Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker On Reuniting In Virginia, Leaving The Bowerman Track Club + 2024 Plans

The CITIUS MAG Podcast

January 30, 2024

"You have to measure out your peaks, especially in an Olympic year... I'm excited to race (against) the world champs, the American record holders. That's really where I see myself thriving and I want to optimize those opportunities."

Former Oregon Ducks Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker have reunited and are training together in Blacksburg, Virginia under coach Ben Thomas.

Teare spent last year working with coach Jerry Schumacher and the Bowerman Track Club before announcing his departure in the fall. He took some time to make a decision but ultimately decided to reunite with his college coach, who led him to his U.S. 1500m title in 2022 and qualified for the World Championship team. Last year, Teare did set a personal best at 800 meters and 1500m but he missed qualifying for the World Championships in Budapest. He got off to a strong start in 2024 by winning the U.S. cross country title just two weeks ago.

For Hocker, he’s just elevating his training under Thomas and is hoping to have a full healthy year in the leadup to the World Indoor Championships in March and then the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer. Last year, he got off to a later start to the season due to injuries but still managed to qualify for Worlds and then finished seventh in Budapest in a personal best of 3:30.70 for 1500 meters.

Both guys have been added to the men’s two-mile field at the Millrose Games on February 11th in New York City. The field includes 1500m world champion Josh Kerr and U.S. 5000m and 10,000m record holder Grant Fisher.

The Millrose Games is the sixth stop on the 2024 ⁠World Athletics Indoor Tour⁠ Gold calendar.

Livestream and television broadcast details will be announced in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more Millrose Games athlete announcements as the pro fields come together.

Tickets to the 116th Millrose Games can be purchased online at ⁠⁠.

Host: Chris Chavez | ⁠⁠⁠⁠@chris_j_chavez on Instagram⁠⁠

Guest: Cooper Teare | ⁠⁠@cooperteare on Instagram⁠⁠

Guest: Cole Hocker | @colehocker on Instagram

Cooper Teare, Cole HockerCooper Teare, Cole Hocker

The following interview excerpt has been edited lightly for clarity. You can listen to the full interview with Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker on the CITIUS MAG Podcast – available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your shows.

CITIUS MAG: How does it feel that you guys are back together?

Cole Hocker: I'm happy, for sure. Without making it too cringe, I feel like we definitely lift each other up in the best ways – we're both competitive, and that shows in practice, but also the chemistry is so obvious. It feels like there's not much of a difference from the Oregon days. I think it's just such a natural transition. All of us who I trained with last year and who have trained with Cooper in the past, it just doesn't feel like he ever left. It comes pretty natural.

Cooper Teare: Yeah, I agree. It was definitely weird not seeing these guys at meets. My last meet when I was in Europe, in Belgium, I was basically there by myself. Me and Karissa were the only Bowerman athletes. I was doing our old warm up with them and it just sparked some memories. So it feels good to be back in the swing of things full-time with them. Like Cole said, it just clicks. Things have been going really well in training and I’m looking forward to more racing.

CITIUS MAG: We saw some of the early signs of how things are going in training. Cooper, you came away with the win at the USATF Cross Country Championships. Cole, you finished 12th. Overall, what are the feelings coming out of this weekend?

Cooper TeareCooper Teare

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

Cooper Teare: It was a bit surprising, to be honest. We definitely didn't go into this like, ‘Hey, we want to go win cross country.’ The goal of it was more of a glorified tempo when it came down to it. We hit it really hard that Wednesday, so definitely no tapering going into it. I think even with that it just felt pretty natural to go out there and just compete again. It's been a little while. I know Cole ran cross country last year and I haven't ran it in a couple years, so it felt really good to be back out there and just compete. We've been doing a lot of base work for the past couple months, so I think we were definitely ready for a longer effort like that.

It felt good to mix it up with those guys. I was a little nervous going in. Some of those guys are what I consider true cross country guys. The Bors are always really good, they're always pushing it up there. It felt good to be in there and ride it out. When it came down to it, I feel like the little bit of speed work we had helped over the last 1K, but maybe could have used a little more steeple training. But besides that, I was really happy with it.

Cole HockerCole Hocker

Kevin Morris / @KevMoFoto

CITIUS MAG: Cole, the focus is going to be World Indoors for you?

Cole Hocker: I think for both of us… I'm not a massive fan of cross country, but it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. Honestly, Cooper's performance gives me a lot of confidence. Cross country is weird – it's not always indicative of where you're at. I think seeing what Cooper was capable of, I definitely feel like I should have done better, but I'm always going to think that. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, and that's what Ben Thomas likes to do. That's my takeaway from that race. I'm really excited now to do a two-mile. I feel like that's just so manageable. And with where we're at, I don't think I've come into an indoor season with this much confidence before.

