Runner Interview – Tom O'Grady

When and why did you start running?

I started running in seventh grade when I did modified cross country. I joined the team because I had done well in the 12-minute walk/run fitness test and I wanted to be a part of a team.

What’s your favorite race to date, and why?

The Boston Marathon is my favorite overall race because of all the history behind the event.

What has been your biggest running adventure to date? 

Does marriage count? I met my wife Sara after she ran the Disney Marathon. We went for a run and dinner as a date and the rest is history – we’ve been married for 12-years and have a family.

What is your approach to training? Do you follow a particular training plan, or do you work with a coach and if so, who?

Generally, I’m a higher mileage person and my training focuses on the half and full marathon distances. I worked with a coach from 2012 to 2014, Scott Bessette, to help me break 2:30 in the marathon – he was fantastic. I ran all my personal bests while working with him, but I also had a huge base to work with. I don’t currently work with a coach, and I’ve been largely capable of being successful with catering my training to my own goals – whether they are focused on competition or fitness.

What is your weekly mileage in peak racing/marathon training season? What is your approach to the off season?

From 2009 until 2015, I averaged about 90-110 miles per week during my peak racing/training periods. My current training volume is much lower and is around 70 miles per week. My approach to off-season is generally to lower my mileage, have less structure, and add other activities like hiking, biking, etc. I have a standup Elliptigo Bike that is fun to ride in the summer.

During our cold winter days, do you brave poor weather conditions or stick indoors on the treadmill? If you do run outside, what safety measures do you take?

I usually run outside regardless of the weather, but we do have a treadmill if I’m strapped for time or if it’s icy.

List your PRs: Race, time, year.

JFK 50 Mile 2018  – 6:36:27 (10th place); Philadelphia Marathon 2014 – 2:28:27 (17th place); Mohawk Hudson River Half Marathon 2014 – 1:10:27; Stockade-athon 15k – 49:53; Holyoke Talking Turkey 6-mile 2011 – 31:11 (I usually use this as the basis for my 10km PR since this race is an accurate and highly competitive race and converts to about 32:15 for 10km – while my actual 10km PR of 32:12 I trust less); Westfield 5k 2013 – 15:21

What was your worst injury and how did you get over it?

I tore my Achilles tendon at the beginning of 2016. I followed the advice of the medical professionals I worked with. I ended up taking over a year off from running before being able to train consistently again. 

Your favorite shoe for training and racing –

Pre 2017 – Adidas Adios Boost for racing. Post 2019 – Nike Vaporfly; Training – Nike Pegasus

Ever run in a costume?


Do you work with a dietitian to enhance your performance?  If so, who?


What are your favorite pre-race and post-race meals?

Post-race: pizza or burger, beer and Bella Napoli

What activities do you enjoy when not running?

I was hoping to do more Nordic skiing this winter.

What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?

I’m working on finishing the Catskill 3500’s.

What is the greatest piece of advice you've ever received in the sport?

 “What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.”

― John L. Parker Jr., Once a Runner

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