Nick Symmonds is a man you should know. He is faster than 99.9 percent of the population and yet he trains to be faster every day.
Nick, 28, runs the ultra grueling 800 meters in Track and Field's "Middle Distance" milieu, where men and women are reduced to tears racing at top speeds for what sound like short distances.
"That's the key to the 800 meters," Nick Symmonds said recently. "It's long and it's short. It's the marriage of sprinting and long distance."
Two laps fast. That's what Nick Symmonds races, in well under two minutes. One lap around the track is 400 meters (nearly a quarter mile), so Nick's race is about half a mile.
Nick's best time for this distance is a blistering 1 minute and 43 seconds, add a few hundreths of a second. Nick runs many miles each week in his hometown of Eugene, Oregon and also goes to Arizona each spring to train at altitude (makes breathing tougher during training, but easier during actual races. Sort of like doing training runs with weights on your lungs.)
Nick grew up in Boise, Idaho and eventually became a college track star at Willamette University in Oregon where he earned five consecutive NCAA Championship titles. Nick's most famous race was his thrilling come from behind victory at the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd.
Nick has won the U.S Track and Field Outdoor Championships for four consecutive years and looks to make this Summer's Olympic team with a victory at the Trials in June. Nick competed in Beijing for the 2008 Games and has run in the finals at the last two World Championships as well.
In May, Nick will be staying with family friends on the beach in Malibu where he plans to do some hard training on the sand, both wet and dry.
"I love to run on the beach," Nick says with that trademark grin. "I can't think of a better beach to run on than the golden sands of Malibu. Maybe it will be an omen for me."
Nick certainly has his eye on the Gold Medal, which would be the USA's first medal at the 800 meters since Johnny Gray of UCLA earned a Silver Medal at the 1992 Olympic Games.
"I also love to surf and having some time to do that in Malibu will help ease the tension of training for me," he says.
Nick Symmonds is also an outspoken advocate of U.S. Track and Field's stringent policies regarding sponsorships for athletes.
"I believe athletes in track should be able to obtain the proper funds to secure their training so they can bring their best 'game' to the sport and right now the policies in place make it very difficult to accomplish that," he said.
Nick has made headway in the sport of track by eliciting a change in policy allowing athletes one other logo to be displayed on their uniforms other than their main sponsor, which is Nike for Nick.
Nick even sold his "space" on his arm for a tattoo on Ebay, where a company logo can now be displayed. See Nick's interviews on Flotrack.com the main site of Track and Field here.
For now, Nick Symmonds, who competes at the prestigous Penn Relays in Philadephia this weekend and The Occidental Invitational at Occidental College next month, looks forward to some Sand 'N Sea time.
"I'm an outdoors guy. I love outdoor sports and my favorite thing about track is that it gets me out the door every morning. But having to run 10 miles at a sub 7 minute mile pace, that's another thing. Hey, at least I can look forward to my big Jethro bowl of Wheaties when I get back!" Nick says laughing and then heads out the door to practice.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickSymmonds and visit his web site NickSymmonds.com.