CITIUS MAG: The two of you will be running the two-mile at the Millrose Games. The headliners that have been announced so far are Grant Fisher and Josh Kerr, who hinted at potentially going after the world record. For both of you guys to get thrown into this race, what are the hopes and expectations?

Cooper Teare: In high school, I had Galen (Rupp’s) two-mile American record on repeat during class. I would just not pay attention and watch that. At the end of the day, you want to win races. Especially with a field like this that has an American record in the 3K, and (Josh) Kerr, who's coming off a world title right now. So just mixing it up with those guys, I'm sure the times will come. And honestly, a two-mile time isn't that big of a deal in my mind…

I'm just excited to get in there and get back on the indoor track. Last year I came in and I ran a big PR over 3K. But even then, I didn't feel like I was in a position where I was at my max. I was really aerobically strong, but I kind of got blown out of the water in the last 400m or 200m. I'm hoping this year we're in a prime spot where we can go and compete and maybe rip a post-race workout like Galen did and see what happens. But yeah, I just want to mix it up.

CITIUS MAG: Cole, you’re stepping up and doubling the distance that you're used to running. How are you feeling about it?

Cole Hocker: I'm really excited. You have to measure out your peaks, especially in an Olympic year. But I'm really happy with my fitness right now. In years past, I haven't been this confident in my fitness. So I'm really happy and just really excited to race (against) the world champs, the American record holders. That's really where I see myself thriving and I want to optimize those opportunities. Last year I went to Millrose and had the start of an injury and didn't get to race – and just watching sucks, every athlete knows that. So I'm just excited to race, and like I said, just optimize all these opportunities.

CITIUS MAG: Cooper, was there a little bit of FOMO for not racing at Boston University? You had U.S. Cross last week, but you didn’t race at BU this weekend. How did that conversation go with Coach Ben Thomas to plan the buildup towards Millrose Games, and potentially World Indoors, instead of chasing after a fast 5K?

Cooper Teare: Honestly, there was no conversation about chasing a fast 5K. I'm not going to lie, I forgot that was happening. But I mean opportunities like that don't just come around all the time. I can already assume what's going to happen… Obviously Yared is in it – he's probably going to run super fast. My guess is Nico Young's probably going to get the collegiate record. He'll probably break 13. But with all that said, I feel like in past years I've been on the watch for meets like this, because in general I'm a fan of the sport and I like to watch and see where people are at.

But I think this year I'm trying to take a little step back and not be as focused on what other people are doing and try to focus a little bit more on myself and the guys around me. People are always going to run fast, and they're always going to run fast in January, February, all of that. But none of that really matters to us right now. We'll have some good tests, but at the end of the day, what we want to be ready for is World Indoors and the Olympics. That's the whole goal of the year. I'll be excited to see what's going on, but I’m trying to remove myself a little bit more from that stuff.

CITIUS MAG: Cole, you’ve been training continuously under Ben. At this point, what has changed as you head into another Olympic year in terms of how he manages your training? Where are you at in terms of your development under Ben Thomas?

Cole Hocker: Every year that goes by I've definitely reflected on making the move to Virginia… We're on the same page. Both me and coach, we see this as, ‘We're doing this together.’ And the same goes for Cooper. Every year that goes by, I think I’ve learned more about how I handle training and where I should be at what time of the year. The past two years I've dealt with injury and both years I’ve come back and salvaged the season.

Last year worked out to make the Worlds team and I still ran the fastest I've ever ran. I think that was just such an important year, not only for me mentally, but just that connection between coach and athlete. He saw me at my lowest points, physically and probably mentally at that time too, and I think that helped us both on how he should coach me and how we navigate those (injuries) because it’s a part of the sport. Obviously you try to avoid injury, and we're getting much better at it. But yeah, every year that goes by I just get more and more confident in the training.

CITIUS MAG: Cooper, this is one of the first interviews that you've done since leaving the Bowerman Track Club. It was a short stay. What did you make of it? Why did it not end up working out in the end?

Cooper Teare: I have nothing bad to say about anyone there. It was a really important year for me and a really hard transition to make. I had so much success with Ben and I thought I owed it to myself to make a change. I improved so much every year in college with Ben and I think there were just things I hadn't explored yet when it came down to training philosophies and approaches to how we train, how we race and things like that. I felt like it was important to get a different perspective on it. Going into a year like last year, it was obviously important, but it wasn't an Olympic year and I thought it was as good a time as any to give that a shot. I gained a lot of really good perspective from it and I think aerobically I grew a lot. I made some great friends.

At the end of the day, there were a couple things that I felt like didn't really work for me. It was hard to be in such a big group. I was used to training with Cole and us having that dynamic together. It's definitely hard when there are a lot of different moving parts and being part of a bigger group. There were some pieces that I really liked and some that I didn't like as much… I can't even say that I had a bad year because that's not at all what happened. I PR’d in multiple events, I didn't have the U.S. Championships I wanted, but I think I went out there and competed pretty well, and I got a lot of new experiences in my first summer in Europe.

