Consistency Yields Success For Leon

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“Twice-a-day, every day” means different things to different people. For some, it may mean eating or using the bathroom, but for former Ohio University long distance runner Craig Leon, it means training for a marathon.

Leon runs 12-13 miles in the morning and seven or eight in the afternoon six days a week, with a long 20-25 mile run on Sunday. He does this every week for 13-14 weeks leading up to the marathon.

“That’s 13 runs in a week and over the span of those runs I may run 140 or 150 miles a week, which you’re looking at roughly 20 miles a day,” Leon said.

That intensity, combined with strength exercising two or three times a week, has allowed Leon to finish in the top 15 of the Boston Marathon in each of the last two seasons.

After a 10th place finish last season, he improved his time by 10 seconds in this year’s race, but finished in 12th.

“The field this year was a lot better, a lot deeper, so finishing 12th this year is a good accomplishment,” Leon said.

The former Bobcat did not start running track until his junior year of high school. In his senior season, Leon finished 11th at the Ohio High School State Championships in both cross country and track at the Division II level. He didn’t receive a scholarship offer at Ohio University, so he chose to walk-on to both the cross country and track teams.

By the end of his career at Ohio University, Leon was a Mid-American Conference cross country runner-up and he qualified for the NCAA Championships.

“The idea of being able to finish somewhere in the Top 15 of the Boston Marathon, even last year I wouldn’t have guessed that was possible,” Leon said.

Leon now runs competitively for the nonprofit organization Team Run Eugene, based in Eugene, Ore., and is coached by former Olympian Ian Dobson. He also has several sponsors that give him the ability to make running a full-time job.

“In our sport, the hardest thing is to be able to finance your dreams, so in the last several years I’ve been able to really focus in on becoming a better marathoner, and I think it’s because of the support group around me that I’ve been able to be successful,” Leon said.

Leon’s time of 2:14:28 in this year’s Boston Marathon is 36 seconds off his personal best, which he set in October at the Chicago Marathon. Despite his second-best career result, Leon sees much room for improvement.

“Going in, I wanted to be under 2:13:00,” Leon said. “I would say a lot of my workouts coming into this race were better than they were in the fall, so anything under 2:13:00 I would have been happy with.”

 The 29-year-old hasn’t decided what his next marathon will be, but he knows it will be in the fall. He is considering either New York or Chicago or even a race overseas. The ultimate goal for Leon is to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That training process isn’t just 13-14 weeks; it’s his entire life.

“If you’re constantly doing something to make yourself one percent better everyday, I think you’re on the right path to being successful not just in running, but also in life,” Leon said.

Anyone can run every day, but what has taken Leon to new heights as a runner is the same thing he tells himself before training. Twice-a-day, every day.