Danny Docherty trains and competes with Team USA Minnesota coached by Chris Lundstrom in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Danny qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon by running his debut in 2:18:27 at the 2019 Houston Marathon. Recently, he lowered his personal best while finishing 3rd at the Twin Cities Marathon in 2:15:55. He posted his best finish at a U.S. Championship in May 2019 with a 7th place finish at the 25K Championships in Grand Rapids, MI. He also posted his personal best in the Half Marathon with a 1:03:47 to finish 6th at the 2019 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth, MN. Danny is currently training to compete at the 2020 Olympic Team Trials in the Marathon in Atlanta, GA on February 29th, 2020. He first got into running by joining the high school track team his sophomore year. He qualified for the State Meet that year in the 3200 meters and he developed a love for the sport ever since. During his senior year of HS, he set a goal to earn a college scholarship to compete in track and field and he was able to earn one at Loyola-Chicago. He started as a mile and 3K runner in college and eventually progressed to the 5K and 10K and qualified for the NCAA Prelims in the 10K in 2012. After college, he decided to continue competing on his own and he eventually joined Team USA Minnesota in 2017 to continue to chase his goals. Danny wants to become a national champion and represent the USA in international competition during his career.
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
I want to reach my potential in the sport, which, it’s hard to define, but I think it becomes more of a feeling, when I feel like I have put everything into it that I possibly can, then there is that feeling of, well, this is the result. This is what you get when you go all-in. I’ve learned a lot over the years by going all-in on a running goal and believing it can happen. I’ve learned so much through the failures and the successes about what it takes to stick to something and truly see the ups and downs of it all. There are moments when I’m crying and feel complete disappointment and there are moments when the joy is irreplaceable. This is why I’m still in the sport and I know there are still some big things to feel and experience before I hang them up.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
I think the motivation changes at times, but usually it is an upcoming race, or just the euphoria of completing a run for the day. There are days when I start out the door and I’m really sore, and I’m thinking, this is going to be a long day. But by the end of the run, I’m usually feeling pretty good and satisfied that I got out the door and got a run in.
What are your goals for the upcoming year?
My major goal for 2020 is running my best possible race at the Olympic Trials Marathon. Depending on how the race goes, I will reassess my goals for the year and figure out the best route to pursue next. I am considering taking a shot at qualifying for the Olympic Trials 10,000 meter race in late June or competing in Grandma’s Half Marathon which is also in late June. In the Fall, I am considering building up for Twin Cities Marathon or Chicago.
What was your favorite part of your 3rd place finish and PR at the Twin Cities Marathon?
I enjoyed all of it. The race had everything in there for me. I took risks, I was feeling great at times, and then there were times where I didn’t know if I would finish. I have to say running up Summit was my favorite part, even though it was when I was in a tough place physically. The crowds kept me going and fighting through it all and because I didn’t give in, I was able to catch a runner and move into 3rd place at the 25th mile. So that last mile was thrilling, and crossing the finish was an all-time running moment for me.
Did you know if you Google your name without "runner" after it, all you'll see is Daniel Docherty the music artist?
I didn’t know that, but checked it out after you told me. I’m a big fan of music and the creative arts so it’s great the Docherty name is being represented in the musical world.
What has been your most memorable race to date?
The Grandma’s Half Marathon in 2018 was a huge day for me. I was coming off an injury in the Spring and a bad last race. So to run so well in those circumstances meant a lot to me and showed me what I could overcome. I had a huge PB by about 2 minutes and I hit my goal of getting in the top 10 for the race, so I was just thrilled.
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
My weight training consists of 2 days per week of a strength coach-prescribed workout at Training Haus, which will vary every 4 to 6 weeks. In general, it will be squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, russian hamstring, and core exercises. I think stability exercises are extremely important with running as you are always on either on one-foot or none when running, so you have to have that body control and able to both absorb all of the impact and then transfer it to the next stride. Along with stability exercises, I think plyometrics are great for developing the strength and power needed when running.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
I was once chased by a gorilla who escaped from the zoo. I’m totally kidding.
What's it like coaching other runners?
Coaching runners is awesome. Every runner has different goals and approaches to the sport and I enjoy sharing my knowledge with them and also learning from how they train. It’s great to see the improvement over the long term and build a relationship throughout the process, which makes coaching truly rewarding.
How do you balance your time between the two?
I’ve developed some good habits in both areas that allow me to get the work done. It took some time, but eventually I found a flow with both roles. Sometimes, I’m putting in a lot of work in one role and I have to put the other on the back burner. But I like the balance and I enjoy the perspective shift I get from being an athlete and coach. I think I’m able to learn valuable lessons from being in both roles, lessons that help me grow as both an athlete and coach.
What's your favorite types of fuel before a race?
