Daniel Luke Fleace’s race to the finish line

Daniel Fleace competes in the pre-national cross country meet in Louisville, KY.

As part of the University of Louisville Track and Field and Cross Country teams, chemical engineering major Daniel Luke Fleace has to race to keep up with his responsibilities. A graduate from North Harrison High School in Southern Indiana, Fleace found inspiration from a chemistry to teacher, that fostered his interest not only in math and science, but chemical engineering in specific. Now in this third year, Fleace co-ops at the Ford Motor Company Kentucky truck plant as a manufacturing engineer specializing in the processes that involve paint, a position that allows him the opportunity to employ his knowledge of chemistry in a real world application.

Keeping up with the pace

As a distance runner, Fleace places an equal emphasis on working with his strengths, although his schedule does require a tremendous amount of time each day to stay in competitive shape, training two to three hours every day. That time includes a mix of activities, from warm up and stretching, to a periodic stop for weight training, all part of his regimen to maintain his endurance.

“I’m a distance runner as opposed to a sprinter. I typically run a 5K or 10K, which is equivalent to 3 miles or 6 miles," says Fleace. "Our training is a lot of distance runs on some days. Another is intervals, where we run for half a mile or a mile, and we’ll do a set number of intervals per the work out.” 

Daniel Fleace competes in the pre-national cross country meet in Louisville, KY.

Starting on the track and field and cross country teams as a freshman, Fleace has had to run to stay up to speed with his classes. Struggling with his first semester, Fleace has evolved to balance his time between his athletic and academic pursuits carefully, systematically working to avoid the long nights that punctuated his freshman year.

”The academic advisors and professors are very good at working with us. At the beginning of the year, our academic advisors will give us schedules that show our meets, and we give the professors," he said. "A lot of times, I’ll get notes from slides, just to keep up. As far as traveling for competitions go, I’ll take that time to review. It’s not as good, because it’s not coming from the professor, but it’s about making it work as best as possible.”

 Running in place

Currently, Fleace is gearing up to participate in of two events this October, the Pre-Nationals on October 14th, and the ACC championship on October 27th. Both meets take place in Louisville, giving Fleace and his team an opportunity to learn the course and develop a competitive strategy. In preparation, Fleace has a grueling practice schedule, that balances high-endurance runs with a little cool-off time, and strength training.

Daniel Fleace competes in the pre-national cross country meet in Louisville, KY.He explains, “We go to Tom Sawyer maybe once or twice a week. We’ll also hit up various parks in the area, Seneca, Cherokee, and Iroquis park. We’ll run down Eastern or Southern Parkway. Hills are a big part of training. Typically on your harder days, you’ll want to do hills. We have work outs and maintenance runs.”

Continuing he adds, “It just provides a little bit of extra strength. It’s strength and endurance. A very long run will build your endurance, but there is a little bit of muscular element that comes into it. If it’s an easier day for recovery, you might not want to be on as many hills. Every two to three weeks, we’ll do a specific hill work out. That’s to build strength and endurance.

“We know the course very well. There is a certain amount of zoning out, for the first half. The second half needs a lot of focus. One because you’re tired, but two because you have to push harder or back off the pace a little bit. Knowing the course is a big advantage. Friends and family don’t get to see you race a lot, but having a local track, getting to have them see me is a big motivator,” says Fleace.