MARLTON - Justin Kelly just finished a work out session during the Cherokee Invitational on Monday and then helped out at the meet on his home track.
Training outside the oval, off of center stage, was just fine, however, for the Chiefs senior long distance runner since last year he went weeks without working out because of a pair of injuries.
And now that he is healthy, Kelly is capitalizing on his intense and sustained workouts to maximize his final outdoor scholastic season.
Two weeks ago, Kelly ran the fastest 3,200 in the state with a 9:16.61 at the Holmdel Twilight Series.
“My original hope was the go sub 9-10 at Holmdel,” said Kelly, who lowered his personal best by almost 13 seconds.
After a slower than expected first lap, Kelly adjusted to beat Sameer Das of West Windsor Plainsboro South by over two seconds.
“I forgot the time and just went for the win,” Kelly said. “My kick took over. I kicked in the last 800 it was nice to get the win.”
Kelly is running at Holmdel again Thursday night and he is obviously looking for another personal best.
The last time there, he ran the final 400 in 4:32 for the comfortable win. He certainly aims for a better first 400.
His emergence this spring isn’t unexpected as over the winter, Kelly clocked a personal best with a swift time of 4:18.48 at the Meet of Champions to finish in seventh place.
Still, his performance this month is comforting since last year he was hurt for most of the indoor and the outdoor season.
“That is why the 9:29.28 from my sophomore year was my best time,” Kelly explained about breaking his personal best two weeks ago. “I had knee problems and I had to take off four weeks during indoor and then I was back for two weeks and my hip was injured and I took off two weeks and by that time it was near the end of the season, so I was mostly doing the 800 and ran a 4:26 for seventh in the sectionals.”
Kelly, who committed to Stony Brook University in New York, welcomes the workouts now. His training sessions mainly consist of six or seven 800 or 1,000-meter runs.
“It varies with the meets coming up,” Kelly said. “We usually do threshold or critical velocity training in the 800.”
Kelly explained the threshold is easier because it is not as fast, but there is shorter rest while the velocity is faster with longer rest.
“Depending on the day,” he said.
In the upcoming sectionals Kelley plans to run both the 1,600 and 3,200 and he said he might do both in the states, but in the Meet of Champions he plans only to run the 3,200.
He certainly won’t be doing training runs like he was at Cherokee on Monday.
“We did a lot of distance training early in the season now we’re working on our sprinting,” Kelly said.