Healthy McDaniel Having Fun on the Run
Oct. 30, 2012
CHICAGO – Eddie McDaniel has never felt better in his collegiate life.
That’s because the No. 1 runner on the DePaul men’s cross country team has been virtually pain-free and in the pink of health the entire season.
After injuries slowed him down his first two years, the junior from south suburban Oak Forest has shifted into cruise control when it comes to avoiding injury.
That has led to McDaniel being the first Blue Demon across the finish line in all six races with only the Nov. 9 NCAA Midwest Regional at Springfield, Mo. left on the schedule.
Not only was McDaniel DePaul's leader of the pack on Sept 7th, but he outran the entire NIU Open field in DeKalb. Four days later, McDaniel was named BIG EAST Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week.
Some attribute McDaniel’s success to smarter training and paying closer attention to his body. There’s also the new training wrinkle he has undertaken.
“I read over the summer where the top 10K runners like London Olympics gold medalist Mo Farah of Great Britain and silver medalist Galen Rupp of the USA devote as much as 25 percent of their training to water treadmill,” McDaniel said.
“I talked to the coaches about it. I’m doing water treadmill running in the back of the Athletic Center on the first floor. It’s the first time I’ve trained on it. I’ve been doing it one day a week.
“With my history of injuries, it’s something I wanted to add to my training program. If I want to someday reach my goals of becoming an NCAA qualifier in cross country and track, I need to stay healthy.”
The freshman who was second to ex-Blue Demon standout Matthew Graham in the 2009 BIG EAST Cross Country Championships has been living up to his potential this fall.
“We knew it was a good possibility he would be our No. 1 runner if he remained healthy,” said DePaul assistant cross country coach Leah Bohr. “A lot of people were surprised at what he has done this season.
“The coaches saw signs of his emergence when he qualified for last spring’s BIG EAST outdoor meet in the 1500m. He was second on our cross country team his freshman year at BIG EAST and showed a lot of early promise. It became a matter of overcoming a variety of injuries.
“Being healthy has allowed him to take a big step forward this fall."
It has also enabled him to assume the mantle of leadership passed on from Graham, an All-BIG EAST selection and DePaul’s top runner the previous four years.
“For two years in high school, I was the lead runner,” McDaniel said. “I was No. 2 my freshman year behind Matthew Graham. I like the pressure of being expected to finish first on the team. I run better under pressure.
“Matt was a very good distance runner, especially in cross country. I knew I wasn’t going to replace his times. I don’t feel any pressure to be the next Matt. I just try to be one of the leaders on this team.
“It’s hard to replace him, and I didn’t worry about it. It was all about having a deeper and better overall team this season. I don’t need to be like Matt for us to do well.”
Cross country has been full of good times for McDaniel.
“This has been my best collegiate season so far, and it’s been a confidence booster going a full season without getting hurt,” McDaniel said. “I can run faster and it’s been fun. I’m really loving the sport. After being hurt last year, I’m just excited to be back with the team.
“It’s enjoyable to be with the guys again and having my family come out to watch me run. That hasn’t happened a lot since high school because of the injuries.
“This has been the first season since I got to college that there has been no soreness or pain. I’ve been doing a lot of core building and more strengthening work outside of practice.”
Ask McDaniel what gets him the most fired up about his running, and his response has nothing to do with a solo flight.
“Being named BIG EAST Athlete of the Week was cool, and it’s nice to be recognized that all the hard work is paying off,” McDaniel said. “But rather than getting accolades as an individual, it’s more fun to win as a team.
“I think our 4x800m relay team can win a BIG EAST title in outdoor track. We were fifth last year, and we're the only school among the top six finishers to have everyone back. I ran the first leg and was followed by Luke Junk, Ian Sanchez and Chris Miedema. We also have Max Clink in the mix.
“This is what I’m most excited about in track. There’s something special about the sense of pride you feel for the team and the school.”