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Nick Willis

Nick Willis Training
Nick Willis runner training
(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
Nick (Nicholas) Willis is a Michigan-based New Zealand middle distance specialist runner. Willis has won 2 Olympic bronze medals in the 1500m event. Willis’ most recent medal was won at the age of 33, 8 years after he won his first. His best performances have come in his early 30’s, in the years 2014 and 2015. In replying to a tweet by Steve Vernon, Willis said: “if you know your peak isn’t ’till you’re 28-32, you’ll learn to trust long term plan much better.”


Aside from being a living example that a track athlete’s career can experience longevity, Willis is also a very smart racer. He is very aware of his capabilities, has great race instinct, and is one of the best tactical racers around. In most international races, he goes by unnoticed in the mid-pack only until the final few meters of a race.


Nick Willis is coached by his former collegiate coach, Ron Warhurst. Warhurst retired from as the head coach at the University of Michigan in 2010, aged 67. After his official retirement, Nick convinced Ron to remain his personal coach, and the 2 continue working well together to this day.


“Everything he’s learned has been from me, and he learns about himself from the training. He trusts me explicitly with workouts and I trust him with his judgment, so he could probably train himself. But every athlete needs someone to ask, ‘Am I doing it right?’” – Ron Warhurst

Personal Bests:
800m – 1:45.54 (2004)
1500m – 3:29.66 (2015)
Mile – 3:49.83 (2014)
3000m – 7:36.91 (2014)
5000m – 13:20.33 (2014)


2013 Training
Striving for balancing other areas and interests of his life, Nick eliminated both gym workout and 2-3 x 30min runs from his previous typical weekly regime. He values weight trainings important, but seeks to replace its time with Masters studies (being a full-time economics student), family time, and other interests. His program sees the addition of frequent plyometric drill days, “Five minutes of plyos is a far less invasive time commitment, than a 60-90 minute trip to the gym.” Nick also runs hill sprints once a week.
source (recommended read):
Team Willis’ website



Day Off


Two-hour workout (total of around 10-12 miles including warm-up and warm-down)


60 minutes easy jogging (7 min/mile pace)


75 minutes of steady running (6 min/mile pace) + drills and 4x70m hill sprints.


two-hour workout ​​ (total of around 10-12 mile including warm-up and warm-down)


two hour run (17-18 miles at 6m30s/mile pace)


45 min run + plyo drills and 5x100m sprints


10hours of training


  • “Normally, twice a week I’ll hit the track and try to run 11.4 to 11.8 for 100 five or six times and do that throughout the year to keep my top-end speed going. But in doing so, you have to back off the speed of your training runs. “
  • His easy runs vary, “It can be 5:40 pace or 7:40 pace.” He says that “you run as fast as you can handle, without hindering your workouts”.
  • Normally he does 2 workouts a week, sometimes both contain double workouts (morning and evening).
Nick’s college training at the University of Michigan under coach Ron Warhurst

source: Michigan Athletics website
“It’s not how hard you can train this week, but this month, the next 3 months, the next 9 months. Consistency and patience is key.”
“If I could go back and change one thing about my training in HS, I would swap some of the interval workouts for tempos”
“Speed work doesn’t kill, but high volumes of speed work can be very dangerous and counter-productive. Patience is key.”
“The alternative to what I’m doing would be stuck in a cubicle up 15 storeys high in some corporate job. Whereas back then the alternative was [that] my friends [were] away at some festival.”

Nick Willis Tweets For Young Runners:


His 2 Olympic bronze medal races 8 years apart