Sophomore Matthew Collins Talks About His Life as a Distance Runner

By John Sullivan ‘21

Matthew Collins ‘21 warms up for a distance Track workout.
Photo by John Sullivan ‘21

“I started running in middle school. My goal was to beat our current mile record.”

Sophomore Matthew Collins broke that record, and continues to run as one of the top ‘milers’ for Regis Jesuit Track. Last season, he broke the 5 minute mark, running a 4:58 for a new PR. To put that into perspective, it is equivalent to sprinting once around an entire track in 1 minute and 15 seconds… and doing that 4 times.

Growing up, running was a big part of Matthew’s family. His parents ran all the time. So it was a given that Matthew would be a runner, and when he first started running early in middle school this was proved to be true.

It is common for many people to decline an offer to go for a run, and running is not commonly seen as the most entertaining thing ever. Matthew felt this way too. But he persevered, and as time went by he learned to like it more and more.

Matthew said that the best way to go about this sport and to get over that initial grudge when it’s time to go for a run is to “Find a team, run a lot, and don’t focus on times at first because those will improve a lot.”

Before you can be good at a sport, you have to want to do it in the first place.

“For example,” Matthew says, “Nick Faestel (a junior at Regis Jesuit High School), from his Freshman year to his Sophomore year, Dropped from 22 minutes to 17 minutes in his 5K time for cross country.” A drop like this in running is a huge improvement. Nick spent his freshman year getting to know and like running, and once he accomplished that, he focused on his times and made a huge improvement. “So I would say to run hard and get a lot of miles in, but don’t focus on your times at first.”

When Matthew was younger, he found inspiration in the top distance runners at the time, especially athletes like Steve Prefontaine. Prefontaine was an Olympic runner who had very average times in high school, but because of his passion and dedication to the sport, took off in his running career and set many records, as well as taking gold for the 5000m in the 1971 olympics.

“I look up to these people for, you know, their passion and dedication towards the sport, and… they’re really fast,” says Matthew.

Matthew also speaks highly of his middle school coach, Tristan Mitchell, who sponsored their whole cross Country team to compete in the NXR (regional Cross Country championships), and because he helped Matthew and his teammates to become better runners and better people.

Before race days, Matthew makes it a goal to relax, eat a lot of carbs, drink a lot of water, and most importantly stick to a routine. If he doesn’t follow a strict routine before races, for example if he were to roll out his legs for an hour one day before a race, his mentality towards the next race would be incomplete and might affect his performance.

After Track or Cross Country season, Matthew takes around two weeks of rest and doesn’t do any intense training. But after those two weeks, he hits it hard again and does a lot of long runs with a high pace. He enjoys running with friends, either from school or elsewhere, but he also enjoys running by himself.

Matthew shows an enormous amount of dedication to his sport, contributing more than enough time and effort into each practice and when he’s running by himself, but he also manages to not let that affect his academics. Matthew made the Highest Honor Roll for first semester of 2018/2019 school year, which is definitely not an easy accomplishment.

Matthew broke records in middle school, and he is on route to set even more this season and in the seasons to come.