Success is not achieved overnight. It takes countless hours of hard work and commitment. LPC runner Abraham Espinoza made that commitment this past offseason, and the results show it.
Espinoza has set school records in every meet he has competed in this season. His most recent performance broke an all-time record. However, his running career has not always been met with success.
Espinoza began his running career at James Logan High School in Union City. Lee Webb was his coach at the time. Webb recalls Espinoza being a good runner, but not near the level he is at now.
“He was a middle of the pack guy, but he worked hard,” Webb said. “It’s good to hear about the success he is having now.”
Even when he started running for Head Coach Steve Navarro at LPC, he was just known as an average runner and nothing more.
“The transformation from last season to this season is amazing,” Navarro said. “Nobody expected him to be this good.”
What is it that turned Espinoza into a record-breaking runner? He says it was a more serious approach to his offseason regimen. He became more consistent when it came to all aspects of training. That approach in the offseason has carried into the regular season.
“I stuck to a summer training schedule of increasing mileage per week and was eventually running 70 to 80 miles per week by August,” Espinoza said.
Running was only one of the habits he changed. Another, perhaps more important reason for his success is a change in eating habits.
“I was never really an unhealthy eater, but this time I thought about how certain nutrients affect my performance and what I would need to cut back on,” Espinoza said. “I cut out junk food completely.”
Espinoza does try to follow a certain routine, however he admits it does change week to week.
On weeks he refers to as “80 mile weeks,” he runs twice a day. Mondays he runs with his teammates at noon and follows that up with another run at 6 p.m. Tuesdays, he wakes up at 7:30 a.m. in order to get in a run before his 10:30 a.m. class. After class, he goes on another run with the rest of the team at 1:30 p.m. The same routine for Tuesday is followed on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday and Sunday is a single run day for him, while Saturday includes a rigorous 14 to 18 mile run either before or after work.
While anyone can have intense daily workouts, it all means nothing if a healthy diet is not maintained. Espinoza sets his meals up for the week and makes sure to get foods into his system that will provide him with enough energy to stay alive with all the running he has to do.
“I eat oatmeal with flaxseed in it and beet in the mornings before class,” Espinoza said. “Between runs I eat a banana with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After running I drink a whey protein shake and eat things like pancakes, nuts, fruit, vegetables, pasta, legumes, rice and anything else I could find that’s nutritious and whole.”
As you can imagine, Espinoza lives a very busy life. Some say out of the three choices of sleep, social life and good grades, athletes can only have two. Espinoza is somehow able to have all three.
“I work two jobs while trying to maintain a social life,” Espinoza said. “I used to be an avid gamer. I’ve had to cut back on the video games.”
Along with going to school, working two jobs and having a social life, Espinoza is also able to fit what he feels is most important into his life, sleep.
“That was the biggest change I made in the offseason,” Espinoza said. “I put a great effort into getting at least eight hours of sleep per night.”
Coach Navarro marvels at Espinoza’s dedication and is proud to see the success he has enjoyed so far this season.
“What he’s doing is inhuman,” Navarro said. “Most guys hit a wall in the middle of the season, but he seems to be getting stronger as the season goes along.”
Espinoza does not have a long list of goals for the season, but he is hoping to achieve one in his next meet, which takes place on Oct. 19 at the Bronco Invitational in Sunnyvale. The meet is especially important because four-year schools from all of California like UCLA, USC, Stanford and others will all be either competing or in attendance looking to recruit potential runners.