Luke Puskedra’s promising return to a career running marathons has largely been a one-man operation.
Not any longer.
In mid-October, the former Oregon distance all-American joined the Nike-sponsored Oregon Track Club Elite professional training group in Eugene.
He’s now being coached by Mark Rowland and getting his body fine-tuned by strength and conditioning coach Jim Radcliffe.
On Sunday, he’ll take his new arrangement out for a test run when he competes in the Houston Half Marathon.
Former Oregon teammate Jordan Hasay will also be running the women’s half marathon in Houston.
“We just kind of want to see how the training is working,” Puskedra said Tuesday following his appearance at the TrackTown Tuesday town hall meeting at the Downtown Athletic Club. “Coach Rowland’s training is so much different than anything I’ve done and he wanted to see how it would go in a performance. At the end of the day, you can train all you want but you want it to correlate with good performances.”
Puskedra has had plenty of those since coming out of a self-imposed hiatus from running back in 2015, starting with a fifth-place finish at the Chicago Marathon that year when he ran the fastest time by an American, 2 hours, 10 minutes, 24 seconds.
It was a triumphant return for Puskedra, who graduated from Oregon in 2012 and immediately joined the Nike Oregon Project and coach Alberto Salazar in Portland. Two years later he was burned out and done with running.
But a move back to Eugene rekindled his desire and in 2016, just months after his success in Chicago, Puskedra nearly earned a spot in the Rio Olympics when he finished fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.
In 2017 he was ninth at the Boston Marathon, then finished 20th at the Chicago Marathon this past fall which was won by former Oregon teammate Galen Rupp.
It was after that race when he decided to join OTC Elite.
“It’s just so much different than anything I’ve done,” said Puskedra, 27, who essentially coached himself the last two years with some encouragement and help from Oregon associate head coach Andy Powell.
After Houston, there’s no telling when his next marathon will be, Puskedra said.
“If I hadn’t joined OTC Elite I might have wanted to run a spring marathon in Boston,” Puskedra said. “(Rowland) just wants to get me stronger overall and the we’ll make the decision on a fall marathon or even some shorter races.”
Washington on Bowerman watch list
Oregon sprinter Ariana Washington will open her senior season of indoor track on the 2018 Bowerman Award watch list.
The 2016 Olympian is the returning NCAA Indoor champion in the 200 and a 2017 World Outdoor Championships qualifier in the 100.
The Ducks have produced the winner of the women’s Bowerman three times in the last four years, including in 2017 when Raevyn Rogers won. Sprinter Jenna Prandini won in 2015 and 800-meter runner Laura Roesler won in 2014.
Also on the 10-women watch list are 2017 finalists Maggie Ewen, a thrower from Arizona State and Georgia triple jumper Keturah Orji.
No member of Oregon’s team was on the watch list for the men’s Bowerman Award.
Next TrackTown will include Wheating
The next TrackTown Tuesday will be Feb. 6, and Andrew Wheating will be the featured guest. The former Duck, two-time Olympian and Hayward Field fan favorite announced his retirement from track earlier this week. Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens is also scheduled to appear.