The different training hits and different approaches were a little more generalized from what I had been doing. I liked some of it, but I had a hard time molding into it because I was in the middle ground of a 1500m and 5K runner. Personally, I really wanted to be on that 1500m side of things, but there was so much emphasis on the aerobic side, keep building the engine… The biggest asset that I felt like I had was closing speed and being able to change gears at the end and I didn't have too many races last year where I really was able to tap into that. I think it was just a different approach. And that’s not to say that it was bad at all. I think just for me as an athlete it didn't mesh to exactly what I needed…

I really trust Ben and I really trust in the process that he has. It's one of those things where nobody really knows how he's thinking or where you're at besides him, but he really has it down to a science. I really like that I get a lot of individual attention from him. It was a really hard decision to leave. I made some really great friends and I love the coaching staff, but I think it was time for another change.

As much as I was looking for a change in going (to Bowerman), I think it was a whole other change coming back to what I already knew – but doing it here in Virginia and trusting that this is the right place to be. I think with getting older and maturing, it was time to get out of Eugene and get somewhere where I can really focus and not have all the little distractions that I've had in the past. There's only a certain amount of time that you can really run to your maximum potential and I think we're in the midst of that now. And with a year like 2024, I didn't really want to take any chances.

CITIUS MAG: What is the behind-the-scenes of how those conversations went when you made the decision to leave Bowerman? What was your decision making process like?

Cooper Teare: I think the beauty of it all was that it was every single individual's own choice. There was no mass exodus that was planned or anything like that. People had their own timelines. I think I was actually the first one to make the decision that I was going to leave. I met with my agent and talked to my parents a little bit… I definitely didn't do it the right way when it came down to telling people what I was doing and telling my teammates because I was a little nervous and hesitant. At that point, Ben was still in Eugene and I don't think everyone was necessarily on board yet with the move to Virginia. There were still a lot of moving parts trying to get figured out. So I hadn't told anyone…

Everyone is trying to make the moves that are right for them. It's a very important year and everyone has their own reasons why they want to stay or why they want to go. But for me, I think all of mine were internal. I didn't really have too much external push. I can't say much for the rest of everyone, but I think everyone did it on their own time, on their own accord. There was no pressure to do anything.

CITIUS MAG: In your early conversations with Ben, is he setting you up for the 1500m this year? You still have the 5K as another option.

Cooper Teare: I think we just have to see how the year unfolds. I think the beauty of Ben's training is it's so dynamic and you're not bound to any certain thing. We're always going to have speed work, but that doesn't come without the rest of the pieces that go into that. I think we're just going to play it by ear, but I really love the 1500m. That's definitely what I have my sights set on. But three years ago, I was fourth at the trials in the 5K, so, who knows? We’ll have to wait and see, but I definitely think there's unfinished business in the 1500m for me.

CITIUS MAG: Cole, 1500m for you this year? No 5Ks?

Cole Hocker: It's apparent, at least to us athletes, that if you want to be world class in the 1500m, you're going to have to be world class in the 5K. Say you've locked up a team in the 1500m, say you didn’t – either way, it's just stuff left on the table. I think a lot of people are realizing that now, especially the top 1500m runners in the world and the top 5K runners in the world, you just see their versatility all year long. I think since I've been dealing with little hiccups in training, I didn't have time to go after a 5K, I didn't have time to build that base and I was limited in my ability. I think in a perfect year, I'm going to have a much broader range of capability when it comes to my fitness.

CITIUS MAG: When it comes to training and double threshold workouts, is it like, ‘Hey, everyone's doing this, should we be doing that?’ Or do you just have full trust in Ben, like 'Alright, you're the science guy and coach, I believe in what you're saying.’

Cooper Teare: He literally is like a mad scientist when it comes to training. I have never had any doubt in it. Seeing people switch up their training going into this year and starting to do double threshold just because they see other people doing it – I think that could be a recipe for disaster, honestly. It's funny because I had talked to Ben a little bit about the approach to training and we've been doing double threshold for years without actually knowing it. It's hard to explain, but the approach that he does is not like two in one day – it's a hard hit, then you sleep, and then the next morning you have a medium threshold type of thing. It’s his approach to double threshold while having his own spin on it that lets you get a bit more out of it. It’s hard to quantify.

Cole Hocker: What I appreciate is that he's been coaching for a long time, but he's not one of those coaches that's like, ‘We've been running this workout since 1995 and we're going to keep running it…’ He has things that he's learning from. Even in these past two years, the training's changed a lot from what we were doing at Oregon. He's constantly adapting. It's obvious that he's curating these workouts to us, to whom he's coaching. Everything is dynamic and moving. I think it's obvious that he's adapting and learning how we like to run and making workouts that fit us with 20+ years of knowledge.

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Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.

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