than I did when I was a teenager, and I’m setting up the greatest retirement plan of all: a healthy body.

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3 Responses to “Multiview 12: Coston Perkins”

  1. Alexandra Gonzenbach April 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    What a fun and informative interview! Thanks!!

    • mymultipersonality April 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

      any interest in doing one yourself?

      • Alexandra Gonzenbach April 5, 2012 at 2:22 am #

        an interview or a tri? yes to both! 🙂

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