Gaucho on a Roll: Q & A with Shyan Vaziri

Gaucho on a Roll: Q & A with Shyan Vaziri

Santa Barbara, Calif- Shyan Vaziri is one of the hottest mid-distance runners in the NCAA. The junior from Scripps Ranch, who used to spend his afternoons running up Pomadero and Spring Canyon Road in the small community north of San Diego, has settled into a dominant force in the 1500m. Last weekend Vaziri broke the UCSB school record in the 1500m with his 3:42.44 effort at the Bryan Clay Invitational. Held at Azusa Pacific University, the Clay Invite gathered a spectacular field of men and women who toed the line in search of times with national implications. Last Friday under the stadium lights of APU, Vaziri put together his finest performance to date, taking the school record down by amost a second and a half. 

The Vaziri File by the numbers: 

  • Vaziri currently sits 10th on the NCAA performance list 
  • He has pulled off four career 800m-1500m doubles, winning both events in a collegiate meet
  • Vaziri has won a total of 21 collegiate races on the track. 
  • 1500m PR: 3:42.44 
  • 2x NCAA West Preliminary Qualifier in the 800m 
  • 2011 CIF State Runner-Up in the 800m while at Scripps Ranch HS 


Looking back at this fall and your success in cross country, what did you do different from your sophomore to junior years? 
To be perfectly honest, the majority of my cross country season did not go that well. I was struggling early on during the fall season, but I got a big wake up call from my teammates Andrew Farkas and Anthony Ortolan who were having great seasons. I saw how great those guys were doing during cross country and it was all because they worked their butts off in the summer to get better. It was a reminder that there are no shortcuts to success, and seeing my pals run so well really is what first inspired me to get it together and to start working out harder than I had been doing before. This Winter I ran more miles, longer workouts, and had better conditioning than I have ever done. This is what set me up so well for this track season.

What can you attribute your finishing kick to this season? 
I've always had a fair amount of speed for a distance runner, but the finishing kick didn't start developing until my senior year of high school when I started running a lot of 4x400 relays. Ever since then I've had a pretty good kick at the end of my distance races.

So far in your career, you have pulled off four different 800m-1500m double wins at a collegiate meet. What is it that draws you into this tough combination of racing? 
Doubling is always hard. After I run one hard race all I want to do is chill. But I know running two events, especially early in the season, is great for training. Even better motivation is that I help score as many points possible for my team.

As a freshman and sophomore you qualified for the NCAA Preliminary Round meet in the 800m, this season you have experience a great deal of success up in the 1500m. Which one do you prefer and why? 
The 800m was my specialty event in high school. I actually never raced any event other than the 800m until my senior year of high school, but coaches I had met always told me that I would be better suited for the mile or 1500m race. Once I started running more volume in my workouts I started making drastic improvements in the 1500m. I'll always love running the 800m and I'll probably always be racing that event, but I can tell that I have larger potential to unlock as a 1500m runner.

As a freshman you had the chance to train with Ryan Martin (4th place 2012 Olympic Trials 800m runner and 1:44.77 career 800m man for the Gauchos). What was that experience like and what did you learn from Ryan? 
Other than Coach Dolan, Rymar has probably had the greatest impact on my career to this point. As a freshmen I got to train with one of the fastest guys in NCAA history on a daily basis. (Ryan is the 8th fastest 80m runner in NCAA history) 
It was amazing, and humbling. I was fast in high school, but compared to Rymar I was just a rookie. But that is how the process begins. I was lucky enough to become good friends with Rymar, and he departed on to me a lot of knowledge. Not just about running, but also about lots of other life skills. He definitely took me under is wing that year. I'm grateful for what Rymar did for me that year, and for the advice he still continues to give me now.

When you have a lap to go in the 1500m and are racing in a tight pack, what is going through your mind? 
There typically isn't too much thinking going on in my head during a race. I'm acting all on instincts. But when the race is close, my body is pushing to near max capacity, and pain is setting I have to make a split second decision to be brave and race all out or else I'll break and the competition will take off without me.

Last weekend at Azusa Pacific you ran 3:42.44 in the 1500m. Were you surprised at the result? 

I was surprised. I had a good feeling I was in this kind of shape before the race, but in this sport you never really know how far your efforts in practice are taking you until you go out on race day and give it everything you have.

What does running mean to you? 
I run 70-80 miles a week and put countless hours into running, and training because it means a lot. Running satisfies my competitive drive. When I was younger I played soccer, baseball, football, and even Tae-Kwon-Do. Running is different though. It is such a pure form of competition because when the race is over you will know exactly where you stand. You get to take on all the credit when things go right and all the blame when things go wrong, but all the responsibility teaches you valuable lessons. You learn to be patient, believe in yourself, dream big, and that hard work pays off. Even more important is that I've made amazing friends and memories through the sport. When you run 10 miles every single day of the week with your teammates, you all become very good friends. We all share the common love for the sport, and it brings us all very close together. My fellow Gauchos will be my friends for life.