Alumni Focus: Heidelberg University's Tim Jasper

Heidelberg University's Tim Jasper is a cross country and distance track athlete, who graduated from Marysville in 2016. 

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

Honestly, just making some good buddies and sharing in great camaraderie has been a highlight of my career to this point. Well, that and being healthy for over a year now has been great. However, if I had to name something that I'm proud of running-wise, it was racing at Otterbein during my freshman year and breaking 17 minutes in the 5k for the first time in my life.  

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

So for me, a lot of people see Division 3 running as something that isn't super fast and for a lot of people who just "hobby-jog." While Division 1, 2 and NAIA are a bit faster, in my opinion Division 3 is just as, if not more, competitive than the others. 

In high school, I just really saw running as a way to make friends until I started to take it more seriously in my junior when I realized I could do this in college as I started getting recruited. I chose Heidelberg mostly because of the academics and really thought of running as secondary until I realized just how competitive the spots are on our team and in our conference. This discovery lit a fire in me, but to sum it all up, the biggest adjustment that I had to make was to make running a bigger part of my life. 

In school, I try to have as much of a social life as possible but at the same time, you have so much time to yourself as opposed to going to class in high school where you're in school from 7:30 to 3:00 every day. You could have maybe one or two classes during the day but I had to make running my lifestyle where I would try to find different ways to fill up my time. Whether that be stretching, doing core, doing PT with our awesome athletic trainers, getting a double in or whatever, you have to make running a big part of your life but at the same time you want to try to have fun too.  

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

In Division 3, we strictly race 8k's all year long (the way it should be), so it's obviously a big jump from racing 5k's every weekend in high school. We're getting into the meat and potatoes of our aerobic base training right now so every week we're slotting in 5 to 6 mile tempo runs, hill workouts and anaerobic work. In terms of mileage, I'm the huge mileage guy on our team so my cycles are roughly around 75 to 90 miles per week with a few doubles tossed in here and there when I feel like it. Once we go into the racing part of our season, we'll do more progressive stuff, like long intervals. I try to run with groups when I can, but I sometimes prefer the runs where I run alone. Occasionally, my parents or girlfriend will bike with me, which is nice.  

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

My college career has been unconventional to say the least. I had surgery on my knee going into my junior year and had some poor results from my sophomore year track season until after my junior year of XC, which I found out was because I am anemic (which is cool-kid talk for iron-deficient). So for me, I want to go fully all-in and have no regrets for my senior year. I usually don't like to put a time goal on myself because I feel like it gets me worried about splits in races when I should be worried about who I'm going to compete with and beat. So, I want to be on our top seven come our conference and regional meets, but I'd love to take down my longtime 8k PR from my freshman year.  

5) 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?  

I'd say that to realize that running is only one part of your life and that you have to take care of all the other aspects of life too. I feel like a lot of people fall into this spiral of what they can do to always be better and just eat, sleep and breathe running. Although I love running and truly think I'm a student of the sport, you have to realize that running is temporary and your whole life ahead of you is more important. 

In terms of the competition, I was never the fastest guy at my high school so being in the middle of the pack when I got to college wasn't a huge shock for me. Whereas maybe a smaller portion of people at the high school level take running very seriously, pretty much everyone at the collegiate level, regardless of division, does and they do whatever it takes to perform at their best in races. 

One of the cooler things about my conference (the awesome Ohio Athletic Conference) is that a lot of us from other schools are actually pretty good friends outside of running (shout-out to those boys from Otterbein) so if I could give some advice for that, make friends with your competitors because it makes the races and meets more fun. 

Lastly, like I said earlier, with having a lot of free time in college, make the most of your college experience and have fun. You'll have more free time than you'll know what to do with so I think it's important to make a schedule and prioritize your time to make sure you have time to study, do homework but also hang out with friends and enjoy yourself. Your college experience is what you make it, but being a collegiate runner takes a serious time and physical commitment. It is such a rewarding experience if you do it right.