Lisa Galaviz came into the 2008 Olympic Trials as the American Record holder in the 3000m Steeplechase. In the final, she placed 5th-out of the Team spots-as winner Anna Willard took down her record. Frustrated, Galaviz decided she needed a change. She is now working with Wynn Gmitroski and doing some altitude training for the first time. Here, she discusses how and why she made her decision to change her training and coaching situation, and how things have been working out so far. She also gives her opinion on the new IAAF Diamond League and the WADA one-hour rule and explains how she balances training and a day job.
Interview by Ann Gaffigan
(Photo courtesy of PHOTORUN)
Conducted on March 16, 2009
Posted on March 17, 2009
Can you tell us why you decided to change coaches and how you found a
new coach? This is not something that is easy to do--find a new person
you can trust that (hopefully) is located near you. Describe the
process, from deciding to switch coaches to finding the one you're
working with now.
After the Olympic Trials, I decided that I needed a change. I think
it's very hard for colleges coaches to give the attention needed to
professional athletes (Lisa had previously been working with Louie Quintana, coach at Arizona State). The two main things I was looking for in a new
coach was someone who coached only a few athletes and someone who had
success on the world level. I was in Belgium this past summer racing,
stressed about finding a new coach. I went on a morning shake-out run
and ran into a friend, Gary Reed who I had met a couple years earlier
and hadn't talked to since. We were just catching up, and he mentioned
that he trained in Scottsdale, Arizona over the winter (at this point,
he didn't even know I lived in Arizona). Two hours later he introduced
me to his coach, Wynn Gmitroski and we talked for a good hour. I really
liked Wynn and fortunately he was interested in coaching me. So,
everything just kind of just fell into place and I found someone who'd had
success at the world level, coaches a handful of athletes, and lived
part-time in Arizona.
Describe how the depth in the steeple in the US has changed since you
were first steepling in college. Are the types of athletes doing it
different? Is it easier to find competitive races? Are more athletes
doing it now or just better athletes?
The steeplechase is much more competitive now and I think more women
are doing it because it's a World Championship and Olympic event. I
don't know if I'd say it's easier to find competitive races, since the
Grand Prix meets in the US still don't have women's steeplechase, but
hopefully this will change with the
IAAF Diamond League...
Have you heard about the IAAF Diamond League, to start in 2010?
Finally, they are structuring it so that events get equal
opportunity: 16 events each for men and women (32 total) will be
featured equally throughout the Diamond League Series, and the
competitors will be awarded the same prize structure for each event, as
opposed to valuing some events higher than others. The Prefontaine
Classic and Reebok Grand Prix are part of this new League, meaning it is
likely at least one of them will include the women's steeple, which has
not been the case thus far. How does this affect the women's steeple in
the United States and worldwide? How will it affect planning your
I think the IAAF Diamond League is a great idea! It should increase
the popularity of the sport by forcing more head-to-head competitions
among top athletes. Featuring the events equally among the series will
give women steepler's more opportunities to race than before. Hopefully
the Prefontaine Classic or Reebok Grand Prix will have the women's
steeple and this will create more interest in the event in the U.S. I
lost count of how many people at my work ask me if I ride horses!
What do you think about the new WADA regulations (the one-hour window
rule)? How different is it than what they required before?
I like the new WADA one-hour rule. I find it much easier to give one
hour every day that I'll be home, rather than trying to designate where
I am all the time. Although, in the past, USADA used to call our
emergency contact when weren't home to find out where we were. This is
no longer allowed as it gave athletes a 'heads-up' that they were going
to be tested.
You're in Flagstaff right now, training at altitude, correct? Have you
ever done altitude training before? What do you think about it?
I was in Flagstaff for two weeks training at altitude, but I'm home
now. We're going back for another three weeks at the end of April.
This was my first time training at altitude and I really enjoyed it.
The purpose of every day was running, and there were no distractions.
It was very intense and focused. There is a large distance running
community in Flagstaff. I'm not sure if you've heard, but NAU shut down
their High Altitude Training Center. Right now, there's a bit of chaos
as to what is going to happen with it. I hope this doesn't hurt all the
athletes training up there, during the interim.
Tell us a little bit about your non-running day job? What do you do?
How much are you working? Are they flexible when you need to leave to
compete or train at altitude? Do you sometimes work from those
locations when you're gone?
I work as a computer engineer at General Dynamics 20 hours a week. They
are very flexible and I'm able to work remotely from anywhere as long as
I have an internet connection. While training in Flagstaff, I was able
to work my full 20 hours per week.