UC Irvine senior Charles Jock placed third in last month’s USA Track and Field Championships in the 800-meter race, earning him a spot on Team USA for the IAFF World Championships in Daegu, Korea. I had a chance to sit down with him to talk about his life, athleticism, Lil Wayne and Korea.
NU: Are you still on an emotional high after qualifying for Team USA?
CJ: This is my first senior national team. I remember when I first crossed the line, I was so excited. I was like “Oh this can’t be real!” Everything is crazy, but after the victory lap and the drug testing everything just wore down. I was waiting for it to hit me again but it really hasn’t. I think it kind of passed again. I know I will get excited again when I get on the plane.
NU: How did you train for the U.S. Track and Field Championships last month?
CJ: My training since my freshman year has been about progression. When I came out of high school, I didn’t have too much strength or in running terms, more of long-distance strength. So every year we’ve added a little bit more strength and it’s worked wonders.
My first year I came in running 1:50 to 1:48 and then I dropped to 1:45 last year and then 1:44 this year. I mean the goal is to get stronger, stronger and stronger. That’s really been the focus of all last fall and early winter training. So when it comes down to it I can run three rounds. This year has been focused on not only being able to run three rounds but running fast three rounds.
NU: So now that you find yourself competing against the fastest 800-meter runners across the globe, how will you change your training approach to compete?
CJ: When it comes down to it, my mindset has not changed too much. I let the coaches figure out all that stuff. I just come down to the track and do what they tell me to do. They plan the workouts for the week and my resting periods. They do the brunt of the work and all I do is show up and do the work.
I already accomplished my second goal of making the world team. I’ve had such a long season that my body is starting to go down. I can still run fast but it’s starting to hurt. I’m going into this team mainly just for experience. I’m going into the final to see whatever happens. I wouldn’t say I’d be happy if I didn’t make the final, but I wouldn’t be down on myself. This year is the experimental year and next year is the do-something-crazy year.
NU: What weaknesses do you find in yourself and how do you plan on improving before the world meet?
CJ: Well at this point there’s not too much for me to do. All we’re doing is maintaining. There’s not much I can do in four weeks that’s going to drop my time by a ridiculous amount. So I’m trying to stay healthy and replicate my time back in the USAs. In general my biggest weakness is my strength. After Worlds, I can finally get some time off and then I will get back in my grind and really try to win the USAs and get in the Olympics.
NU: What’s on your iPod?
CJ: I got a lot of Lil Wayne, a lot of Ludacris, a little bit of underground, some Kanye West. I used to listen to a lot of Bay Area music, but not anymore. When I’m not competing I listen to a lot of slow jams like Trey Songz and Usher. Usually before a competition though, Lil Wayne. He’s got that go-get ‘em attitude like “I’m the Best.”
NU: What’s your favorite Weezy track?
CJ: I still listen to “Right Above It” before every race or “Sky’s the Limit.” I guess you can say that’s a pregame ritual.
NU: How is your relationship with your coaches?
CJ: We’ve always been close, the three of us. We’re a good team. I think that’s the major reason I’ve had so much success. It’s because they’re bouncing ideas off each other. They communicate. They’re open to new ideas. It’s not their way or the highway and they really took care of me. Honestly I think that’s the reason why I’ve been able to do well here.
NU: Are they coming with you to Korea?
CJ: Yeah they will be making the trip.
NU: Anything you’re looking forward to when you arrive in Korea?
CJ: Honestly I don’t know too much about Korea. My friend has a Rosetta Stone first level I think. I’m trying to get him to find it. I’m going to go out and go sightseeing and stuff. I actually have a friend who graduated last year and he’s out there teaching English. I think he lives an hour or an hour and a half from Daegu. But yeah I’m trying out a little Korean. It would be nice and surprise some people. If I ever get the chance, I would like to drive to Seoul. I hear shopping is pretty cheap over there.
NU: So when you get to Korea and you see Usain Bolt, what will be your reaction?
CJ: I really don’t have role models in the athletic world. I have people that I respect for what they’ve done, but I don’t have people that I look up to or aspire to be. So when I see Usain Bolt, I’ll be like “Oh it’s Usain Bolt” and that’ll be it. Maybe I’ll see him at a party after.
NU: How can you describe your UCI Track experience thus far?
CJ: Honestly UCI track and field is like a big family to me. They’ve been a family away from home. Coming in as a freshman, I remember the big guys taking us in and showing us around and making us feel comfortable. It’s weird because now I’m the old guy. I’m going to be a senior. It’s crazy how time flies, but the team is always close with each other.
NU: Is your name befitting for a track star? It just seems very marketable.
CJ: I got that a lot actually. I remember a lot of people didn’t call me by my first name, they just go “Hey Jock what’s up?” I swear nobody knows my first name in the track world, they always call me by my last name. I grew up with that effect when I was a kid.
NU: Right now you’re considered one of the young guys with huge potential. How do you plan on living up to the hype ?
CJ: Aw man, I really don’t want to sound terrible, but the truth is, I really don’t care what other people expect of me. I have my own expectations of myself. I know what my coach expects of me and to me that’s all that really matters.
I know exactly what I want to do and I’m going to strive for that. Another thing is honestly, I don’t think anybody can have the expectations that I have for myself. I think my expectations for myself are always going to be higher than others’ expectations for me. So now I’m here chasing dreams.