If you’re talking the night before, I like a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs, along with a salad and bread. The morning of a race, I usually enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with fixings like fruit, protein powder, and nuts, along with a cup of coffee. I also consistently consume Gen UCAN before workouts as it is a great meal to have on the go and provides long-lasting energy for workouts.
What's your favorite PR so far?
One of my favorite PR’s is my mile in college. I was coming off a PR in the 5K the previous week, so I wasn’t feeling particular fresh for the race, but I just got in the race and sat back a bit going through the quarter in 63 seconds. The field was just the right amount of competition I needed as I was moving up throughout the race and making moves. I remember taking the lead with 200 meters to go and going for the win, but I couldn’t quite hold it and ended up in 4th with a time of 4:07. The race showed me that I could go a lot faster in the mile as I felt like I was moving around the whole time, but it still remains my PR to this day. I don’t train for the mile too often though, but it is my favorite race distance.
What's it like knowing you'll be competing in the 2020 Olympic trials?
It’s been a long-time goal of mine so it’s thrilling, especially because it will be my first experience. I just checked out the course a couple of weeks ago and there is not a step of flat ground in the race. It seems like you’re always looking up at a hill in the distance. So this will be the most challenging marathon of my life and I’m looking forward to getting the most out of myself on February 29th.
What's it like running for Team USA Minnesota?
Team USA Minnesota is a great community. I always enjoy the camaraderie of practice. We’ve really progressed together over the past 2 years and that has been special to be a part of. We are starting to see the success of all the hard work we have put into the training and supporting each other. There’s nothing quite like cranking out a long run, or a hard workout with teammates so I’m always grateful to be a part of the team. The team started in 2001 so it’s cool to be part of that line of runners that come through the team. I followed the team when I was in college and saw all of the great things they were accomplishing so it was something I wanted to be a part of once I graduated.
Who would you say is the funniest teammate?
That’s a great question and I have to say everyone is funny in their own right. But the funniest? I have to say my roommate Kevin Lewis. He usually has a good joke up his sleeve or a funny anecdote to share at practice.
Do you like ice baths?
I used to ice bath all of the time in college, but now not so much. I enjoyed them for the muscle relief as well as the mental grind of withstand the agonizing pain of numbing muscles. Usually my legs would feel better afterwards, so I think I benefited from them. I would also usually elevate my legs after the ice bath to get new blood into my legs. There’s a bit of that euphoric post-run feeling after doing an ice bath so that can be an added benefit.
In your free time when you’re not running, what hobby’s do you enjoy?
I go to concerts often or go hiking. I’m a sports fan too, so I usually make some time to watch a game with friends or family.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Have fun with the sport, try a race when you get a chance, and find a community that will help get you out the door. Running is much more fun with friends.
When it comes to running, what would you say is your biggest strength and weakness?
My biggest strength is my steady nature and not getting too high or too low. I’ve also been able to harness my patience toward great races or great training. I think it’s important to not do too much, and let the body and mind progress naturally, rather than trying to do something you’re not ready for. For weaknesses, I have a tendency to be overaggressive, which is the flip side to my patience. I can get myself into trouble in races by just gunning it and not thinking about the consequences. I’ve had some big flops in races where I’ve gone out too fast but I have always learned from them and I think those mistakes have ultimately made me a better runner.
Who is someone you look up to in the sport?
A runner’s career can be somewhat short so there are always people coming and going. But I look up to Dick Beardsley because he had a boundless energy for the sport and storytelling. I heard him speak at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler this year and he told his story about the Duel in the Sun with Alberto Salazar, and I felt like I was there watching the race unfold. Outside of running, he’s overcome some huge barriers in his life and I respect his willingness to share his journey in running and life to so many.
Who is one of your favorite athletes to train with?
I’ve trained with my teammate Tyler Jermann more than anyone this past year. We’ve both had great years and I think our training was a big part of that. We’re usually neck and neck in races, although we arrive there through different routes sometimes. I think there are days in training when we are both on the same page, and then there are days when either of us challenges the other by pushing a workout, or just feeling better than the other that day. I think those days are where I improve by finding a way to gut it out and finish the workout.
If you could compete in one Field event, which would you choose?
I would choose the Triple Jump because I think I could put a decent mark up for my experience level. It’s one of those events that combines many athletic skills like speed, power, flexibility, coordination and endurance. It’s also fun to watch and being able to fly through the air like that would be a thrill.
What's next for Daniel Docherty?
I’ll be training and preparing for the Olympic Trials Marathon in 2020. I’ll do the Houston Half in late January as a tuneup race and then continue to build from there. I’m currently experiencing a knee injury, so I plan to rehab, get stronger and then start going after the Trials training as soon as possible.
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Published December 6, 2019