Dual Citizen Runner Richard Ho Interview

By bigfish

Chinese Version 中文翻譯本版

1. When, How, and Why did you start running?

I started running in junior high school as a means to lose weight, stay healthy, and to have fun. However, as I started running again in high school under a coach I became more and more competitive.

2. How do your family think and react since you’ve become a serious runner?

My family was very supportive. They thought it was exciting that I had found something that I liked to do, and they thought was also nice when it helped me gain admission to my college UCLA. I couldn't be as good a runner I am now without them.

3. Who influences your running the most? Why?

Two people, my coach Forest Braden and my teammate Michael McCabe. They have both taught me to take accountability for my own success and to do whatever it takes to become a better runner and person. They constantly challenge me every day to see what I can do to be better.

Is Michael McCabe older than you?

He is a sophomore at UCLA, he competes on the track and cross country teams there. He was born and raised in San Jose and he helped me get into UCLA by talking to Forest Braden about me and my running in high school. He got 3rd in the 10k at the San Francisco Distance Carnival in 29:45 and ran 14:07 for the 5k this year.

4 and 5 are related.

4. During the high school years, your personal best had been progressive every year since 9th grade, did you and your coach be consistency with a long term development or try anything new?

5. Would you describe the typical training cycle, mileage during XC season and track season in high school.

4. My coach in high school was fairly conservative in my training because he wanted me to be able to run for a long time. However, each year was a little more running and a little harder runs than the previous year, and I improved fairly steadily. He wanted my best running to be in college or beyond, so I'm very thankful to him for thinking about my future.

5. In high school I usually took about 2 weeks off after track season and trained all summer, just doing normal runs on trails. However, once school started in the middle of August, I would have about one or two races a week and I would do one long run, two workouts, and one or two races. From the beginning of summer to the end of season I would probably start out around 40 miles or so and build up to 70-80, and then taper down to about 65-70. Track was the same, except I would take about a week off early December and then start running. The workouts and long runs would begin around New Years or middle January and everything would be the same, except the workouts would be on a track. 

Training on trail during cross country season.

So the workouts were interval, hills and tempo? How much volume were they?

During cross country there would be hill intervals about .6 or 1 kilometer in length and tempos, 5 or 2 miles in length. Sometimes I would do 3/4 of a mile or about 1200 meters and 1/4, or about 400 meters, but these were on flat ground. They would all be on trails, and the total volume of workouts would range from 3 to 7 miles, between a 15 minute warm up run and a 15 minute cool down run. During track, the workouts would be on a track and I would do many varieties of workouts, usually all intervals. I would do something like 10-12 by 400 meters, build ups (2x400, 2x800, 2x1200, 2x1600) or break downs (2x1200, 2x800, 6x400). Sometimes I would do something like 800, 400, 800, 400, 800 to be ready for changes in pace in a race. Sometimes it would be something different, there were many different kinds. Again, this would be in between a 15 minute warm up and a 15 minute cool down.

Track race

6. What surfaces did you run for your mileage?

Typically just dirt trails. It's more scenic and beautiful and the soft surfaces are better than asphalt or concrete for avoiding injury.

7. It seems not so many Asian athletes in NCAA, is there any cultural influence behind it? When you chose to be a serious athlete, had you ever hesitated about it?

It is true that there are very few Asian athletes in the NCAA. I believe there is some cultural influence about it, because I think a lot of young athletes from Asia wish to prioritize their academics before their athletics. This is good for them, as academics are very important, especially for after one's athletic career. However, it is important to note that physical preparation and mental focus are greatly improved when an athlete prioritizes their sport over school. The trick is finding a good balance between the two.

8. What’s the biggest change for running in collage, like lifestyle, training, social life.

The biggest change in college is the increased workload in both running and school. Finding the balance between the two is difficult, so to be able to do both my social life is very limited. Outside of members of the cross country and track teams I do not spend much time with anyone else, and it seems like everyone on my team seem to be in the same situation. I like it this way though, training with the team and studying are in my opinion, a good use of time.

Collage teammates.

9. What kind of training system do you and your team follow right now? What's the main different between high school? Have you had difficulty to get used to it?

A training week at school usually looks like: 

Sunday: Long run 

Monday: AM Normal run, PM short run 

Tuesday: AM Short run, PM workout 

Wednesday: Medium long run 

Thursday: AM Short run, PM Normal run 

Friday: AM Workout, PM short run 

Saturday: Easy run or off 

The main difference is the difficulty and length of the work outs, they are longer and harder. It was not too difficult to adjust because my coach Forest is very good at paying individual attention to each of his athletes and will adjust the workout to the athlete's fitness level. Additionally, at school I had access to resources I did not previously have, such a lot of equipment and tools for therapy and rehabilitation as well as physical therapists so it was easier to recover and train at a higher level.

10. Do you have any long-term goal for running in your mind? Like biggest goal in collage and the idea of the plan for post-collage.

In college I have several goals, I want to score points at the NCAA championship, which requires an 8th place finish or better at the meet. I also want to be top 10 in the NCAA cross country championships as well. I think in order to do so I would have to be able to run about 28:30 or faster for the 10k, especially with the way the NCAA is becoming faster and faster. Post collegiate I hope to be able to continue to compete, and perhaps one day go to the Olympics and World Championships in the 10k or marathon. 

11. When did you and your family come to U.S? What’s your impression of Taiwan? Do you still go to there?

My family and I immigrated to California summer of 1999, right before I attended preschool. From what I can remember of Taiwan it was mostly cities and not as much nature, but the people seemed to be very energetic and friendly. I visited back in 2004 because my dad's family is all there but have yet to visit again. I would very much like to go again, provided I have time away from school or training.

12. After knowing that you have chances to represent Taiwan in international stage, how do you feel?

I am very excited because I still feel strong ties to Taiwan because it was where I was born and where my parents were born and raised. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to do so, and I hope I will be able to represent Taiwan for the rest of my athletics career.

13. Have you ever seen, heard any running related things about Taiwan?

A few things, this past year I heard that the Asian Junior Championships were in Taiwan. Also, my coach and I saw the Taiwanese records in the 10k and 5k were 29:12 and 13:54 by Hsu Gi Sheng and Wu Wen Chien, and we plan on trying to break them one day.