Jonathan has been running competitively since his junior year of high school. Before that, he had ambitions as a kid to go big as a hockey player. He was in a pair of skates from the age of three and played hockey up until his senior year of high school where he competed in two state and one national championships. Everything came to a halt when he found out that his parents were separating when he was in 7th grade, and he was most likely going to have to move, change schools, potentially having to drop the sport all together since there wasn’t hockey in that area. This was a pretty low time for him, but fortunately he was able to stay where he'd always been. The only downside to this was not living with his mom or sisters anymore. Sports has always been an outlet for him to taking his mind off of everything going on. He’d lace up his skates, step on the ice, and feel free!
His dad convinced him to join the track team in high school to get in better condition for hockey, and that was a really good decision because he began to feel more competitive and quicker on the ice. He joined the track team expecting it to just be running after school. He didn’t realize that there was a racing aspect to it until he heard someone mention something about a meet. He was wondering what the heck a meet was! he ended up having some success with running, winning several individual district titles and competing at the state championship his senior year. He gives a lot of credit to his coach and teammates for always setting the bar high with what was expected. He set his sights high and earned a spot on an NCAA Division 1 program at Florida Atlantic University for Cross Country. He was always one of the top scorers for the team and managed to receive NCAA academic honors all four years and team MVP during his final two seasons. He is currently racing for the Runner’s Depot racing team in South Florida, training mostly solo and being coached by professional runner, Daniel Docherty.
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
After everything that I have done in the sport, I am driven to continue running since I have a passion for it. I feel amazing when I put my shoes on, step out the door and push myself to getting better. I get the opportunity every day to clear my mind and do what I love. The day that I stop having that passion for what I’m doing is the day that I will stop training the way I am. I also look at running like a bottle of wine. It gets better with age. Distance running is one of those sports where you can continue improving and getting better as you log more miles and gain more experience. I am also driven to continue running because I learn something new about myself every time I step out the door. Persevering when things aren’t going well, staying consistent, seeing how disciplined I can be or how hard I can push myself beyond my “limits” is what running, and life is all about.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
Running on those days that you don’t feel like running are the most important days to get that run in. For me, my mindset has always been that if I want to perform to the best of my ability, I can’t be missing workouts or run's because one missed run leads to another, and so on. Another thing that puts things into perspectives is thinking about why you are running. What are your goals? Are you training for something specific? I don’t like giving myself any reason or excuses to having a good or bad performance. I want to know that I’m stepping on the line knowing I did everything possible to be the best I can on that day. If I missed days and I PR, maybe I’d ask myself what if I didn’t miss those days, could I have been better? A bad performance could be masked by those missed days. I don’t like giving myself any reason ask, what if.
What are your goals for the upcoming year?
This upcoming year, I’m transitioning from shorter races to my first half marathon in January. I have a few races leading up to it, but the half is my ultimate goal. After my half, I’ll evaluate everything and may transition to a few outdoor track races.
What was your favorite running accomplishment while at FAU?
Before my junior season, I was selected to represent the USA national track team at the World Maccabi Games held in Israel every four years. It’s considered the Jewish Olympics with 10,000 athletes from 80 countries and a stadium opening ceremony. I was honored to earn a bronze medal in the 10K on a hilly road course in Jerusalem. My senior year I competed in the indoor mile at Harvard and the next day ran my 3K PR at Boston University which also happens to be my Dad’s alma mater!
What’s been your favorite running accomplishment as part of the Runner’s Depot racing team?
I have not been on the Runner’s Depot racing team for too long, but my favorite running accomplishment as part of the team would definitely be winning my first 5K road race at the Tamarac Turkey Trot this past Thanksgiving. A few other accomplishments were winning the Boca Mile these past two years and recently the Weston 4th of July 5K. I ran my 10K PR at the last Flannigan’s 10K race and am hoping to run a much faster time this year.
If you could pick a company to sponsor you, who would you choose?
If I could pick any company to sponsor me, it would definitely be Brooks because they have that underdog mindset. Also, who doesn’t love putting on Brooks gear and going for a run?
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
I don’t consistently have a weight training routine, but when I do work on strength, it’s a lot of body weight work, mobility exercises and calisthenics. I feel that lunges, squats, push-ups and core exercises really help keep me strong and healthy.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
The weirdest thing that happened to me was in the beginning of my junior year high school track season, where during a meet I experienced a sharp pain in my shoulders and lower back, which led to having some trouble breathing. My dad rushed to pick me up from school and on the way to the hospital, the pain was so bad that I felt like my chest was going to explode. After being rushed to the hospital emergency room, it was determined that I suffered a spontaneous collapsed lung which is relatively rare, but sometimes occurs in thin distance runners. Since my collapse was under 20%, I thankfully didn’t need a tube put in my chest. I recovered well and actually set a PR in the mile six weeks later!
