Name: Chris Giesting
Event: 800 Meters
Hometown: Batesville, IN
High School: Batesville High School
College/University: Notre Dame
Training Group: HOKA New Jersey New York Track Club
Accolades: 2016 IAAF World Champion (4x400m), 4x800i World Record Holder
How were you introduced to track, and what eventually led you to your event?
My Dad was a 4:31 miler back in 1979 to hold the school record at our high school, so it sort of naturally passed on to me and my brother from there. My brother, Tyler, is 3 years older than me, which really influenced me into running. He ran the 800 as his specialty (1:53 PR), so that’s what I surprisingly ran as my focus in my first year in track. I ran 1:57 as a sophomore in high school. Not too many people know that about me. After that season I switched to the 400 for the next 7 years of my life. What made me switch back to the 800 as a professional was when I placed 11th at the 16’ Trials in the 400 and realized I didn’t have the foot speed to crack the top 6. On top of that I wasn’t getting any financial assistance from outside sponsors. Hoka NJNY came along and offered me more aid under the condition that I train for the 800 for the next Olympic cycle, so that’s where I got to where I am now.
At the 2016 Olympic Trials, you were focused on the 400m, however, since then, you have moved to the 800m. How has that transition been, and what you have learned along the way?
The transition has been hard. I want to give up a lot of the time because I have a terrible time adjusting to everything, even still. The mileage makes my legs tired, which causes my lifting regimen to suffer, and then the speed and turnover isn’t there. I’ve had a ton of crap races over the last few years in the 800, but one thing I’ve learned is that it’s a long slow build to be at your best in this event. I’ve run 1:46 in each of my first 3 seasons in the 800, but I’ve also run 1:51’s in all of those seasons. Once the training and the legs get the work in properly, everything comes together. I’ve had to learn to trust the process.
What is your most memorable experience in the sport?
Giving my mom a hug while I headed to the medal stand to accept our world championship gold medal for the 4×4. She was crying, and to see just how proud I made her was something I will never forget.
What race are you most looking forward to in 2020 (not including the Olympic Trials / Olympics)?
Adrian Martinez Classic. Over the last three years I’ve finished 3rd, 3rd, and 2nd at that race and have always been able to have great runs there. They award a special stuffed rhino to the top three finishers, of which I have kept each one. It’s a special race for me and I always look forward to running there.
What is something not track/running related that are you looking forward to in the next year?
Vacationing! I’ve put a lot on hold in my life, plus my Dad has never been outside of the US/Mexico, so we are planning a trip to Germany at some point in the next year. It’s where our family originally came from, which would be a great trip with family to enjoy.
What do you like to do when you’re not training?
I also am the head coach at The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY. I’m working with their program every afternoon and having a blast writing workouts and teaching the fundamentals of running to these kids. I specialize as the Sprint coach, which is fun for me to sort of relive my training days from college.
You recently got engaged to fellow elite athlete Jade Barber (congratulations!). What have been some of the benefits and challenges of being in a relationship while you both compete at a high level?
I want to thank everyone for the well wishes and congratulations when we announced the engagement! It was an overflow of such happy and positive messages/calls that made us feel incredibly loved and supported as we take this next step in our lives.
I’m not gonna lie, It was pretty difficult at first when I moved away to NY to train with Hoka NJNY, because I had to move away from Jade. We were living together at the time, and after seeing each other daily for years, a sudden shift in the dynamic was tough. We’ve been able to get a good routine in communication going since then where we text, call and video chat pretty much everyday. One thing we both stressed was that while we both support each other with our running, we didn’t want either one of us to have to sacrifice their own goals for the sake of being closer in proximity. She currently trains in South Carolina. We see each other when we can, but the best part is when we have the same races together. We share the same agent, Ian Weakley, so it’s fun when we actually get races on the circuit together and can see the world. Our Montreal race last summer was such a fun trip. Drove all the way from NY and back, but made a pit stop at Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont.
What advice would you give to your high school freshman self?
Enjoy the winning moments now because after high school, you will lose…a lot. But seriously, change nothing. Everything has worked out pretty well so far!
Favorite sport, not track? NBA
Favorite pro sports team? Indiana Paces
Favorite training shoe? Hoka One One Rincon
Best movie you’ve seen in the past year? Ford v Ferrari
Celebrity or Historic Figure you would most like to meet? Domantas Sabonis
Who is your track and field idol? Alberto Juantorena
Give a shoutout to your supporters
Training for the Olympic Trials this year would not be possible if I didn’t have the support of my shoe sponsor, Hoka One One, as well as my nutritional sponsors Fairlife, and Picky Bars, and wellness sponsor InsideTracker. Also want to give a shout to Wolf & Shepherd for their support. Dress for success