Isaac Basten Stands Out as All-American at Drake


Emerging as one of the top NCAA distance runners in the past few years has been Buffalo graduate and current Drake University All-American Isaac Basten. Owning PRs of 1:48 in the 800m, 3:56 in the mile, and 14:19 for the 5K, Basten is one of the nations top distance talents. 

We at MileSplit Minnesota recently caught up with Basten to talk about his collegiate career, his training, and what the future holds for him. 


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Discuss the transition from high school competition to competing at the college level. What adjustments have you had to make in order to be as successful as possible?

I would say there have been 2 main adjustments. The first is just the pure volume in my training.  I went from running a consistent 45-50 miles per week in high school to a consistent 95 per week now.  This came with many challenges.  The main one was just being tired 24-7 for my entire freshman year here at school.  It got better as I got used to it which improved my performance drastically after my first year.  The second adjustment I had to make was dietary.  I was a milkshake-a-day kind of guy in high school, and due to me wanting to get better, and a lacktose intolerance development, I completely changed my diet for the better after that.  This consisted of completely cutting our unhealthy sugars, and getting pretty much all of my sugar from oatmeal, granola, and fruits.  

Tell us about your training regimen by giving a general overview of what goes into getting prepared for your next big event.

Training is completely different for every type of runner on our team.  For me, as a speed-oriented miler, I am trained more like a 5k guy, with the majority of my work being in the long threshold stuff, like 6-mile tempos or 800 interval training while running 90 + miles each week.  The week of a big race, I'll taper down to an estimated 60-65 miles, and assuming it is a Friday meet, I will do my last workout on Monday, which will focus of my specialty.  My favorite prerace workout is 600-400-200-600-400-200-400-200 all below my mile pace with 2 minutes of rest between everything.  It makes the pace feel easy which gives you confidence going into running a great mile. 

How have you changed and grown as a runner since you've been at Drake?

I have changed, and for the most part, it has been a change intellectually.  Obviously, I've grown physically, but I believe that happens naturally as you get older and run more miles.  The way I have grown the most is my race day smarts.  Being in competitive races where we are all about the same ability has taught me ways in which I have to win against 10-11 of us similar athletes.  You learn what works, and what doesn't for you, and for your competition.  This intelligence gained over time has made me the tactician I am today.

You broke the 4-minute barrier in the mile for the first time last year, how did it feel to break that big barrier?

It felt both good and bad to break this barrier.  While sub 4 was a career-long goal for me, I knew it wouldn't be enough to qualify for the NCAA championships that year which is everything to us elite runners in the NCAA.  SO with the short-term celebration came frustration that I would need to try again to get my national qualifier in. 

What events are you going to focus on this track and field season? 

I'll focus on the mile and 1500 once again, as it hasn't failed me yet.

What athletic-based goals do you hope to accomplish during this upcoming year?

I really want to win a NCAA title, and make the US outdoor team for the world championships.

Do you have any advice that you can offer an incoming freshman on how to best deal with the higher level of competition they'll encounter at the college level? Also, what tips can you provide regarding the balance between training commitments and academic demands?

The one tip of advice I would give is to be patient.  Results will not always come right away and everyone develops at different rates.  The key to getting where you need to be (elite) is by being smart, and being persistent as hell.  Once you're elite in the NCAA and everyone works hard with persistence and the smarts separate us.  Develop your brain as a young athlete so you have to do it less once you are elite.

What have been the highlights of your college career to this point?

The highlight of my career is winning the US trials prelim and qualifying for the US championship final.

Looking back to high school, what are some valuable lessons you learned there that made you into the person you are today?

The most valuable thing I learned was again just being patient.  I developed at a slow rate in high school and wasn't elite until my last year.  I stayed persistent and trusted my coach, which is how I became elite here too.  It's the same thing really, just with more miles and better competition.

What high school accomplishment were you most proud of?

The state title in the 3200 for sure.  I did it on my own and it was a testimate of my own work.  

Outside of running, what are you up to?

Outside of running, I am a huge  TV show nerd, loving Game of Thrones, and anything supernatural.  I also love video games, and my podcast I do with Adam Fogg called the Fogdog and Basten Podcast.