What’s your favorite pre-race food or drink?
My favorite pre-race food would definitely be a few PB&J Sandwiches, yogurt and Gatorade since it is a good energy source of carbs, protein and easy to digest in a few hours.
What’s your favorite cheat food & drink?
I don’t necessarily have a favorite cheat food & drink, but if I really wanted something tasty/unhealthy it would be glazed donuts, chocolate iced cream with fudge or soda. I’m a big believer in enjoying what you eat, as long as you do it in moderation.
If you could go pro in running or hockey, which would you choose?
Although going pro in hockey would provide more money and more adrenaline, I like having all my teeth, so I am going to have to go with going pro in running. Also, I have developed a level of passion for the sport that I wouldn’t be doing it for the money. Going pro in running would mean to me that I get to do what I love every day, while getting paid for it is a bonus. Also, the longevity of the sport is typically way longer than hockey.
If you could race any 5K in the world, which would you love to race?
If I could race any 5K in the world, it would probably be the Pre-Classic at the original Hayward Field stadium. I have never been there in person and that place was the backbone of distance running. Everyone there has so much passion for the sport and the energy would be very high.
What would you say is your favorite PR?
Although this is no longer my PR, I would have to say my senior year district cross country race win would be my favorite since I was not expected to perform the way that I did. I was nowhere near the leaders until the last mile of the race and once I passed the two leaders, it was pure adrenaline for the last half mile. My favorite current PR would be the BU indoor 3K that I mentioned earlier.
Do you like ice baths?
I have a love/hate relationship with ice baths for a few reasons. One reason that I hate it would be the initial minute of getting into the frigid tub and biting your lip until your legs go numb. Also, I don’t like icing too much because being sore is a natural process that shouldn’t be altered too much. I find a high value of using an ice bath a day or two before a performance if you want your legs to feel fresh.
In your free time when you’re not running, what other hobby’s do you enjoy?
In my free time when I’m not running or working, I enjoy hanging out with friends, eating, reading, listening to music, resting at home, and laying down while watching some Netflix. Sometimes I’ll turn on my PS4 for some NHL, GTA or Fortnite.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
A few tips I’d like to give to new runners is to first get fitted and buy the proper gear at a specialty running store. There are so many factors that go into running and being in the proper gear will help with preventing injuries. Then, I’d say to try and have some personal goals to work towards and people to keep you accountable. Maybe it’s a running group, having a coach, signing up for a race, etc. Enjoy the process. Not every day is going to be a good day and life does get in the way sometimes. Be flexible with your schedule and most importantly have fun with it. There is no reason to compare yourself to anybody beside yourself. How much are you improving? You are your biggest competitor.
When it comes to running, what would you say is your biggest strength and weakness?
When it comes to running, I’d say my biggest strength would be how self-driven and competitive I am as an athlete. I try doing everything possible to the best of my ability and will fight until I accomplish whatever it is that I’m working towards. I think my biggest weakness would be limiting myself to what I can do because it might seem unattainable or just not something that I can accomplish. I have been working on this and am trying to not set any limitations with anything that I do. I just need to go out there, show up, and run.
Who is someone you look up to in the sport?
I don’t necessarily have anyone specific that I look up to in the sport, but I have a high level of appreciation to some of the current and former great athletes of our time. I have always looked up to Steve Prefontaine and have a banner with his picture saying, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”. Pre had that mindset that he was going to give it his all every time and doing it any other way is not possible. I also looked up to the greatness of Usain Bolt, looking at his focus, determination and dominance with what he has been able to accomplish. It was cool watching Matthew Centrowitz winning the 1500 in Rio, and Galen Rupp dominating the way he did. The spotlight today with distance running has to be with Eliud Kipchoge and his superhuman endurance/speed. One other runner that I can’t help but mention would be Olympian Kenenisa Bekele, who is the true testament of believing in yourself when nobody else does.
What’s next for Jonathan Werble?
My next few months are going to consist of a training buildup for my first half marathon in January and am looking forward to learning more about myself throughout that process. I am very humbled that you wanted to interview me and feature me on your website. You definitely deserve some major credit for everything that you do and your passion for running. Watching you complete these 100 milers is very impressive and shows how much mental will/strength you have. Very inspiring! Also, congrats on your new beautiful baby!
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