Staying Vertical with Leo Manzano
William Dyson sits down with Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano in this installment of Staying Vertical.
High Five Events, Staying Vertical, Olympics, silver medalist, community, Austin, Leo Manzano, training
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Staying Vertical with Leo Manzano

Staying Vertical with Leo Manzano

For the next installment of Staying Vertical, William Dyson, of High Five Events, sat down with Leo Manzano, 2012 Olympic silver medalist, to talk about training updates, how he handles adversity, and what his plans are for the near future (spoiler alert: it involves Rio).

Leo the Lion has big goals and you can be with him every step of the way! Follow him on his blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

William Dyson – When I first met you there were no sponsorships. Now you have HokaOneOne, Coca-Cola, and Timex. How much of a difference does that make during training and life in general?

Leo Manzano – It makes a big difference, without sponsors most athletes would be out of the sport. Sponsors allow us to focus more on our training, connect better with our followers, and provide moral and financial support.

Manzano training for the Olympic Trials.

Manzano training for the Olympic Trials.

WD – How confident are you in your training? 

LM – I feel very confident in my training, I have a lot of faith in my coach and in the program that I have been in for the last couple of years. It’s all about working hard and smart. The goals always come.

WD – You’ve talked a lot about consistency. How do you balance consistency and making improvements as needed? 

LM – First, you have to have the overall plan, from training to the end goals. Work your plan as much as possible. If there are inconsistencies, keep a level head, adapt as much as possible, and continue towards your goals. The goal is always to improve and do well; if you fail, learn and continue towards the next goal.

WD – You recently changed coaches. How has this affected you? 

LM – My training has definitely picked up. I am back with my former Coach Ryan Ponsonby. We work very well together. We were not only coach/athlete, but once upon a time we were also teammates for the University of Texas. We have had a lot of success together and hope to continue that.

WD – When did you first realize you had that internal desire to push yourself and your limits? 

LM – I have always enjoyed running. It wasn’t until middle school that I learned about training the body. I learned a lot from my middle school coach and went on to win a few district championships. In high school I won nine state titles.

Manzano foam rolling post-workout.

Manzano foam rolling post-workout.

WD – What race is next on your calendar?

LM – I’m off to the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. My race days for the Olympic Trials are July 7, 8, and 10th.

WD – How does a runner of your caliber handle adversity, mentally and physically? 

LM – First of all, we have to count our blessings every day. Next, we always try and find creative solutions to our problems no matter what they may be. Always stay positive.

Physically, we train our bodies, take care of our bodies as much as possible, and also have the proper people in our corner to provide therapy.

Mentally, we stay positive, visualize races, and also do self-talk.

WD – How vital is goal-setting to you? 

LM – Having goals is always important as its a road map to where you’d like to go and be. You should have large goals, which are your dreams; then you should have sub-goals, which are more attainable and work towards both.

WD – What are your next goals? 

LM – Being back on the podium with the gold medal is my ultimate goal. Winning the Olympic Trials is vital in obtaining my ultimate goal. I also strive to be better every day, on and off the track.

WD – How important is community, both on a small-scale (friends, family, teammates) and large-scale (running groups, sponsors, fans, etc.)? 

Manzano training at the Austin High track.

LM – Both aspects are incredibly important and its hard not having one without the other. The community makes the sport, the sponsors keep the sport alive. To make it in the sport you have to build a team and it has to be a win-win for everyone.

I’ve partnered with the New Mexico Dept. of Health TUPAC programs and campaigns “Dejelo Ya” and “Quit Now” to aid in their anti-tobacco efforts. This past April I was the Race Ambassador for the 2016 Cap10K. I truly enjoy giving back to the community.

WD – How much do the hills of Austin affect your training? 

LM – I enjoy my long, hilly runs around Austin. They allow me to gain strength, fitness, and keep my running fresh and enjoyable.

WD – A few months back you appeared in a video for Austin City Champions. Austin is one huge running scene. How do you think this will motivate others to be an Austin City Champ? 

LM – Austin City Champions is a great platform for runners of any age. I appeared on the video with runners from different backgrounds and ages. The video demonstrates that it doesn’t matter where you come from, how old you are, or what you do.  You could be the next Austin City Champion in your division.

WD – What motivates you to run? 

LM – I am motivated by the love of running, the love of competition, and the gratefulness I feel for the fans and the sponsors as the sport has given me everything I have today.

Town Lake; Manzano's favorite place to run.

Town Lake; Manzano’s favorite place to run.

WD – Favorite place to run in Austin?

LM – Town Lake; there’s no place like home.

WD – Favorite non-running activity? 

LM – I’m a saltwater aquarium enthusiast and hobbyist. I enjoy learning about and keeping saltwater fish, seahorses, and coral.

WD – Favorite Austin restaurant?

LM – There’s too many!

WD – Leo, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. It was great catching up with you and learning about all that has taken place and will take place in just a couple months! It seems as if you’re peaking at the right time. You’re not just a great athlete, but an amazing person who has done so much for others, especially Austinites. High Five Events wishes you the best of luck while you’re competing at the Olympic Trials. 

LM – William, it was great catching up with you. I’ve been working hard with the ultimate goal in mind. Thank you for your and High Five Events’ support. It means the world to know I have the City of Austin backing me. We’ll have to do this again in a few months.

Staying Vertical is an interview session with various individuals within the running/triathlon community hosted by William Dyson, High Five Events Communications Manager. Staying Vertical will showcase the perspective of runners, triathletes, sponsors, partners, event producers, and volunteers and understand what makes them tick. We will highlight their involvement and give the running community an inside look into the individuals that are just like you and me.

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