Aidan Ryan has risen to the top of the distance running in D3 over the last year. The Williams junior earned himself a national title in the 1500 meters at the 2019 Outdoor National Championships and has earned an additional two All-American honors on the track. He has PR’s of 3:49 in the 1500 meters, 8:08 in the 3000 meters, and a 14:23 in the 5000 meters. Capping off a great cross country season, he most recently took 10th at NCAA’s this past fall. We chatted with Ryan about this past cross country season, his stunning 3k, and workouts that conquer mountains.
The Stride Report: When you were looking at colleges, what brought you to Williams?
Aidan Ryan: I was mainly drawn to Williams for how beautiful it is here. I’m from Manhattan, and I was looking for a more rural school, and Williams checked all my boxes. Great academics, a good running culture, and plenty of good runs. That and the weather was great when I toured for the first time in junior year.
TSR: What do you like running about D3? What makes it unique and different compared to D1 and D2?
Aidan: I can’t really speak to a D1 or D2 experience, but I know D3 has given me a long leash - really no leash at all. I can choose what I want to prioritize, and because I can’t be all-in on running 100% of the time, D3 gives the space to lead a balanced life. Other things you’re interested in don’t have to fall by the wayside, which lets people become well rounded student-athletes. That being said, it’s on to you to make running a priority, and you have to learn to motivate yourself.
TSR: Last track season, you came away with three All-American honors, one of which was a national title in the 1500 meters. How did it feel to become a national champion and establish yourself as one of D3’s best runners?
Aidan: Anytime it feels like the training is working is a good time; the races are just the cherries on top.
TSR: Coming off of your successful track season, how did that affect your mindset and training coming into the cross country season?
Aidan: I finally had a healthy season, and the consistency I found in training was working for me, so I was excited to focus on XC and try to keep the momentum of training.
TSR: What were your goals for the cross country season?
Aidan: I had ambitious goals, especially as I hadn’t even placed as an All-American a year ago. I did want to place well at Nationals, but I was mainly focused on becoming a well-rounded runner, not just a ‘track’ guy or a ‘1500 specialist’. Aside from Nationals, as funny as it sounds, I wanted to get in good enough aerobic shape to have a good run in our flagship workout up our local mountain, Mt. Greylock. I’m not the best hill runner, and I had never completed that workout. I really wanted to keep up with my teammate, Ryan Cox, who is a real stallion when he’s going up a mountain. He kicked my butt again this year.
TSR: Your regular season was terrific, going undefeated all the way through Regionals. What was your game plan heading into Nationals?
Aidan: Nothing too complicated. I knew I had developed some good strength over 8k, I trusted my race instincts, I trusted my teammates, so the plan was to go out and run.
TSR: You came into the national meet as one of the favorites to contend for the individual title. At Nationals, you ended up taking 10th. What were your thoughts during and after that race?
Aidan: The race got pretty hard for me pretty early, so I just tried to hang on to anyone in front of me. It wasn’t what I or my team had hoped for, so afterwards it was disappointing for sure, but so it goes.
TSR: Your 8:08 3k at Boston University was one of the fastest 3k’s in Division Three’s history. How were you feeling during and after that race? How does it feel to have made a lasting mark on D3 with a race of that caliber?
Aidan: It was so much shorter than a cross country race so it felt like it was over pretty quick. It was good to see the improvement from last year, and to get a hint that the fitness gained in cross country was going to translate. It’s nice to put my name on the board, but that doesn’t matter much to me. Whether or not it’s a lasting mark, I’m happy to have run the race, but I’m not satisfied.
TSR: What are you looking forward to this upcoming track season? Any particular goals in mind?
Aidan: I’m looking forward to train more intensely and with more focus than I did last year. I want to get in a solid training block and push the envelope. I haven’t had smooth training yet this season, so right now I’m just focused on getting back into a rhythm. Plus to run a DMR, I’ve never done one and it’s on my bucket list.
TSR: Anything else that you would like to add? Any shoutouts?
Aidan: Thank you for your interest, and I’ll shout out my coaches. Specifically Dusty Lopez, who deserves a shoutout even though he doesn’t like to take any credit even if he deserves it. And out assistant coach, Jamie Norton, who can still push me in any workout at or slower than mile pace. Nothing faster, but he’s still kicking it at mile pace. It’s amazingly automatic for him this far out of competition.