Cohasset's Joshua Bergers, 19, On Breaking Race Records at Pepperdine

Josh broke Pepperdine's Top Ten Fastest records his freshman year in four separate events.

How did you first decide to become a runner? I first got interested in cross-country running during 6th grade at Derby Academy. I wanted to try something new. What clicked for me was the sense of freedom it gave me, but this did not come at first. The first thing I clearly remember was pain. A very prolonged feeling of pain. I was not opposed to the feeling, in fact I quite liked the feeling. The belief that you need to be slightly crazy to become a full fledged distance runner is true. 

What did you like about running initially? What I loved was the adrenaline and the overall satisfaction from running faster and faster each day. Nothing can compare to the feeling of being able to overcome a hurdle or achieve a new personal record after weeks or months of training. 

What was the biggest challenge? I realized I needed to be more disciplined if I wanted to go anywhere with my passion for running. Talent can only get you so far, so focusing on the 1% like stretching can make all the difference on race day. 

Favorite memory? My first indoor track meet at Harvard, January of my sophomore year, with my club team, Emerging Elites. That was the race where I learned to find my hidden “final gear.” My tank was empty and I had nothing left to give. I remember my Coach yelling a single word at me from the infield: “GO!” I entered that fabled land that professional athletes talk about as being “in the zone” and on nothing but fumes and adrenalin I ran the fastest I had ever run in my life. I went from 6th to 1st and won by a hair's breadth. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing this after that race. I had too much fun to quit. 

How did you pick what kind of race length to focus on? The race length chose me. My best event is probably the 5k. As a distance runner, I possess an abundance of slow-twitch muscle fibers which are crucial to running longer distances at high speeds for a longer duration. 

So have you ever run a marathon? Marathons are tricky – there have been studies showing it is not the best for one’s health to complete a marathon so early in life. I plan on running marathons after college, towards the end of my peak, around 30-34 years old. My plan is to regularly run this event called the “7 marathons, 7 continents, 7 days.” It is painfully difficult, but also sounds like something that would be right up my alley. 

How did your coaches help along the way? I first started training with Coach Fred Treseler of Emerging Elites the summer before my 8th-grade year and have been training with him since then. I owe so much to Fred; he has really become a great mentor who has literally been the cornerstone for my running career. My high school coach Mr. Lyons made a gigantic difference in my life. He provided me with the building blocks for my running career and as a student athlete. In college, I have Coach Lauren and Coach Victor. They are the ones who have been working on the finishing touches to my running career. Thanks to them I was even able to finish out the year with the all-time Pepperdine freshmen track record in the 5k (14:38.69). I never thought I would go out West for college but I love everything about Pepperdine. It’s home to me, because I consider the team family. 

What might you do with running after college? I want to pursue a career as a professional runner after college. Coaching does seem like the most probable endpoint. 

Any tips for aspiring young runners? Remain disciplined. The first day you decide against going out for your run makes it so much harder to stay disciplined in the future. I always make sure to smile when I’m running because I want those around me to know, despite the pain of hard days or workout days, I truly love what I'm doing and wouldn’t trade it for the world.