Dani Jones is in the record books as one of the greatest runners in Arizona high school history. As an upperclassman, she secured two consecutive State Titles and led the Desert Vista Thunder to back-to-back victories and a fifth-place finish at NXN. In 2015, Jones set a state-record at the time of 10:09.58 for 3200m and ran 4:39.88 to finish 2nd in the High School Girls' Mile at the Prefontaine Classic.
In college, Jones has developed into a top tier NCAA contender, having won three individual NCAA Titles in the Indoor 3km, Cross Country and the Outdoor 5km. In 2017, she anchored the Colorado Buffalos to a national title in the Distance Medley Relay and last fall, she spearheaded the CU Women to their first NCAA Title in Cross-Country since 2004.
You came back from injury to claim your (third) individual NCAA Title. Could you describe your injury and what measures you took to overcome it?
We had originally planned to redshirt indoors, so I was running well throughout the winter. It wasn't until the indoor NCAA championship that we decided to get an MRI and discovered a stress reaction in my fibula. . . . [I]t felt like I had tumbled down right as I had caught a view of the mountain top.
I was confident and excited to race proceeding my win in cross country and it felt like I was starting from the ground up as outdoor approached. It was a constant cycle of cross training, returning to the ground for a little while, feeling pain again and returning to the pool.
After a couple months of this, I remember strapping myself into the alter-g after a ground run had gone poorly. . . . I [told] my coach, Mark Wetmore . . . , "I feel like life keeps punching me and before I can get up, I get hit again." That's when Mark told me his version of the famous Muhammad Ali match and the "rope-a-dope" strategy for fighting. I took plenty more punches after that, but Mark and I agreed: we were coming back at the end of the round.
It sounds like you didn't have a lot of time to prepare for Outdoor Track. What kind of workouts did you focus on over the latter half of the season?
(Right: Dani Jones secured the victory at the Arcadia Invitational her Senior year and set an Arizona state-record in the 3200m.)
Our main focus throughout the season was to prepare for the 1500. We didn't decide to run the 5k until a few hours before the deadline closed for the west region entries. With the base I had from the indoor season prior to my injury and my lack of time for speed work, we were confident about the 5k. My training prepped me for the 5k, keeping in mind we wanted to run the 1500 at USAs later this year.
What are your plans for the summer? Have you concluded racing outdoors to get ready for cross-country?
For the remainder of the summer, I plan to run USAs and the rest of the year is a little bit of a question mark. I don't have cross-country eligibility left, so I will be training for indoor this fall.
What kind of volume/mileage have you been doing lately?
Generally, I run anywhere between 60 to 75 miles a week depending on the time of year.
Where is the best place to eat after a hard workout/race at home?
The best place in Boulder to eat after a run is the Walnut Cafe. They have awesome breakfast and coffee, and they love and support the community's athletes.
Outside of running, what's your favorite thing to do in Boulder?
Boulder is a wonderful place to run and live. When I'm not training, I love hiking, camping, and driving around the state.