Junior Hunter Phinney of UR Men’s Cross Country was recently named UAA Athlete of the Week after finishing 114th out of 300 runners in the eight-kilometer race at the Williams College Purple Valley Classic with a time of 28:24.7. He was UR’s top male finisher during the meet.
What is your favorite aspect of distance running?
My favorite part of distance running is the sense of accomplishment you feel after running harder and faster than ever before.
How have you grown as an athlete during your college career?
The jump between high school and collegiate running can be a hard transition. In high schools, it’s normal to run 30 miles a week and frequently take days off. In college the volume of mileage increases up closer to 100 miles a week, and it takes a bit of time to physically adjust to the workload.
How do members of the team motivate each other?
When we’re deep in a hard workout and need a little boost to make it to the end, we yell as loud as possible, “I love running!” And a little bit of friendly trash talking between friends doesn’t hurt either.
Who has been a key role model for you?
Fortunately for my team, we have many great alumni who accomplished a lot when they were on the team. Many are still involved and love getting the opportunity to run with us and pass on their wisdom. A runner who really set an example for me is Dave Delong, who graduated back in 2014. He is currently serving as a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps. His advice is really helpful for me when it comes to being a member of the cross country team as well as a midshipman in Rochester’s NROTC until.
How has your time in ROTC impacted your approach to running?
A lot of what I do as part of the team goes hand in hand with the goals of ROTC. The Navy strives for physical fitness and I get plenty of that from running with the cross country team. Developing leadership skills is also a goal of ROTC and as a member of a team we learn to motivate each other towards our common goal. An important part of cross country is the running we get in over summer break, due to my ROTC training I had to do some of that training on a submarine. Luckily for me the Navy has treadmills onboard submarines so some of my summer mileage came from beneath the sea.
How do you balance academics and athletics?
I found getting in a routine of when to practice and when to run is helpful in getting my work done. My teammates and I operate on a pretty consistent schedule. I spend most evenings in the library working with my team and Sunday afternoons are dedicated as our post-long run library sessions.
What has been the highlight of your career at Rochester?
During outdoor track in the spring, we usually travel to a large meet with a lot of Division I competition, my sophomore year it was the Bucknell Bison Classic. We got to race some unbelievable competition and this really brought the best out of the Rochester runners we send there. I had a personal best performance in the 5K. Bucknell has a beautiful track and it was perfect spring evening where the sun just went down over the horizon. All the makings of a great race where there. My 5K ended up being a 15:00, and it hurt a little bit to not break the 15-minute barrier but it’s still the running accomplishment I’m most proud of. Many school [record holders] were broken by my teammates and UR really showed that we’re a top-end Division III running program.
What’s your favorite thing to fuel up on for a meet?
Traditionally night before a race meal is chicken parmigiana, that’s usually the go to meal. Breakfast is usually a dense bowl of Douglas Dining Hall oatmeal.