Moving to the other side of the world, learning to run in sub-zero temperatures and breaking the four-minute mile.
It has been some 12 months for Ollie Hoare.
The Caringbah distance runner has returned home for a brief visit to the shire for summer vacation from the University of Wisconsin.
The 20-year-old has completed his first year at the school in the US where he earned a full athletic scholarship and ran as a freshman for Wisconsin’s men’s cross country team.
Hoare was the school’s only international track and field athlete and won his place on the back of a number of impressive results, including becoming the Australian under-20 cross country champion as well as the open state 1500 metres champion.
And Hoare’s performances in his first year turned plenty of heads in Madison.
Hoare became the first freshman in the school’s history to break the four-minute mile, completing the 1600m journey in 3 minutes, 59.7 seconds at the St Louis Track Club’s Festival of Miles Championship.
Hoare also lowered his personal best 1500m time to 3.43.48 and helped the university win the prestigious Big 10 Championship.
“I’ve done very well as a freshman. The sub four-minute mile was a great thing. And the coaches were saying I’m on the right track… now I just need to not slack off,” he said.
“I’ve set a great foundation for my next year. And that’s going to set me up perfectly for what I want to do.
“We won the Big 10 championship as a team which was a big deal. That was the team highlight. But my personal highlight was definitely going sub four [minutes] as a freshman. It was good to see the years of things I had to learn and take in have paid off. I’ve done something I’m pretty happy with and can lead me into next year.
“I did feel like I had to prove myself originally. But that was self-inflicted and something I had to learn from. Because I was putting too much pressure on myself.”
Hoare also had to learn how to deal with the cold. While there might be rules to stop sport being played in the heat in Australia, running in minus 20 degrees was barred, with the coldest day in Madison getting down to a rather chilly minus 28 degrees.
“Through the autumn for them it’d get close to zero [degrees] and they’d say ‘this isn’t cold’. And then we hit the winter and I’m very fortunate the university itself has facilities you can run in. But we mostly run outside and we get all the gear and it’s quite nice, it’s not too bad. The whole experience has been good for me because it’s such a different environment,” he said.
“The whole experience running wise was a big learning curve. I’m running with a lot more professional people and that has changed the way I eat, the way I sleep, the way I communicate with others. Credit to them, they’ve really developed me into the person I want to be and it’s really set me up well for the coming years.
“It was a learning curve in everything. I had a lot of different responsibilities which taught me a lot. It taught me a lot about myself and what I need to do, the lifestyle I need to live to be an athlete.
“I definitely do [think it made me grow up a little bit]. It made me do my own thing.”
Hoare will return to the US in August to train before his second academic year starts in September. And his sights are still set on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year as well as the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“My plans are definitely the same [but] I have a lot more confidence now with Commonwealth Games and Olympics. Running a sub-four mile has put me up there with the best in Australia which is fantastic but I’m still very young and have lots of things to work on as an athlete.”