Running Column published by the Daily Record
Sunday, January 20, 2019
LESKOW HITS THE TOP IN THE GRAND PRIX
Aaron Leskow only needed a year or two before he figured out how to go to the top in the USATF NJ New Balance Grand Prix. Leskow moved to Morristown in December of 2015 for his career and soon found a running club and the high level of competition in the state.
"It was a very good career move," said Leskow, "and a great move for my continued success in running, with so many great places to run and so many many other running enthusiasts to accompany me along the way.
But "getting" the grand prix was something of a mystery.
"You need a calculus to fully understand the methodology."
Members of the Garden State club helped him understand the scoring this year. Of course understanding the system only gets you to the top if you have the speed needed to gather more points than any other runner. Speed is what Leskow has in abundance.
Leskow started running in fun runs as a kid and then in middle school, and at Tom's River North high school. Then on to St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia where he competed in cross country and track where he notched some impressive times: Outdoor 800, 1:55.60, Outdoor 1,500 meters, 3:43.36, Outdoor 5,000 meters, 14:09.44, Indoor mile 4:07.07, and Indoor 3,000 meters 8:07.07.
Post collegiate, Leskow didn't expect to continue at a high level in running, but was pleasantly surprised to find New Jersey offered all the competition that he could want. He soon joined the Garden State Track Club where he was a welcome member of the club's open men's team, and often the first scoring runner of his team in New Jersey races.
"After college, I figured my competitive running days were behind me," he said. "But I was able to find another running family after my high school and college teams, and that really allowed me to renew my passion for running."
That passion put Leskow in first place at the challenging 20K Indian Trails with a time of 1:09.57 last spring. He followed that with a second place finish of 51:01 at the Clinton Country 15K.
At the Newport Liberty 10K in May, Leskow was the first New Jersey runner, finishing in 32:13.9. At the Lager Run 5K in June he finished third in 15:27, and in November he was second at the Ashenfelter 8K in 24:58.
Leskow is up early to get in a run on Patriot's Path or in Loantaka Park. His easy day pace may be around eight minutes a mile, and five on a hard day. He runs mostly alone, and for a reason.
"There aren't many folks willing and able to wake up at 5:30 a.m. in Morristown to meet and run, so I run most of the miles by myself," said Leskow, who usually runs between fifty to sixty miles per week.
" I've found that this is the optimal distance for staying fit and healthy," he said. "Managing fatigue becomes increasingly important as you try to balance running, a career, and a social life."
Although he does most of his training in the early hours of the morning, he tries to get to at least one workout a week. The Garden State club competed at the club national cross country meet in Spokane in December where they finished a very respectable eleventh out of fifty teams.
Leskow said that he focused on the 1,500 meters while at college but has come to appreciate a classic road 5K. Yet it wasn't a 5K that he remembers most fondly in 2018, but a reverting back to his favorite distance, or nearly so.
"My most memorable performance was probably the Midland Mile, which is a great road mile run at dusk through the streets of Montclair," he said.
Leskow finished the mile in 4:18.94 in a near tie for first with Steve Lewandowski of Mountain Lakes whose time was 4:18.50.
Leskow has an interesting take on competing, with which older runners will find themselves nodding their heads in agreement.
"I have a saying that whenever you start running, you become forever slow, because you will never be as fast as you want to be."
Such sentiments have not discouraged him though. Although he is not targeting any specific race his goal is stay focused, healthy, and competitive.
"Its simple, but that's really all I've ever tried to do," he said. "Good performances tend to follow suit."