One of the American track and field athletes to really blow up in 2017 (in a good way) was Seekonk, Massachusetts’ own Johnny Gregorek. The son of a two-time Olympian (his father, John Gregorek Sr.) and a two-time NCAA Champion (his mother, Christine Gregorek), there’s a bad joke to be made about running running in Johnny’s family. While an undergrad at Columbia University and then again during his fifth year at the University of Oregon, Johnny received All-American honors in the Indoor mile and competed in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 1500. After finishing with his collegiate eligibility, Johnny secured a contract with ASICS and put forward a number of notable national and international results that marked him as a member of the American elite, but nothing that placed him in the uppermost echelon of the sport. Until 2017, that is. This past summer, Johnny made waves by placing third in the 1500 at the US Outdoor Championships and qualifying for the World Championships. He proceeded to further impress by becoming the only American to make the final of the 1500 and placed 10th in his first ever World Championships. Given the remarkable year he’s had, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to get the insider perspective on Johnny’s success and how he plans to build off of it.
Running Warehouse (RW): You had some excellent races this summer, not the least of which was making the final in the World Championships 1500m. Now that you have had time to reflect, how do you feel about the way your season went?
Johnny Greogrek (JG): I’m really happy with the way the season went. It was a ton of fun and just seemed to be one thrilling experience after another. However, I’m hungry for more and think I can get more out of myself. The season, and its high point at the World Championships, really was eye opening. My main goal every year should be to compete at that level and exceed my performance from last summer. Now I have so much validation in my team and my coaches and everyone around me; I know I have the formula for success and just need to keep replicating it.
RW: What is your favorite shoe for racing?
JG: I race in the ASICS Gunlap. I don’t like a very aggressive spike, and that one is just simple and light. I love it. Gets me where I need to go.
RW: You transitioned from specializing in the steeplechase to being a miler. What prompted that decision for you, and is there any chance we’ll see you back in the steeple at some point?
JG: Well I ran the steeplechase at Columbia because I just wanted to try it out. It seemed fun, and I wasn’t exactly lighting up the track at that time. The coaches let me train for it, and I wasn’t bad. I think my PR ended up being 8:52, and I won the Ivy League Title. I just kept getting really banged up because of it. My left ankle is still jammed up from the water pits. So the steeple is a fond memory and probably will remain that way. Besides, I don’t want to have to compete with my old friend Donn Cabral. That would be terrifying.
RW: How badly do you want to take down your father’s PR in the 1500?
JG: I think I might have his official 1500 time beat actually. His mile PR converts to a faster time than my 1500 and is also faster than my mile. So the 3:51 mile he ran would be fun to take down. My dad ran that in a really stacked race, so I hope to get in a race like that. It was the 1982 Bislett Games in Oslo, I think. Maybe I could do it there.
RW: What is your go-to shoe for daily training?
RW: What do you do when you aren’t training?
JG: When I’m not training I’m doing things any other thirteen year old would be doing. Reading comic books, playing video games, trying to learn the guitar, things like that. I also coach a middle school cross country team.
RW: Is there any advice you can share with someone who is just getting started as a middle distance runner?
JG: Do a lot of strides, drink a lot of water, have fun!!