Murray’s skills, drive
him from gravel roads
to Big 12 cross country courses
Daniel Murray showed coaches in his early years that he had something to offer. As an eighth grader, he was elevated to the high school varsity cross country team.
The Minnesotan’s steady progress in the sport led him to the Iowa State University cross country and track teams.
Murray always found time for running as he grew up on the family farm outside Blue Earth in central Minnesota. The Murrays grow corn and soybeans and raise hogs. 4-H and FFA member Daniel showed hogs and sheep at fairs. “It was a good experience,” he said.
He placed in the top 10 in three state cross country meets and was second in his senior year. He set a school record in the 1,500 meters in track.
“I had always planned on going to college. I hadn’t decided on going to Iowa State until late in my senior year. I decided to come here because they had a good agricultural engineering program. The fact that they had a cross country team was a big plus. I liked the coach. He was very personable.”
Education has always been a priority. He graduated at the top of his high school class.
In May, 2010, Murray graduated with a bachelor’s degree with one year of athletic eligibility remaining.
Murray is glad that he chose cross country. By seventh grade he started to get serious about running. He trained in the summer, running along gravel roads surrounding the farm.
“In eighth grade I started getting quite a bit better. I started putting in more miles. My ninth grade year I was 60th at the state meet and my sophomore year I was 10th, a big jump. It was hard work and training.”
In high school, conditioning didn’t include much more than running. That changed in college.
“We’re doing a lot of general strength training, a lot of sit ups, push ups and pull ups. We work on the core and legs. You need to have a good core so when you’re running you stand up straight. You’re more efficient that way. We do the general strength training so that you’re stronger farther into the race.
“The hardest thing we do is the Big 12. You do 12 push ups, then 12 ab exercises, then 11 pushups and 11 ab exercises and all the way down to one. After five or six times it’s not that bad anymore,” Murray said.
Murray didn’t have a problem adjusting to the more challenging college regimen.
“I’ve been putting in a lot more miles. In high school the most mileage I did was 50 miles a week. Now, the least I do is 70 miles a week. It’s a little bit of an adjustment. In cross country, there aren’t many races so you really have to perform well at those races. You have to take advantage of those opportunities,” he said.
“I think what made me a successful runner is hard work and dedication, getting up every day and getting done what I need to get done and working hard at it. I’m kind of lanky. I have long legs and long arms and that definitely helps. Living on the farm helps. We baled hay, square bales. Each bale is 40 to 50 pounds. It’s a workout. My core work was mostly doing work on the farm, Murray said..
“It takes a good degree of self-discipline. I think I got that from growing up on a farm. You have a lot of things to do that have to get done.
“I think I have a good core. Strength training here has helped me by strengthening my core,” he said.
Murray appreciates the individual nature of the sport and he also likes being part of a team.
“It’s up to the individual to get it done, but each individual is thinking about the team and what you can do to improve the team. You look at the bigger picture and try to get better yourself. There is definitely a lot of camaraderie on the team. That’s what you have to have if you go out on an hour run every day with somebody.”
With cross country comes some adversity.
“The most challenging thing about running is that at some point in the race it’s going to get hard. You just have to work through that and overcome it. A lot of it is getting in all the mileage to be competitive. Workouts can be challenging, but it’s going to help you in the races. You get sore from running hard. We try to get an ice bath about three times a week. It keeps you legs fresh,” Murray said.
“After a race my calves are usually the most sore. Other than that it’s usually not too bad other than you’re winded.”
Murray recommends cross country as a sport that young people should consider.
“It’s definitely a fun sport to be in. It’s fun to watch. Having teammates is a good opportunity for friendships. You just feel good about yourself after you get done with a race.”
Iowa State University
Parents: David and Sandra Murray,
Blue Earth, Minn.
Major: Ag & Biosystems Engineering,
graduated May, 2010
8th place, Iowa Intercollegiate Meet (best on ISU team)
1st place, Bulldog Classic
1st Team Academic All American,
5th place, Bradley Classic Invitational
3rd place, Drake Classic
4th place, ISU Open
2nd place, Minnesota State Cross Country Meet
Broke school record in 1,500 meters
Text- Chuck Signs Photos- ISU Daily