Cougar of the Week: 10/02


John Allard | Photo: Jonathan Edelman

John Allard | Photo: Jonathan Edelman
John Allard | Photo: Jonathan Edelman

John Allard (’16) has consistently been the first Clarkie to finish races this season after coming in behind his teammate or teammates last year. He has also assumed a larger leadership role this year as a co-captain with Tim Conley (’16).

Scarlet: Is it different going in to the race as the top runner?

Allard: Yes. I think it puts more pressure on me, because I can’t really mess up, or it’ll seriously affect our team placing. It’s actually not a first-time thing for me because, [in] my freshman year, towards the end, I had to take over as the number one guy because our top runner was injured.


Scarlet: Are you handling that pressure better than when you were a first-year?

Allard: Yeah, I think so. Going into freshman year, I was nervous before like every race, and now I just kind of go in every race like, “I’ve done this a billion times,” and just try to stay cool.


Scarlet: How long have you been running cross country?

Allard: I ran sixth grade, and I decided to quit since I didn’t like it. In eighth grade, I came back to it, and I improved a lot, and that motivated me to keep running… I ended up running all through high school.


Scarlet: What brought you back to it in eighth grade?

Allard: I’m not really sure. I guess I just kind of liked the team aspect of it, and I was doing track still. And during seventh grade when I was doing track, I was like, “Well, I kind of like just having this time occupied by hanging out with the team. I really like being on the team.” And that kind of motivated me to be like, “You know what? I’m going to give running another try and see where it goes.”


Scarlet: I know cross country is a sport that is based on individual performance, but how much of a team aspect is there to it?

Allard: I think the team aspect in a race is almost more psychological. I remember my freshman year, my coach said that when you’re in a race, if you’re ever feeling down, tired, unmotivated, and you feel like you’re just going to drop off, just think about what your team’s doing. They’re counting on you to run well. And also there’s the aspect of pack running, where if you have a guy on your team right next to you, you wanna stay with him. He’s a guy you’re familiar with. You want to work together and push each other.


Scarlet: Do you have that team-oriented mentality even when you’re just running by yourself?

Allard: Kind of. I know that I can’t afford to slack off, because I know as an individual, I need to perform well in order for the team to look good and to perform at its best. So whenever I’m on my own, I just remember that.


Scarlet: Speaking of motivating forces, what are your goals for this season?

Allard: My goal personally is to get my PR, my personal record, because it’s been a long time. I haven’t done it since my freshman year, so it’s kind of, like, demoralizing to not reach your peak performance when you’ve been working hard all summer. I want to feel like I worked hard all summer, and all season, for something. And I think that something is the new PR.


Scarlet: What is your PR?

Allard: It’s a 26:35 in the 8k that I set in my freshman year.


Scarlet: It seems like getting such a good time as a first-year was a blessing and a curse, since it’s been difficult to best it.

Allard: Yeah… I was nineteenth in the conference, and I was the fifth fastest freshman in the region. I was really close to making All-Conference. We’ve never had an All-Conference runner, so it’s pretty upsetting to have seen myself drop back. I want to move back up again. And I feel like it’s not an insane thought at all to think at some point I could make it. So that’s [another] goal: to make All-Conference.


Scarlet: How do you approach trying to improve your personal record? It seems like there’s a huge difference between a 26:35 and, say, a 26:30.

Allard: I’ve only gone under 27 once since, but when you think about it, it’s really not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. It’s just hard to achieve it. If you think about it in terms of laps on the track, it would be something like 20 laps. In 20 laps, to make up 20 seconds, you just have to improve one second a lap. So when you think about it in terms of that, it becomes easier to quantify how much time that is, and it doesn’t seem like as much.


Allard and the rest of the men’s cross country team have their next race at Stanley Park in Westfield, MA on October 11, in the James Early Invitational.