How does a degree in business help you succeed as an athlete? Mihaylo accounting alumnus Nick Arciniaga ’07 reflects on his marathon running career and entrepreneurial activities, and shares advice for Titans considering athletic careers.
It’s been said that your career isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. For Mihaylo accounting alumnus Nick Arciniaga ’07, this has been literally true. Since 2005, he has competed at major events including the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon.
Today, he lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he is a professional marathoner for Under Armour and operates Arciniaga Training Plans, his online coaching platform. We recently talked with him about his experience, current activities and plans for the future.
What are some of the recent events you have participated in over the past few years?
In 2016, I finished 10th at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, second at the Xterra World Trail Half Marathon Championships, sixth at the Grandma’s Marathon, seventh at the Honolulu Marathon, and first at both the Disneyland Star Wars and Avengers half marathons. So far in 2017, I won my debut trail marathon on Catalina Island.
What does your role with Under Armour entail?
I have been an Under Armour athlete since 2014. Since then, I have represented the brand in more than 50 races. My main job is to run fast and place as high as I can. I have won 22 of those races as an Under Armour athlete and finished in the top 10 in 44 of them.
In addition to racing well, I am also very active on social media with many Under Armour consumers. I share with them my story, tips on how to become a better runner and encouragement in their own running. Under Armour has also utilized me in a few ad campaigns to market their running shoes, apparel and accessories.
How did you develop and execute the concept for Arciniaga Training Plans, which you started earlier this year? What are your plans for this business in the future?
I have been coaching at various levels since I graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 2007. I have also built training plans for various athletes since then. I launched Arciniaga Training Plans this year with a simple website utilizing a training formula that I developed over the past 11 years of coaching. I have been able to market my business through social media along with one-on-one interaction with potential clients at races.
My plan for this business is to grow the number of athletes that I have to a sustainable point. Currently, I am maintaining a lower volume of athletes to make sure that the process I have developed runs smoothly.
Because my training plans are personalized and take every individual’s background into account, I am wary about expanding the business beyond my own coaching as I like to maintain a personal relationship with each of my athletes.
Can you elaborate on how your business education has helped you market yourself in the running industry?
Many of my business classes helped me to think outside the box and have prepared me for various ways to market myself in the running industry. Social media was not as big back when I was in school as it is now, but I am now able to showcase myself as an athlete and as a coach, and build relationships with what seems like an infinite number of people who have shared interests with me.
With online marketing, including social media, blogs, websites and web-based media, I am able to get my story and my brand out to many people who have similar interests.
Because of the number of followers and shares I have been able to get, companies such as Under Armour and PowerBar have been long-term sponsors.
What advice would you give to current or aspiring athletes who might be interested in combining a business education with a career in sports?
I would say to be wary of how long your time in sports is. I was lucky to have had as much success as I have through athletics without having to use my degree as much. However, I now wish that I had started utilizing my business skills sooner, as I do believe I would have been far more established as a coach and as a runner if I had used my knowledge and background right after I finished college.
Where do you see your career in the future?
I hope to one day coach at a Division 1 university, perhaps even Cal State Fullerton, but I won’t be too picky if I am offered a job elsewhere. I definitely see myself maintaining my online coaching business for many years. And I will keep running competitively for as long as I can.