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Featured Athlete : Joe Navas

I first watched Joe Navas at the Wellfleet Road Race in 2003. He looked fit and I immediately considered him one of the runners to watch. He placed 4th that year in 27:19, an improvement over his 6th place 28:49 from the year before. Since then, when I've been following the Cape Cod running scene his name keeps cropping up. Most notably he won this year's Johnny Kelley Race. This year I ran into him again at the Wellfleet race in which he set a PR (2nd place-26:29). He kindly agreed to becoming a “featured athlete” for northrunning.

Joe Navas accepts his second place trophy at the Wellfleet Road Race

Featured Athlete – July '04

Name : Joe M. Navas

Age : 33

Residence : Joe has livede off and on in North Eastham for 27 years

Profession : waiter/writer/artist/musician (which he considers wonderfully cliché)

Joe is pictured shirtless in center.

Northrunning: Joe, did you have any athletic background before you started running?

Joe : From the age of 7 until @ 17 I played tennis constantly. I played regional USTA tournaments as well as all the local tournaments. Tennis camp every summer at a pro teaching camp in Western MA. Winter lessons

twice a week. 4 hours a day on the courts in the summer.


Northrunning : Where did you go from there?

Joe : I gradually drifted towards skateboarding in my early teens and began to get away a bit from tennis. The culture of skating was (and is) entirely more satisfying than that which surrounds tennis for my



Northrunning : So where did running fit in?

Joe : I started running seriously 2.5 years ago, in the winter of 2001-2002. My girlfriend at the time was beginning a new exercise program with her father that incorporated small bursts of slow running into a light cardio regimen. I had quit smoking a little over a year earlier after keeping the habit for some 13 years. I had also quit drinking a year before my quitting smokes(coming up on 5 years sober this month) after I very nearly died from the effects of long term alcoholism. Anyway, One thing I always loved was running fast, even if all I'd been able to do at any given point in my life was 1/4 mile at best. Each time we would work out, I would relish the chance to run,eventually leaving my (now ex) girlfriend and her father behind as they walked and ran.


Northrunning : So now you were hooked. Where did that lead you?

Joe : Over that winter I worked my way up to 2 miles, then 3, and then eventually 5, which took me @45 minutes and damn near killed me the first time I did it. My first race was the Johnny Kelley 5 mile in 2002 and I came in something like 22nd place with a 31+ time. I remember being excited with the race but disappointed with my time, to which my girlfriend shook her head, not being able to understand why such a pace just didn't sit well with me. I wanted to be faster, now, regardless of my 6 month running career.

Joe is pictured at Wellfleet '04

Northrunning : What does your typical training week look like now?

Joe : Now my typical week sees me doing @40-45 miles (which I'm trying to up a bit) with none of it slow, which I know flies in the face of some philosophies, but I just can't run slow, I just don't enjoy it, never have, never will.


Northrunning : Can you give me an idea of how you break up your week?

Joe : I do long runs of 10-13 at 6:10-6:20 pace and tempos of 5-7 at 5:40-5:55. I'll throw in a couple of 6-8 days @6:00-6:15 and then one speed day of 8x400 and 2-4x800 at 66-70 and 2:20-2:28 respectively. There's usually a race in there somewhere, in which case I may forgo the temp run as doing 5:10-5:30 is work enough for the week.

Joe is first off the line at Wellfleet's "Shuck and Run" race.

Northrunning : Do you do any cross-training?

Joe : I also do upper body training 3-4 times a week with 300 pushups, 150 sit-ups and 100 20lb. curls. This has reduced my injury susceptibility greatly and has improved my speed and endurance late in races.

Joe heads down Main Street in Wellfleet - with a huge lead.

Northrunning : You seem to run a lot of races. How does that tie in with your goals?

Joe : I love to race for a number of reasons, the foremost of which is the test of will. Racing shows me parts of my psyche I never knew existed. It shows me my limits and allows me possibly the rawest, purest look at what's going on inside my head and my soul. In doing all this, it hones my intuition, which is the single most important tool in my life, for life itself, and peripherally for training. It also paradoxicallysupports two deep-rooted needs I have. One is competition, as I love the idea of pushing myself as hard as possible to best another runner. The other is selflessness. I am sort of a quasi-buddhist (anothercliche) and it helps me to let go of everything and just allow my body to do what it wishes in moving forward as quickly and efficiently as possible, with no interference from anything inside or outside.

Joe is becoming a famous landmark in Wellfleet races - not quite rivaling Uncle Tim's Bridge in the background.

Northrunning : So, are you pleased with the way things are going?

Joe : The biggest lesson in all of this is that I don't care in the end if I win or lose. I grew up with tennis forcing me to obsess about such matters. With running, it is pure and simple. I run as hard as I can, period.


Northrunning : Where does winning fit into that philosophy?

Joe : If I win, great, if I don't, oh well. This isn't to say I don't examine what happened in either case, as I do meticulously in order to get better, but I know each time that I did what I could, and nothing less.


Northrunning : What are you aiming for right now?

Joe : My realistic goals are to by the end of this year get under 26:15 for 5 miles and 33:00 for 10k, as well as sub 16 for a 5k (which I've done once, but it was a bit of a fluke). By next year, I want to be doing sub 26 for 5 and sub 32:30 for 10k. I also want to do a sub 2:45 marathon and a sub 1:14 1/2. So far my best 1/2 is 1:14:46.

Northrunning : Is that it, or do you have some longer term goals?

Joe : My long term goal is to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon, a crazy goal I know, but at a cutoff of 2:20, I think I can do it in 3 years or so. I feel like the sky is the limit and I think I have at least 4 more years of getting faster. In many ways I feel as if I'm still building my body back up after nearly destroying it 5 years ago, so who knows?


Northrunning : So, you feel like you're still improving?

Joe : Wellfleet was a blast this year and that was my PR for a 5 mile. But I know where I got weak and that's why I know I can get much better with more miles and more training.


Northrunning : Do you have a favorite race?

Joe : My favorite race is the Chatham 10k, just because it is so beautiful and the hills and layout are perfectly challenging. Also I love the Mayors Cup races for the stellar field and the honor of running with (or actually far behind) guys like Keith Kelly And Alan Webb.


I'll always love the Johnny Kelley race for the man it is named after, for the guy (Dave Baker) who puts it all together, and for it having been my first race, and then the first 10 miler I won (this year).


Northrunning : Where can we look to see you in the near future?

Joe : Next up I've got the Dennis Road Race on Sunday the 25th, then the Irish Pub Race in Harwich on the 31st, then the killer weekend of the Brew Run and Falmouth on August 7th and 8th, neither of which I plan on running conservatively.


Joe was the perfect interview, continually expounding on the how and why of his running. He has come a long way in a short time and is still tapping into his talent – which appears considerable. Northrunning wishes Joe luck in the coming races. I'll see him at Dennis this Sunday.