After 13 years of competitive running and more than 18 years of this beautiful sport acting as my main prerogative, I am retiring. This has been the hardest decision of my life and also one that has crowded my mind for an extended period of time. The decision was easy, though, when I finally realized what I was missing. I simply don’t love running enough anymore to consider it to be my profession. And once that was decided, waking up to train my body and my mind to be the best was no longer fair to myself but also to my coach and teammates.
My time in Flagstaff training alongside some of the best runners in the country was amazing. The group that Ben and Jen Rosario have created is becoming a powerhouse of badass individuals. I had my moments of glory and crafted achievements such as a 7:48 3k on the track and an individual national title in cross country, and I could not have become this runner without my teammates pushing me. The team aspect in the world of running is a power not to be undervalued. Getting out the door and punishing your body through grueling workouts and the ups and downs of success and failure needs to be done with others alongside of you. It can be a lonely profession and I was very blessed to be able to join the Northern Arizona Elite squad. To coach Ben Rosario, my agent Josh Cox, my NAZ teammates, and my sponsor HOKA ONE ONE, thank you for giving me the opportunity to become a professional athlete.
I must give credit where credit is due. I had so many mentors and teammates that helped get me to where I am today. It was never just one act of kindness or a single conversation. It never hinged on one workout or an individual race (though NXN 2009 helped). It takes a village for everyone and I have had plenty of help along the way. Starting with my parents, Brad and Beth Lutz. They made sure I stayed humble throughout my teenage success. They provided me the opportunities to chase dreams I hadn’t even realized I had and constantly asked if I was happy with the sport. They made it to every race they could travel to and gave me the freedom to choose where I wanted to go to college. My dad even quit his day job to become a youth development distance running coach in the Dallas area. They have never limited me or ever told me that my aspirations were farfetched. This relationship paired with my high school distance coach, Steve Telaneus, set me up for a great future. Coach T took me from a babbling freshman who walked around with his head (bowl cut and all) in the clouds, to a senior who ran 4:09/8:54/14:32 and qualified for a world junior cross country team. While I learned a lot about running and how to be confident from Steve, he also taught me the importance of balance. He saw my potential and knew that to make it to the next level with running, I also needed to focus on loving my family, friends, self, as well as other hobbies. He, along with our assistant coach Brad Brevard, created an incredible environment that carried me from Marcus High School and my glory days to my 4 years at The University Of Texas.
My time at Texas deserves another blog post that I will get around to sharing. Some of the lowest points in my career come from my Austin days, and I believe what I learned there may be able to help someone else in the future. Those low days, however, ended with me running 28:33 in the 10K and placing fourth at the NCAA Championship my senior year. My coaches, John Hayes and Brad Herbster, showed me two different coaching styles and each brought success. Though the series of events that resulted in me having two different coaches in college was unfortunate, both helped me so much and both remain good friends of mine. Plus, if it had not been for the recruitment from Hayes, I would never have been able to grow with the teammates I met while running for UT. So while the downs during those four years were bad, the ups were much more special and I count them all as blessings.
As for my current state of affairs, I am moving on to a different side of the running world. I will be continuing to work for HOKA ONE ONE out here in Santa Barbara. It will continue to be an interesting transition from running everyday to working in an office but I couldn’t ask for a better company to help me make this move. HOKA is continually proving to be one of the best (THE BEST!) shoe brands in the market and I cannot wait to see what the future holds! A big thanks to Mike McManus, Lee Cox, and Ian Hill for seeing *other* talent within me, other than the one that got me in a pair of HOKAs in the first place.
Finally, there are so many more people who have helped in some sort of way throughout my running career and I wish I could cover them all in this blog post. I want to thank everyone from my family and my wife, to coaches, past teammates, and competitors for creating a fun and unforgettable experience (while also hating every painful mile of running that we did along the way!). Don’t hesitate to share this post with a story from our paths crossing out there on the road/track, and definitely don’t hesitate to reach out to grab some mileage or a beer. I will be hanging around the running world for years to come, and who knows, I may still have some goals to go after.
– Craig Lutz