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Nineteen-year-old, Addison “Addy” Wiley from Huntington, Indiana is one of the country’s top young middle-distance runners.

She has run four new personal bests during the 2023 outdoor season already including 4:03.22 over the 1500-metre distance on June 3. In February, she ran the 800m in the time of 2:02.33. The USATF subsequently honoured her with the Indiana Athlete of the Month.

Photo credit: Carter VanderMeer

Wiley is a freshman at Huntington University. She is also a two-time USATF Indiana Athlete of the Year recipient. Wiley was initially recruited into the NCAA by Colorado University, however, chose to remain close to home and felt that the NAIA was more appropriate for her.

At the NAIA Indoor Championships in Brookings, SD, she won four individual events and anchored Huntington University’s distance medley relay team to a win. Individually she won the 600m in 1:29.47, 800m in the time of 2:10.93, the mile in 4:48.04, and the 3000m in 9:47.57. Her 600m performance is a meet record.

Her accomplishments are the more impressive considering that she is a survivor of childhood cancer.

The interview

Christopher Kelsall: Was growing up in Huntington, Indiana conducive to playing sports?

Addy Wiley: Yes, growing up in Huntington was conducive to playing sports. For being a small community (35,000 people), we have great resources and training options. For example, my community has five outdoor tracks and a very nice cross-country course I have had access to growing up. I was also able to play soccer, softball, basketball, and water sports all in addition to running in my hometown. 

Last summer you finished fifth in the 1500m at the U20 World Championships in 4:11.43. How did that performance meet your expectations?

AW: I was honestly very disappointed with that result and time. I knew going into the championship that I was in at least 4:06 to 4:08 shape, but my tactics were poor and as a result, I definitely did not perform to the best of my abilities. I am thankful for the opportunity and I’ve learned a lot from those mistakes.

CK: With your personal best of 4:03.22 set three weeks ago, do you feel that you should specialize now in the 1500m event or will you see what you can do with the 800m having also run well with your 2:02.33 from February?

AW: I plan on continuing to test myself over a variety of distances. I have run 2:01 for an official 800 relay split and I would like to take a shot at a sub-2:00 800 in the near future. This is my first year of running year-round, so I am excited to test myself in the 5k in the future when I have more of a base behind me. Until then, I really like the 1500 and I am excited to keep progressing in that event.

CK: What does a typical training week look like for you?

AW: My current typical training week looks like a long run on Sunday (I have worked up to 70 minutes). Monday consists of easy running with hurdle drills and form drills. Tuesday is two workouts with an aerobic focus, plus weight training. Wednesday is easy running with cross-training and hurdle drills. Thursday is a speed development day with drills. Friday is another workout day, race-specific workouts with weight training after. Lastly, Saturday is an off day/recovery. Sometimes the schedule will adjust slightly for classes or exams, but more often than not this is my schedule.

Photo credit: Carter VanderMeer

CK: You chose Huntington University over other offers. Most high schoolers look toward getting away from their hometown. Why did you stick close to where you grew up?

AW: Staying close to home not only opened a lot of opportunities for myself but also let me truly pursue the goals I had in mind of making US teams and developing to become a professional athlete. I have uniquely high goals which I believe require taking a unique route to success. Such as neither the current men’s or women’s world record holders in the 1500m, Jakob Ingebrigtsen or Faith Kipyegon, ran in the typical college system. Also, Jakob never moved away from his home since he had a system that worked for him. I have some of the most amazing training resources along with the ability to completely customize my racing and training schedule. I didn’t feel that many other offers I got gave me confidence that they were promising everything in my best interest and not just to win college titles. What I noticed for many colleges was the emphasis to win conference and national titles which I observed often lead to many athletes who faced injury or burnout.

CK: Do you like the 70-minute long runs or are you all about the drills and race-specific work?

I have really started to enjoy the 70-minute long runs this year since developing a better strength base.

CK: Which other sports did you play growing up in Huntington?

AW: I primarily played soccer growing up but then I also ran track and cross country and played basketball as a teen. When I was younger, I tried many different sports for fun or recreation such as softball, swimming, tennis, and gymnastics.

Have you ever played in the Heritage Days 3-on-3 tournament?

I have not, but when I was younger, I did several 3-on-3 tournaments. I think they are really fun but now I find it best to not play so I do not risk the chance of an injury, but I still find time to shoot the basketball around just for fun. 

CK: Did you have a chance to watch Faith Kipyegon break the two world records? It was refreshing to see all her competitors celebrate with her after the 1500m, yes?

AW: Yes, I was fortunate to watch both records and it is inspiring to watch all the record attempts that have happened. It encourages the next generation to chase bigger dreams. It was also inspiring to see so many people breaking their own records in that race and to see an entire field be overjoyed with their performances. 

CK: Athing Mu and Keely Hodgkinson are just a couple of years older than you. Speaking of inspiration, do you feel extra motivated knowing that teens can go 1-2 in an Olympic and World Championship final?

It is very inspiring to see young athletes compete at such a high level on the Olympic and World stage, it is a reminder to never count myself out when competing against older athletes. Athletes I got to race against in Colombia at the U20 championships have competed in diamond leagues, so my time could be just around the corner if I keep working hard and capitalizing on opportunities. 

CK: Outside of athletics what are your cultural interests?

AW: Outside of running I have a dog-sitting and dog-walking business. I have a dog and a cat of my own that I love to spend time with. I love being outside and doing things such as hiking and water sports. Plus, I enjoy being able to travel, which is something that I have been able to do more due to racing in many different places. I also participate in volunteering for my community as much as possible. As a cancer survivor, I also like advocating for other children battling cancer, as a professional runner someday I plan to donate a large portion of my prize money to support children experiencing cancer. 

CK: Very kind and altruistic. What are you majoring in?

I major in History and Political Science Pre-Law.

CK: Are your parent into sports and or running?

Both of my parents played high school sports. My dad primarily played baseball, my mom primarily focused on basketball, where her team won the state championship, and she also played basketball in college. She was also all-state for her track team in the four-by-four relay. 

Will you embrace cross-country in the fall, do you enjoy one over the other between cross and track?

Track is definitely my favourite between the two. This last year I was able to get my base phase in with my teammates who were training for cross country. It provided me with a lot of inspiration and fun experiences. Looking ahead to this fall, the track season could go very late so I am not sure what my next cross season will look like.

CK: Which are your big races coming up this summer?

My biggest focus this summer is the U.S. Championships. The rest of my summer will depend on how team processing goes and if I earn the chance to compete on Team USA. I am just starting my season and have a lot of fitness to show so I will compete more, but the race schedule will be adapted after the US championships. 

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